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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.
Culver City Middle School

Redesignated: 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2022

Designated 2003

Culver City Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Elsy Villafranca, Principal

4601 Elenda Street, Culver City, CA 90230


School Characteristics

Community: Urban fringe of a large city. Enrollment: 1,689. Grade Levels: 6-8. Schedule: Block Schedule with grade level common department preps and “0” period to allow for two electives. Shortened day for staff collaboration one day per week.

School Demographics

Free/Reduced Lunch: 8%; English Learners: 6%

Replicable Practices

  • Supported by weekly collaboration time, staff at Culver City determine essential standards, administer common assessments, and analyze student data to identify students in need of intervention.

  • Timely, often short-term intervention is offered during an in-school intervention period entitled, “Panther Achievement Workshops” which offer assistance in math and language arts on a priority basis and enrichment opportunities.

  • “Fun Friday Elective”, a series of thirty-minute workshops for all students based on teacher and student interest offers opportunities to pursue interests in such classes as: Spoken Word Poetry, Sports Courses, Coding, Origami, Choir for Disney Musicals, and Jewish Club.

  • Supported by Chromebooks in all core classes, all teachers are focusing on reading and writing across the curriculum.

  • Through a partnership with Loyola Marymount University, math teachers have participated in and implemented “Cognitively Guided Instruction” throughout the math department which includes walk-throughs, feedback, and professional development in teaching common core math curriculum.

  • Block scheduling contributes to opportunities for project-based learning.

  • A robust elective program utilizing a ten-week wheel offers courses such as: Art, Mindfulness, Food and Nutrition, Exploration of STEM, Computers, AVID, Exploration of Engineering, Spanish, and Japanese. Spanish and Japanese immersion classes are offered as well.

  • Teachers are trained in equity practices and differentiated instruction to address multiple intelligences and incorporate cooperative learning and technology with a focus on school-wide AVID strategies.

  • In addition to one shortened day per week for collaboration, teachers have grade-level department prep periods to plan, collaborate, analyze student data, and discuss effective practices.

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