SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 193 middle schools and 180 high schools, and 6 of 48 California GEAR UP Middle Schools have been honored under the state’s new Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program, which is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program. The awards, introduced in 2013, reflect Torlakson’s goals outlined in his A Blueprint for Great Schools report, which provides direction for California’s education system.
“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” Torlakson said. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”
The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment and accountability systems.
Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The new award is recognizing middle and high schools this year and elementary schools in 2016.
The Gold Ribbon awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include, the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.
California GEAR UP Gold Ribbon Schools:
Jones Middle School (Baldwin Park)
Jones Junior High: The school was honored for creating a college-going culture supported through a variety of programs. Efforts range from Geared UP for College, a college and career readiness program funded through a grant from California GEAR UP. As part of that program, the school offers a pre-Advanced Placement pilot program called SpringBoard.
Jones reinforces college options with an annual College Week that includes a college fair, an annual panel of college students who describe their experiences to more than 150 students, a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to encourage exploration of medical careers and a program to boost parent-school communication called the Parent Institute for Quality Education. In the last two years, nearly 200 parents have taken part in the institute.
Landmark Middle School (Moreno Valley Unified)
Vista Heights Middle School (Moreno Valley Unified)
Sunny mead Middle School (Moreno Valley Unified)
Upland Junior High (Upland Unified)
Vista Preparatory Academy (Redbluff Union)
The Gold Ribbons are intended to run for two years, providing the state with an interim way to recognize excellence while California adopts new statewide assessments in math and English language arts (ELA) aligned with the California Common Core.
The former assessments were used to generate the state’s Academic Performance Index score for each school – a figure that helped establish eligibility for the Distinguished Schools program.
But California dropped its ELA and math assessments in 2014 while it tested a new system that went into effect this spring. The state also put the API on hiatus while it builds a new model for determining school success that is broader than the test-score driven tool previously used.
Unlike the Distinguished Schools program, Gold Ribbon applicants nominate themselves. But both systems include site visits by a team of educators as part of the final determination of winners; both also rotate annually between secondary and elementary schools.
The purpose of California GEAR UP is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of a cohort of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a systemic network of support for adults who influence middle school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders and families. This expanded capacity is expected to result in a higher proportion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that have not historically pursued a college education, enrolling and succeeding in higher education.
The ultimate outcome expected from this Program is that a higher proportion of students will be prepared to enroll and succeed in advanced courses in middle school and high school and enter and graduate with a degree from a higher educational institution.
The fact that six of our 48 schools were honored by this program is indicative of the mission focused culture of focusing on ALL students and setting expectations for school communities extremely high.
Please visit the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program on the California Department of Education’s Web site.