Thirteen Contra Costa County middle and high schools were designated as California Distinguished Schools for 2013 Friday. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson honored the schools because of their "strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student-academic achievement."
"This is a huge honor to have so many schools recognized," said Superintendent Mary Shelton. "This speaks to the quality of teachers and programs that exist here, as well as the overwhelming support we receive from our community."
Five San Ramon Valley Unified schools are now Distinguished Schools. Danville's Charlotte Wood and Diablo Vista middle schools, as well as Gale Ranch, Iron Horse and Windemere Ranch in San Ramon were honored for implementing "signature practices" that contribute to student success.
Distinguished Schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including designated federal and state accountability measures and an in-depth description of two measures designed to improve the learning process/environment.
Charlotte Wood was awarded the Distinguished School honor this year because of staff's unique collaboration methods. Principal Chris George said teachers have been collaborating for years and continue to strive for excellence by modifying how staff works together.
"One week it's meeting by departments, staff collaborations, by grade level, with a variety of purposes and a variety of student means," George said. "We do it with a lot of different needs in mind. If we're talking about certain students that are struggling, we find grade level collaboration works really well. When we're talking about curriculum, vertical department works well."
The school was also honored for best practices in science education, where seven teachers "exemplify having high expectations for all their kids and work insanely hard to make sure every kid has the opportunity to get to those high expectations."
Each school received a site visit by a team of local educators to validate the full implementation of the signature practices in March. The SRVUSD schools were visited by a team of 20 educators from the Contra Costa County Office of Education, augmented by two retired administrators and three district principals.
Distinguished Schools will be honored at a regional award ceremony, where the state superintendent of California Public Instruction presents each school with a 2013 Distinguished School plaque and flag.
The following Contra Costa schools were also designated California Distinguished Schools 2013:
- Campolindo High (Moraga)
- Miramonte High (Orinda)
- M.H. Stanley Middle (Lafayette)
- Heritage High (Brentwood)
- Park High (Pleasant Hill)
- Diablo View Middle (Clayton)
- Foothill Middle (Walnut Creek)
- Orinda Intermediate (Orinda)
The only school district in California with more 2013 Distinguished Schools than SRVUSD is Los Angeles Unified (six schools selected), home to more than 500 secondary schools. Since the program's inception, schools in the SRVUSD have received Distinguished School honors more than 70 times, more than any other school district in northern California.