8 Newport-Mesa schools are 'distinguished'

Eight Newport-Mesa Unified elementary schools this week were named California Distinguished Schools — the pinnacle of recognition for public schools in the state.

The state bestowed the top honor for 2014 on Eastbluff, Harbor View, Lincoln, Mariners, Newport Coast, Newport Heights, Roy O. Andersen and Woodland elementary schools.

"I am extremely proud of the schools and would like to recognize the administrators, staff, teachers, parents and students for their commitment and hard work in supporting the comprehensive and lengthy application process," Newport-Mesa Supt. Fred Navarro said in a prepared statement. "Their dedication is exemplary."

Lincoln and Newport elementary schools were also recognized specifically for their arts program.

Only Newport Elementary was named a distinguished school during the state's last round of awards in 2012. Elementary and secondary schools, which include middle and high schools, are recognized in alternate years.

The Newport-Mesa winners are among 424 public elementary schools being recognized for their strong academic achievements this year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Wednesday.

"This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work and unwavering support," he wrote in a news release.

Six Irvine Unified elementary schools — Stone Creek, Stonegate, Turtle Rock, Vista Verde, Eastshore and Westpark — were also recognized this year.

The annual laurel honors schools that have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and have narrowed the achievement gap, according to the release.

One aspect of the application process requires schools to identify two "signature practices," such as enriched art and science programs, that it can share with other schools.

In addition, the schools must rank in at least the 60th percentile in the Academic Performance Index score, meet growth targets for API scores and ensure that minority groups achieve above-average API scores.

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