BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A handful of Maryland schools are on the state’s short list of best schools. The winners of the Blue Ribbon School Awards were announced Wednesday.

Gigi Barnett explains the selection committee weighs everything — even attendance rates.

Maryland has more than 1,400 schools statewide. Many of them are top-performing. But this week, only six of them made the 2014 Blue Ribbon list.

In a special ceremony, state school leaders congratulated principals, teachers and parents on the prestigious award.

“They set the example for our state and the country at large, that yes, we can achieve at all levels,” said Dr. Lillian Lowery, state school superintendent.

Baltimore County’s Western School of Technology and Environmental Science has a blue ribbon.

Students at the magnet school increased their advanced placement test scores and more than one-third of the senior class participates in internships. The school also saw a big boost in the number of students taking advanced science and biology courses.

“When kids are in freshman classes, they’re hearing about pre-AP. We prepare these kids thinking that before they leave school, they’re going to take on one AP class to ensure that they can go on to college,” said Jennie Rowe, Western Tech science teacher.

The Blue Ribbon committee looks at a number of factors when judging schools. In addition to high test scores and grades, high attendance means high marks. For instance, at Western Tech, more than 95 percent of students attend class every day.

“They understand that in order to earn an education, you have to be there. That’s step number one,” said Buddy Parker, Western Tech principal.

In addition to Western Tech, Frost Elementary in Allegany County, Linthicum Elementary in Anne Arundel County, Northern Garrett High in Garrett County, Cashell Elementary in Montgomery County and Robert Goddard French Immersion Elementary in Prince George’s County, are all Blue Ribbon schools, too.

The key now is keeping that status.

“The huge piece we have to focus as schools is sustainability. Let’s focus on we’ve gotten there, let’s stay there and do better,” Lowery said.

Each school now moves on to compete for the National Blue Ribbon.

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