Seven elementary schools in Santa Barbara County are among the 424 statewide that have been named California Distinguished Schools for 2014. Those honored locally are Ballard Elementary in the Ballard School District; Carpinteria Family School and Summerland Elementary in the Carpinteria Unified School District; Cold Spring Elementary, Cold Spring School District; Mountain View Elementary, Goleta Union School District; Montecito Union, Montecito Union School District; and Ralph Dunlap Elementary, Orcutt Union School District. The announcement Wednesday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson cited these schools’ “strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.”

The California Distinguished Schools Program honors schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap. It recognizes elementary and secondary schools in alternating years. Distinguished Schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including designated state and federal accountability measures. The process also involves a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school’s “signature practices” that staff members believe have contributed to their students’ success. If an application is accepted, the school is visited by a team of local educators who evaluate and validate the implementation of those signature practices. The site visits and evaluations were coordinated locally by Steven Keithley, Director of Teacher Programs and Support at the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).

Distinguished Schools agree to share their signature practices with other schools and become mentors to those seeking to replicate their work. To reach any of the seven local Distinguished Schools, go to for contact information. For more information on the local review process, contact Keithley at or 964-4710, ext. 5281. For more information on the state program, go to


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