Eight Minnesota schools have earned national recognition for their progress in closing achievement gaps.

They are among 317 public and 50 private schools across the county named this year as Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools made the list based on their overall academic performance or, as in the case of the Minnesota schools, because of their work in narrowing gaps in test scores and graduation rates between different groups of students.

The Minnesota Blue Ribbon Schools are Centennial Elementary School in Circle Pines; Grey Cloud Elementary School in Cottage Grove; Highland Elementary School in Apple Valley; Houston Elementary School in Houston; Jefferson Elementary School in Mankato; Northside Elementary School in St. James; Richmond Elementary School in Richmond; and Sunset Hill Elementary School in Plymouth.

Typically, Blue Ribbon schools are honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's awards ceremony on Nov. 12 and 13 will be virtual.