Lakeside Middle School is one of 35 California schools nominated for a national Blue Ribbon

Our very own Lakeside Middle School is in the running for the highest honor bestowed upon K-12 campuses in the U.S.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on Jan. 10 that Lakeside was among 35 sites nominated by California for the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Program, which recognizes academic powerhouses as well as the nation’s most improved schools.

“These schools all share a deep commitment to the education and well-being of their students,” Torlakson said. “We’ve recognized them on the state level, and now I hope their outstanding work and remarkable progress will be further spotlighted nationally.”

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education spells out the specifics for states to follow when nominating prospective Blue Ribbon schools, and in 2012 there were two categories:

Exemplary High-Performing Schools included those with the top rates of students scoring proficient or advanced in English and math on state assessments, while Exemplary Improving Schools featured campuses with a large percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students that made outstanding strides in the same core subjects.

Either way, schools had to hit their federal and state targets in 2010 and 2011 just to be eligible for a nomination.

Lakeside did all that and more, posting a 937 on California’s most recent Academic Performance Index, which measures achievement on a scale of 200 to 1,000 based on standards tests. In 2010, Lakeside was also named the top middle school in the county by The Orange County Register.

To officially make the cut as a Blue Ribbon winner, all 35 nominees are required to meet their federal and state goals again in 2012. Moreover, all of their numerically significant subgroups have to do the same. The final nomination check will be completed in August or September, according to the state education officials.

Overall, the Irvine Unified School District has produced 13 Blue Ribbon schools since 1983. You can learn more about the Blue Ribbon program here.