The CSBA Golden Bell Awards promotes excellence in education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards in school districts and county offices of education throughout California. Golden Bell Awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs.



Includes the display of successful models, techniques and data related to assessing student achievement and/or program effectiveness on a districtwide basis and for ensuring district accountability. LCAP aligned

Alternative Education

Includes unique programs that support student learning and achievement through the implementation of non-traditional learning opportunities.

Career Technical Education

Includes the display of successful models, techniques and supporting data focused on efforts to prepare students for both career and college, such as linked learning; career pathways; regional occupation programs; career exploration opportunities; etc. in supporting programs that focus on career and technical education. Sponsored by United Association California Apprenticeship Coordinators, $1,000 award eligible

Civic Education through Partnership and Collaboration

Includes comprehensive strategies to engage students in the democratic process; collaborations with civic organizations to advance civic education and/or programs; and opportunities for hands-on civic engagement experiences.

Closing the Opportunity Gap through LCAP Implementation

Includes the display of successful models, techniques and supporting data focused on programs that help narrow and close the academic achievement gap for under-performing student groups that have been prioritized in the budgeting process and included in the LCAP. Such efforts may include data driven intervention strategies, meaningful disaggregation of student performance data, culturally relevant pedagogy, a focus on integration, course access and professional development focused on closing the gap. Sponsored by Professional Business Affiliates, $1,000 award eligible.
LCAP aligned

Community Schools through Partnerships and Collaboration

Includes efforts to implement the community school strategy, which is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school, city, county and the community. Characteristics include a shared vision, shared leadership and shared accountability; core educational programming; strong family engagement; expansion of learning opportunities; shared resources and a comprehensive set of integrated services designed to meet the full range of learning and developmental needs of the students.

County Offices of Education

Includes county services to school districts, regional consortia and alternative education programs including juvenile court and community schools. Programs are eligible for the Apple for Excellence Award, from The California County Boards of Education.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation

Includes models that utilize interdisciplinary teaching, thematic instruction, learning styles, technology and other innovative or exemplary instructional strategies and integrated programs that will be successful within the lens of the California Standards.

Programs may be submitted in any of the following specific programmatic or curricular areas:

Early Childhood Education

Includes all programs that are developmentally appropriate for pre-kindergarten aged children and transitional kindergarten; collaborative with cities/counties for educationally relevant child care; programs focused on social-emotional development and learning and Head Start programs. Sponsored by Principal Business Affiliates $1,000 award eligible

Energy and Environmental Innovation Programs

Includes programs that incorporate “green” practices that creatively engage students in environmental awareness and social responsibility. Includes areas of school facilities and operations, curricula and student activities addressing resource conservation and energy efficiency. Sponsored by Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, $5,000 award eligible

English Language Acquisition

Includes programs which assist students in developing fluency in English and proficiency in academic subjects and programs to promote multilingualism.
LCAP aligned

Equity and Access

These programs strive to break down barriers that have prevented student access to an equitable education including those that foster genuine cross-cultural understanding and inclusiveness, strategically target services to students based on their needs, and promote a more equitable distribution of resources. These programs put into action the belief that all students can learn when they have access to high-quality education programs and the supports they need to succeed.
LCAP aligned

Expanded Learning and Engagement

Includes programs offered during expanded learning time that meet the needs of students and engage them in activities to strengthen their human potential, including athletics, visual and performing arts, enrichment, debate, mock trial and student government.
LCAP aligned

Parental/Community Involvement

Includes programs which encourage or facilitate parental involvement in their child’s education, including innovative approaches to outreach and effective involvement of parents from diverse communities. Sponsored by Principal’s Exchange, $1,000 award eligible
LCAP aligned

Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention

Includes all professional development programs for staff, including teachers, administrators and classified personnel. This includes beginning teacher support and assessment programs, as well as intern and credentialing programs. Recruitment programs include those that have proven success in retaining teachers in the district and offer successful strategies to attract and keep teachers in critical shortage areas. Sponsored by Premier Business Affiliates, $1,000 award eligible

