California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Practices In the Spotlight Index

A Collection of Vignettes Spotlighting
Middle Grades School Practices

Taking Center Stage—Act II (TCSII) showcases middle grades practices in the context of one or more of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success.

For your convenience, TCSII spotlighted practices are sorted by Recommendation. If you would prefer to see a list of the practices listed alphabetically by school names, go to Practices In the Spotlight —Schools in Alphabetical Order.

To go directly to the list of spotlights that illustrate specific parts of the California Department of Education's (CDE) 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success that are sorted by Recommendation, select the respective Recommendation below:

A list of practices employed at each of California's model Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage schools is available in the Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage Thumbnail Sketch (DOC; 155KB; 6pp).

The educational strategies illustrated at a featured school, district, or county office of education represent part of a recommendation, research study, or learning improvement. Since all of the CDE's 12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success work together, no single Recommendation or practice can close the achievement gap in California's middle grades.

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 1—Rigor

  • Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy

A focus on learning—habits of mind

  • Galt Joint Union Elementary School District

Grades and effective standards-based reporting

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Vocabulary development

  • McKinleyville Middle School  

Grades and effective standards-based reporting

  • Mathson Middle School

High expectations for all students

  • Ocean View Junior High School  

Grades and effective standards-based reporting

  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School

Pacing guides

  • Silverado Middle School  

Grades and effective standards-based reporting

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 2—Instruction, Assessment, and Intervention

  • A. C. Stelle Middle School

English language arts instruction

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Mathematics instruction

Response to Intervention (RTI) and special education

Tutoring and homework centers

  • Bernice Ayer Middle School

Bilingual instruction

Mathematics instruction

Teaching Students with Special Needs

  • Culver City Middle

Saturday school

  • Del Norte County Unified School District

History-social science instruction

  • Gardner Middle School

Visual and performing arts

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Interventions for mathematics

  • Georgetown School

Visual and performing arts

  • Hilltop Middle School

Foreign/world languages

After school academies

  • Iron Horse Middle School

Response to Intervention (RTI) and special education

  • John Glenn Middle School of International Studies   

Visual and performing arts

Study skills —teaching students how to learn

Response to Intervention (RTI)

  • Kennedy Middle School

Interventions for Bilingual Students

Interventions for mathematics

  • Louis Pasteur Fundamental Middle School

Assessment Driven Instructional Planning

  • Luther Burbank Middle School

History-social science instruction

  • McCaffrey Middle School

Science instruction

  • McKinleyville Middle School  

Teaching Students with Special Needs

  • Main Street Middle School

Algebra

  • Margarita Middle School

Visual and performing arts

  • Mathson Middle School

CAPA and English learners

  • Medea Creek Middle School

Differentiated Instruction

  • Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet

Interventions for Bilingual Students

  • Mills Middle School

Visual and performing arts

  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School

Teaching writing

Mathematics instruction

  • Rancho Milpitas Middle School

Differentiated Instruction

Interventions for mathematics

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

Test preparation

After school academies

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Interventions for mathematics

  • Rincon Middle School

Least restrictive environments (LREs)

  • Rio Norte Junior High School

History-social science instruction

Common benchmark assessments

Interventions for mathematics

  • Santa Cruz County Office of Education

Teaching writing

  • Serrano Intermediate School

Study skills —teaching students how to learn

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Algebra

  • Vista Academy for Visual and Performing Arts

Visual and performing arts

  • Willowside Middle School

Science instruction

  • Wiseburn School District

Teaching writing

Homework: Subject area homework template for team coordination (DOC; 31KB; 1 p.)

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 3—Time

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Six period days

  • Bernice Ayer Middle School

Time for Professional Learning Community Activities

Rotating block

  • Castaic Middle School 

Time for counseling and mental health

  • Clark Intermediate School

Time for clubs and co-curricular experiences

  • Culver City Middle  

Six period days

Other schedule variations

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Other schedule variations

Teacher preparation

  • Hollister School District          

Other schedule variations

  • John Glenn Middle School of International Studies        

Time for tutoring and mentoring

Time for counseling and mental health

Time for celebrations

Time for Professional Learning Community Activities

  • McKinleyville Middle School

Time for accelerated academic interventions

Seven- or eight-period days

  • Medea Creek Middle School

Other schedule variations

Time for electives

  • Rancho Milpitas Middle School

Six-period days

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

Time for clubs and co-curricular experiences

Rotating block

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Time for tutoring and mentoring

Time for counseling and mental health

  • Sam Brannan Middle School

Master schedules

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Other schedule variations

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 4—Relevance

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Cross-curricular connections; writing across the curriculum

Electives and exploratory courses (interest-based)

  • Claremont Middle School

Animation

Conclusion

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Libraries/media centers

Electives and exploratory courses (interest-based)

Real-world connections

Field trips

  • John Glenn Middle School of International Studies

Student interactive assessment and response remote systems

  • Lee Middle School

Career technical education

Electives and exploratory courses (interest-based)

