Five Alabama schools are among the 329 chosen nationally for recognition as Blue Ribbons Schools, one the highest honors a school can achieve.  The program, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, is now in its 34th year.

Schools chosen for 2016 are: Academy for Science and Foreign Language in the Huntsville City system; Eura Brown Elementary in the Gadsden City system; Forest Avenue Academic Magnet and LAMP High school in the Montgomery County system and Vestavia Hills Elementary West school in the Vestavia Hills City system.

Schools are judged on all student scores, subgroup scores and graduation rates.

It is noteworthy that these award-winning schools back up the contention that poverty level and school and student performance go hand in hand.  While the state average for free-reduced lunches is 52 percent, the Blue Ribbon schools are 32 percent for the Huntsville school; 26 percent for the Gadsden school; eight and six percent for the two Montgomery schools and 10 percent for the Vestavia Hills schools.

Alabama fares well in comparison to other southern states.  North Carolina has eight, Georgia has seven, Tennessee has six, Alabama has five; Louisiana has five, South Carolina has three and Florida has three.

And for those keeping score, while Alabama has five Blue Ribbon schools this year, Massachusetts, the greatest school system in the universe, only has three.