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California Distinguished Schools

The California School Recognition Program was created in 1985 to communicate and reinforce the priorities of the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The program promotes the improvement of education in America by identifying and recognizing exemplary public schools. The California School Recognition program is made up of the Blue Ribbon Schools program and the Distinguished School Recognition program. Each year California identifies the strongest, most inspiring public schools and recognizes their achievement. Coordinated with the U.S. Department of Education's National Blue Ribbon Program, the state programs celebrate our nation's most successful schools.

Blue Ribbon and Distinguished Schools:

For both programs, schools that display the following traits are invited to apply:

  1. Models excellence and equity
  2. Demonstrates a strong commitment to educational excellence for all students
  3. Achieves high academic standards or has shown significant academic improvements

To apply, schools must self-assess their programs and write lengthy applications to convince judges that they are worthy of a site evaluation. Acting as a liaison for the California Department of Education, CCCOE supports schools in interpreting application procedures, sponsoring application writing trainings, and editing applications. The applications are then judged and scored at the state level. Schools with the strongest applications are nominated to receive a site visit to validate what they have written about their school.

For the Distinguished Schools Program, CCCOE arranges and conducts site visits. Each school receives a daylong visitation from three evaluators. All classrooms are visited and stakeholder groups (including students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members) are interviewed. The visitations provide unique opportunities to observe, examine and celebrate the accomplished practices of schools in Contra Costa County.

California Department of Education List of Ca. Distinguished Schools

National Blue Ribbon Schools

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Page updated on: August 12, 2014

Rev: 0.3-043014-BETA3