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The U.S. Department of Education identified nine Minnesota schools as worthy of its National Blue Ribbon distinction this week, a status agency leaders say they reserve for schools that "set a national example" in academics.

In the metro area, the schools that were recognized are Chanhassen Elementary in Chanhassen; Oak Point Elementary in Eden Prairie; Countryside Elementary in Edina; Wayzata East Middle School in Plymouth; Nova Classical Academy Upper School in St. Paul; and Holy Family Catholic High in Victoria.

In greater Minnesota, the agency recognized Stephen-Argyle Central Elementary in Argyle; Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Elementary in Lake Crystal; and Folwell Elementary in Rochester.

"The leaders, educators, and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally," U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The Minnesota Department of Education nominates schools for the national honor. Finalists are then chosen based on students' performance on standardized tests.

Schools that land on the list either deliver outstanding academic results for all students or because they dramatically close or narrow academic opportunity gaps.