Four CT schools named to 2021 National Blue Ribbon list

Students at Frisbie Elementary School in Wolcott, Conn., gather for small group instruction.

Students at Frisbie Elementary School in Wolcott, Conn., gather for small group instruction.

U.S. Department of Education / Contributed photo

Four Connecticut schools have been recognized for their students’ overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced Tuesday the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The achievement is based on overall student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

The Connecticut schools named this year are: Thames River Magnet School in Groton, Andrew Avenue Elementary School in Naugatuck, Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted’s Regional School District 07, and Frisbie Elementary School in Wolcott.

“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” said Cardona.

The recognition considers nominees in two categories: first, the highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests; and second, the most successful schools in closing achievement gaps between student groups and all students.

“The Connecticut State Department of Education congratulates all of the schools named Blue Ribbon Schools this year,” said Charlene Russell-Tucker, the state education commissioner. “These schools showcase the innovative practices underway in districts to ensure educational success and social-emotional well-being for all of their students.”

Two of the Connecticut honorees were in New Haven County, one in Litchfield County and one in New London County.

Frisbie Elementary School in Wolcott and Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted — both Title I schools that receive federal funds to support low-income students — were recognized as high performing.

The schools served 268 and 699 students, respectively, at the time of nomination. About 80 percent and 10 percent of students at Frisbie are white and Hispanic, respectively, and 93 percent are white at the Winsted high school.

Andrew Avenue Elementary School in Naugatuck, also a Title I school, and Thames River Magnet School in Groton, an elementary school, were honored for closing achievement gaps.

Andrew Avenue serves a population that is just over half white and 35 percent Hispanic. A description of the school posted by the education department said it is a place where students direct their own learning.

At Thames River, less than half of students are white, a quarter are Hispanic and about 10 percent are Black or Asian. Administrators said the Groton magnet school approaches teaching and learning with a growth mindset.

“Rather than just looking at who is on level and who is not, we meet kids where they are and help them continuously improve,” they wrote.

In addition to the four Connecticut schools, Secretary Cardona recognized a total 325 National Blue Ribbon Schools, according to a press release. The program, which is in its 39th year, has given out 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools.

“Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better,” said Cardona.

“Connecticut’s public school teachers are the best in the United States, and the tools they are providing our youngest residents will enable them to achieve success throughout their careers,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “I congratulate these four Connecticut public schools on earning this national distinction and wish them continued success.”