(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. Department of Education is honoring the winners of 2022’s National Blue Ribbon School Awards, recognizing a total of 297 U.S. schools for their exemplary test performances or efforts to close achievement gaps between students.

“I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams,” said Miguel Cardona, the U.S. Secretary of Education, in a press release issued by the Department of Education on Thursday. “As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children.”

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Cardona added that 2022’s honorees had all gone “above and beyond” to keep students safe while making a “positive difference in students’ lives.”

Created in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon School Program recognizes public, parochial and private learning facilities from across the country, as nominated by the chief educational officers in each state (for public schools) or the Council for American Private Education (for private or parochial schools).

Schools can be recognized for a Blue Ribbon School Award in one of two performance categories: high achievement as measured “by state assessments or nationally normed tests,” and greatest advancements in closing achievement gaps.

This year, schools from 45 different states as well as DC and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) were recognized: 273 public schools and 24 parochial and private. Texas boasted the most Blue Ribbon Schools with a total of 31, followed by California (29), New York (20), Illinois (17) and Ohio (13).

A graphic released by the Department of Education lists 2022’s number of honorees per state. (Department of Education)

A complete list of 2022’s winners can be found at the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program website.

Five states did not participate in the Blue Ribbon awards, including Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Oregon and Vermont, the latter two of which have not participated since 1998 and 1994, respectively. Schools in all U.S. territories and those under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are eligible for consideration. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the BIE also did not participate in 2022.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, has issued approximately 10,000 Blue Ribbon School Awards to over 9,000 different schools since its inception.

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In order to qualify for an award, schools must meet the wide set of requirements set forth by the Education Department before being submitted for consideration by a state official. Up to 421 schools may be nominated in a given year, including 50 total private schools. In addition, a school can only be nominated once within a five-year period, per the program’s official rules.