TeWinkle Middle School in Costa Mesa is the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's only recipient of the 2017 California Gold Ribbon Award.
The award honors public schools that demonstrate strong progress in student performance in standardized testing. Schools that apply for the award are encouraged to include programs, projects and practices they have implemented that can be done at other schools.
TeWinkle was honored for its Accelerated Learning Experience program, which puts students who are performing below their grade level into small groups.
In the 2015-16 school year, 72% of the program's students showed growth in reading levels, according to the California Department of Education.
"No kids can slip through the cracks," said Kira Hurst, TeWinkle's principal.
She said she was notified of the award Tuesday in an email from state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
"We were waiting on pins and needles," Hurst said. "Staff put a lot of years of hard work in bringing up our scores and settling solid systems in place to academically succeed at all levels."
"This is the best staff I've worked with," she added. "They're professional and hard-working, and nobody in this group ever says no. They'll stay after school, stay earlier and stay after lunch to help."