12 Modesto-area elementary schools earn 'distinguished' honor

Twelve local schools, including six in Stanislaus County, were among 484 California public elementary schools selected as 2010 California Distinguished Schools. The area campuses and their school districts are:

Orchard Elementary, Sylvan Union

Standiford Elementary, Sylvan Union

Mary Lou Dieterich Elementary, Stanislaus Union

Hart-Ransom Elementary, Hart-Ransom Union Elementary

Stroud Elementary, Empire Union

Westport Elementary, Ceres Unified

Ripon Elementary, Ripon Unified

Brock Elliott Elementary, Manteca Unified

George McParland Elementary, Manteca Unified

Stella Brockman Elementary, Manteca Unified

Peggy Heller Elementary, Atwater Elementary

Schendel Elementary, Delhi Unified

“It is an honor to recognize the schools, and the students, parents, teachers, and administrators who helped earn this most prestigious distinction,” said State Superintendent Jack O’Connell in a news release. “The 2010 California Distinguished Schools have been selected because of their academic excellence and for narrowing achievement gaps. These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts. I encourage educators throughout our state to review the signature practices that Distinguished Schools are using to improve student achievement.”

Schools were identified for eligibility on the basis of their Academic Performance Index and Adequate Yearly Progress results, which are the state and federal accountability models, respectively. The applicants were also identified by their success in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher-performing and lower-performing students.

All applicants underwent a stringent selection process conducted by the California Department of Education with the help of many educators from across the state. Each applicant was required to describe two signature practices that have led to an increase in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap. Applicants were then selected to receive a thorough site visit to validate the signature practices.

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