The California Department of Education announced this week what we already know: Peralta is one of the most "distinguished" schools in the California. Peralta joins three other Oakland public schoolsâ€”Chabot, Montclair, and Thornhill Elementaryâ€”in receiving the award.
The Distinguished Schools award comes just after Peralta earned a Title I Academic Achievement Award for excellence in overall academic achievement, as well as high performance among socio-economically disadvantaged students. Just two Oakland Unified schools earned the award. More info.
Principal Rosette Costello put quite a bit of work into applying for the distinguished schools award, which brings recognition but no extra money. Thanks for your work, Ms. Costello and everyone else who helped with the application and the site visit!
Here's an excerpt from OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint's press release:
Four Oakland Unified Schools Achieve â€œDistinguished Schoolsâ€ Status
Chabot, Montclair, Peralta, and Thornhill Elementary recognized as four of Californiaâ€™s finest schools,
crediting staff efforts, student and parental engagement and positive cultures for success
Oaklandâ€“ April 19, 2010 â€“ Four Oakland Unified schools, Chabot, Montclair, Peralta and Thornhill, received one of the stateâ€™s most prestigious education honors today. These four elementary schools earned the 2010 California Distinguished School Award, given to â€œthe stateâ€™s most exemplary and inspiring schools.â€ Chabot, Montclair, Peralta and Thornhill share the honor with just 480 of the stateâ€™s more than five thousand elementary schools, and prevailed in a year where the selection criteria was, according to the California Department of Education, â€œmore stringent than ever.â€ In announcing the selections, State Superintendent of Instruction Jack Oâ€™Connell noted that the winning schools are boosting achievement for all student populations in the face of an extreme budget crisis.
â€œThe 2010 California Distinguished Schools have been selected because of their academic excellence and for narrowing achievement gaps. These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts. I encourage educators throughout our state to review the signature practices that Distinguished Schools are using to improve student achievement.â€ Oâ€™Connell urged.
Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and serve as a mentor to other educators who want to replicate the work. An updated searchable database of these signature practices will be available later this spring from the California Department of Education.
At Peralta Elementary, where the parent satisfaction rating is a remarkable 100 percent, the signature practice involves using the arts to stimulate interest in and increase understanding of the overall curriculum.
â€œOur dedication to joyful, enthusiastic learning has a strong grounding in the arts,â€ explained Peralta Elementary Principal Rosette Costello. â€œThe complexity of art-based learning and the opportunities it provides for students to observe, to think, and to wonder, prepare our students to develop creative and resilient approaches to problem solving in all aspects of their lives. At Peralta, the arts are also used to help students make meaningful connections with the community. We invite anyone who is interested in the importance of arts learning for all children to come learn from our success.â€
Costelloâ€™s leadership, along with the involvement of an active and engaged parent community, helped turn Peralta from a site that many families avoided to one of the most sought after schools in the city of Oakland . Not only does Peralta boast a robust API score of 892 (API is Californiaâ€™s primary metric for measuring student achievement) , it is one of just 57 schools in the entire state â€“ out of more than 9,000 total â€“ where the average API score for African-Americans tops 800.