State names 6 West Valley elementary schools as distinguished

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Six elementary schools in Saratoga and Los Gatos were recently named California Distinguished Schools by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Schools were selected for the distinction based on their assessment results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and socioeconomic data in order to celebrate “exceptional schools,” according to the Department of Education.

Foothill Elementary, Saratoga Elementary and Argonaut Elementary in Saratoga and Daves Avenue Elementary, Blossom Hill Elementary and Lexington Elementary in Los Gatos are among the 356 elementary schools selected for the award.

“We are proud of the rapid pivot by the entire staff of Saratoga Union School District to provide a quality and robust distance learning program during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Dr. Ken Geisick said.

“The California Distinguished School award for our three elementary sites—Argonaut Elementary School, Foothill Elementary School, and Saratoga Elementary School—is validation of the teamwork, creativity and commitment by our teachers, support staff and administrators to reduce learning loss.

“Our district is also fortunate to have parents who are strong partners with their schools to ensure high achievement, even during the most challenging times,” Geisick added.

The Distinguished Schools program was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the reporting of state and local student data was paused.

“It is my pleasure to honor and recognize these 356 elementary schools for providing outstanding public education and opportunities to students. Their innovation and hard work have helped to ensure their students can heal, recover and thrive, even in the toughest times,” Thurmond said.

“California Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development for educators to mental health and social-emotional wellness strategies to address the needs of students and families.”

The program recognizes schools in two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are awarded in alternating years, meaning schools hold the title for two years.

Two of the state’s distinguished schools are eligible to become a National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act Distinguished Schools Awardee, which is meant to highlight selected schools that used federal funds to improve the education for all students.

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