School Climate and Safety

Includes programs that effectively prevent or reduce school violence by promoting a positive school climate or safety, and teaching students to resolve conflicts. May also include other prevention or intervention strategies such as programs that promote school safety through the use of planning, monitoring and assessment tools, as well as programs that support students’ sense of belonging and engagement in order to increase motivation and achievement.
LCAP aligned

Special Education

Includes programs designed to serve special needs and disabled students, including children from birth to age 22. Programs are eligible for a California Special Education Commission GOAL Award

Student Support Services

Includes, but is not limited to, on-campus student service centers, parent education programs, foster and homeless youth supports, counseling and intervention programs, peer assistance and nutrition programs.


Includes the use of technology as an instructional tool which engages students in the curriculum, helps equip them for an increasingly technological society and job market, and provides greater access to educational services. Sponsored by Climatec, $1,000 award eligible


Includes programs that address critical health issues and their link to student academic achievement, such as physical education and activity, nutrition, mental health, oral health, diabetes, indoor air quality, asthma and more; efforts to expand school wellness policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; collaborative and coordinated school health approaches along with other successful strategies in creating healthier students and school communities; etc.

LCAP Aligned: These categories are in alignment with the Local Control and Accountability Plan.


Eligibility Criteria
  • Programs must be operating in a CSBA member district or county office of education.
  • A program must have started at least two years prior to the Golden Bell Awards program entry deadline of Friday, June 28, 2019 and currently be in existence.
Each entry must be completed online at To streamline the application process, please download the form online and prepare your answers in advance. Three (3) high-resolution, color digital photos must be uploaded online at the time of submission. The photos will be used during the awards presentation ceremony and/or in future promotion and publicity efforts. For examples of high-resolution, print-quality photos, please click here.
Entry Deadline
  • All entries must be submitted by Friday, June 28, 2019. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • For further information about the Golden Bell Awards program, contact the California School Boards Association (800) 266-3382 ext. 3358 or
REMINDER—an entry will be disqualified for any of the following reasons:
  • The school district or county office of education is not a member of CSBA.
  • Three entries have already been submitted from the district or county office.
  • The program has not been in operation for at least two school years.
  • An official entry form is not submitted or does not contain the required check mark.
  • Three high-resolution, color digital photos were not uploaded with the narrative.
  • Evidence of board support was not uploaded.
  • The application is not submitted by Friday, June 28, 2019.
Notice to board presidents and superintendents

Please note that the board president, superintendent, curriculum director or other appropriate district/county office administrator responsible for the program check the box in place of your signature on any entry form submitted from your district or county office. A maximum of three entries will be accepted from each district or county office. Please share this with your board members and applicable staff including site principals, instructional services departments and curriculum staff.


Programs will be judged on a scoring rubric, based on descriptors for each program category. In order to receive a Golden Bell Award, applicants must demonstrate that the program:

Is Data Driven

Data driven decision making is an important feature for the creation, implementation and sustainability of award winning programs. School boards and site level practitioners can use data to pinpoint issues of importance to the district and school site. Golden Bell Award winners will display how they used data to come to conclusions about student needs, program creation, implementation and sustainability.

Has Made a Difference for Students

Examples include: student evaluations or feedback demonstrating student satisfaction; surveys of parents, staff or community; degree of participation in program; all students who can benefit from the program are empowered to participate; data demonstrating program has undergone a rigorous evaluation and shows evidence of statistically significant improvements in student achievement, school environment or other desired outcomes; significant improvements for participants, including clearly articulated program goals, identification of measurable outcomes and evidence that demonstrates the program has generated cost savings that have released resources to provide greater services to students; and effective outreach to students who can benefit from the program.

