twin lakes

Photo by Jim Boyle

Twin Lakes Elementary School fifth grade student Lola Pratt, Ollie (the school’s mascot) and Principal Dan Collins had exciting news to talk about on the principal’s daily news broadcast for students and staff in the school. Twin Lakes is receiving a national award.

Elementary school one of only three in Minnesota named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced on Sept. 21 Twin Lakes Elementary School in Elk River had been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School.

Twin Lakes is one of only three Minnesota elementary schools earning this prestigious, nationwide recognition.

“This is a testament to the work you do, to the dedication of our families, students and staff and to the incredible community that is Twin Lakes Elementary,” Assistant Superintendent William Campbell said. “With Parker Elementary earning the Blue Ribbon recognition in 2016, ISD 728 has had two schools honored in just five years. This is an incredible achievement.”

Schools are nominated for the award by the state department of education, and then the school completes a comprehensive application for consideration. Schools may apply for status as Exemplary High Performing — among the top schools in a state — or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing — schools making the fastest progress in their state in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“We are excited and proud of the Twin Lakes staff, our students and our families for making this recognition possible,” Superintendent Daniel Bittman said. “We know that ISD 728 is a remarkable place to live, to learn and to work, and this is just one more reminder of why. Twin Lakes embodies our mission and our core values each and every day. After navigating through what we have been facing since 2020 and the pandemic — this is such a wonderful honor. We are very thankful to the Secretary and the U.S. Department of Education for this award.”

School representatives will represent Twin Lakes Elementary at a two-day award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November to celebrate their hard-won achievement.

“This is just a very special place,” Principal Dan Collins said of the award-winning school. “I’m proud to have been here since we started, and we’ve been through so much together. Growing, navigating the pandemic — we’ve always found a way to have that Otter Pride and just a great community here.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program 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. Every year the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. The National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.

“Over the past several years, Twin Lakes Elementary has been a shining example of our mission,” said Holly Thompson, ISD 728 board chair. “The effort to make Twin Lakes a special community for our students and families – a place where we inspire and empower our kids – has been noticed locally with our district year-end awards. It has been noticed on a state level, with recognition from the Minnesota Department of Education as a Reward School. And now, the rest of the country knows what we know – Twin Lakes Elementary is a very special place and a National Blue Ribbon Award School.”

Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.

A Minnesota Reward School, Twin Lakes Elementary falls into the second category – Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School. The elementary school ranks in the top 20% in the state in reading and in the top 10% in math, based on the results of the 2019 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills.

Additional Minnesota winners this year were Barnesville Elementary (Barnesville), McKinley Elementary in Ham Lake (Anoka-Hennepin), Minnetonka West Middle School in Chanhassen (Minnetonka), Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine (Anoka-Hennepin) and St. Croix Preparatory Academy (St. Croix Prep).

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