Kentwood Elementary School in Westchester has been invited by the state Board of Education to apply for the California Distinguished School Award, school officials announced.

This prestigious recognition identifies and honors the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools and the award is highly sought after by schools in all regions of the state, officials noted.

Only five percent of California’s public schools are selected each year, and no fewer than 40 counties are typically represented. If selected, Kentwood Elementary would hold the distinguished school honor for a period of four years.

“We are very honored to be recognized and gladly accept the invitation to participate,” said principal Jean Pennicooke. “Whether or not we are chosen,

Kentwood is proud to have the opportunity to share our best practices with other schools through this program.”

Kentwood’s signature practices include “Data Driven

Analysis, Inquiry and Response” and “Reaching and Teaching All Students,” Pennicooke explained.

Criteria considered in the competitive selection process for schools includes meeting designated federal and state accountability measures, Academic Performance Index (API) require- ments, and all aspects of the school’s educational program.

The criteria became even more stringent last year when state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell established the additional standard that distinguished schools must also have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap.

“It would be fitting for us to receive this honor,” Kentwood parent Stanley Sun said. “As a new parent to Kentwood last year, I have been impressed by the dedication of the parents, teachers and staff to create a productive learning environment. I encourage involved parents to see what this small community neighborhood school is all about.”

Kentwood Elementary will hold its next “Not Just for Kindergarten Tea and Campus Tour” at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 18th at the school, 8401 Emerson Ave., Westchester.