Arnold and Pasadena elementary schools were among six schools to be named 2015-16 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence today, marking the second consecutive year that Anne Arundel County Public Schools has had multiple honorees.

Twenty county schools have now earned the prestigious state honor given by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Seventeen county schools have gone on to earn National Blue Ribbon status.

Arnold Principal Shauna Kauffman and Pasadena Principal Jen Quirino were joined by Superintendent George Arlotto at the surprise announcement at the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore this morning. The principals had been told they were attending a meeting on assessments.

Arnold muscle2-sm“This is just an amazing day for our school,” Kauffman said. “We have so many people both inside and outside of our school who do so many things for our children. Every one of them shares in this honor.”

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors schools that excel or significantly improve in reading and math exams as measured by state assessments. In order to achieve Blue Ribbon status, schools must meet standards established by the Maryland and U.S. departments of education.

At Arnold, more than 98 percent of students in grades 3 through 5 scored proficient or advanced on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in reading from 2009-10 to 2013-14, the last year the MSA was administered, and more than 97 percent did so in math. Nearly 73 percent of students in grades 3 through 5 scored a 4 or 5 – the level needed to be designated as being on track for college and career readiness – on last year’s initial administration of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) reading assessment, and nearly 56 percent did so in math.

Arnold is an arts integration school, and as such emphasizes strategies designed to develop critical thinking and inquiry skills along with knowledge of art standards. It also has been designated as an AACPS Wellness School of Distinction, and its partnerships with Master Gardeners of Maryland and the HEROS Running Program have provided a meditation garden, outdoor learning classrooms, and health and fitness programs.

pasadena-smAt Pasadena Elementary School, more than 93 percent of students in grades 3 through 5 scored proficient or advanced on the reading MSA and more than 92 percent did so in math from 2009-10 through 2013-14. In the last year of MSA, 100 percent of the school’s Hispanic students, 97 percent of students receiving free and reduced-price meals, 96.8 percent of white students, 90 percent of African-American students, and 83 percent of multi-racial students achieved proficient or advanced status on the reading assessment.

“I am just speechless,” Pasadena Principal Jennifer Quirino said. “I cannot overstate what this means to our school and our community. We are so proud of the work that we do every day, and to have it recognized like this is simply unbelievable.”

Support from the community business association and local retailers is enabling Pasadena Elementary to construct an outdoor classroom space and purchase additional technology resources. The school is also a Maryland Green School and a 2015 AACPS Wellness School of Distinction.

Today’s announcement marks the ninth time in the last 11 years that AACPS has been recognized for the Blue Ribbon honor, and the third time since 2000-2001 that the county has had two schools named at the same time.

Other state Blue Ribbon schools named today were Hereford High and George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County,  North Harford Elementary in Harford County, and White Marsh Elementary in St. Mary’s County.

Arnold and Pasadena elementary schools are now eligible to become National Blue Ribbon schools, a feat accomplished by 15 other county schools. Lake Shore and Severna Park elementary schools were named 2015 National Blue Ribbon winners.