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2 middle schools among state's 'model campuses'

Two Orange County middle schools are among 12 statewide that have been named model "Schools to Watch" for their consistent achievement on standardized tests.

Tustin's Pioneer Middle School and Laguna Beach's Thurston Middle School were honored Thursday in a joint announcement by the California Department of Education and the Savoy, Ill.-based National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

Pioneer, part of the Tustin Unified School District, was credited for "significant and sustained improvement" over the past five years, including raising the test scores of its most academically challenged students, and for its well-defined Pyramid of Interventions student support structure.

Thurston, part of the Laguna Beach Unified School District, was credited for consistently meeting all of its academic growth targets on state tests, and for supporting all students using Best First Practices and Response to Intervention strategies.

Middle schools apply for the honor by conducting a self-study evaluation and completing an extensive narrative application. The schools are then visited by a team of middle school experts.

To be considered for the "Schools to Watch – Taking Center Stage" honor, campuses are required to demonstrate:

•Academic excellence

•Developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents

•Social equity

•Organizational support

In past years, just five California middle schools were named for the honor each year. But officials decided to expand the program this year.

"Schools to Watch" honorees host visitors from around the globe who are looking for replicable practices.

The other 10 honorees this year are:

Fresno County: Fairmont K-8, Quail Lake Environmental Charter K-8, Sanger Academy Charter K-8

Los Angeles County: Zamboni Middle

San Bernardino County: Summit Intermediate, Vanguard Preparatory K-8

Santa Clara County: Union Middle

Santa Cruz County: San Lorenzo Valley Middle, Scotts Valley Middle

Ventura County: Sinaloa Middle

The 12 honorees will be recognized at a California League of Middle Schools conference next month in Sacramento.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7802 or or Twitter: @MartindaleScott

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