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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.
Willis Jepson Middle School

Redesignated: 2019, 2022

Designated 2016

Vacaville Unified School District

Solano County

Tom McHale, Principal

580 Elder Street, Vacaville, CA 95688

(707) 453-6280

School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 935; Grades: 7-8
School Schedule: Six instructional periods daily, with flexible study hall embedded throughout the week. Teamed teachers share students. Early release day once per week for department, grade-level, or team collaboration.

School Demographics

1% American Indian/Native American; 5% Asian/Asian American; 4% Black/African American; 33% Hispanic/Latino; 0.3% Pacific Islander; 52% White; 4% Other; 43% Free/Reduced Lunch; 9% English Learners

Replicable Practices

  • Common formative assessments are given in core classes to inform instruction and identify students for intervention.

  • Study hall period during the school day provides for intervention, re-teaching, and enrichment on a timely basis. The needs of ELLs, special education students, and students assigned to Homework Tank are addressed during this period.

  • The master schedule allows for core teachers to share a common prep period with grade level colleagues facilitating discussion of curriculum and lesson planning.

  • Teachers benefit from district staff development days, department, team, and grade-level collaborative time, as well as full release days for unit planning. Twice yearly, the school provides collegial coaching where teachers observe their colleagues.

  • Jepson utilizes the CDE Early Warning and Intervention System to identify potential dropouts.

  • Students are supported by one counselor per grade level, a youth resource officer from the local police department, and counselors from The Children’s Nurturing Project which provides in-depth counseling.

  • Student leaders provide a program entitled PRIDE SESSIONS, which involves peers teaching other students organization and study skills.

  • Staff trained in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) meet during planning days to focus on embedding ELD standards, explicit vocabulary instruction, and integrating reading strategies into instruction.

  • In addition to using ELAC meetings to reach out to Hispanic families, Jepson partners with the local Catholic Church to send a representative to the Spanish mass to present information and answer questions.

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