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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Drum majorettes at Dana Middle School with mountains in the background.
Dana Middle School was among the middle and high schools that were honored as California Distinguished Schools. Less than 4 percent of California’s more than 2,650 public middle and high schools have been named in this year’s 2021 California Distinguished Schools Program.
Distinguished middle, high schools announced
April 12, 2021
More than 100 middle and high schools have earned the distinction of being California Distinguished Schools this year.
In March, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the schools being honored under the 2021 California Distinguished Schools Program.
The California Department of Education identifies and awards eligible schools based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability and continuous improvement system. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate.
“These schools are great examples of California’s commitment to provide outstanding public education for all students, and their data-driven efforts have helped ensure that their students leave with the tools and skills they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said, in a news release. “Our thanks go to the entire communities surrounding these schools, including the teachers, administrators, and classified employees as well as the students and their families who, through teamwork, all accomplished this impressive achievement together.”
Sponsored by the CDE and presented by California Casualty, the Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.
Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development to positive behavior intervention.
For example, La Cañada High in La Cañada Unified (Los Angeles County) qualified for the award based on exceptional student performance. Between 2018 and 2019, Dashboard data show that multiple student groups — including socioeconomically disadvantaged, students with disabilities and English learner student subgroups — improved their performance level (color) on both the English language arts and the mathematics indicators.
Mammoth Middle School in Mammoth Unified School District (Mono County) made significant progress toward closing achievement gaps for several groups. English learners, Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged student subgroups in particular all increased scores on their English language arts assessments. The school district implemented numerous programs to help struggling students, including intervention, support classes and tutoring and ongoing professional development for educators with Focused Schools.
Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts in Marysville Joint Unified (Yuba County) improved 15 points or more on the mathematics indicator for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, Hispanic students and all students, according to data on the California Dashboard. After studying their data, school leaders recognized all subgroups needed improvement in math, with Hispanic students furthest from meeting the standard. To help increase math scores, school leaders implemented staff mentoring, held staff and student tutoring, and provided professional development in math pedagogy.
2021 California Distinguished Schools
Alameda County: Albany City Unified, Albany Middle; Berkeley Unified, Martin Luther King Middle; Castro Valley Unified, Canyon Middle; Dublin Unified, Eleanor Murray Fallon; Livermore Valley Joint Unified, William Mendenhall Middle; Oakland Unified, Downtown Charter Academy; Piedmont City Unified, Piedmont Middle; Pleasanton Unified, Harvest Park Middle and Pleasanton Middle. Contra Costa County: Mt. Diablo Unified, Foothill Middle; San Ramon Valley Unified, Iron Horse Middle and Stone Valley Middle. El Dorado County: Buckeye Union Elementary, Rolling Hills Middle; Latrobe, Miller’s Hill; Rescue Union Elementary, Marina Village Middle. Fresno County: Clovis Unified, Clark Intermediate; Fresno Unified, Baird Middle and Edison Computech; Kings Canyon Joint Unified, General Grant Middle; Kingsburg Elementary Charter, Rafer Johnson Junior High. Kern County: Fruitvale Elementary, Fruit-vale Junior High. Los Angeles County: Arcadia Unified, Richard Henry Dana Middle; Burbank Unified, Luther Burbank Middle; Garvey Elementary, Garvey (Richard) Intermediate and Temple (Roger W.) Intermediate; La Cañada Unified, La Cañada High; Las Virgenes Unified, Alice C. Stelle Middle; Long Beach Unified, Helen Keller Middle, Hughes Middle and Marshall Academy of the Arts; Los Angeles Unified, Alliance Gertz-Ressler Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex, James Jordan Middle, KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory, KIPP Sol Academy, Larchmont Charter, Libertas College Preparatory Charter and Renaissance Arts Academy; Norwalk-La Mirada Unified, Arlie F. Hutchinson Middle and Los Coyotes Middle; Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified, Palos Verdes Intermediate; San Gabriel Unified, Jefferson Middle; South Pasadena Unified, South Pasadena Middle; Torrance Unified, Bert M. Lynn Middle, Calle Mayor Middle, Casimir Middle, Edward J. Richardson Middle and Madrona Middle; West Covina Unified, Hollencrest Middle; William S. Hart Union High, Placerita Junior High, Rancho Pico Junior High and Rio Norte Junior High; Wiseburn Unified, Richard Henry Dana Middle. Madera County: Alview-Dairyland Union Elementary, Dairyland Elementary.
Marin County: Larkspur-Corte Madera, Hall Middle; Mill Valley Elementary, Mill Valley Middle. Mono County: Mammoth Unified, Mammoth Middle.
Monterey County: Pacific Grove Unified, Pacific Grove Middle; Washington Union Elementary, San Benancio Middle.
Orange County: Anaheim Union High, Oxford Academy; Capistrano Unified, Ladera Ranch Middle; Fullerton Elementary, D. Russell Parks Junior High; Garden Grove Unified, Hilton D. Bell Intermediate, James Irvine Intermediate and Sarah McGarvin Intermediate; Irvine Unified, Lakeside Middle; Los Alamitos Unified, Sharon Christa McAuliffe Middle; Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified, Col. J. K. Tuffree Middle and Kraemer Middle; Westminster, Helen Stacey Middle.
Placer County: Western Placer Unified, Glen Edwards Middle. Riverside County: Hemet Unified, Western Center Academy; Murrieta Valley Unified, Dorothy McElhinney Middle; Temecula Valley Unified, Erle Stanley Gardner Middle and James L. Day Middle.
Sacramento County: Folsom-Cordova Unified, Folsom Middle; Natomas Unified, Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep Middle; Twin Rivers Unified, Westside Preparatory Charter. San Bernardino County: San Bernardino City Unified, Richardson Prep Hi; Victor Valley Union High, Cobalt Institute of Math and Science Academy and University Preparatory. San Diego County: Bonsall Unified, Norman L. Sullivan Middle; Poway Unified, Black Mountain Middle; San Diego County Office of Education, Literacy First Charter; San Diego Unified, Challenger Middle, Lewis Middle, Magnolia Science Academy San Diego, Marshall Middle and Preuss School UCSD; San Dieguito Union High, Diegueno Middle.
San Francisco County: San Francisco Unified, Roosevelt Middle. San Mateo County: Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary, Ralston Intermedi-ate; Burlingame Elementary, Burlingame Intermediate; Portola Valley Elementary, Corte Madera. Santa Clara County: Alum Rock Union Elementary, KIPP Heartwood Academy; Berryessa Union Elementary, Morrill Middle; Cupertino Union, Joaquin Miller Middle; Cupertino Union, Sam H. Lawson Middle; Franklin-McKinley Elementary, College Connection Academy; Milpitas Unified, Rancho Milpitas Middle; Santa Clara County Office of Education, University Preparatory Academy Charter.
Stanislaus County: Sylvan Union Elementary, Daniel J. Savage Middle.
Yuba County: Marysville Joint Unified, Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts01.
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