This week, Brywood Elementary, Deerfield Elementary, Plaza Vista School, and Turtle Rock Elementary were named 2018 California Distinguished Schools. This designation is the state’s top honor for schools.
The Distinguished Schools award goes to schools with the highest overall achievement scores in academic and non-academic indicators, or those with high concentrations of low-income students and English learners that significantly improved or maintained high scores.
The Distinguished Schools program was on hiatus for the past three years as the state worked to implement the California School Dashboard, a new accountability system that more comprehensively looks at how our K-12 schools and districts are educating and supporting students. In total, 287 California elementary schools were honored through this year’s Distinguished Schools program, with 43 schools being recognized in Orange County.
During the Distinguished Schools program’s three-year absence, the state awarded campuses with Gold Ribbons, which primarily reflected academic gains in math and English language arts. The Distinguished Schools award rotates each year between elementary schools and secondary schools.
Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.
Example of IUSD programs include:
Deerfield’s staff believes a quality education includes strong academic and social/emotional support, as well as leadership development for its students. Deerfield’s signature practice extends its Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports System (PBIS) to include leadership development with its unique “Flock Together” program where students learn about the importance of serving their school, and local and global communities.
Within the last year, Deerfield students raised money for WE.org to improve water supplies in Kenya, supported Irvine’s local Second Harvest Food Bank, and had the honor of raising the most support of any school for the Casa Youth Shelter of Orange County. Deerfield students also raised money to install a “buddy bench” to promote friendship and inclusion on campus and this year they are redoing the school’s PBIS kick-off video.
Plaza Vista School
Plaza Vista has numerous signature programs and practices of note, including an emphasis on math, the arts, and the Daily 5 language arts structure at the elementary level. The Daily 5 is a framework for structuring literacy time so students develop lifelong habits of reading, writing and working independently. Students select from five authentic reading and writing choices, working independently toward personalized goals, while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring. To learn more, click here.
All Plaza Vista elementary teachers have been trained in Daily 5. Teachers have engaged in instructional rounds and professional development with a variety of focuses including math and Daily 5.
Distinguished Schools are among the first to be nominated for the national Blue Ribbon School awards, although they must meet additional requirements. Blue Ribbon winners will be announced in the fall.