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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-29
April 12, 2011
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces
2011 California Distinguished Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced 100* exemplary California public middle and high schools were selected as 2011 California Distinguished Schools as the state's prestigious awards program celebrates its silver anniversary. The list of the schools may be found at 2011 Distinguished Middle and High Schools - California Distinguished Schools Program.

"These schools are being recognized for attaining high levels of performance and sustained growth, and for making significant progress in closing the academic achievement gap," Torlakson said. "Becoming a Distinguished School is a direct reflection of the dedication, hard work, and vision of each school's education community. They have succeeded despite a bleak economic environment and have endeavored to maintain their momentum and focus."

In addition, five of the newly designated Distinguished Schools also earned the Exemplary Career Technical Education Program Award for offering exemplary career technical education programs. The schools are identified by an asterisk on the attached list.

The California School Recognition Program is now in its 25th year and honors the state's most exemplary and inspiring public schools with the California Distinguished School Award. The 100* schools join more than 5,300 public schools that have been designated or redesignated a Distinguished School since the program began in 1986.

Although participation is voluntary, the award is highly sought after by schools in all areas of the state. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.

Schools earning the Distinguished School title this year 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. To view the current Signature Practices Website, please visit Closing the Achievement Gap: Success Stories: Signature Practices Search [Note: The preceding link is no longer active.].

The 2011 California Distinguished Schools are geographically diverse with locations in small rural communities, suburban neighborhoods, and large urban cities. Most have significant populations of students living in poverty or learning English. Regardless of the setting, all these schools have teachers and principals committed to ensuring student success.

Schools were identified for eligibility on the basis of their Academic Performance Index and Adequate Yearly Progress results, which are the state and federal accountability models, respectively.

The applicants were also identified by their success in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher-performing and lower-performing students. All applicants underwent a stringent selection process conducted by the California Department of Education with the help of many educators from across the state. Each applicant was required to describe two Signature Practices that have led to an increase in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap. Applicants were then selected to receive a thorough site visit to validate the Signature Practices.

The 2011 California Distinguished Schools will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on May 20, 2011.** Also being honored during the ceremony will be schools selected last month as Title I Academic Achievement Awardees and California's nominees for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

The event and awards are funded by donations from many of California's most prominent corporations and statewide educational organizations.

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* Editor's Note: This number was modified on 26-May-2011.

** Please note, this event was cancelled. For more information, please visit CA School Recognition Awards Ceremony Cancellation - Letters.

Related Content
  • California Distinguished School Awards Program - Honors some of California's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for the Distinguished School Award demonstrate academic success and exemplary programmatic offering.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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