Ellicott Mills Middle School has been named one of Maryland's six Blue Ribbon schools. The school found out Tuesday through an announcement from state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

"We ecstatic," Principal Mike Goins said. "We're surprised. We're thrilled. We're kind of walking around on a cloud right now."


Goins attributed the school's success to enthusiastic parents, dedicated teachers, talented students and the classroom-focused improvement process, a data-driven program that allows teachers to enact targeted academic interventions for students. The school initiated the program three years ago, Goins said.

"We have teachers who want to see students do well," Goins said.


The school is no stranger to accolades. Ellicott Mills has received a Maryland School Performance Program Award for Outstanding Performance on the Maryland School Assessment from 2003 through 2007.

"Principal Mike Goins and his entire team at Ellicott Mills should be extremely proud of all they have accomplished. Because of their dedication and the hard work of their students, Ellicott Mills has become one of our top-performing middle schools," said Howard schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin in a prepared statement. "They have much to celebrate."

Ellicott Mills distinguished itself by excelling on the Maryland School Assessment. In fact, the school was among the top performing in the state.

In 2009, 92.4 percent of students at the school scored at proficient or above in math. In reading, that number was 95.6 percent. On the science portion of the assessment, 96.3 percent of students scored at proficient or above.

Special-education students have also made tremendous gains. Five years ago, 35.2 percent of the school's special-education students performed at proficient or above in math. In 2009, 80.6 scored at proficient or above. In reading, the percentage of special-education students scoring at proficient or above increased from 54.7 percent to 75 percent during a five-year period.

Students in the school's free or reduced-price meals program are performing above the state average in both math and reading. In math, the scores almost doubled from 45 percent in 2005 to 80.9 percent in 2009. In reading, scores increased from 55 percent in 2005 to 83.4 percent in 2009.

The school plans to celebrate its latest accolade by welcoming Grasmick to the school in February. There are also plans to host a pizza party for the school, Goins said.

"We're looking as a school community to see how we can celebrate," he said.