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California Schools to Watch is a statewide program implemented by the California League
of Educators, California Department of Education, California Middle Grades Alliance, National Forum, and the California Schools to Watch model schools.
Atascadero Middle School

Redesignated: 2024

Designated 2020

Atascadero Unified School District

San Luis Obispo County

Brent Vander Weide, Principal

6501 Lewis Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422

(805) 462-4360

School Characteristics

Community: suburban. Enrollment: 920. Grade Levels: 6-8. School Schedule: All grades have six 50-minute periods per day. Homeroom and 30-minute saint’s blocks provide intervention/enrichment, while early-release Fridays allow time for professional learning and collaboration.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 44%. Students with disabilities: 13%. English learners: 16%.

Replicable Practices

  • Training occurs in weekly PLCs; teachers lead department-level PD and the instructional leadership team presents Danielson Framework for Teaching training for all certificated staff.

  • For 6th grade, 10 teachers are paired into five core teams of ELA/history and math/science; each team serves 64 students; 4th period is common prep while students alternate PE and electives.

  • Elective exploratory wheels are gender-neutral and based on future careers; for example, 8th-grade courses include construction and design, photography and design, and engineering.

  • An on-site intervention coordinator continuously gathers data to inform six placements per year in 30-minute intervention periods that occur up to four times per week.

  • All students with 504s, IEPs, EL status, and moderate-to-high behavior needs are hand-scheduled to highlight needed support staff and ensure students receive the best support possible.

  • Mental health initiatives include a new wellness center, a school psychologist, and partnerships with outside agencies that place counselors, therapists, and MFT interns on-site.

  • A positive climate is built through multiple touchpoints: greeting every student at the gate and the classroom door, positive calls home, student-led conferences, robust extracurricular activities, and music and drama programs that recruit IEP, EL, and 504 students.

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