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BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL: The Princeton Charter School was recently awarded the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School Award. PCS is the first charter school in New Jersey to receive the award. Pictured are (from left): Maureen Quirk, PCS founder, Valerie Smith, regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education, Charles Marsee, PCS Head of School, and Peter Yianilos, president of PCS Board of Trustees.
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Charter School Tops Charts For Blue Ribbon School Award

Candace Braun

The Princeton Charter School was recently awarded the 2004 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School Award for achieving academic excellence and striving to meet the national mission to ensure that every child receives a quality education.

PCS was the first charter school in New Jersey to receive the award. It was also one of 250 schools named nationwide, and one of eight schools named in the state.

"We think the tremendous achievement at Princeton Charter School is a promising accomplishment that bodes well for the future of public education in New Jersey," said Heather Ngoma, director of the Charter School Resource Center at Rutgers University's Center for Effective School Practices.

To be recognized, a school must demonstrate a strong commitment to both excellence and equity. PCS was nominated by New Jersey Commissioner of Education William Librera. The award was presented to Princeton Charter School on Friday, September 17, by Valerie Smith, the Deputy Secretary's Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Education.

The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap, or schools whose students achieve at very high levels. PCS's fourth-grade and eighth-grade students consistently achieve proficiency levels in mathematics and reading at close to 100 percent. On the 2003 state-mandated tests, 100 percent of PCS fourth-graders scored proficient or higher in reading, and 95 percent were proficient or higher in mathematics.

Similarly, 90 percent of PCS eighth-grade students scored proficient or higher on the state's mathematics test, with more than half scoring at the advanced-proficient level. In reading, 95 percent of the eighth graders scored proficient or higher, including forty percent achieving at the level of advanced proficient.

The Princeton Charter School has been consistently recognized for excellent academic achievement. This year, the school was given the Charter School of Distinction Award by the state for a consistently outstanding record of performance. In 2003, PCS received the Best Practices Award for its outstanding world languages program in French, and in 2002, it became the first charter school in the nation to be accredited by the American Academy of Liberal Education.

When originally founded over seven years ago, the three main goals of PCS were to educate students for future success, to promote academic excellence for a diverse population of students within the public education system, and to provide a choice of educational opportunities within a public school system for parents, teachers, and educators.

"PCS has demonstrated achievement of these goals and now the nation has recognized this accomplishment as well," said Ms. Ngoma: "Princeton Charter School demonstrates that public schools can be held accountable for high levels of learning among all students at considerable taxpayer saving."

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