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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.
Rancho Milpitas Middle School

Redesignated: 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2020, 2023

Designated 2005

Milpitas Unified School District

Santa Clara County

Vern Caruz, Principal

1915 Yellowstone Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035


School Characteristics

Community: Mid-Sized City; Enrollment: 720; Grade Levels: 7-8; School Schedule: Six period day with early release on Wednesday for staff collaboration. Fifteen-minute Advisory period four days per week.

School Demographics

37% Asian;25% Hispanic; 21% Filipino; 8% White; 3% African American; 2% Pacific Islander; 2% Other. Free/Reduced lunch 43%; 23% English Learners.

Replicable Practices

  • School is organized into five academic teams incorporating Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math and Physical Education teachers who share common students and have a common prep period allowing teams to utilize an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum.

  • Advisory Program creates a mentor/advocate for every student. Advisory classes to meet the needs of specific students have been developed such as English Learner students, Leadership students, administrator’s advisory, National Junior Honor Society’s tutors, etc.,

  • Proximity to Silicon Valley has provided opportunities for partnerships with companies and employees from Lockheed, Google, Pixar etc., providing students with enhanced curriculum and opportunities for career exploration.

  • Enrichment classes are offered before and after school and include Cooking, Mural Painting, Gardening, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, Oil Painting, Yoga, Dia de Los Muertos, and Biological Illustration.

  • Teams offer multiple supports for students including Homework Help after school, team tutorials, drop-in-times, and differentiation of assignments.

  • A college- going and career readiness culture is fostered through the College and Career Club, College Wear Wednesdays, AVID, College Week and an annual Career Day as well as visits to college campuses.

  • Students prepare a portfolio of their work to present to their parents at annual Student-Led Conferences in the Spring.(98% participation)

  • Rancho has created a tiered program for English Language Learners which includes a newcomer class, SDAIE English classes, and team support. EL learners are further supported through school-wide SDAIE strategies, school-wide AVID strategies, and an emphasis on student talk time and academic vocabulary development.

  • Many staff have been trained in the National Equity Project institute and have served as a catalyst to full implementation of Professional Learning Community practices and structures.

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