Tunnel Hill School

Rural Illinois School Receives National Blue Ribbon Award

The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools is proud to join the United States Department of Education in recognizing New Simpson Hill School District 32 as a National Blue Ribbon School – located in rural Tunnel Hill, IL.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which has given over 10,000 achievement awards to schools across the nation since 1982, “recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups” (United States Department of Education website). The award is a recognition of the effort to create a safe school environment and appropriate – yet challenging – curricula. According to the United States Department of Education, “The National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.”

In 2020, 367 schools from 47 states were recognized for a Blue Ribbon award. Out of the 21 Illinois schools that received the Blue Ribbon Award for 2020, New Simpson Hill is the only rural/small school district represented in our state. The school is Rural Distant according to its NCES locale code (42).

The school was awarded in the category of “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.” This category recognizes the success in closing the gap between different demographics’ achievement levels. Some ways they have closed that gap were with a “just do your best” attitude, new curricula, the Mustang Student of the Month program, the Reading Room, Family Reading Night, and encouraging students to be involved in several extracurricular activities. You can read more about the efforts by viewing their award recognition on the United States Department of Education website: https://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners/winning/20il141pu_new_simpson_hill_elementary_school.html

“AIRSS is ecstatic to see a school we represent recognized on this national scale,” states David Ardrey, Executive Director for AIRSS. “We are encouraged by the great work that continues to be done in our rural schools each day. All of this great work is done in spite of the lack of appropriate state funding. New Simpson Hill operates at 65% of adequacy in the Evidence Based Funding (EBF) model.”

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