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Model PLC School and Blue Ribbon Schools Logos

Evidence of Excellence
Model PLC at Work® and Blue Ribbon Schools

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  • 18 schools
  • 12 states
  • 12 elementary
  • 3 middle
  • 3 high

Schools in Tennessee, South Carolina, Wyoming, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, California, Colorado, and Florida have gained Blue Ribbon recognition.

map of the states where Blue Ribbon Schools are located

Every year, the US Department of Education (DOE) releases its list for the National Blue Ribbon Schools (NBRS) program. It is one of their longest-running honors and it recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools for their overall academic excellence or their progress in narrowing the achievement gap between diverse groups of students.

Model PLC at Work® campuses, which are some of the highest-performing schools, must demonstrate a commitment to implementing Professional Learning Communities at Work concepts along with presenting clear evidence of improved student learning for three years.

Like National Blue Ribbon Schools, Model PLC at Work schools and districts set the standard for educational excellence, and they’ve committed to ensuring all students learn at high levels.

Within the past few years, schools using Solution Tree professional development and implementing the PLC at Work process have taken their excellence a step further and applied for national recognition as a Blue Ribbon School.

The list of schools includes:

  • Crosswind Elementary, Tennessee (2023)
  • Wren Elementary, South Carolina (2023)
  • Powell Middle School, Wyoming (2023)
  • Helen Mathews Elementary, Missouri (2023)
  • Oak Ridge Elementary School, Illinois (2022)
  • Calder Road Elementary, Texas (2022)
  • Tongue River Elementary School, Wyoming (2022)
  • Brentwood Middle School, Tennessee (2020)
  • Southside Elementary School, Wyoming (2020)
  • Zach Elementary, Colorado (2019)
  • Westmont High School, Illinois (2019)
  • Kiski Area South Primary, Pennsylvania (2019)
  • Sangster Elementary, Virginia (2018)
  • New Franklin Elementary School, New Hampshire (2018)
  • Edison Computech, California (2017)
  • Francis Howell High School, Missouri (2017)
  • Edgewood Jr/Sr High School, Florida (2017)
  • Prairie Hill Elementary School, Illinois (2016)

From this list, 11 schools gained the Model PLC at Work status first and attributed their NBRS recognition to using professional development and collaborating with Solution Tree. Adlai E. Stevenson High School, a Model PLC school since 2017, has earned the NBRS five times.

“Securing the coveted USDE National Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence isn't solely a testament to a school's academic success; in fact, we believe it is a resounding affirmation of an unwavering dedication to reforming a school as a professional learning community. There is little to no chance that a school can receive the National Blue Ribbon recognition without being focused on the three big ideas of the PLC at Work process: learning, collaboration, and results. Receiving both the National Blue Ribbon Award and Model PLC at Work status is the ultimate recognition of a school's laser-like focus on continuous improvement and our shared mission of success for every student.”

Eric Twadell, superintendent of Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Teacher high fives student

Oak Ridge Elementary School was named a Model PLC at Work campus in 2022 and earned the NBRS recognition a year later. The school began its PLC journey by understanding the big ideas and characteristics of a professional learning community. They created a yearly process that included discussing critical PLC ideas, like learning for all, collaboration, and a focus on results.

A master schedule that allowed for common planning and collaboration has helped Oak Ridge teacher teams learn together, discuss what mastery looks like for their students, review student progress on essential standards, and choose effective strategies for student interventions. This process has boosted their student’s growth percentiles on the state assessment each year.

“We set out several years ago as an Oak Ridge team to be an elite elementary school in the state. The focus was on high expectations and growth, not only for our students but for all of us as a staff. We worked tirelessly as a professional learning community to learn and get better every single day. To be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School and a Model PLC at Work is an enormous honor and a tribute to the never-ending hard work of the entire Oak Ridge staff, students, and community.”

Kevin Buscemi, principal of Oak Ridge Elementary School


Professional learning communities (PLCs) are schools that empower educators to work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.