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2012 California Distinguished School Awards

Letter Head: Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

October 11, 2011

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

2012 CALIFORNIA DISTINGUISHED SCHOOL AWARDS

I am pleased to announce the launch of the California School Recognition Program’s (CSRP) 2012 California Distinguished School Awards for elementary schools.

This year we look forward to some exciting changes to the California Distinguished School Awards Program that will reflect the priorities set forth in A Blueprint for Great Schools. The program will also continue its focus on schools’ long-term success by providing incentives for schools to strive for high academic achievement and educational excellence for all students. (See the California Department of Education [CDE] A Blueprint for Great Schools Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/bp/ for a copy of A Blueprint for Great Schools.)

The CSRP was created in 1985 to communicate and reinforce the educational priorities of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) and the State Board of Education. The recognition program honors schools that are successfully implementing those priorities and identifies models of achievement for others. This tradition of honoring the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools is important as we highlight successes in education.

Elementary and secondary schools are recognized in alternate years. The 2012 California Distinguished School Awards focuses on elementary schools.

As this is a California program, we have decided the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results will no longer be a part of the eligibility criteria. Eligibility will continue to reflect California’s rigorous assessment standards through the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) results. In addition to continuing to use measures for closing the achievement gap, we are raising the cutoff from the median API score to the 60th percentile. For 2011, this API cutoff is greater or equal to 832. Detailed eligibility criteria are posted on the California Distinguished Schools Program (CDSP) Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/cs/.

The 2012 application will allow each school, which has successfully demonstrated academic excellence and closing the achievement gap, the opportunity to share successful signature practices and be recognized as a California Distinguished School.

The signature practice submission will be reviewed by a team of educators to verify the submission meets all application guidelines and is complete. Schools submitting a successful application will receive a site visit by a team of educators to validate the implementation of the school’s signature practices. The team will make the final recommendation to the SSPI.

In late October, schools meeting the established criteria will be notified by e-mail of their eligibility to apply for the 2012 California Distinguished School Award. At that time, the list of eligible schools will also be posted on the CDSP Web page along with the application and application instructions. The application will be due to the CDE on November 30, 2011.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Cynthia Henninger, Education Programs Assistant, Awards Team, by phone at 916-323-6230 or by e-mail at chenning@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tom Torlakson

TT:ch

cc: Elementary School Principals

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