Two Monterey Peninsula Unified Schools Receive Prestigious State Recognition


Monte Vista Elementary Designated 2020 California Distinguished School

MLK: School of the Arts Receives 2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Award


Monterey, CA - Two Monterey Peninsula Unified School District elementary schools have been recently recognized by the California Department of Education and will be formally honored on February 10, 2020, during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.


Monte Vista Elementary School in Monterey, California was named a 2020 California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts received a 2020 California Exemplary Arts Education Award. 


“This is an incredible honor for our schools and the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District,” said Dr. PK Diffenbaugh, Superintendent. “Schools must demonstrate extensive progress and students and staff must meet rigorous standards before even being considered for these types of recognition. I am so proud of how far we’ve come as a district, and the designation of two of our schools exemplifies the hard work of our team.”


Monte Vista Elementary: 2020 California Distinguished School


Monte Vista Elementary School in Monterey, California was among 323 elementary schools across California honored for its outstanding education program and practices. Specifically, Monte Vista has done an exemplary job of closing the achievement gap for students which is reflected on its California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. The May 2018 CAASPP scores in particular introduced a whole new era of MVE closing achievement gaps for multiple subgroups. 


“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools—teachers, administrators, classified employees—and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”


A component of the California School Recognition Program, the Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.


Distinguished School awardees represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention. 


“I thank our Blue Jay family for how far we’ve come and look forward to the joy and grit in the journey ahead. As one unified and committed community, we can continue to elevate the quality of our school and our students’ performance,” said Joe Ashby, Principal, Monte Vista Elementary School.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts: 202 California Exemplary Arts Education Award


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts in Seaside, California was among 13 California schools honored for supporting arts and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education. Schools were recognized based on instruction identified in the California Arts Standards for Public Schools (arts standards) and performance and progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard.


MLK School of the Arts is a special school community. It was designated a California Turnaround Arts School in 2016 and since that time has made extraordinary efforts to ensure all students have access to arts education. Visual and performing arts is integrated into all learning aspects of the school.


“We are incredibly honored to receive this recognition. It’s reflective of all the hard work of our staff, students, and families in ensuring the arts play a critical role in our children’s education. We’re proud partners of California Turnaround Arts in our fight for arts equity and look forward to continuing this important work for our students and families,” said Sam Humphrey, Principal, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts.


“We know that access to arts and STEAM is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM,’” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Congratulations to these 13 schools for supporting arts and STEAM education, which prepares students to be leaders in the creative economy.”


Schools recognized as Exemplary Arts Education awardees represent a broad cross-section of educational delivery models, including traditional comprehensive elementary schools, magnet schools, and district and independent charters. These schools serve diverse demographic populations of varying sizes, from a 3,700-student urban school to a 250-student rural school. Some schools serve primarily Title I students from lower socio-economic circumstances and others serve suburban populations with strong district and community financial support.


In addition to meeting the arts standards and California Dashboard eligibility criteria, to apply to be recognized as an Exemplary Arts Awardee, schools must offer instruction to all students in a minimum of three of the five arts disciplines identified in the Arts Standards: Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. They must also show one level of improvement for at least one student subgroup in one of the following three areas based on the Dashboard: School Climate, in the area of Suspension Rate; Student Engagement, in the area of Chronic Absenteeism or Graduation Rate; Academic Achievement, in the area of English Language Arts, Mathematics, or College and Career Readiness.


# # #