Great PA Schools Designation

The Great PA Schools designation recognizes Pennsylvania public schools that provide students with access to rigorous programming, are community-centric, demonstrate financial well-being and display resilience. Schools are awarded a ribbon valid for a four-year term through an application and review process.

Before you begin your application, it may be helpful to review the selection criteria below and gather the following information. Signatures from the superintendent and school board president are required before submitting your application.

  • Contact information and district social media accounts
  • Written examples demonstrating your district:
    • Serves as a centerpiece of the community
    • Provides robust mental health supports
    • Is in good financial standing, including your audit and bid solicitation processes

Careful consideration is taken to recognize urban, suburban, and rural; large and small; traditional and innovative districts, as well as those serving students of every social, economic and ethnic background. Applications are accepted and approved on a rolling basis.

To receive a Great PA Schools designation, districts must meet the following criteria:

Students feel both successful and challenged daily through curriculum that provides an elevated level of student engagement and learning through a sophisticated understanding of fundamental ideas driven by a curiosity to discover what they do not know.

To meet the “academically rigorous” requirement, districts must:

  • Have 100% of teachers certified.  
  • Offer access to three or more of the following rigorous programs: 
    • Career and tech ed programming 
    • Gifted education  
    • Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses Gifted education  
    • JROTC program  

Defined as the mental reservoir of strength that helps people handle stress and hardship, a district’s resilience can be demonstrated specifically in its emergency preparedness plans and implementation of mental health supports for students.

To meet the “resilient” requirement, districts must:

  • Implement an emergency preparedness plan. 
  • Provide mental health supports for students.

School districts can control their long-term financial well-being by monitoring certain key indicators and planning accordingly, such as budget development, conducting a
financial audit and following bid requirements. A healthy financial condition leads to a successful academic program.

To meet the “financially healthy” requirement, districts must:

  • Have an elected or independent auditor conduct a financial audit annually.
  • Make final budget available for public review prior to adoption.
  • Follow School Code requirements for bids and quotations when purchasing goods and services.

Academic outcomes, social and emotional competencies, and critical thinking skills are all enhanced when students have access to school environments where they feel safe and enjoy a sense of belonging and connectedness.

To meet the “community-centric” requirement, districts must:

  • Demonstrate innovation in school programming.
  • Regularly celebrate the success of students and staff.
  • Provide academic and extracurricular offerings for the benefit of students.


Great PA Schools Designation Recipients

School District Date Awarded
Mercer Area School DistrictJune 2024
Titusville Area School DistrictJune 2024
Upper Perkiomen School DistrictMay 2024
Sharpsville Area School DistrictApril 2024
Conneaut School DistrictApril 2024
Cranberry Area School DistrictMarch 2024
Pennridge School DistrictMarch 2024
Pocono Mountain School DistrictFebruary 2024
North East School DistrictFebruary 2024
New Hope-Solebury School DistrictFebruary 2024
Palisades School DistrictFebruary 2024
Franklin Area School DistrictFebruary 2024
Central Columbia School DistrictJanuary 2024
Central York School DistrictJanuary 2024
North Hills School DistrictJanuary 2024
Parkland School DistrictJanuary 2024
Tunkhannock Area School DistrictJanuary 2024