Highland Elementary Celebrates 2014 California Distinguished School Honor

Principal Tia Belt-Brown, pictured Friday with kindergarteners, said the California Distinguished School recognition "speaks to the high expectations that our staff and community hold for student achievement."
Principal Tia Belt-Brown, pictured Friday with kindergarteners, said the California Distinguished School recognition “speaks to the high expectations that our staff and community hold for student achievement.”

Inglewood Unified’s Highland Elementary has been named a California Distinguished School, a distinction given to top public elementary schools around the state that have made strides in narrowing the student achievement gap.

Highland, which boasts an 835 on the state’s Academic Performance Index, recently welcomed a validation team to its TK-6 campus on Venice Way.

Visitors observed students in their classrooms and at play during recess, and members of the team also conducted interviews with faculty and staff members. They were certainly impressed with what they saw.

“It speaks to the high expectations that our staff and community hold for student achievement,” said Highland Principal Tia Belt-Brown, who is most proud that staff has sustained its exemplary work since winning the award four short years ago. “Here it is in 2014, and my staff has continued the same tradition of excellence.  I am so happy for them!”

Kindergarteners work on computers at Highland, a California Distinguished School for 2014
Kindergarteners work on computers at Highland, a California Distinguished School for 2014

Highland is IUSD’s top performing school, with students and subgroups outperforming those at some local charter and private schools. It has received the Distinguished School honor before, most recently in 2008. And in 2010, Highland earned the prestigious National Blue Ribbon award.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson on Wednesday named Highland among 424 California Distinguished Schools for 2014.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said in a statement. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

To apply for the honor, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including federal and state accountability measures. Eligible schools must submit a written application that includes two signature practices, and undergo a county-led site validation review.

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