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.
There are 36 new California Schools to Watch this year.
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