Two Tulare County schools make ‘distinguished’ list

Santa Fe Elementary in Porterville, Columbine Elementary in Delano among 2020 California Distinguished Schools

The Sun-Gazette

SACRAMENTO — A Porterville elementary school and a rural K-8 school along the county line made the state’s list of distinguished schools last month. 

Distinguished School awardees represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.

Porterville Unified’s Santa Fe Elementary was among the highest performing schools in math during the 2018-19 school year with more than two-thirds of its students (64.33%) meeting or exceeding state standards. That was second only to Oak Grove Elementary School in Visalia Unified School District. Santa Fe’s feat is even more impressive considering that over 60% of its 750 students are also at or above standard in English language arts (ELA) when 82.2% are socioeconomically disadvantaged and 45.3% are English learners. Only about 20 of the K-5 school’s students are considered chronically absent, meaning they have missed almost a month of school, and just three students were suspended during the 2018-19 school year.

Columbine Elementary in Delano has an enrollment of just over 200 students but nearly 60% of its students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. The K-8 school is doing well in both English language arts and mathematics with most of its students being at or above state standards. The school does not have any students considered chronically absent and its suspension rate is nonexistent. 

“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools—teachers, administrators, classified employees—and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”

The two Tulare County schools were among 323 elementary schools honored on Dec. 19 under the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award Program. Sponsored by the California Department of Education and presented by California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for closing the achievement gap and for achieving exceptional student performance.

A component of the California School Recognition Program, the Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.

Every year, two of California’s Distinguished Schools Awardees are also eligible to be recognized as a National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools Awardee. 

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