The Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia has been called many things since it opened in 2001: success story, ground-breaker, gentrifier.
Now it can add a new label: national award winner.
The K-8 school — located on the western edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus — was named a National Blue Ribbon School on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education.
First awarded in 1982, the honor goes to schools that are extraordinarily high-achieving or — as in Penn Alexander’s case — have done a notable job in closing the achievement gap. Just 11 public schools in Philadelphia have earned the distinction, and Penn Alexander is the only District winner this year.
Penn Alexander is also a notable recipient in one other regard — it’s a neighborhood elementary school. Of the 10 other District schools that have won the National Blue Ribbon honor in previous years, eight are special-admission schools. The list includes perennial top performers Julia R. Masterman Laboratory & Demonstration School, Central High School, and the Philadelphia High School for Girls.
“The School District of Philadelphia congratulates Penn Alexander on this exciting accomplishment,” said District Superintendent William Hite. “Penn Alexander is a strong example of just how great Philadelphia schools can be."
Penn Alexander has been a closely watched experiment since its inception 15 years ago. The school was conceived as a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and the University of Pennsylvania.
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