La Ballona Wins “California Distinguished School”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell has announced that La Ballona Elementary School is one of 484 exemplary California public elementary schools selected as a 2010 California Distinguished School.

“This is a prestigious honor that recognizes the hard work and dedication of Principal Christine Collins, her staff and all the students and parents at La Ballona,” said CCUSD Superintendent Myrna Rivera Coté. “This is the highest honor the state can bestow upon our schools, and it is another indication that, despite budget cutbacks, our district is continuing to excel while doing more with less.”

Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and serve as a mentor to other educators who want to replicate the work. An updated searchable database of these signature practices will be available later this spring by the California Department of Education.

The 2010 California Distinguished Schools are geographically diverse with locations in small rural communities, suburban neighborhoods, and large urban cities. Most have significant populations of students living in poverty or learning English. Regardless of the setting, all these schools have teachers and principals committed to ensuring student success.
“I had the privilege to call all the winning schools and personally shared the good news with each principal,” O’Connell said. “These dedicated educators I spoke to clearly share a school-wide vision of excellence where every student can succeed and achieve at the very highest levels of performance.”

The California School Recognition Program is now in its 24th year and honors the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools with the California Distinguished School Award. Although participation is voluntary, the award is highly sought after by schools in all areas of the state. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.

Schools were identified for eligibility on the basis of their Academic Performance Index and Adequate Yearly Progress results, which are the state and federal accountability models, respectively. The applicants were also identified by their success in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher-performing and lower-performing students. All applicants underwent a stringent selection process conducted by the California Department of Education with the help of many 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. Applicants were then selected to receive a thorough site visit to validate the signature practices.

The 2010 California Distinguished Schools will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on June 4, 2010.

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