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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.
Vista Heights Middle School

Redesignated: 2019, 2022

Designated 2016

Moreno Valley Unified School District

Riverside County

Mark Hasson, Principal

23049 Old Lake Drive, Moreno Valley, CA 92557

(951) 571-4300

School Characteristics

Community: Urban; Enrollment: 1382; Grade Levels: 6-7-8
School Schedule: Traditional, rotating, six-period day with zero-period offerings. Flex period on Wednesday for staff development. Grade level teaming.

School Demographics

0.5% American Indian/Native American; 5% Asian/Asian American; 19% Black/African American; 60% Hispanic/ Latino; 0.5% Pacific Islander; 12% White; 3% Other; 79% Free/Reduced Lunch; 8% English Learners

Replicable Practices

  • Master schedule supports interdisciplinary teaming. Flex-day on Wednesdays provides staff time for district PD, department PLC, and team PLC collaboration.

  • PLC and common prep time enables teachers to analyze and design lessons and strategies vertically and horizontally, create common assessments, and identify best practices.

  • Emphasis on academic vocabulary is supported in all content areas. PE department includes academic vocabulary words and definitions on the back of PE shirts enabling students to access and properly use these words.

  • Interventions, offered at a variety of times to ensure access to all students, include: AVID tutoring, after school homework/project assistance, Saturday academy, and EL tutoring before and after school.

  • Zero-period offerings allow students greater access to exploratory classes. Two year-long courses, Spanish I and Digital Photography, allow students to meet A-G requirements while still in middle school.

  • “Open Your Door Week” encourages teachers to open their doors and invite their colleagues to observe best practices and gain insight into instructional improvement.

  • Chromebook carts and fixed computer labs allow students to connect digitally though Google Classroom, Google Apps, and Edmodo. Technology is used to research, address deficiencies, and accelerate learning.

  • Teachers and administrators trained in strategies that develop rapport and empathy for students from diverse backgrounds while fostering an emotionally safe learning environment.

  • School-wide implementation of direct interactive instruction and emphasis on interactive notebooks, Cornell notes, and sentence frames.

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