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Ashley Falls School
Ashley Falls School in the Del Mar Union district. Courtesy of the district

More than 350 elementary schools have been selected for the 2023 California Distinguished Schools Program, 21 of them in San Diego County.

Two of the local districts have five honorees each – Del Mar Union and Solana Beach School District.

The program returns this year after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily suspended reporting of state and local student data. The Distinguished Schools program offers recognition for excellent work in one of two categories – closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.

The local honorees, announced Friday and listed by district, are:

To select the Distinguished Schools, the state Department of Education uses multiple measures to gauge performance on state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard, including assessment results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and socioeconomic data.

“California Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, “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.”

Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years, so awardees hold the title for two years. Each year, two of the Distinguished Schools awardees are eligible to become a National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools Awardee.

The Distinguished Schools Award has celebrated exceptional schools, districts, teachers, and classified employees since 1985.

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Ellen Bullock