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California Gold Ribbon Schools Program

A program for which honors some of California's outstanding public schools. Schools that are selected demonstrate exemplary achievements in implementing state standards in priority areas.

The California Department of Education (CDE) seeks to recognize outstanding educational programs and practices. The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor public schools while the California Distinguished Schools Program is on hiatus as California continues its transition to new assessment and accountability systems. Since the program's inception, CDE has recognized 193 middle schools, 180 high schools, and 780 elementary schools as Gold Ribbon School Award recipients. We will honor middle and high schools in 2017.

Traditionally, the Distinguished Schools Program honored public schools that showed improved student outcomes as measured through Standardized Testing and Reporting scores and additional measures. As programs and policies evolve, the CDE looks toward the same recognition of educational quality with the implementation of academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all pupils, including English learners.

California middle and high schools that have made tremendous gains in implementing State Board policies and their Local Control Accountability Plan are invited to apply for the 2017 Gold Ribbon Schools Award. Model programs and practices should include standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that schools have adopted during this transitional period, which can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

As components of the new accountability system have been approved by the State Board of Education and the CAASPP test scores are available, schools must certify that their percentage of students who Met or Exceeded standards on the ELA and Math Smarter Balanced Assessment for the 2015-16 testing cycle is higher than the statewide average for like schools. (i.e. a high school’s percentage of students exceeding or meeting standards must be higher than the statewide average for high school students meeting or exceeding standards).

2017 Middle and High Schools Program

IMPORTANT: If your school is on the list of eligible middle and high schools above, but you were a 2015 Gold Ribbon School recipient, you cannot apply for this award for 2017.

2017 Application Package

Applications for the 2017 Gold Ribbon School and any Exemplary Programs must be postmarked no later than Monday, December 5, 2016. (Updated 18-Nov-2016)

Gold Ribbon Schools Award
Exemplary Programs

2017 Sponsors and Special Friends

Special thanks to our sponsors and partners who help to make our program a success!

Naming Sponsor

California Casualty External link opens in new window or tab. Headquartered in San Mateo, California Casualty is proud to sponsor the CDE’s School Recognition program because we are committed to education and have supported California teachers and students at school, in the community and behind the wheel for over 60 years.

It is an honor to recognize educators who make a difference every day for our children. It takes real commitment to go far above and beyond to help students reach their full potential. Follow the link above to learn more about California Casualty and our sponsorship of the California Department of Education’s California School Recognition Program.


2016 Sponsors and Special Friends
2015 Sponsors and Special Friends

Past Recipients

Related Information

Questions:   Awards Team | | 916-319-0842
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 19, 2017