16 Illinois Schools Bestowed 'Blue Ribbon' Award in 2015

Sixteen Illinois schools are being recognized as outstanding by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Department's Blue Ribbon Schools program awards public and private elementary, middle and high schools for academic excellence and improvement in closing the gap between privileged and underprivileged students.

Schools can qualify by being "high performing" or "achievement gap closing."

All Illinois schools qualified by passing the performance qualifications.

They had to score in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state in reading and math. All of the groups within the school -- including lower income students -- had to be in the top 40 percent of schools. High schools had to maintain a graduation rate in the top 15 percent in the state.

Private schools had similar requirements, except all groups within the school had to have similar test results and high school graduation rates at to be at least 95 percent or higher.

Illinois had 22 Blue Ribbon Schools in 2014 and 21 in 2013.

Here's a list of the 16 that made the cut this year.