Price, Ward and Williams elementary schools honored by California Department of Education

Three Downey Unified elementary schools have earned the designation as California Distinguished Schools. At the end of December, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that 323 elementary schools from across California, which include Downey Unified’s Price, Ward and Williams elementary schools, are being honored under the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award Program. Sponsored by the California Department of Education and presented by California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs as well as practices, and schools are awarded for closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.

“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California with the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said in a news release. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools – teachers, administrators, classified employees – and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This is the second time that Price Elementary has earned this designation and the third time for Ward Elementary School. Downey Unified has had 14 schools from across the district receive this honor, these schools include: Warren High School (2013); Alameda, Price, Unsworth and Ward elementary schools (2010); Carpenter, Rio Hondo and Unsworth elementary schools (2006); Stauffer (formerly West) Middle School (2005); Old River, Pace and Rio San Gabriel elementary schools (2004); Doty (formerly East) and Griffiths middle schools (2001).

Distinguished School awardees represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.

The California Distinguished Schools Program took a hiatus from 2015 to 2017 due to the time required for California to transition to new assessment and accountability systems.  During this time, the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to have a program focused on honoring schools while the designation of Distinguished School was unavailable. Over this three-year break, Downey Unified had at least one school selected for this award each year. These schools include: Doty Middle School and Warren High School (2015), Old River Elementary (2016) and Griffiths Middle School (2017).

A component of the California School Recognition Program, the Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.

These California Distinguished Schools, along with California Exemplary Arts Education Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell Awardees, and National ESEA Distinguished Schools, will all be honored on Feb.10, 2020, during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. For more information, please visit the CDE California School Recognition Program web page.