Standout school systems honored

24 distinguished districts excel in leadership, special ed, and college and career prep
By: | June 28, 2016

Meeting students’ psychological needs, improving STEM programs and fueling college and career access exemplify innovative solutions increasing student achievement nationwide.

The 24 school systems honored in this round of District Administration’s Districts of Distinction national recognition program found creative ways to raise graduation rates and to build up administrative effectiveness.

These districts, representing 16 states across the nation, have successfully created inventive initiatives to increase funding, decrease dropouts and provide more students with access to college and career choices.

Cuyahoga Falls City School District in Ohio developed small learning communities in grades 7 through 12. Teachers deliver the traditional curriculum through the lenses of student interest in arts, engineering, health and public services.

Real-world experiences provided by local community leaders and businesses connect students with future jobs in a wide range of career fields.

Under a tight budget, Newton-Conover City Schools in North Carolina launched a program to support innovation: Fees collected from community groups renting district facilities become grants that are given to students and staff to develop creative projects.

The district purchased a 3D printer and bought books for an all-boys book club aimed at underprivileged and at-risk elementary students.

The Hermosa Beach City School District in California shifted away from traditional academic plans to a curriculum that includes mindfulness and social-emotional learning. The MindUP program incorporates breathing exercises and physical activities into class time to help students reduce stress, regulate their emotion and pay better attention.

DA’s team of editors selected the latest Districts of Distinction based on the success of each program as well as replicability to inspire other school systems to seek innovative solutions for their own challenges.

For more information about Districts of Distinction, including how to apply and a list of current and past honorees, visit