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California Schools to Watch TM is a statewide program implemented by the California League
of Schools, California Department of Education, California Middle Grades Alliance, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, and the California Schools to Watch model schools.
Atascadero Middle School

Redesignated: 2024

Designated 2020

Atascadero Unified School District

San Luis Obispo County

Brent Vander Weide, Principal

6501 Lewis Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422

(805) 462-4360

School Characteristics

Community: suburban. Enrollment: 920. Grade Levels: 6-8. School Schedule: All grades have six 50-minute periods per day. Homeroom and 30-minute saint’s blocks provide intervention/enrichment, while early-release Fridays allow time for professional learning and collaboration.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 44%. Students with disabilities: 13%. English learners: 16%.

Replicable Practices

  • Training occurs in weekly PLCs; teachers lead department-level PD and the instructional leadership team presents Danielson Framework for Teaching training for all certificated staff.

  • For 6th grade, 10 teachers are paired into five core teams of ELA/history and math/science; each team serves 64 students; 4th period is common prep while students alternate PE and electives.

  • Elective exploratory wheels are gender-neutral and based on future careers; for example, 8th-grade courses include construction and design, photography and design, and engineering.

  • An on-site intervention coordinator continuously gathers data to inform six placements per year in 30-minute intervention periods that occur up to four times per week.

  • All students with 504s, IEPs, EL status, and moderate-to-high behavior needs are hand-scheduled to highlight needed support staff and ensure students receive the best support possible.

  • Mental health initiatives include a new wellness center, a school psychologist, and partnerships with outside agencies that place counselors, therapists, and MFT interns on-site.

  • A positive climate is built through multiple touchpoints: greeting every student at the gate and the classroom door, positive calls home, student-led conferences, robust extracurricular activities, and music and drama programs that recruit IEP, EL, and 504 students.

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