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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
February 7, 2018

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Elementary School Principals:

2018 California Distinguished Schools and Exemplary Districts Award Programs

I am pleased to announce the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program. This is one of the many ways that the California Department of Education (CDE) and I celebrate outstanding educational programs and practices through our California School Recognition Program which honors exemplary students, teachers, classified employees, and schools for advancing excellence in education. After a three-year break, the California Distinguished Schools Program is back and replaces the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program.

Sponsored by California Casualty, the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes California elementary schools that have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students. By using California’s multiple measures accountability system, the CDE has identified eligible schools based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). You can access the California School Dashboard Report on the CDE’s California School Dashboard Web page at

All schools listed on the Distinguished Schools Eligibility List for 2018 at are required to submit a completed Distinguished Schools application by the due date in order be recognized as a 2018 California Distinguished Schools Awardee. These schools are also eligible to apply for an Exemplary Programs Award in Arts Education, and/or Physical Activity and Nutrition Education. Applying for these additional Exemplary Programs Awards is optional.

The completed California Distinguished Schools application must be submitted electronically on or before Monday, March 12, 2018, in order to be eligible for consideration.

In addition, this year California will also recognize exemplary districts that have at least one school listed on the Distinguished Schools Eligibility List for 2018. This Exemplary Districts Award celebrates the achievements of districts who have implemented model practices that have had a positive impact on student outcomes.

Applications and information about the California Distinguished Schools Program, the Exemplary Programs Award, and the new Exemplary Districts Award may be found on the CDE Distinguished Schools Program Web page at

If you have any questions, please contact the Improvement and Accountability Division, Regional Support and Awards Office by e-mail at


Tom Torklakson


cc: County Coordinators

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 7, 2019

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