Rowland Heights middle school named School to Watch
ROWLAND HEIGHTS - Rowland Unified School District's Alvarado Intermediate School was among five campuses statewide to be recently redesignated for a second time as a California School to Watch.
After first being named a Model Middle School in 2004 and redesignated in 2007, Alvarado Intermediate, at 1901 S. Desire Ave., was redesignated for 2011 and will receive its national recognition award on June 24 in Washington, D.C.
"That's a true achievement for us as a middle school," Alvarado Principal Ying Tsao said. "This redesigniation is a reaffirmation of the fine work that the staff has done for the school, and support from the district and larger community we receive as well."
Developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, the Schools to Watch program identifies high-performing middle schools that meet 37 criteria in academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure.
"What we're looking for is how does the school serve children, how does the school help children to meet their academic potential while also meeting the social, emotional and physical needs of early adolescents?" said Irvin Howard, director of the California's Schools to Watch - Taking Center Stage program.
Nationally, 98 middle schools made the list. California has 32 Schools to Watch, including Torch Middle School in the Bassett Unified School District, which was first designated in 1998.
"At a time when there is a lot of criticism in education, we can point out that there are nearly 400 national Schools to Watch middle schools that are high performing successful schools," he said.
Alvarado offers advanced high school classes, including Geometry, Spanish I and Earth Science; fosters support programs like Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) and Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID); and encourages students to dive into the International Baccalaureate program through its own two-year honors program.
"In two years we need to produce results, and that's a great challenge for us," Tsao said. "It is our firm belief that during this stage of developmental age, we can foster their talent and help them achieve their potential."
Schools are recognized for a three-year period.
They must repeat the process at the end of the cycle to be redesignated.
"What we're looking for ... is that schools are always aware of the fact that they need to be working to succeed and not just assuming that they are successful," Howard said.
Alvarado has attempted to go above and beyond the required criteria by improving the curriculum to match that of a high school agenda, have career days, college nights and plans to implement iPad technology use.
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