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2023 New and Redesignating California Schools to Watch

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Congratulations to the 77 California middle-grades schools that have been recognized by the California Schools to Watch program for 2023!

These model schools support the whole child through academic excellence, social equity, developmental responsiveness, and systems that foster innovation.

In addition to the new schools, 41 existing Schools to Watch reapplied to the program (see below), demonstrated their sustained progress, and have been redesignated as California Schools to Watch.


Schools to Watch Celebrations

The 2023 Schools to Watch will be celebrated twice this year.

First comes the California Schools to Watch Celebrations in Monterey, with district leaders being recognized on March 9 and school teams being recognized on March 10 as California Schools to Watch. Representatives from the California Department of Education and the California Middle Grades Alliance, partners in the state-level program with the California League of Educators, will be part of these events.


Second, the school teams will go to Washington, DC, from June 22-24 for recognition as National Schools to Watch by the National Forum, the nonprofit organization that oversees the national program.

Why the Program is Expanding

The program is expanding rapidly, with a 24% increase in the number of schools participating in the network over the past year alone. There are now 186 California Schools to Watch.

At least part of the increase in the network’s size over the past few years can be attributed to how the program criteria value the whole child…something that is increasingly important to schools.

“Schools to Watch lends itself to SEL issues,” Scott Steele, director of the California Schools to Watch program, said. “The positive culture that is present on Schools to Watch campuses carries more weight with us than checking a box with a test score.”

The rubric’s focus on the whole child keeps students’ holistic social, emotional, and academic needs at the center. And this year, as Steele put 20,000 miles on his car driving across California to lead validation visits at candidate schools, he noticed some SEL-oriented trends.

“Creative scheduling and staffing that allow schools to deliver intervention services without impacting electives or other core curriculum have been some of the main things I’ve seen and been impressed with, “Steele said. “Some of the new positions that schools have been able to create and fill include wellness coordinators, interventionists, and social workers.”

The Schools to Watch program is unique in that all staff at a candidate school who have a credential—all teachers and administrators—must complete an extensive rubric that evaluates the school’s systems as part of the application or reapplication process.

This step helps school teams identify what is great at their site as well as what needs to be improved. It also develops a shared language for school improvement, buy-in for the improvement process, and ownership of the school culture among the staff.

That’s why Steele views a school being designated or redesignated as a School to Watch as an accomplishment for the entire school community. “The Schools to Watch rubric really is a great tool for schools,” he said. “It helps them to go through that process. Often on my visits, staff members told me that the rubric helped them recognize needs they had in their school.”

Congratulations to all the schools named 2023 California Schools to Watch!


2023 Redesignated Schools to Watch

  • Alondra Middle School, Paramount Unified School District

  • Alta Sierra Intermediate School, Clovis Unified School District

  • Alvarado Intermediate School, Rowland Unified School District

  • Arlie F. Hutchinson Middle School, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

  • Carmenita Middle School, ABC Unified School District

  • Chaparral Middle School, Walnut Valley Unified School District

  • Clifton Middle School, Monrovia School District

  • Creekview Ranch School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District

  • Dartmouth Middle School, Union Elementary School District

  • El Segundo Middle School, El Segundo Unified School District

  • Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District

  • General Grant Middle School, Kings Canyon Joint Unified School District

  • Hall Middle School, Larkspur-Corte Madera School District

  • Haskell STEM Academy, ABC Unified School District

  • Hawthorne Middle School, Hawthorne School District

  • Heber School, Heber Elementary School District

  • Huron Middle School, Coalinga Huron Unified School District

  • John F. Kennedy Middle School, El Centro Elementary School District

  • Kastner Intermediate School, Clovis Unified School District

  • La Cañada High School (7-8), La Canada Unified School District

  • La Paz Intermediate School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District

  • Landmark Middle School, Moreno Valley Unified School District

  • Leona Jackson Middle School, Paramount Unified School District

  • Los Alisos STEM Magnet Middle School, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

  • Louis D. Armstrong Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District

  • Mountain View Middle School, Beaumont Unified School District

  • Rancho Milpitas Middle School, Milpitas Unified School District

  • Rancho-Starbuck Intermediate School, Lowell Joint School District

  • Ray Wiltsey Middle School, Ontario Montclair School District

  • Ross Academy of Creative and Media Arts, ABC Unified School District

  • San Gorgonio Middle School, Beaumont Unified School District

  • Silverado Middle School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District

  • South Pointe Middle School, Walnut Valley Unified School District

  • Sunnymead Middle School, Moreno Valley Unified School District

  • Suzanne Middle School, Walnut Valley Unified School District

  • Tetzlaff Accelerated Learning Academy, ABC Unified School District

  • Thomas S. Hart Middle School, Pleasanton Unified School District

  • Torch Middle School, Bassett Unified School District

  • Twin Rivers Charter School, Twin Rivers Charter School

  • Vista Verde Middle School, Val Verde Unified School District

  • Washington Academic Middle School, Sanger Unified School District

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