Four local school districts were recently awarded the Bright Red Apple award for educational excellence.

Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208, Lyons Township High School District 204, Riverside Elementary School District 96 and Brookfield-LaGrange District 102 all received the award from the education research and consulting firm School Search, which provides information to help families make informed school choices and provides information primarily to realtors, corporations and relocating families.

The award is typically given to the around 10 percent of districts in a state. This year was given to just 83 of the 869 school districts in Illinois.

The award is based on five factors: academic performance, student /teacher ratio, operating expenditure per pupil, the educational level of teachers and average teacher salary.

“It’s just another indicator,” said District 208 Interim Superintendent David Bonnette. “It has some level of prestige. We’re pleased to have been so recognized.”

Three District 96 schools also received Education Academic Excellence awards from Illinois State Board of Education.

Blythe Park and Central elementary schools and Hauser Junior High School were recognized for having more than 90 percent of their students meet or exceed state standards on the annual Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) for three years in a row.

While Blythe Park and Central schools have received this award in the past, it was the first time Hauser has won the award.

Hauser’s achievement coincides with the school adopting a middle school philosophy of education three years ago. And it came at the same time its enrollment increased by more than 30 percent, its number of low-income students increased by 280 percent and its racial and ethnic diversity increased by nearly 400 percent.

“We’re really grateful to recognized for this accomplishment,” said Leslie Berman, who was hired as Hauser’s principal nearly four years ago.

Berman said that while it is impossible to pinpoint any one factor for improvement at Hauser, she said that she thought the switch to the middle school philosophy has played a key role.