Griffiths and Stauffer Middle Schools celebrate selection as California and National “Schools to Watch”

On January 29, 2018, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 22 new high-performing California middle schools have been recognized in the 2017–18 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program. Included in this Schools to Watch cohort is Downey Unified’s Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools. These high-performing model schools demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents.

Downey Unified is one of only three school districts in California to have more than one middle school within their district recognized as a Schools to Watch high-performing middle school.

“Congratulations to these schools for doing excellent work to help students believe in themselves, set high goals and dream big,” Torlakson said. “These schools are outstanding examples of how educational innovations can keep students engaged and learning throughout a transitional time in their lives.”

On March 9, 2018, at 10 a.m. at Griffiths and at 1 p.m. at Stauffer, students, staff, district leaders, school board members, local official and dignitaries will celebrate the selection of these two Downey Unified schools as two of California’s 2018 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage model middle schools. In June, these two schools will also be recognized in Washington DC as National Schools to Watch.

“We are thrilled to have received this recognition,” said Griffiths’ Principal Dr. Rani Bertsch. “Our staff and students have worked very hard to demonstrate strong student achievement.”

The celebration will feature an address to the student bodies announcing the schools’ selection as models, along with a presentation of banners. Dr. Irvin Howard, Past-President of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, noted, “Both Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools are models of what an outstanding middle school can be. School leaders from across the state will now turn to these two Downey Unified middle schools for guidance on improving their programs to better serve their own students.”

“This ceremony is an affirmation of the fantastic work so many have done within our school, our Board of Education, the district and even our larger community,” proudly expressed Stauffer Middle School Principal, Alyda Mir.

California’s Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program uses a competitive, rigorous review process to identify high performing, high impact middle schools so that all middle schools may have models of real-world success. Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools are two of the 112 model schools that have been identified statewide since 2003.

To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. All of the schools will be recognized in Sacramento at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on March 1, 2018. For more information about the program, please visit the CLMS High Performing Middle School Models webpage.

The Schools to Watch program is sponsored by the California Department of Education, California League of Middle Schools (CLMS) and the California Middle Grades Alliance.