Schools earn the mark of distinction

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Two Rocklin schools earned California Distinguished School status. Antelope Creek Elementary and Rocklin Academy were two of 484 schools selected, and two of only seven within the county. Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, announced the selected schools Monday. Antelope Creek first became a Distinguished School in 2000. Principal Matt Murphy said the school met the criteria and applied for the distinction again this year. Murphy said it’s a deserved recognition of hard work. “For me, it just reaffirms the hard work that the staff is providing,” Murphy said. “This is just a representation of the good work that they do.” Dave Patterson, executive director of Rocklin Academy, said the honor also shows the hard work of the staff. “I think it’s just another recognition about the quality of our educational program,” he said. “This is not just an honor for Rocklin Academy Turnstone.” The two Rocklin Academy campuses share the same faculty and Patterson said the designation is viewed as an honor for Rocklin Academy as a whole. The process for a school to be named a Distinguished School is a selective process. The honor is based on school Academic Performance Index scores as well as Adequate Yearly Progress results. The schools also must identify two signature practices that are used to narrow the achievement gap that exists between higher- and lower-achieving students. A site visit is also conducted to verify the application and practices. At Antelope Creek, Murphy said the signature practices are both surrounded by one question — “are you really doing best by all kids?” The key practices at Antelope Creek included improving the climate, helping the students feel more connected to the school, and also a school intervention program. The intervention program is a three-tiered system where students are given support to succeed and can ultimately lead to a family meeting with educational professionals to discuss the student’s achievement. At Rocklin Academy, the signature practices included their Core Knowledge curriculum, which includes rich content beyond state standards, Patterson said. The other key practice at the school is teacher collaboration weekly. Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and also serve as a mentor to other educators. “It is an honor to recognize the schools, and the students, parents, teachers and administrators who helped earn this most prestigious distinction,” O’Connell said in a release. “These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts.” Murphy agreed that the honor is a collaborative effort. “It’s everybody — it’s the families, it’s the kids, it’s the staff, it’s the community,” Murphy said. “They all contribute to the success.” The California Distinguished School distinction lasts for four years. The 2010 Distinguished Schools will be honored at a ceremony June 4 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.