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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.
Santiago Charter Middle School

Redesignated: 2022

Designated 2019

Orange Unified School District

Orange County

Jim D'Agostino, Principal

515 N. Rancho Santiago Blvd., Orange, CA 92869

(714) 997-6366

School Characteristics

Community: suburban. Enrollment: 1,031. Grade levels: 7,8. School schedule: Seven-period day to allow for two electives; late start on Wednesdays to allow for staff collaboration.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 54%. English learners: 16%.

Replicable Practices

  • Santiago employs restorative justice panels, prior to suspensions, that consist of the student who exhibited suspendable behavior, the parents/guardians of the student, the advisory teacher for the student, the counselor, the assistant principal. These panels give students an opportunity to have their voice heard and facilitate an opportunity for growth in the student. The student sets goals and makes commitments to change during these panels.

  • The first two weeks of school Santiago students participate in the Read, Organize, Acclimate, and Discover Santiago (ROADS) program which introduces students to their upcoming academic year. Each department focuses on a different skill set, for example math focuses on time management, history classes focus on the set up of the digital student-led conference portfolios, science students focus on note-taking strategies, etc.

  • Embedded in every lesson across campus is a digital student-led conference portfolio, in which students place work samples, videos, vision boards, etc., to build a case for their mastery of standards. Students present these portfolios at the end of the eighth-grade year to their parents, homeroom teacher, administrators and their seventh-grade mentee as part of promotion requirements demonstrating mastery of standards.

  • As a 1:1 technology school, Santiago teachers integrate technology strategies into classrooms every day. English, math and history classes have online textbooks; all teachers use a learning management system, and additional online supplemental programs including IXL for English and ALEKS for math.

  • Trained by the Buck Institute, Santiago faculty have made interdisciplinary projects the norm. The leadership team meets monthly to discuss and determine the schedule of project-based learning experiences with the eye toward each grade level participating in one PBL project per trimester.

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