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California’s Santa Ana Unified School District to Be Honored for Excellence and Innovation in Secondary Schools

Alliance for Excellent Education to Announce Award on Digital Learning Day, February 17

WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, during national Digital Learning Day Live!, the Alliance for Excellent Education will recognize California’s Santa Ana Unified School District (USD) as one of three recipients of the Excellence and Innovation in Secondary Schools award. Created in 2012 by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, DC non-profit education reform organization, Digital Learning Day (#DLDay) is a nationwide celebration that highlights great teaching and demonstrates how technology can improve student outcomes.

“From small, rural towns to large, urban cities, Digital Learning Day spotlights educators, policymakers, and others leading the charge to close the digital divide in their communities,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “After a national search for schools and school districts that are making a difference for students in socioeconomically disadvantaged and traditionally underserved communities, Santa Ana USD’s innovative use of technology to personalize learning for its students make it a great role model for districts nationwide.”

“We are very proud to have been selected by the Alliance to receive this award, which acknowledges our ongoing digital transformation work,” said Dr. David Haglund, deputy superintendent of Santa Ana USD. “Our amazing staff have embraced the Board’s vision, which includes expanding choice options for students and families, enhancing personalized learning pathways, and ensuring that every child has access to technology at school and at home. These programs model a wide variety of blended learning options and have resulted in increased student engagement and improved student learning outcomes across the pre-K–12 learning spectrum.”

With almost 90 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch and English language learners making up almost half of the student population, Santa Ana USD is closing the technology gap through a new initiative called “Access for All.” Starting at the intermediate level, the program initially provided every student in grades 6–8 with a mobile device (iPad Mini or Chromebook) to support their instructional learning. The program has since expanded to grades 4–10. Students are permitted to take their devices home to continue the flow of learning and access their work and other valuable resources.

Santa Ana USD is also finding creative ways to address issues of home access by working with the municipality to increase open wireless access in public spaces, outfitting the exterior of schools to broadcast filtered wireless access into surrounding homes, and advocating through concerted lobbying efforts for a citywide wireless solution.

Santa Ana USD was selected to receive the Excellence and Innovation in Secondary Schools award after a rigorous review process that included more than five dozen schools and districts. The two other winners of the award are Cleveland, Ohio’s MC2 STEM High School and Warsaw Community Schools in Indiana.


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.