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Districts of Distinction

Celebrating Excellence & Innovation in K12 Education


DA’s annual Districts of Distinction Program honors home-grown innovations in K12 education – successful projects that were developed by visionary educators to meet the needs of their individual school districts and that have the potential to impact student success in communities nationwide.

If this describes an initiative in your district that is improving student outcomes, streamlining operations or meeting the needs of your community in an innovative way, we would love to consider your district for recognition as a District of Distinction.

The application period for 2020 closed on October 1, 2019. Honorees will be notified in the next few weeks.

Honorees will be profiled in DA, invited to participate in a panel discussion at FETC®, and will be eligible to be chosen as DA’s District of the Year.

Here’s how it works

  1. Complete your application online by clicking on the button. The application deadline for consideration as a 2020 District of Distinction is October 1, 2019.
  2. One district will be honored as the top program within each of the categories outlined below. if your project fits in more than one category, you may ask to be considered in each one.
  • Ed Tech 
  • At Risk Populations 
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Career and Technical Education 
  • Professional Development 
  • Leadership Development 
  • Community and Family Engagement/Business Partnerships
  • Closing the Achievement Gap

Scroll to the bottom of this page to see expanded descriptions of each of the categories listed above.

3.10 featured honorees. DA will feature one category in each issue during 2020. The top honoree in each category will be profiled in the corresponding issue, both in print and online. Honorees will also be recognized with the following benefits:

  • An invitation to participate in a category panel discussion at the 2021 Future of Education Technology® Conference (FETC) 
  • Inclusion in a nationally distributed press release
  • A Districts of Distinction plaque
  • A press release to promote their recognition to local media

4. District of the Year: One district will be named the top honoree within each category. The outstanding honoree among all categories who demonstrated exemplary results and capacity to impact others with their story will be named the 2020 district of the year. They will receive special recognition in District Administration, at FETC®, and will be named as such in the nationally distributed press release.

5. Additional honorees in each category will also be recognized.


See what previous honorees have achieved. Read their stories.

2019 Honorees

2018 Honorees

2017 Honorees

2016 Honorees


Expanded Category Descriptions for 2020 Districts of Distinction

Ed Tech: Integrating technology to improve student outcomes. 

At Risk Populations: A targeted initiative meeting the needs of kids in at risk populations such as ELL, Special Education, Economically Disadvantaged, or district identified underperforming subgroups. 

Curriculum and Instruction: Strong focus on standards-based core instruction initiatives in the areas of ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies, STEM/STEAM, Project-based learning, and rigorous courses like AICE, IB, and Dual Enrollment.

Social Emotional Learning: District-wide SEL initiatives for adults and/or students.

Career and Technical Education: Increasing or improving industry certifications and providing choice for students to explore different career paths. 

Professional Development: District-wide professional learning initiatives targeted at solving a problem for instructional and non-instructional staff.

Leadership Development: Initiatives to increase capacity of district leaders, create pipelines, and improve school level support and coaching.

Community and Family Engagement/Business Partnerships: Unique partnership opportunities and strategies to increase engagement and support of local schools.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Improving outcomes for underperforming populations.