Two Idaho schools capture national blue-ribbon honors

Two Idaho elementary schools have landed on the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 list of National Blue Ribbon Schools.

The Idaho winners are Burton Elementary School in Rexburg and Chief Joseph School of the Arts in Meridian.

“As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a video message to the nation’s 362 blue-ribbon winners.

The blue-ribbon winners fall into two categories: “exemplary high-performing schools,” based on scores on state assessments or “nationally normed” tests that allow state-to-state comparisons; or schools that landed near the top of state rankings for closing achievement gaps.

Burton and Chief Joseph both made the list as exemplary high performers.

Both schools outpaced state averages on the 2019 Idaho Standards Achievement Test. At Burton, 61 percent of students scored advanced or proficient in English language arts and 62 percent reached that threshold in math. At Chief Joseph, 67 percent of students scored advanced or proficient in ELA, and 69 percent hit the mark in math.

Both award winners are Title I schools, using federal dollars to provide extra help for at-risk students who live in poverty.

But both schools have poverty rates below the state average, as defined by eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Forty percent of Burton’s students were eligible for meal subsidies last school year; at Chief Joseph, that number was 42 percent. Statewide, 45 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-price meals.

The Education Department will host an awards ceremony for the blue-ribbon schools in November.

Established in 1982, the blue-ribbon school program has recognized more than 9,000 schools nationally, including 28 schools in Idaho.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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