  • Lemon Grove Middle School

Computer access

  • Luther Burbank Middle School

Service-learning

  • McKinleyville Middle School

Making the Middle Grades Relevant and Engaging

Cross-curricular connections; writing across the curriculum

Project-based learning

Service-learning

Meaningful participation

  • Maywood Intermediate School

Integrating Technology

Computer access

  • Monte Vista Middle School

Service-learning

  • Nobel Middle School

Real-world connections

Project-based learning

  • Olive Peirce Middle School

Cross-curricular connections; writing across the curriculum

  • Rancho Milpitas Middle School

Libraries/media centers

  • Redwood Middle School

Service-learning

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

Real-world connections

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Libraries/media centers

Multicultural experiences

Online tutorials

  • Saddleback Valley Unified School District

Teacher Web pages

  • Serrano Intermediate School

Online tutorials

  • Templeton Middle School

Real-world connections

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Electives and exploratory courses (interest-based)

  • Zane (Catherine) Middle School

Project-based learning

Service-learning

Student Web sites and Webcasts

Videography

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 5—Relationships

  • Aliso Viejo Middle School

Character celebrations

  • Alta Sierra Intermediate School

School spirit celebrations

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Small Learning Communities

Celebrations—a culture based on caring and success

Promotions

  • Bernice Ayer Middle School

Relationships with Peers

  • Castaic Middle School 

Small Learning Communities

Advisory programs (homeroom)

  • Diablo Vista Middle School

Where Everyone Belongs

  • Edna Hill Middle School

Looping

  • Goleta Valley Junior High

Small Learning Communities

  • Granite Oaks Middle School

Advisory programs (homeroom)

  • Kennedy Middle School

Opportunities to cooperate (cooperative learning)

  • McKinleyville Middle School  

Discipline

  • Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet

Small Learning Communities

Effort/motivation celebrations

  • Mistletoe School

Built on a Foundation of Close Relationships

  • Mulholland Middle School

Small Learning Communities

  • Olive Peirce Middle School

Qualified and caring teachers

  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School

Academic celebrations

  • Redwood Middle School

Relationship building through student clubs and connections

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

Qualified and caring teachers

  • Rio Norte Junior High School

Relationships with Peers

Academic celebrations

Effort/motivation celebrations

Qualified and caring teachers

Advisory programs (homeroom)

Classified staff

  • Serrano Intermediate School

Relationships with Peers

  • Summit Intermediate School

Relationship building through student clubs and connections

Advisory programs (homeroom)     

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Small Learning Communities

Looping

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 6—Transitions

  • Alice C. Stelle Middle School

Transitions as Part of Community Building

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Intervention courses and after-school programs

  • Bernice Ayer Middle School

The Importance of Easing Transitions for Young Adolescents

  • Castaic Middle School 

Integration into middle grades life

  • Edna Hill Middle School

Integration into middle grades life

  • Granite Oaks Middle School

Articulation Agreements with Elementary Schools

  • John Glenn Middle School of International Studies        

Academic counseling to prepare for transitions

Mentor/buddies for incoming students

Integration into middle grades life

Family welcome and involvement

  • Kennedy Middle School

Course articulation

  • La Mesa Middle School

Family welcome and involvement

  • Los Angeles Unified School District

Articulation Agreements with Destination High Schools

  • Olive Peirce Middle School

Newsletters, newspapers, school Web sites, and plays to demystify the middle grades

  • Perris High School

Social promotion versus summer school and bridge programs

  • Perris Union High School District

Articulated assessments

  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School

Articulated assessments

  • Rio Norte Junior High School

Course articulation

Mentor/buddies for incoming students

Family welcome and involvement

  • San Francisco Unified School District

Articulation Agreements with Destination High Schools

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Articulation Agreements with Elementary Schools

Articulation Agreements with Destination High Schools

Enrichment options to prepare for high school

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 7—Access

  • Big Bear Middle School

From "Cool to be Cruel" to "Cool to Care"

  • Canyon Middle School

Language acquisition

Access to facilities and instructional materials

  • Edna Hill Middle School

Socioeconomic status

  • Holmes International Middle School

The chance to engage potential dropouts

Socioeconomic status

  • Holtville Middle School

Strategies Common to Effective Middle Grades Programs

  • Lemon Grove Middle School

Socioeconomic status

  • Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet

Language acquisition

  • Moreno Valley Unified

Socioeconomic status

  • Norwalk-La Miranda Unified School District

Socioeconomic status

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Access to heterogeneous groupings to the fullest extent possible

  • Sacramento City Unified School District

Language acquisition

  • Sierra Vista MIddle School

The Chance to Engage Potential Dropouts

  • Sutter Middle School

Access to advanced programs

  • Twin Hills Charter Middle School

Special Education Students Gain Access to Regular Education Science Classes

 

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 8—Safety, Resilience, and Health

  • Canyon Middle School

Bullying prevention

  • Cesar Chavez Middle School

Nutrition and fitness

  • Fontana Unified School District

Attendance, tardiness, truancy, and the School Attendance Review Board (SARB)

