Downey schools excel in state

DOWNEY - Four Downey elementary schools were selected as California Distinguished Schools for 2010, the California Department of Education announced Monday.Alameda, Ward, Unsworth and Price elementaries were recognized as being among the state's "most exemplary and inspiring public schools," based on their performance on the state's Academic Performance Index and federal government's Adequate Yearly Progress results. Schools earning the Distinguished Schools title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and serve as mentors to other educators, state education officials said. "I had the privilege to call all the winning schools and personally shared the good news with each principal," said Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public institution. "These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts. I encourage educators throughout our state to review the signature practices that Distinguished Schools are using to improve student achievement." Distinguished Schools are geographically diverse with locations in small rural communities, suburban neighborhoods and large urban cities, education officials said. Most of the schools have significant populations of students living in poverty or learning English. Participation in the awards program is voluntary. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years. According to a state news release, Distinguished Schools were chosen based on their API and AYP results, which are the state and federal accountability models, respectively. Applicants were also identified by their success in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher-performing and lower-performing students. Schools underwent a "stringent selection process" conducted by the California Department of Education with the assistance of educators from across the state. Each applicant was required to describe two signature practices that have led to an increase in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap. Schools were then selected to receive a site visit to validate the signature practices. A total of 484 California elementary schools were selected as Distinguished Schools. They will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner June 4 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

********** Published: April 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 1