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Following the receipt of school nominations from States, the Department invites nominated schools to apply for the award. After schools submit their applications for recognition, they are screened for completeness, quality, accuracy, and eligibility issues. Schools are provided with feedback and provided an opportunity to modify and improve their application before final submission.

Once reviews are completed, public schools must be certified by state CSSOs based on the school’s most current performance on state assessments in order to receive the National Blue Ribbon Schools award. Because state assessment results may not be available and announced until late summer, the Department usually announces the new National Blue Ribbon Schools in September of the year after a school’s initial nomination. The recognition ceremony takes place in mid-fall. The entire process, from initial nomination to receiving the award, takes about a year.

The timeline for the 2020 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools is as follows:

Timeline for 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Date Due
September, 2019 The Secretary of Education sends a letter of invitation to the CSSOs and CAPE requesting nominations of eligible schools.
October, 2019 Conduct webinar/TA conference calls to review guidance and application with liaisons.
December 19, 2019 Hard copy of non-public school applications are due to CAPE.
December 31, 2019 Nomination processes and data for public schools being considered for nomination from CSSOs and interested non-public schools from CAPE are due to the Department.
January 13-14, 2020 Nomination processes and data for public schools being considered for nomination are reviewed by ED and a NBRS Assessment Panel for alignment with the general eligibility criteria of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
January 29, 2020 CAPE selects non-public school nominations.
February 3, 2020 Approved public school nominations are entered by states into online portal.
February 6, 2020 The Department invites public schools nominated by CSSOs to apply for recognition as National Blue Ribbon Schools.
April 6, 2020 Completed public and non-public school applications are due to the Department.
April-June, 2020 Applications are reviewed for completeness, quality, and accuracy.
August, 2020 States certify that nominated public schools have met all eligibility requirements.
September, 2020 The Secretary of Education announces the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools (public and non-public).
November, 2020 Two representatives from each school, the principal, a teacher, and a superintendent attend the recognition ceremony in Washington, DC.
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