Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced three Santa Monica schools received 2010 California Distinguished School awards this week. McKinley Elementary School, Webster Elementary School, and Point Dume Marine Science School all won the highly sought after honor.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo said the district is “elated” to receive the awards, especially since schools must be invited to even be considered. This honor shows the support of teachers and parents, Cuneo said, “we already have many distinguished schools in the district.” The superintendent was attending an event recognizing the Title I school Will Rogers Learning Community following this interview.
The Distinguished Awards rotate reviewing elementary schools one year and then secondary schools the following, with four schools honored in total within the district. Point Dume Principal Chi Kim both expressed pride about the recognition for innovative programs and validation for hardworking staff. Webster Principal Phil Cott said, “We try every day to make learning meaningful, to connect our students to the real world, to make learning challenging, exciting, fun.”
McKinley Principal, Irene Gonzalez, said in a press release, “McKinley students bring so much enthusiasm and love for learning. Teachers and staff are innovative and passionate about their profession and know that great teaching leads to successful students. This recognition is due to the collaboration of students, staff, and families.”
State Superintendent of Public Construction Jack O’Connell selected 484 public schools as 2010 California Distinguished Schools. Those selected will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner on June 4, at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The California School Recognition Program is now in its 24th year honoring exemplary schools.
“These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts,” O’Connell said in an issued press release to SMMUSD. “I encourage educators throughout our state to review the signature practices that Distinguished Schools are using to improve student achievement.”
Each school must be able to describe two signature practices that increase student performance and narrow the achievement gap. Schools that earn the award mentor other educators and share signature practices for use in other districts. An updated searchable database of these signature practices will be available later this spring by the California Department of Education.
A school’s eligibility is based on two yearly assessment results: Academic Performance Index (API), which is calculated by the state on the basis of a Standardized Testing and Reporting program and the California High School Exit Examination, and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a series of federal academic performance goals set by No Child Left Behind.
Applicants are also judged on the ability to narrow the achievement gap that exists between high and low performing students. The California Department of Education with the help of state educators performs a “stringent selection process” each year. Schools then receive a thorough site visit in order to confirm the signature practices are effectively and actually used.
Mirror Staff Writerkatherine@smmirror.com