The U.S. Department of Education announced Xavier College Preparatory as a National Blue Ribbon School today. The all-girls school was the only Catholic campus honored in Arizona and one of two Catholic high schools recognized nationwide.
The Department of Education selected 286 schools — 50 of them private — with the Blue Ribbon distinction this year. Some 41 other Catholic schools in 18 states also earned the prestigious ribbon.
The honor recognizes elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are made in academic achievement. Xavier’s award was as an “exemplary high performing school.” That means academic achievement is in the top 15 percent in the state or nation.
“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education said in a press release. “National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”
Criteria included student focus and support, school organization and culture, family and community partnership, leadership and educational vitality plus active teaching and learning. Each state’s commissioner of education nominates public schools for the award. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. (related graphic)
“I am both humbled and so very proud of the administration, faculty, staff, students, alumnae, parents and community members who have helped to build Xavier College Preparatory into the outstanding school that it is today,” said Xavier principal Sister Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, who recently celebrated her 50th anniversary at the school.
Recipients will be formally recognized at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November. Xavier also earned the Blue Ribbon School distinction twice in the ‘90s.
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School was also a dual recipient in the Diocese of Phoenix. The U.S. Department of Education recognized St. Mary-Basha in Chandler in the ‘90s and St. Theresa in 2010.