Arlington Public Schools on Wednesday received a prestigious regional award for excellent performance.

The Medallion of Excellence Award is presented by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Awards for Virginia and the District of Columbia to a top-performing organization in the fields of business, nonprofit, education or health care. Arlington is only the ninth school district in Virginia to receive the award since it was founded in 1983 and the first school district in nearly a decade to be recognized.

The application process involved 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by a team of examiners who evaluated the district’s leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement analysis and knowledge management, workforce focus, operations focus and performance results.

“This achievement represents the outstanding work that is being accomplished throughout APS every day. I want to thank our leadership team, including principals, teachers and instructional leaders, for their commitment and enthusiasm that has led to this level of achievement,” superintendent Patrick Murphy said in a statement.

The distinction makes Arlington schools eligible to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the highest national recognition for performance excellence. Officials said they plan to apply over the next two years.

Montgomery County Schools won the national award in 2010, one of only seven public school divisions to have earned the distinction.

It has been a successful year for Arlington’s school district. In May, Murphy was named the state’s superintendent of the year, selected from among eight regional finalists by the leaders of seven statewide education organizations and Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction.

Murphy was singled out for significantly reducing the drop-out rate and increasing the number of students who take advanced courses.

The distinction puts Murphy in the running for the National Superintendent of the Year Award, which will be announced in early 2015 by the American Association of School Administrators.