Kellogg Elementary School | Credit: Evancahill/Wikimedia Commons

Five elementary schools in Santa Barbara County have been named as 2023 California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education, the Santa Barbara County Education Office announced this week. 

According to a press release from the California Department of Education, the Distinguished Schools program “recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.”

Among the awardees are three schools in the Goleta Union School District: Foothill Elementary, Kellogg Elementary, and Mountain View Elementary. One school in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, Peabody Charter School, was also awarded the title, as well as Cold Spring School in the Cold Spring School District. Awardees will hold the title for two years. 

“We are proud of the exceptional education programs and practices demonstrated by these schools,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. “This award highlights their outstanding work, and we are thrilled their incredible efforts have been recognized by the California Department of Education. Congratulations to the students, families, and staff!”

In 2023, only elementary schools were eligible for the title in California, as elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years. The Distinguished Schools program determines eligibility based on a school’s performance and progress on the state indicators, including academic performance, academic engagement, and conditions and climate, as specified by the California School Dashboard.

For example, in 2022, Goleta Union School District (GUSD) was given high academic performance level ratings in English and mathematics based on how well students met grade-level standards on related assessments. Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD), in comparison, was more in-line with the state’s overall performance levels, with low-level ratings for both English and mathematics. It should be noted, though, that SBUSD includes middle and high schools, and has about four times the amount of students as GUSD, which only includes elementary schools. 

The Distinguished Schools program returned this year after a temporary suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced on January 6 that more than 350 California schools were selected for the program this year.  

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

The 2023 California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony will take place on February 16, 2023.

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