Arcadia Unified’s Dana Middle School Named 2021 California Distinguished School

Dana Staff

Dana Middle School Staff Gathered by the Famed Dana Anchor


Less than 4% of California’s more than 2,650 public middle and high schools have been named in this year’s 2021 California Distinguished Schools Program, and Arcadia Unified’s Dana Middle School is one of the distinguished few. 

“In a year unlike any other for public education, it’s wonderful news to have Dana Middle School recognized as a 2021 California Distinguished School,” said Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall. “For over a year now, educators and school staff have been called upon to go above and beyond in adjusting and adapting to delivering instruction and supporting students and families no matter the setting. Fortunately for us, going above and beyond is second nature for our Arcadia Unified team, making this recognition something shared and celebrated across our entire district.”

Dana Middle School last received this distinction in 2013. The Arcadia community also recently had a chance to take an inside look at Dana Middle School through Arcadia Unified’s new School Spotlight series. During this spotlight, the school’s students, teachers, staff, and administrators shared more about the work, learning, and community-building that has continued on through distance learning. 

"I think that Dana creates a safe community for all students regardless of their background,” shared Dana Middle School 7th grader Sophia Ren when asked what she likes most about her school. “The teachers are dedicated to helping students reach their full potential. Dana is a nurturing and fun environment that I look forward to going to every day, even online!"


Dana Middle School's Chris Tsai exemplifies the warm welcome students receive at Dana


Over the years, every Arcadia Unified elementary and middle school has been named a California Distinguished School. Most recently, Arcadia Unified’s Holly Avenue Elementary and Longley Way Elementary Schools were named 2018 California Distinguished Schools. The California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes elementary and middle and high schools in alternate years, which means honorees hold their California Distinguished School title for two years. 


Sponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE) and presented by California Casualty, the California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools for one of two accomplishments: demonstrating significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap or achieving exceptional student performance. 


The criteria for this year’s Distinguished School Program saw the CDE using a multiple measure accountability system to identify eligible schools based on their performance and progress on state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Further details and information about the Dashboard can be found on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page


“These schools are great examples of California’s commitment to provide outstanding public education for all students, and their data-driven efforts have helped ensure that their students leave with the tools and skills they need to be successful after graduation,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.


The 2021 California Distinguished Schools honorees will be recognized via a virtual ceremony that the CDE will announce at a later date. Additional details on the California Distinguished Schools program may be found at For information about Dana Middle School, visit