Six local schools were among the 387 California public elementary schools named 2012 California Distinguished Schools for their innovative education programs that encourage students to learn and help close the achievement gap.
The list was revealed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
“The schools we are recognizing today demonstrate the incredible commitment of California’s teachers, administrators, and school employees to provide a world-class education to every student, in spite of the financial hardships facing our state and our schools,” he said. “Their dedication is inspiring, and I applaud and admire their passion and persistence.”
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From the Saugus District, James Foster, Rio Vista and Tesoro del Valle Elementary Schools were given the honors, which were also bestowed on Newhall District schools Oak Hills, Old Orchard and Stevenson Ranch Elementary.
It was the first time recognition for Tesoro del Valle and Oak Hills, being newer schools to the districts.
“We are so proud of all of the energy and efforts,” said Saugus Superintendent Joan Lucid. “The state required that you would have a certain percentage of points over and above the state average in your subgroups, so those school sites have been doing an incredible job at working with their English language learner subgroup, their special education subgroups, all of their racial/ethnic subgroups and several of them showed tremendous improvement.”
She also commended the state officials who came to assess the schools’ programs.
“The validators were amazing when they came in and spoke with the principals,” she continued. “I wish every parent and every teacher could have listened to the administrative staff talk to the validators about what their teachers are doing, what their children are doing, what their parents are doing as support for their school and the amount of effort and energy that goes into just creating an incredible academic program. That also includes all of the soft skills: getting along, and the teamwork, making people feel welcome, all of those things.”
She said that everyone at Tesoro is “thrilled.”
Lucid said that it was a nice change from the budget woes that have kept school administrators busy.
”You know, we need good news in education and it’s a cause to celebrate.”
Mark Winger, Superintendent of the Newhall District, was equally pleased.
“We are very proud of the latest schools to achieve statewide recognition,” said Winger. “We know that our core instructional program, our staff development, the dedication of our teachers and support staff, and the talents of our students are what draws this kind of attention. And we are doing the job in the face of withering budget cuts that have caused the elimination of important programs. It is another great day for the Newhall School District.”
“Our teachers, principals, and students work hard to achieve and we welcome this recognition” said Christy Smith, president of Newhall’s governing board. “The outstanding staffs at these three schools have approached their school’s instructional program with creativity and commitment and it’s been effective for their students.”
The list of schools may be found on the California Department of Education Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/cs/ .
The 2012 California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California’s students and their entitlement to an equitable and rigorous education. The program identifies and honors those schools that have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap.
To be invited to apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Academic Performance Index requirements.
Once schools are deemed eligible, the CDE invites them to apply to be recognized as a California Distinguished School. The application process consists of a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school's signature practices, and a county-led site validation review process, which validates the implementation of those signature practices.
Elementary and secondary schools (middle and high schools) are recognized in alternate years. This year focuses on elementary schools.
Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and serve as mentors to other educators who want to replicate their work. An updated searchable database of these Signature Practices will be available later this spring by the California Department of Education.
Schools selected for recognition will be honored as Distinguished Schools at award ceremonies where Torlakson will present each school with a 2012 Distinguished School plaque and flag. The event and awards are funded by donations from many of California’s most prominent corporations and statewide educational organizations.