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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.
Culver City Middle School

Redesignated: 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2022

Designated 2003

Culver City Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Elsy Villafranca, Principal

4601 Elenda Street, Culver City, CA 90230


School Characteristics

Community: Urban fringe of a large city. Enrollment: 1,689. Grade Levels: 6-8. Schedule: Block Schedule with grade level common department preps and “0” period to allow for two electives. Shortened day for staff collaboration one day per week.

School Demographics

Free/Reduced Lunch: 8%; English Learners: 6%

Replicable Practices

  • Supported by weekly collaboration time, staff at Culver City determine essential standards, administer common assessments, and analyze student data to identify students in need of intervention.

  • Timely, often short-term intervention is offered during an in-school intervention period entitled, “Panther Achievement Workshops” which offer assistance in math and language arts on a priority basis and enrichment opportunities.

  • “Fun Friday Elective”, a series of thirty-minute workshops for all students based on teacher and student interest offers opportunities to pursue interests in such classes as: Spoken Word Poetry, Sports Courses, Coding, Origami, Choir for Disney Musicals, and Jewish Club.

  • Supported by Chromebooks in all core classes, all teachers are focusing on reading and writing across the curriculum.

  • Through a partnership with Loyola Marymount University, math teachers have participated in and implemented “Cognitively Guided Instruction” throughout the math department which includes walk-throughs, feedback, and professional development in teaching common core math curriculum.

  • Block scheduling contributes to opportunities for project-based learning.

  • A robust elective program utilizing a ten-week wheel offers courses such as: Art, Mindfulness, Food and Nutrition, Exploration of STEM, Computers, AVID, Exploration of Engineering, Spanish, and Japanese. Spanish and Japanese immersion classes are offered as well.

  • Teachers are trained in equity practices and differentiated instruction to address multiple intelligences and incorporate cooperative learning and technology with a focus on school-wide AVID strategies.

  • In addition to one shortened day per week for collaboration, teachers have grade-level department prep periods to plan, collaborate, analyze student data, and discuss effective practices.

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