Is Innovative or Exemplary

Examples include: exemplary implementation of a program; uniqueness throughout the state; creative approach to solving a problem or presenting a curriculum; use of new methods or technology to teach a needed skill or enhance the student experience; creative funding; etc. If a program has been replicated from another program, examples of how the program has been implemented in a unique or innovative manner.

Is Connected to the Board's Vision and is Supported by the Board

Examples include: linkage between the program and the district’s or county office’s vision statement, goals or strategic plan, evidence of program presentation and discussion at board meetings, evidence of board member program visitation and evidence of consideration during budget hearings

Shows Evidence of Board Support and Leadership

Examples include: demonstrating that the school board helped create the conditions for success to support award winning programming; board members fulfill the five major responsibilities of their role (setting direction, establishing structure, providing support, ensuring accountability, acting as a community leader) in the service of supporting this award winning program; evidence that the Golden Bell Awards program (entry information, district or school participation, etc.) has been a part of the standing, regular or periodic school board agenda.

Is Sustainable Over Time

Examples include: length of time in operation; stable source of funding; high participation from students; sufficient staff knowledge and commitment to maintain the program; strong support from students, parents, educators, the community and the board; a broad base of support and a strong structure in place to support the program; flexibility to meet changing needs; and expansion to serve more students or school sites.

Concepts can be Replicated

Examples include: evidence that the program has already been or could be replicated; written goals and procedures; availability of staff to discuss the program and demonstrate effective strategies; evidence that the district and county office actively reaches out to other districts and county offices of education to assist them in replicating the program; appropriateness for a different student population or staff; minimal needs for special facilities or equipment; and reasonable costs for initial implementation and training.


All eligible entries will be considered, and the decision of the judges is final. In cases where none of the eligible programs in a given program category meets or exceeds the total score set by CSBA, no award will be given. While many valuable programs may meet basic scoring criteria, the total score needed for an award is intentionally set high to select the most innovative or exemplary programs, which have made a demonstrated difference for students, are sustainable and are connected to other district/county office vision efforts.

Timeline for judging
June 28 Entries due
June/July Review applications to determine whether qualifications are met
July/August Judging/scoring by prominent educators with specific expertise relative to the category being judged
August All districts or county offices will be notified if they will or will not be moving to an on-site visitation in September
September Evaluation of potential award winners through an on-site visitation
October Announcement of award winners
November Awards Event


The CSBA Golden Bell Awards will be accepting short video submissions to be featured on our website or at the Golden Bell Awards Reception and Ceremony in November! Please note: The submission of a program video will in no way — positively or negatively — affect a program’s chances of winning a Golden Bell Award. Video submissions will be accepted with or after program entry, but no later than the application deadline.

DOs and DONTs

  • DO take footage of your program in action. Show students immersed in the program’s operations.
  • DO interview students, faculty, and anyone else involved in the programs day to day operations and explain how the program improves the lives of students in your district or county.
  • DO provide the full name, title, and company/district/school of anyone featured in your video. There will be a place to upload a file containing those details.
  • DON’T submit a slideshow of still pictures
  • DON’T use special effects or filters on your compilation
  • DON’T use transitions lasting longer than 2 seconds.


  • File type- acceptable file types include .mov, .mpg, .mpeg, .wmv, mp4, .m4v, or simply provide a YouTube link. Minimum pixel aspect ratio 640 x 480.
  • Video files must not exceed 250 MB and 5 minutes in length.


  • Example Video #1: Advanced Chemical Research | Watch video
  • Example Video #2: The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme | Watch video


Please adhere to the following specifications when selecting your 3 (three) high quality photos for submission:

  • File size should be between 1 MB and 4 MB
  • Minimum 750 pixels wide
  • Full color, unedited photos are preferred
  • Orientation should be landscape, not portrait
  • No blurry or low resolution photos please! Only crisp, clear and print-quality photos can be used in the variety of media formats that CSBA wishes to showcase its winning programs.

To check the file size and pixel width of your photo on a Windows computer, right-click on the photo or file name and select “properties”.