  • Fortuna Middle School

Resilience—Strengthening Protective Factors and Developmental Assets

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Health supports

  • Granite Oaks Middle School

Safe and engaging facilities

Counseling

  • Kastner Intermediate School

Resilience—Strengthening Protective Factors and Developmental Assets

  • McKinleyville Middle School  

Conflict resolution

  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School

Attendance, tardiness, truancy, and the School Attendance Review Board (SARB))

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

 Health supports

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Conflict resolution

Counseling

Nutrition and fitness

  • Serrano Intermediate School

A Safe and Healthy School Environment

Discipline—a fair, consistent, and positive approach

Character education

  • Ventura County Office of Education

Resilience—Strengthening Protective Factors and Developmental Assets

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 9—Leadership

  • Carlsbad Unified School District

Lead data analysis

  • Granite Oaks Middle School

Ensure availability of instructional resources

Teacher leadership

  • Long Beach Unified School District

Local governing board support for articulation

  • Los Angeles County Office of Education

County leadership

  • McKinleyville Middle School

Ensure availability of instructional resources

  • Reyburn Intermediate School

Principals—the Learning Leaders

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Ensure availability of instructional resources

  • Rio Norte Junior High School

Local governing board support for articulation

Parent and family leadership

  • San Francisco Unified School District

Fiscal support from the local governing board

  • Serrano Intermediate School

Categorical Program Monitoring

Technology Support for Leaders

  • Snowline Joint Unified School District

Provide curriculum and instructional leadership

  • Standard School District

Technology Support for Leaders

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Student leadership

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 10—Professional Learning

  • A. C. Stelle Middle School

Professional learning from content experts

  • Aliso Viejo Middle School

Professional learning from instructional coaches

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Professional learning from content experts

  • Carlsbad Unified School District

Ongoing professional learning for teacher satisfaction and retention

  • Frank Wright Middle School

Conclusion

  • Granite Oaks Middle School

Professional learning through peer observation

  • Holmes International Middle School

Ongoing professional learning for teacher satisfaction and retention

  • Kennedy Middle School

Professional learning through lesson studies

  • Mathson Middle School

Professional learning about data review and use

  • Olive Peirce Middle School

Professional learning about sharing time

Professional learning for beginning educators

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Professional learning for beginning educators

Professional learning from instructional coaches

  • Rincon Intermediate School

Professional learning from content experts

  • Serrano Intermediate School

Professional learning from content experts

  • Silverado Middle School  

How school design fosters professional learning

  • Toby Johnson Middle School

Professional learning about classroom management

  • Torch Middle School

Ongoing professional learning for teacher satisfaction and retention

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 11—Accountability

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Accountability in preparing students for all course work

  • Castaic Middle School 

Accountability through student-led parent conferences

  • Edna Hill Middle School

Accountability through student-led parent conferences

  • Kennedy Middle School

Accountability in preparing students for all course work

  • McKinleyville Middle School

Accountability through student-led parent conferences

  • Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

  • Rancho Milpitas Middle School

Accountability through student-led parent conferences

Practices In the Spotlight: Recommendation 12—Partnerships

  • Aliso Viejo Middle School

Businesses

Nonprofit organizations

Government agencies

  • Alvarado Intermediate School

Parental, Family, and Adults-Who-Care Involvement

  • Bernice Ayer Middle School

Partnerships with higher education

  • Canyon Middle School

Partnerships with the Community

  • Castaic Middle School 

Parental, Family, and Adults-Who-Care Involvement

  • Edna Hill Middle School

Nonprofit organizations

  • Empire Union Elementary District

Partnerships with higher education

  • Gaspar DePortola Middle School

Homework Help and Academic Expectations

  • George A. Buljan Middle School

Businesses

  • Hilltop Middle School

Homework Help and Academic Expectations

  • Hollencrest Middle School

Homework Help and Academic Expectations

  • Holmes International Middle School

Partnerships with the Community

Partnerships with higher education

  • John Glenn Middle School of International Studies       

Involving language-minority parents/guardians

  • Kastner Intermediate School

Partnerships to Support Middle Grades Achievement

  • Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office

District and regional offices

  • Lemon Grove Middle School

Homework Help and Academic Expectations

  • McKinleyville Middle School

Parent and family education

Partnerships with higher education

  • Monroe Clark Middle School

Higher education

  • Newark Junior High School

Nearby Schools

  • Ocean View Junior High School  

Involving language-minority parents/guardians

Nearby Schools

  • Richard Henry Dana Middle School

Businesses

Nearby Schools

  • Rincon Intermediate School

Involving language-minority parents/guardians

  • Rio Norte Junior High School

Parent conferences

Nearby Schools

  • Riverside County Achievement Team (RCAT)

District and regional offices

  • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Partnerships with the Community

  • Sierra Intermediate School

Businesses

  • Torch Middle School

Involving language-minority parents/guardians

  • Zane (Catherine) Middle School

Adult mentors

 

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