Beethoven Elementary School in Mar Vista, Coeur d’Alene Avenue Elementary School in Venice and Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica are among the elementary schools that have been named California Distinguished School this year.

The three local schools were among the 343 exemplary public elementary schools from 189 districts in 39 counties to have been selected for the honor, state superintendent of public instruction Jack O’Connell announced.

“These outstanding elementary schools represent many different kinds of communities, organizational structures, and stu- dent populations,” said O’Connell. “Sixty-four of these schools come from small, rural communities, 11 are charter schools, and nearly half or 156 schools have significant populations of students living in poverty and are supported by federal Title I funding.”

The selection criteria for the Distinguished School program were more stringent than ever this year, O’Connell noted. Schools wrote a substantive narrative application and then were subject to an extensive site validation.

“Most heartening, many of the schools we are recognizing today as the ‘best of the best’ have overcome significant educational challenges, showing that it is possible to provide opportunities for success to all students,” O’Connell said.

This year, 300, or 87 percent, of the award-winning schools serve populations high in minority student representation and 182, or 53 percent, of them are educating students who are learning English.

“I was honored to be able to join in the excitement as these dedicated educators learned their schools earned this coveted title,” the superintendent said. “From their stories, it became clear that they share a school-wide vision of excellence where every student can succeed and achieve at the very highest levels of performance.”

The schools will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim May 16th.

The California School Recognition Program, now in its 23rd year, identifies and honors the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools with the California Distinguished School Award. Although participation is voluntary, the award is highly sought after by schools in all areas of the state. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.

For the current year, 839 elementary schools submitted applications and were identified for eligibility on the basis of their Academic Performance Index and Adequate Yearly Progress results.

All applicants underwent a selection process conducted by the California Department of Education, with the help of local educators from across the state, and in partnership with the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.