Twenty Los Angeles Unified School District schools, including three in the San Fernando Valley, struck academic gold when State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced winners of the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.
The honor, which was announced Tuesday and went to 275 schools statewide, replaces the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while the state creates a new testing and accountability framework. A total of 477 middle and high schools applied for the award.
In the San Fernando Valley, Granada Hills Charter High School, magnet and charter school Robert A. Millikan Middle School and magnet school Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies are now Gold Ribbon schools.
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Because of its high test scores, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies was also a California Distinguished School under that recognition system that preceded the Gold Ribbon awards, said Principal Martin Price. But the Gold Ribbon award recognizes a school’s outstanding programs, and Sherman Oaks Center has those, too, he said. The school is the largest magnet school in the Valley, with 2,100 students in grades four to 12.
“We got a lot of things going on here,” Price said.
The school has a unique structure that allows students to grow through programs in music, arts and sciences over years, Price said. Students in fourth- and fifth-grade choral and instrumental classes can perform in middle school and high school music classes later. A STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) class for fourth- and fifth-grade students can lead to project computing classes in middle school and engineering in high school, he said.
“It allows these kids to kind of grow through the program,” Price said. “That uniqueness is probably why, one of the reasons, we were selected” for the Gold Ribbon award.
Under the award, schools are lauded for improving instruction of Common Core-based academic content and performance standards in English language arts, math, science and English language development. Common Core standards stress critical thinking and problem-solving to prepare students for life after high school.
Winners offer standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices that can be copied by other agencies. The schools feature excellence in teaching, learning and collaborating, plus successful conflict resolution and rewards for positive behavior, Torlakson said in a news release.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing the new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said.
The winning schools will be honored in May at ceremonies in Costa Mesa, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Visalia and Sacramento.
For a list of winners, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr17/yr17rel28.asp
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