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Individual Award/Recognition Programs - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

California Teachers of the Year

A component of the California School Recognition Program (CSRP), the California Teachers of the Year (TOY) Program highlights educational innovation, student learning, and the rewards of teaching. The California TOY Program recognizes exemplary teachers who best represent all of California’s teachers and symbolize the profession’s contributions to quality education. Further, the program attracts public attention to the positive aspects of our educational system. Teacher quality and recruitment as well as retention ranks high on every educational agenda in the state. The California TOY Program affords the opportunity to bring attention to teachers who successfully employ strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap among a range of students. In addition, each year one of California’s TOY Awardees is eligible to be nominated for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

Additional information is available on the California Department of Education (CDE) California Teachers of the Year web page.

For information on the California TOY Program, contact the Awards Team, Communications Division, by phone at 916-319-0842 or by email at awards@cde.ca.gov.

Classified School Employees of the Year

A component of the California School Recognition Program (CSRP), the Classified School Employees of the Year (CSEY) Program highlights contributions of classified school employees who support the education of California’s more than six million public school students from preschool through grade twelve. The CSEY Program pays tribute to the tireless efforts of our state's outstanding classified school employees. From school bus drivers to cafeteria workers to instructional aides, these employees are the unsung heroes who play key roles in creating a school environment that contributes to the whole child by promoting student achievement, safety, and health. In addition, each year one of California’s CSEY Awardees is eligible to be nominated for the National Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award.

Additional information is available on the CDE Classified School Employees of the Year web page.

For information on the CSEY Program, contact the Awards Team, Communications Division, by phone at 916-319-0842 or by email at awards@cde.ca.gov.

Golden State Seal Merit Diploma

The Golden State Seal Merit Diploma (GSSMD) provides recognition to public school graduates who have demonstrated their mastery of the high school curriculum in at least six subject areas, four of which are English language arts, mathematics, science, and U.S. history, with the remaining two subject areas selected by the student. The GSSMD is awarded jointly by the State Board of Education (SBE) and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI). In January 2016, the SBE designated new GSSMD eligibility requirements that include a combination of qualifying Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments results, course grades, and/or results from assessments produced by private providers or local educational agencies (LEAs) for use by LEAs to award the GSSMD to students who are graduating.

Additional information is available on the CDE Golden State Seal Merit Diploma web page.

For information on the GSSMD, contact the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma staff, Interim and Formative Assessments Office, Assessment Development and Administration Division, by phone at 916-319-0758 or by email at gssmd@cde.ca.gov.

Honors at Graduation

The CDE has prepared Honors at Graduation certificates for high school principals and counselors to present to seniors who will be given special recognition at their commencement ceremony. Schools or districts are responsible for developing their own criteria to identify recipients of this honor. Possible candidates might include students with high grade point averages, outstanding leadership skills, or dedication to community service.

Additional information is available on the CDE Honors at Graduation web page.

For information on the Honors at Graduation, contact the Awards Team, Communications Division, by phone at 916-319-0842 or by email at awards@cde.ca.gov.

Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards provides public recognition and financial rewards to elementary and secondary school teachers and principals who are furthering excellence in education. Each year, a handful of up-and-coming California educators are selected by the Milken Family Foundation for this significant award. The majority of recipients are classroom teachers who are relatively new to the profession. State Departments of Education across the nation assist in some aspects of candidate screening and notification on behalf of this non-profit foundation.

Additional information is available on the CDE Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards web page.

For information on the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards, contact Dina Fong, Manager, Superintendent's Correspondence Unit, Communications Division, by phone at 916-319-0551 or by email at dfong@cde.ca.gov.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that an elementary or secondary mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher may receive. The PAEMST Program recognizes outstanding science and mathematics teachers who are leaders in the improvement of science and mathematics education. The PAEMST Program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Recipients serve as models for other science and mathematics teachers; help to inspire students to study mathematics and science; and serve as leaders in their disciplines.

Additional information is available on the CDE Presidential Awards for Math and Science Teaching web page.

For information on the PAEMST Award, contact the PAEMST staff, Standards Implementation Support Office, Educator Excellence and Equity Division, by phone at 916-319-0198 or by email at paemst@cde.ca.gov.

Questions: Awards Team | awards@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0842 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, January 12, 2021