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Students and staff of the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) got some great news over Winter Break, learning all three of the District’s elementary schools have been named 2023 ‘California Distinguished Schools.’

In a January 6 press release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Beach, Havens and Wildwood Elementary Schools were among the more than 350 elementary schools that were selected for the prestigious program. The California Distinguished Schools program made its return this year after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily suspended reporting of state and local student data. Since its inception in 1985, the California Distinguished Schools Award remains one of the important ways to celebrate exceptional schools, districts, teachers, and classified employees for their
innovation, talent, and success in supporting students.

The exceptional elementary schools recognized this year are illustrative of the hard work, dedication, and resilience shown by educators and students across the state after communities struggled for multiple years with urgent effects to physical and mental health and unprecedented challenges to delivering education. To select California Distinguished Schools, the California Department of Education (CDE) uses multiple measures to identify eligible schools based on their performance on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). Specifically, schools were selected by analyzing data reported through the 2022 Dashboard, including assessment results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, and socioeconomic data. Information regarding the 2022 Dashboard is provided on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page.

“It is my pleasure to honor and recognize these 356 elementary schools for providing outstanding public education and opportunities to students. Their innovation and hard work have helped to ensure their students can heal, recover, and thrive—even in the toughest times,” Thurmond said. “California Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development for educators to mental health and social-emotional wellness strategies to address the needs of students and families.”

“This is a great honor for the students and staff of our Tri-Schools and we join the state in celebrating their accomplishments,” added PUSD Interim Superintendent, Dr. Donald Evans. “The road to academic success starts at the primary level and we take great pride in knowing our elementary school curriculum and programs are providing the educational experience needed to put Piedmont students on the best path to success.”

The California Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years. 

The list of 356 recognized schools for 2023 is available online. For more information, please visit the CDE California Distinguished Schools Program web page.

California Distinguished School Award