We’ve noticed that a lot of magazines, both the print and online kind, seem to be fond of lists lately. So we thought we’d come up with one of our own. Without further ado, here are 15 things worth knowing about the Irvine Unified School District:
1. IUSD schools have earned the California Distinguished School designation – considered the state’s highest honor – 61 times since 1986, and all four comprehensive high schools have been recognized at least once.
2. All four comprehensive high schools have been named Blue Ribbon Schools, the nation’s highest level of recognition for K-12 campuses. (That’s a lot of pressure for the soon-to-be-constructed Portola High.) In all, IUSD has produced 15 Blue Ribbon schools since 1983.
3. IUSD has been at the vanguard of the “green schools” movement. In addition to generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings on utility bills through staff conservation efforts, the district has promoted environmentally-friendly construction and diverted thousands of tons of construction debris to recyclers for reuse.
4. Since 2010, IUSD has authorized the installation of energy-generating solar panels on the rooftops of more than a dozen schools, and vehicle shade structures topped with photovoltaic tiles have been constructed at a number of additional sites. These panels generate 25 percent to 60 percent of each campus’ electrical consumption and save IUSD hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in electricity costs. They also serve as the basis for standards-based instruction on alternative energy sources.
5. High schools in Irvine consistently rank in the top 10 in Orange County for producing the highest SAT scores.
6. The Irvine Unified School District is unmatched in its performance at the annual Orange County Science & Engineering Fair Awards. Of the 154 OCSEF awards presented at the 2014 competition, 49 were earned by Irvine students.
7. Last year, Plaza Vista Middle School teacher Scott Bedley was announced as one of five Orange County Teachers of the Year. Irvine teachers have also gone on to earn California Teacher of the Year honors.
8. Irvine campuses are consistently named among the county’s best in the Orange County Register’s annual evaluation of elementary, middle and high schools. In 2014, Stonegate Elementary School earned top honors based on a formula that takes into account academics, accolades and school environment.
9. IUSD’s newcomer program makes great strides with students who have arrived from other countries with little or no English skills. Many are quickly integrated into mainstream classrooms.
10. The Irvine Unified School District consistently produces dozens of semifinalists in the annual competition for scholarships through the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Corp. In 2014, 110 IUSD students earned this honor, joining an elite group that represents less than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors.
11. IUSD sends more participants to the All-Southern California Honor Orchestra than any other district from the Mexican border to San Luis Obispo. Of the 102 spots available in the 2014 All Southern California Middle School Full Orchestra, 42 were filled by students from Irvine Unified.
12. In March 2014, IUSD was named one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” by the highly-regarded NAMM Foundation. The district earned the same honor in 2010 and 2013.
13. From February through June 2014, more than 20,000 IUSD students were selected to showcase their musical and artistic talents in scores of visual and performing arts events in the district and beyond.
14. The Grammy Foundation has awarded 10 Grammy Signature Awards to IUSD high schools, more than any other district in the state.
15. Irvine students have consistently moved the needle on standards tests. According to the state’s most recent Academic Performance Index, which measures achievement on a scale of 200 to 1,000, eight of the top 20 highest-scoring schools in Orange County were in the Irvine Unified School District. IUSD also posted a cumulative API score of 925 in 2013, tops in the county.