Education

These five Fresno-area schools were just awarded one of California’s highest honors

Design Science High won the most-improved award at the 2019 Fresno County Academic Decathlon after betting last year’s total by 13.26 percent. Its coach is Lisa Portela.
Design Science High won the most-improved award at the 2019 Fresno County Academic Decathlon after betting last year’s total by 13.26 percent. Its coach is Lisa Portela. Vida en el Valle file

Three Fresno-area schools have been named Distinguished Schools for 2019 according to the California Department of Education.

Baird Middle School and Design Science High in Fresno Unified, along with Granite Ridge Intermediate in Clovis Unified, all received the high honor. University Preparatory High in Tulare County and Lemoore Middle College High in Kings County were also named on the list of 162 schools.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson praised the schools’ hard work and “commitment to academic excellence.”

“The state’s Distinguished Schools designation for Baird Middle School and Design Science Middle College High School recognizes what we have known for some time – these two campuses are among the best in California,” Nelson said. “Both schools are producing academically strong, well-rounded students who outperform state standards. The staffs and students at Baird and Design Science are to be commended for their achievements.”

Additionally, Clovis Unified was recognized as one of the state’s exemplary districts along with Lemoore Union High in Kings County.

Granite Ridge principal Joshua Shapiro said it was an honor to be recognized as a distinguished school.

“Every educator at Granite Ridge provides our students with the ability to grow as critical thinkers and lifelong learners,” Shapiro said. “Success requires dedication and collaboration from all stakeholders. I am proud to say every individual associated with Granite Ridge demonstrates these qualities.”

Schools are recognized as distinguished schools for “achieving exceptional student performance for two consecutive school years or closing the achievement gap between two school years,” according to a statement from the California Department of Education.

“I would like to commend these schools for fighting for a better future for our students, closing achievement gaps, and improving academic performance,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “Thanks to teachers, administrators, classified employees, and parents working together, these schools meet the needs of all of their students, provide high-quality educational experiences, and put kids on a pathway to great careers.”

The data used to assess schools and districts for the award is pulled from the California School Dashboard and includes test scores, suspension rates and graduation rates.

Schools will hold their title for two years and can reapply once every two years.

This video from the California Department of Education shows how to understand your student's California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test results for the year 2017-18.

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