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State Names 8 Distinguished Schools

Eight schools in the Long Beach Unified School District earned the California Distinguished School Award this month for exceptional gains in student achievement.

“These schools implement outstanding educational programs and practices that help California students realize their potential, and put them on the path to achieve their dreams,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Elementary schools and secondary (middle and high) schools are recognized in alternate years.  This year’s awards focused on the elementary grades.  LBUSD’s Alvarado, Los Cerritos, Lowell, Madison, Naples, Riley, Signal Hill and Tincher schools were among 287 schools statewide earning recognition.

The awards honor schools that demonstrate educational excellence and progress in narrowing achievement gaps.  Winners must meet a variety of criteria including exemplary performance on state accountability measures.

Torlakson highlighted Los Cerritos Elementary as one example of schools’ efforts to close achievement gaps.  Los Cerritos teachers look at school data regularly and decided that a top priority was closing the achievement gap for African American students in math and English.  After finding studies showing greater success for minority students when offered more opportunities for student collaboration, teachers began building a more collaborative classroom culture.  The school’s efforts resulted in a 10 percent increase in math scores and a 6 percent increase in English scores for African American students.