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A California Distinguished School is an award given by the California State Board of Education to public schools within the state that best represent exemplary and quality educational programs. Approximately five percent of California schools are awarded this honor each year following a selection process. Eligibility is based on federal and state criteria including the No Child Left Behind program, Academic Performance Index (API), and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).



The program was established in 1985 and alternates each year between elementary (even years) and secondary (odd years) schools. In the past, schools that were recognized as distinguished held the title for four years[1]. Currently, schools that are recognized as distinguished hold the title for two years, and after that the recognition may be renewed[2].

California Gold Ribbon SchoolEdit

Between 2015 and 2017, the California Department of Education awarded the California Gold Ribbon School designation for three years while California transitioned to its new assessment and accountability system. It returned to the California Distinguished School system beginning in 2018[3].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2004 Program Information - California School Recognition Program (CA Dept of Education)". 2004-06-03. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
  2. ^ "California Distinguished Schools Program (CA Dept of Education)". Retrieved 2019-07-30.
  3. ^ "California Gold Ribbon Schools Program - Awards and Recognition (CA Dept of Education)". Retrieved 2019-07-30.

External linksEdit