Eight Maryland schools — six public and two parochial — were named 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools on Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.
The designation given to the most successful schools in the country went to schools in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Frederick and Washington counties.
In the Baltimore region, the schools named were Lake Shore Elementary School and Severna Park Elementary in Anne Arundel County; Pine Grove Elementary in Baltimore County; and Fountain Green Elementary in Harford County.
Kemptown Elementary School in Frederick County and Smithsburg High School in Washington County were also named Blue Ribbon Schools.
The two parochial schools named are Cardinal Hickey Academy in Calvert County and Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda.
Maryland gave the six public schools state blue ribbon status last December and nominated them for the national status.
"These six schools proudly represent the outstanding education taking place in schools and classrooms throughout Maryland," interim state schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith said. "We congratulate everyone involved, from the students to the teachers, to the administrators, to the parents and communities."
The schools are recognized for high achievement and significant improvement. In some cases, they serve a significant number of economically disadvantaged students.
At Pine Grove Elementary School, for example, 97 percent of students passed state reading tests and more than 93 percent passed the math tests, despite a high percentage of economically disadvantaged and minority students.
Severna Park Elementary has been in the top 5 percent of schools in Anne Arundel and Maryland for the past seven years. Lake Shore Elementary students have closed the achievement gap for disadvantaged and special-education students.
The Education Department named 285 public and 50 private schools National Blue Ribbon Schools. They are to be recognized at a ceremony in Washington in November.
More than 8,000 schools have been designated National Blue Ribbon Schools in the program's 33-year history.