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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-93
November 28, 2011
Contact: Tina Jung
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Honors "Schools to
Watch™–Taking Center Stage" Model Middle Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that four high-performing California schools are newly designated model middle schools in the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage (STW™−TCS) program. Another 11 high-performing California schools will also retain their model middle grades schools status under the same program.

"I commend the students, their parents, teachers, and administrators, for their efforts in helping make these 15 schools models of excellence," Torlakson said. "Their success is amazing, especially considering they are swimming against the tide of massive budget cuts, crowded classrooms, and school employee layoffs."

The four newly designated schools are:

  1. Granite Ridge Intermediate (Clovis Unified School District, Fresno, Fresno County) is the fifth middle grades school in the district to receive the STW™−TCS designation. Clovis Unified is the first district in the state to have all its middle grades schools receive this designation. The school's achievement gap has narrowed 37 points on the state's standardized tests under Principal Norm Anderson's leadership since it opened in 2008. Anderson was also recently named Fresno County's Administrator of the Year.
  2. High Desert School (Acton-Agua Unified School District, Acton, Los Angeles County) is a small rural school. Administrators have worked very hard to turn their school around and close the achievement gap. Hispanic students' scores on the state's standardized tests have climbed 88 points in the past two years, while socioeconomically disadvantaged students have gained 81 points since 2007.
  3. Katherine L. Albiani Middle School (Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, Sacramento County) is the second middle school in the district to receive the STW™—TCS designation. The achievement gap of students has narrowed by more than 30 points on the state's standardized tests since 2007.
  4. Olive Peirce Middle School (Ramona City Unified School District, Ramona, San Diego County) is a rural school. Students continue to make gains in all subgroups on the state's standardized tests. The school has gained 53 points since 2007, while socioeconomically disadvantaged students have gained 71 points.

The redesignated model middle schools are:

  1. Castaic Middle School (Castaic Union School District, Castaic, Los Angeles County);
  2. Culver City Middle School (Culver City Unified School District, Culver City, Los Angeles County);
  3. Clark Intermediate (Clovis Unified School District, Clovis, Fresno County);
  4. Dartmouth Middle School (Union Elementary School District, San Jose, Santa Clara County);
  5. Gaspar de Portola (San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, San Diego County);
  6. McKinleyville Middle School (McKinleyville Union School District, McKinleyville, Humboldt County);
  7. R.H. Dana Middle School (Wiseburn School District, Hawthorne, Los Angeles County);
  8. Silverado Middle School (Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Roseville, Sacramento and Placer counties);
  9. Tincher Preparatory (Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach, Los Angeles County);
  10. Toby Johnson Middle School (Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, Sacramento County); and
  11. Torch Middle School (Bassett Unified School District, City of Industry, Los Angeles County).

The STW™—TCS program identifies high-performing school models that demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, social equity, and organizational support. STW™—TCS model schools host visitors from California and around the world who are looking for replicable practices that will help them improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap.

In order to be named a STW™—TCS model middle school, school administrators must conduct a self-study evaluation and complete an extensive narrative application. Each site is then reviewed by a team of middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years.

The 11 redesignated schools named today were reviewed in September 2011 and are among 32 others selected in previous cycles since 2003 as STW™—TCS designees. Castaic, Culver City, and Silverado middle schools have been STW™—TCS schools for nine years. Gaspar de Portola, McKinleyville, R.H. Dana, and Toby Johnson middle schools have been STW™—TCS schools for six years.

All of the schools will be formally recognized at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on February 23, 2012, and during the California League of Middle Schools conference February 24-26, 2012. Both events will be in Sacramento. At that time, the schools will have an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and network with other middle grades educators from around the state.

For more information about the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage model school program, visit the California Department of Education Web site at California Schools to Watch--Taking Center Stage - Middle Grades [Note: The preceding link is no longer active.]. If reporters would like to contact the school, they may download the contact information through our California School Directory at California School Directory Search.

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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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