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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-02
January 7, 2011
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State School Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates California's 2011
"Schools to Watch™—Taking Center Stage" Model Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the designation of five high-performing middle schools as California's 2011 Schools To Watch™—Taking Center Stage (STW™—TCS) model schools.

The middle schools are: Andrew Carnegie Middle School [http://www.sanjuan.edu/Carnegie.cfm] External link opens in new window or tab. in the San Juan Unified School District (Sacramento County), Orangevale; Calavera Hills Middle School [http://calavera.schoolloop.com/] External link opens in new window or tab. in the Carlsbad Unified School District, Carlsbad (San Diego County); La Paz Intermediate School [http://www.svusd.k12.ca.us/schools/la_paz/] External link opens in new window or tab. in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Mission Viejo (Orange County); Vista Verde Middle School [http://val.ca.schoolwebpages.com/education/school/school.php?sectionid=32] External link opens in new window or tab., in the Val Verde Unified School District (Riverside County); and Washington Academic Middle School [http://washington.sanger.k12.ca.us/] External link opens in new window or tab. in the Sanger Unified School District, in Sanger (Fresno County).

"I congratulate each of these schools for earning this well-deserved designation,” Torlakson said. "Each school met the distinctive needs of their middle grades students by building strong academic and extracurricular programs to support achievement for each student. I also want to thank the students for their hard work, as well as their teachers, administrators, staff, and parents who provided the crucial support to make these schools examples of educational excellence."

The schools were specifically recognized for their successes in four areas. These include: (1) implementing best practices focused on academic achievement, (2) responding to the developmental needs of young adolescents, (3) offering a fair and equitable education for all students, and (4) instituting organizational processes and procedures that foster and sustain academic growth.

Washington Academic Middle School has an overall Academic Performance Index (API) score of 799, an increase of more than 130 points since 2005. Washington Academic has a very diverse population of 1,615 pupils, where 100 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged. This subgroup, as well as the 79 percent Hispanic and 20 percent English learner subgroups, increased their API scores 131, 139, and 142 points, respectively, since 2005.

Vista Verde Middle School’s 788 API score has increased 102 points since 2005 and has continued to meet all of its subgroup’s growth targets — African-American, Hispanic, socioeconomically disadvantaged, English learners, and students with disabilities. Sixty-seven percent of Vista Verde’s very diverse population of 1,023 pupils is socioeconomically disadvantaged. Yet, this subgroup, as well as the Hispanic (47 percent) and African-American (35 percent) subgroups, increased their API scores 104, 113, and 91 points, respectively, since 2005.

La Paz Intermediate School distinguished itself with an API score of 891 and closed the achievement gap significantly with its Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroups by 48 and 54 points, respectively. The school’s 1,016-pupil population is broken into small learning communities. Steps 4 Success gives fluid intervention support for students while real-world connections are made through a Career Exploration class.

Calavera Hills Middle School has several "Coyote” programs that have boosted student achievement. One is Coyote Crossroads, where struggling students have been paired to assist students with autism in the special needs classroom in an effort to build self-esteem and confidence of the Crossroad student. Coyote Community is a once-a-week assembly where all students and staff come together to celebrate student and school successes, along with activities to build relationships.

Andrew Carnegie Middle School has developed a push-in, rather than a pull-out, program for mainstreaming special needs students. From "Garage Band” to high-tech video production classes, the school provides stimulating electives as well as fluid intervention classes to support early adolescent needs.

The five schools named today join 27 others selected in previous cycles since 2003 as STW™—TCS designees. They will be formally recognized at the California League of Middle Schools conference February 25-27, 2011, in Sacramento.

For more information about Schools To Watch™—Taking Center Stage model school program, please visit California Schools to Watch - Taking Center Stage - Middle Grades [Note: The preceding link is no longer active.].

School Contacts:
  • Andrew Carnegie Middle School Principal Trish Baldwin, 916-971-7852.
  • Calavera Hills Middle School Principal Catina Hancock, 760-331-6400.
  • La Paz Intermediate School Principal Jean Carroll, 949-830-1720.
  • Vista Verde Middle School Principal Gary Roughton, 951-490-4690.
  • Washington Academic Middle School Principal Jon Yost, 559-524-7015.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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