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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.
Griffiths Middle School

Redesignated: 2021, 2024

Designated 2018

Downey Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Katherine Estevez, Principal

9633 Tweedy Lane, Downey, CA 90240


School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 1,254; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Six period day with optional period seven P.E. class offered for students. Early student release on Wednesday to provide time for staff collaboration.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 64%; English learners: 31%

Replicable Practices

  • Working with “Focused Schools” Griffiths has a highly developed Instructional Leadership Team that guides the schools seven focuses: developing a schoolwide instructional focus (critical thinking through writing), enhancing PLC teams, using effective evidence-based instructional practices, creating targeted professional development, re-aligning resources to support the school-wide focus, engaging families and the community, and creating an internal accountability system.

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) is an important component of the school offering pathways like green architecture, computer science, design, Project Lead the Way as well as the visual and performing arts.

  • While in the process of building a parent resource room, Griffiths is offering parent academies on such topics as internet safety, CAASPP, nutrition, and motivating students. With Spanish translation and child care available, these courses are offered throughout the year, before and after school. Courses are designed based on parent surveys.

  • Griffiths provides a college readiness program that provides numerous opportunities for students to explore college, plan for the future, set goals and determine strengths and weaknesses through such programs as: AVID, Naviance, Strengths Explorer assessments, and an 8th grade expository reading and writing course that takes them through a module entitled, “Constructing the College Experience.” In addition, many students participate in field trips to college campuses throughout the school year.

  • Technology integration at Griffith is evident throughout most classes especially in math computing, Project Lead the Way, and in English and social studies classes where students create a digital portfolio to display their work. In addition, many classes use Google classroom, interactive notebooks, simulations etc.

  • A seventh period P.E. offering allows students enrolled in strategic intervention courses such as Math Intervention to take an elective class during the instructional day. Students are served by an ELA “push in” intervention specialist during their language arts block. The school’s “Support Each Student in Need” program provides approximately 39 hours of before and after school academic tutoring for students in need of additional support.

  • The implementation of AVID strategies school-wide at all grade levels coupled with a well-established PBIS program, and over seventeen school clubs on campus have contributed to the safety, campus cleanliness and positive climate of the school.

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