For the second year in a row, the Blue Springs School District has a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.

Voy Spears Jr. Elementary School is one of eight Missouri schools to receive the honor, as announced Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Last year, Blue Springs had two of Missouri's eight Blue Ribbon Schools in Lucy Franklin and William Yates elementary schools. Then-governor Jay Nixon visited the eight schools during his last months in office.

The Blue Ribbon award recognizes schools that perform at high academic levels (top 15 percent in the state based on assessment scores and graduation rates) or that perform at high levels while serving a significant proportion of disadvantaged students (top 15 percent in progress toward reducing the achievement gap).

Earlier this year, the eight Missouri schools were honored as Gold Star Schools under the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's program, which has the same nomination criteria as the Blue Ribbon program. Blue Springs Schools have received 14 Gold Stars since the state established that program in 1991. Schools are nominated for Blue Ribbon status by their respective state's department of education.

“We are proud of Voy Spears Jr. Elementary for being named a National Blue Ribbon School,” Blue Springs superintendent Jim Finley said in a district release. “Their staff, students, parents and community partners are to be commended for their academic achievements and commitment to professional development.”

Representatives from the Blue Ribbon schools may attend the national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Nov. 6-7. Each school receives a plaque and flag, and schools' achievements are shared on the Department of Education's website.