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California Distinguished Schools Program

Honors some of California's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for the Distinguished School Award demonstrate significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap.

Program Information

A component of the California Department of Education (CDE) California School Recognition Program (CSRP), the California Distinguished Schools Program was established by the CDE in 1985 and recognizes schools that demonstrate exemplary achievements. The California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes elementary and middle and high schools in alternate years. Schools recognized as a California Distinguished Schools hold the title for two years.

Eligibility Criteria

California uses a multiple measures accountability system to identify eligible schools based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Information regarding the Dashboard is provided on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page.

In 2024 California is recognizing outstanding middle and high schools.

In addition to the CDE News Release and website postings, the CDE will send an email notification to award-winning schools.

Note: The CSRP uses the CDE California School Directory (CDS) for county, district, and school information for awardee lists and for notifications of award recognitions. You are encouraged to review your entity’s information and submit all updates/corrections through your local educational agency (LEA) CDS coordinator. Updates can be submitted directly to the LEA CDS Coordinator by clicking the Request Data Update(s) link in your CDS Coordinator field on the California School Directory web page for that entity. All county, district, and school names are shown at the time of the award.


Date Event
February 2024 2024 Distinguished Schools Announced.
May 3, 2024 California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony.


We are thankful for our California School Recognition Program Sponsors who help to make the California Distinguished Schools Program a success! The CSRP would not be successful without the generous support they provide. We appreciate their willingness to support our efforts to recognize California's exemplary schools, teachers, and classified school employees, for achievement and for advancing excellence in education.

A sponsorship in the CSRP is a commitment to an ongoing partnership with public education by helping ensure that the dream of a world-class public education lives on in California.


California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremonies
Information about the California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremonies.

California School Recognition Program County Coordinators
Contact information for California School Recognition Program county office of education coordinators.

California School Recognition Program Merchandise
Information about California School Recognition Program merchandise.

California Distinguished Schools Logo
California Distinguished Schools downloadable logo.

California Distinguished Schools Awardees
California Distinguished Schools Awardees information.

California Exemplary Program Awardees
California Exemplary Program Awardees by year.

California Exemplary Districts Awardees
California Exemplary District Awardees by year.

Questions: Awards Unit | | 916-319-0842 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Recently Posted in Awards and Recognition