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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.
Carmenita Middle School

Redesignated: 2017, 2020, 2023

Designated 2014

ABC Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Robert Castillo, Principal

13435 East 166th St., Cerritos, CA 90703


School Characteristics

Community: Suburban, Mid-Size City; Enrollment: 703; Grade Levels: 7-8; School Schedule: Six-period day with minimum day on Friday for teacher collaboration. Daily Advisory class.

School Demographics

23% Hispanic; 8% African American; 46% Asian; 13% Filipino; 2% Two or more; 7% White. 27% Free/Reduced lunch. 7% English

Replicable Practices

  • Carmenita focuses on their agreed upon Big 3 Strategies: SDAIE, meaningful feedback, and checking for understanding as well as scaffolding, project-based learning, technology-based lessons, cross-curricular performance tasks and writing across the curriculum. 

  • Staff collaboration is encouraged through early release on Fridays, common prep for academic disciplines, and district staff development days allowing staff to analyze data from common assessments and discuss promising practices. Staff are also able to visit peer classrooms twice a year. 

  • Forty seven percent of students are enrolled in either honors courses or the “Distinguished Scholar’s Program” where students in heterogeneous classes choose to participate in more extensive, hands on projects, competitions and extracurricular assignments. 

  • Students requiring additional academic support can access the “Guided Study Program” before and after school, the “A Chance For Excellence” program on Fridays, or the Homework Club supported by student and teacher tutors. The PASS program (Peers Assisting Student Success) occurs in homeroom and before and after school. 

  • To further support students’ individual interests Carmenita offers an extensive club program, involving hundreds of students, as well as 23 periods of electives that support core content areas and career pathways. 

  • Yearly student-led conferences allow parents and students to reflect on students successes and struggles and to set goals for the future. 

  • Awards and recognition of positive behavior, achievements, and demonstration of the school’s values are extensive and woven throughout the year through assemblies, homerooms, and “surprise awards” delivered to students during their homeroom period

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