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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.
San Marcos Middle School

Redesignated: 2021, 2024

Designated 2018

San Marcos Unified School District

San Diego County

Nicole Scott, Principal

650 West Mission Road, San Marcos, CA 92069


School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 1,239; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Six period day with option of zero period jazz band or seventh period AVID class. Sixth grade students have a two-hour ELA block, and 7th and 8th grade have six single-period classes. Wednesday is an early release day for collaboration.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch; 79%; English learners: 22%

Replicable Practices

  • Students needing additional support are served by lower class size math classes, Achieve 3000 in core English classes, intervention math classes, co-teaching classrooms in core classes, the after school “Achievement Hub” program, a four-week summer school program. and “academies” in math and English that are offered throughout the school year after school. English Learners are co-taught in general education classes or sheltered English classes.

  • Professional development is offered through district-level training in core subjects, department-level monthly meetings, and four days of release time during the year for grade-level planning. In addition, teachers can attend conferences and workshops, and newly hired teachers are trained by the district in the “The Essential Elements of Instruction.”

  • Students participate in career exploration opportunities through the “California College Guidance Initiative.” Two times per month lunch is devoted to hosting a different community member who presents to students about their career at the “Career Cafe”.

  • Parents are engaged through the PTO, English Learner Advisory Committee, and activities such as family literacy night, back-to-school night, and family science night. Family workshops are also offered throughout the school year covering such topics as monitoring on-line activities, and interpreting report cards.

  • In addition to advanced courses in math, English and history at the 7th and 8th grade level, opportunities for enrichment are offered before and after school.

  • Staff are dedicated to self-reflection and self-examination which begins at a summer leadership retreat for department chairs to examine achievement data, and plan goals for their individual teams during the school year. This data and findings are then shared and discussed at the first staff meeting as well as disseminated to all community members during back-to-school night.

  • The school supports a Tier I school-wide intervention system (VIP) designed to support students academically and behaviorally and encourage attendance through awards and recognition. “Career Counts “coupled with restorative circles, is also a schoolwide strategy to guide students in proper behavior and decision-making.

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