Rice Continues to Roll with Honors

The accolades keep coming for Lilian J. Rice School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Rice is among seven schools recently announced as California Distinguished Schools for strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement. The other CVESD honorees are: Arroyo Vista Charter, Joseph Casillas, Discovery Charter, Rosebank, Silver Wing, and Sunnyside.

The 2014 California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California students’ right to an equitable and rigorous education, and recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

Rice also was the recipient of the recently announced 2013-14 Title I Academic Achievement Award. That award was especially gratifying to Principal Ernesto Villanueva, whose goal on becoming appointed to the school was to ensure students achieved academic targets.

“It is a great feeling to receive this award,” Villanueva said. “It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Rice community. We have been able to channel our efforts towards ensuring that each child experiences success on a daily basis. We have been very fortunate this year to receive the California Distinguished School Award and now the Title 1 Achievement Award as well. We are excited about the future, and the possibilities that lie ahead.”

Rice is getting used to being in the spotlight. An Associated Press article about CVESD’s model wellness program featured the efforts at Rice—and it ran everywhere from the front of Yahoo!News to daily newspapers ranging from Dayton to El Paso to Massachusetts and Seattle.

The Title I Academic Achievement Award is given to schools receiving federal Title I funds as authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I, the single largest federal educational program for K-12 public education, assists schools in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line. Of the approximately 10,000 schools in California, more than 6,000 of them participate in the Title I program. To receive this distinction, the school must demonstrate that all students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California’s academic content standards. Additionally, the school’s socioeconomically disadvantaged students must have doubled the achievement targets set for them for two consecutive years.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in announcing the Title I achievement award winners said: “I am proud of what these schools have accomplished under often challenging circumstances. Their administrators and teachers are committed to giving their students every opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that will help them in school and throughout their lives.”

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