CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago area schools are celebrating after being recognized as National Blue Ribbon winners.

The Department of Education honor recognizes academic excellence and success in closing achievement gaps.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez on Thursday visited one of these special schools on Chicago’s North Side, to see what makes the difference.

Audubon Elementary in the Roscoe Village neighborhood has seen a turnaround in the past 10 years. Principal John Price credits its teachers.

“They make all the difference. They’re the ones here at 6:30 in the morning and leaving at 6 at night,” he said.

In 2001, only half the students were meeting state standards in reading and math. That figure is now 90 percent. That improvement won them a National Blue Ribbon award.

Melanie Boone says her special-needs son has showed marked improvement after moving from school to school.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” she says.

When teachers realized the reading curriculum wasn’t pulling kids in, they re-wrote it themselves. And the school managed to get parents involved.

“Really it was about opening the door,” Price says.

Northside College Prep High School was also named a Blue Ribbon school.

Officials from both schools will join Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Washington for a special ceremony in November.

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