Montclair’s Watchung Elementary School Named a 2011 Blue Ribbon School

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 15, 2011 12:22pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

Montclair’s Watchung Elementary School has been named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Watchung is one of 305 schools and one of seven New Jersey public schools receiving the recognition from the DOE based on their overall academic excellence or for their success in closing achievement gaps. The Department will honor the entire 256 public and 49 private schools with their National Blue Ribbon School awards at a conference and awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

The National Blue Ribbon School award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing. Since 1982, more than 6,500 of America’s schools have received this coveted award.

“We are extremely proud of this honor,” said Superintendent Frank Alvarez. “Watchung School continues to be an exceptional elementary school with dedicated staff and strong leadership.”

This is the third Blue Ribbon award for Watchung School. In 1988 Hillside School was named a Blue Ribbon School and in 1990, Nishuane earned the title as well, when Dr. Alvarez was principal.

“This award is a testament to the work of so many of our current and former staff and a result of Watchung School’s persistent, tireless and selfless commitment to excellence for all students,” said Principal Peter Turnamian. “Watchung School is a shining light of what a great public school can be for all students working within an amazing school district.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria: 1) Schools whose students are high performing. These are schools ranked among each state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or, in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on nationally-normed tests; or 2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests

“America’s long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their success is an example for others to follow.”

Before selecting National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department asks for nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 413 schools nationwide are nominated, based on the number of K-12 students and the number of schools in each jurisdiction. The schools are invited by the Secretary of Education to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.


  1. POSTED BY willjames  |  September 15, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Congratulations to the teachers, staff, and administration at Watchung! A wonderful (and meaningful) honor.

    (By the way, baristas, I think the sentence, “This is the third Blue Ribbon award for Watchung School” was supposed to be “This is the third Blue Ribbon award for a Montclair school.” Right? The sentence following this one would suggest that’s the case.)

  2. POSTED BY willjames  |  September 15, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

    Scratch that. Just checked the DOE site :: Watchung School was a Blue Ribbon School in 89-90 and 93-94 as well.

  3. POSTED BY Tudlow  |  September 16, 2011 @ 12:41 am

    I would venture to say that the curriculum across the elementary schools in Montclair does not differ drastically, especially since it is mandated by the NJCCCS and I would think there would be some uniformity in the district. And within a school, the teacher is the most influential variable in children’s learning, but I doubt that Watchung has significantly more highly effective teachers compared to the other elementary schools. So, I think it is logical to hypothesize that the students at Watchung perform well on standardized exams due to the single most important variable in a child’s education–the parents/home life of the students. This is a variable that I would conclude does differ significantly across the elementary schools.

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