Monday, April 19, 2010

Five Solano Schools recognized as California Distinguished Schools

FAIRFIELD - The California Department of Education (CDE) has selected five Solano County schools to be recognized as 2010 California Distinguished Schools.

The schools are: Robert Semple Elementary School in the Benicia Unified School District; Rolling Hills Elementary School in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District; Cooper Elementary School in the Vacaville Unified School District; and Annie Pennycook Elementary School and Joseph H. Wardlaw Elementary School in the Vallejo City Unified School District.

The California Distinguished Schools award serves to identify and honor some of the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Participation in the program is voluntary, but the award is highly regarded by schools around the state. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.

Nominees for the California Distinguished Schools award must provide detailed descriptions of two signature practices that are replicable and have greatly improved student achievement. A Site Validation Team, made up of local educators, recently spent one day at each school to gather evidence and analyze the signature practices. Information about these signature practices is shared with other schools around the state on CDE’s web site.

Robert Semple Elementary School’s signature practices are Response to Intervention (RtI) and Professional Learning Communities. Semple’s RtI strategy serves students in preschool through fifth grade and helps eliminate achievement gaps through a school-wide process that provides assistance to every student, both high achieving and struggling learners. The school’s Professional Learning Community consists of trained teachers and RtI specialists who have helped Semple’s student subgroups narrow the school’s achievement gap. Semple was recognized as a California Distinguished School in 1998 and 2004.

Rolling Hills Elementary School features Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Goal Setting as its signature practices. The school’s PLC is a collaborative team whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for which they are mutually accountable. Goal setting is a practice that is used by staff, students, and parents to increase student achievement and close the achievement gap. The school's goals are linked to its vision, focused on desired outcomes, and continuously monitored. Rolling Hills believes there is a need to sustain continual improvement and focus on student learning, which means that they consistently reflect on where they want to be, where they are now, how to close the gap between the two, and then set goals that focus on desired outcomes.

Cooper Elementary School credits two signature practices: Cycle of Inquiry: Collaboration; and Engagement and Accountability. For the past five years, the staff at Cooper has focused on a cycle of inquiry which allows them to look at the success and needs of specific students in order to bridge the school’s achievement gap. The teachers efficiently use technology to engage learners which has shown to improve student achievement, teaching new concepts along with analyzing test data.

Annie Pennycook Elementary School believes in its signature practices: Peacebuilders and Support Block Intervention. For the past eight years, Pennycook has had great success with Peacebuilders, a school-wide positive behavioral program that creates a peaceful school climate and allows students to focus on learning. Support Block Intervention helps students performing below grade level with 30-90 minutes of reading intervention support during the school day.

Joseph H. Wardlaw Elementary School has made great strides with its signature practices: Intervention, and Ongoing Assessment and Analysis of Data. Wardlaw’s systematic team approach to student interventions has made a tremendous impact on student achievement. Teachers are constantly analyzing assessments and test data to guide instructional focus. The result has been a narrowing of the school’s achievement gap.

In order to be invited to apply for Distinguished Schools honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress and the Academic Performance Index.

All applicants underwent a rigorous selection process conducted by the California Department of Education, with the help of many local educators from across the state, and in partnership with the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.

Please join the Solano County Office of Education in saluting the hard work of the students, teachers, classified staff, administrators and parents at Robert Semple Elementary School, Rolling Hills Elementary School, Cooper Elementary School, Annie Pennycook Elementary School and Joseph H. Wardlaw Elementary School.

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Sheldon J. Reber
Public Information Officer
Solano County Office of Education
5100 Business Center Drive
Fairfield, CA 94534
Cell 707-499-4733
FAX 707-863-4175