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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.
Sierra Vista Middle School

Redesignated: 2022

Designated 2018

Covina Valley Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Nick Garcia, Principal

777 East Puente St., Covina, CA 91723

(626) 974-7300

School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 811; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Seven period day with six core classes and two electives. Tuesday early release day for collaboration. Two meeting periods per day for teachers.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 64%; English learners: 6%

Replicable Practices

  • Student needs are monitored through interim CAASPP assessments and bi-weekly common assessments that are analyzed at bi-weekly data meetings with staff and administration. In addition, district benchmark assessments are given three times a year in math and English that afford the opportunity to calibrate grading and share best practices with middle school teachers across the district. Sierra Vista regularly uses Socratic circles, persuasive papers, video simulations, re-creations, labs and projects that apply content to evaluate mastery.

  • Sierra Vista supports a strong service learning program both during the school day with grade level service learning classes as well as through many of the fifteen clubs offered before school, at lunch and after school. All clubs are focused on “empathy,” the core learning value identified by the school.

  • Thinking maps are used schoolwide and have been identified as a learning strategy focus by the instructional leadership team. Critical thinking is the schoolwide learning focus.

  • Struggling students benefit from interventions such as literature development, math lab, Saturday school, and tutoring during and after the school day. Supported by daily PLC meetings for grade level teams, intervention is targeted, timely, and data-based.

  • Through such avenues as Naviance, College and Career Readiness Week, Career Day, and lessons in classes, students are provided with opportunities to research careers, ask questions, and learn about paths they might want to pursue.

  • Technology is a big part of Sierra Vista’s culture. Sierra Vista is a computer magnet School and provides each student with his/her own device for use at school and at home.

  • Toward the goal of knowing every student well, is the “Start with Hello” campaign developed by Sandy Hook parents. This is a week-long campaign with daily videos and activities aimed at students increasing their interaction with each other and limiting isolation.

  • Sierra Vista has a highly functioning, research-based, instructional leadership team that through the studies of work by Hattie, Marzano, and others determined a school-wide focus on critical thinking and empathy with a goal of having students transfer imparted academic and social lessons beyond the walls of the school.

  • Sierra Vista’s academic and social emotional counseling team consists of a full time counselor, school psychologist, part-time marriage and family therapist, and a probation officer that serves as a mentor, counselor and big brother to over forty at-risk students.

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