Nineteen elementary schools from Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare counties are being honored as 2020 California Distinguished Schools for their outstanding education programs and practices by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.


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The schools were selected because they are closing achievement gaps among disadvantaged students and for exceptional student performance. The program recognizes schools based on the assessment results reported on the California School Dashboard, which evaluates factors such as test scores, suspension rates, and school climates.

“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.”Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Polk Elementary Gets a Shout-Out

Central Unified’s Polk Elementary was one of the schools singled out Wednesday for the progress in literacy made by students, 69% of whom are from low-income homes. The students received daily classroom and small-group supports, and the first-grade teachers were assisted by contracted teaching fellows from Fresno State.

The results: The percentage of Polk students meeting or exceeding standards in reading grew over the past three years from 49.4% to 51.5%. Over the same period, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in math rose from 40.2% to 50.7%.

portrait of Andrew Alvarado

Superintendent Andy Alvarado

“Our theme this year is Building On the Best, and we know this recognition will inspire our staff and other schools to persevere and bring out the best in our students.”Central Unified Superintendent Andy Alvarado

“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,” 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.”

 

Central Honored With Two Distinguished Schools

Central Unified Superintendent Andy Alvarado said the district is honored to have two schools — Polk and Herndon-Barstow Elementary Schools — selected as 2020 California Distinguished Schools.

“We are thrilled to see the gains in these schools thanks to the hard work of the school leadership and teachers, as well as our Governing Board of Trustees who have supported many initiatives to improve our literacy rates,” he said. “Our theme this year is Building On the Best, and we know this recognition will inspire our staff and other schools to persevere and bring out the best in our students.”

A Fancher Creek kindergartner works on his reading skills. (Clovis Unified School District)

A total of 323 elementary schools were named 2020 California Distinguished Schools, a title they will hold for two years. The state recognizes elementaries and high schools in alternating years.

Here Are the Region’s Awardees

Fresno County

  • Central Unified — Herndon-Barstow and Polk
  • Clovis Unified — Fancher Creek, Gettysburg, and Lincoln
  • Fowler Unified — Malaga
  • Fresno Unified — Dailey Charter
  • Kingsburg Elementary Charter — Lincoln
  • Riverdale Joint Unified — Fipps
  • Sanger Unified — John Wash, Quail Lake Environmental Charter, Reagan, and Sanger Academy Charter

Kings County

  • Central Union Elementary — Neutra
  • Hanford Elementary — Jefferson Academy
  • Pioneer Union Elementary — Frontier

Madera County

  • Golden Valley Unified — Webster Elementary

Tulare County

  • Columbine Elementary — Columbine
  • Porterville Unified — Santa Fe

The 2020 California Distinguished Schools will be honored Feb. 10 during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. In addition, two of the 323 elementaries will be eligible for recognition as a National Elementary and Secondary Education Act Distinguished Schools awardee. Cesar E. Chavez High School of Delano was selected in 2012.

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