Secretary Cardona Congratulates 2021 President’s Education Awards Program Recipients

Secretary Cardona Congratulates 2021 President’s Education Awards Program Recipients

Nearly 1.85 million elementary, middle, and high school graduates at more than 18,750 schools recognized
September 17, 2021

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona today congratulated the 2021 President's Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients, recognizing nearly 1.85 million elementary, middle, and high school graduates on their educational accomplishments. The students come from more than 18,750 public, private, and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American military bases abroad.

"President Biden and I are thrilled to recognize this year's honorees and celebrate their accomplishments with the nation, along with their families, teachers, and communities who helped them along their educational journey, said Secretary Cardona. "For all the hardships and heartache over the last school year, I firmly believe that we, as a country—and this rising generation—can emerge from this challenging time even stronger. The President's Education Award Program honorees have forged opportunity out of crisis and drawn on their resolve, their ingenuity, and their tireless optimism to excel."

PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided our nation's schools with the opportunity to recognize graduating students who meet high standards of academic excellence and those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles to their learning.

Each year, eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their school principals for recognition in two categories:

  • The President's Award for Educational Excellence—This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet requirements, including grade point average or other school-set criteria and choice of state tests or teacher recommendations.
  • The President's Award for Educational Achievement—This award recognizes students who show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their academic subjects but do not meet the criteria for the Educational Excellence Award. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of  obstacles. Criteria for this award are developed at each school.

Individual recognition is bestowed by the President and the U.S. Secretary of Education, in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The award includes a congratulatory letter to the student and a certificate signed by the President, the Secretary, and the school principal.

Unlike other awards programs, the principal has sole discretion in choosing recipients based on eligibility. There is no limit on the number of awards as long as students meet the criteria for each award set by the school.

Despite the uncertainty and challenges related to COVID-19, the program continued to accept and fulfill nominations so that student recognition could continue.

A list of schools, by state and territory, participating in the President's Education Awards is available here.