Today, on the 25th anniversary of the California Distinguished Schools program, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recognized 97 outstanding middle and high schools for high performance and sustained growth.  We are so proud that Harbor High School and Santa Cruz High School have been recognized for their outstanding work in student achievement.  The Distinguished Schools award is highly sought after; it is testimony to the commitment of our students, teachers and staff that among nearly 2,000 high schools in California, two of our own would be among the 48 identified for their excellence.

Schools were identified by their performance on the Academic Performance Index and Adequate Yearly Progress, state and federal measurements, respectively. Schools were also evaluated by their success in narrowing the achievement gap 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. Schools were required to describe two “signature practices” that have led to an increase in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap. Selected schools then received a thorough site visit to validate the practices.

Santa Cruz High School has been recognized for its “signature practices” in improving language arts and math skills for under-performing students and for its four-year personal planning workshops.  Harbor High School was recognized for its work to develop college readiness and student achievement and for embracing the challenge to close the achievement gap.

“Harbor staff, teachers, parents and students have worked very hard over the last five years to address student needs and improve student achievement. This award acknowledges that hard work and allows us to take a moment to pause and reflect on what we have done that has worked to improve our student achievement. Then it is on to the work at hand, preparing students to be World Ready,” said Richard Davis, Harbor High Principal.

“These schools are being recognized for attaining high levels of performance and sustained growth, and for making significant progress in closing the academic achievement gap,” Torlakson said. “Becoming a Distinguished School is a direct reflection of the dedication, hard work, and vision of each school’s education community. They have succeeded despite a bleak economic environment and have endeavored to maintain their momentum and focus.”

“The recognition of Santa Cruz and Harbor High Schools as California Distinguished Schools, both in the same year, is an unprecedented honor for our school district.  These awards validate the hard work and commitment of our teachers, classified staff, leadership team, governing board and community.  This is further inspiration for all of us in Santa Cruz City Schools as we strive to insure the success of each and every one of our students.”

Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Gary Bloom

The 2011 California Distinguished Schools will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on May 20, 2011. The event and awards are funded by donations from many of California’s most prominent corporations and statewide educational organizations.

The Santa Cruz Education Foundation salutes Harbor High and Santa Cruz High!

2000 California high schools

1000 California school districts

97 Distinguished middle and high schools

48 Distinguished high schools

2 Distinguished High Schools in Santa Cruz City Schools!!