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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #13-45
April 11, 2013
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces
California Distinguished Schools for 2013

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named 218 public middle and high schools California Distinguished Schools for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.

"These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college," Torlakson said. "Given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years, it is inspiring to see this kind of success in so many schools. Our future depends on meeting the needs of every student no matter where they come from or where they live."

The 2013 California Distinguished Schools Program directly focuses on the right of California's students to an equitable and rigorous education, and recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

To apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including accountability measures. Once schools are deemed eligible, the California Department of Education (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 are recognized in alternate years. For more information please go to the California Distinguished Schools Program Web site.

Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and become a mentor to those seeking to replicate their work. An updated searchable database of these Signature Practices will be available later this spring from the CDE. To view the current Signature Practices Web site, please visit the Distinguished Schools Signature Practices page.

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Exemplary Program occurs every other year in conjunction with the Distinguished Schools Program's recognition of secondary schools. The award honors schools with CTE programs that provide high-quality career technical education experiences for all students. The Distinguished Schools that are also being recognized for their CTE programs this year are Warren High School in the Downey Unified School District, Los Angeles County; and Vail Ranch Middle School in the Temecula Valley Unified School District, Riverside County.

This year Torlakson is piloting two new exemplary programs that replicate the ideals of his A Blueprint for Great Schools in the areas of Arts Education and Physical Activity and Nutrition Education. Schools that chose to receive additional recognition for such exemplary programs were required to submit a separate application and received an additional site validation. Announcement of the awardees of these new exemplary programs will be released later this month.

Schools selected as California Distinguished Schools will be honored in May during regional award ceremonies where Torlakson will present each school with a 2013 Distinguished School plaque and flag.

Also being honored during the ceremonies are the Title I Academic Achievement Awardees that will be identified later this month and also those schools nominated in December 2012 for the federal National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

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

The California Department of Education gratefully acknowledges the following entities, whose financial contributions will make the 2013 California Distinguished School Awards Ceremony possible:

  • Comcast.
  • Wells Fargo.
  • California State Lottery.
  • California Credit Union.
  • Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Region.
  • Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.
  • WestEd.
  • California Building Industry Association.
  • California School Boards Association.
  • California State Parent Teacher Association.
  • California Teachers Association.
  • Lozano Smith.

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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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