EdCal Progress Snapshot: Atwater High School
March 23, 2020
School: Atwater High School District: Merced Union High School District Location: Merced, CA (Merced County)  Administrator: Bret Theodozio, Principal, Atwater High Area for growth: Improve student readiness for post-graduation success among all student groups and raise the school’s scores on the College/Career Indicator on the California School Dashboard.
In winter 2018, we partnered with the nonprofit Inflexion to develop an explicit statement of what our school stands for and where it intends to go. To do this, we gathered feedback from students, staff, and families in order to better capture the priorities, values, and beliefs of the community. Our aim was to refine and operationalize our identity and our vision for student readiness (Student Learning Outcomes, SLOs). Since rolling out our identity statements, our school leaders have used the opportunity to ask students how they are experiencing the maxims in the classroom every day. Over the course of a school year, students are surveyed once each quarter about experiences they have had related to each statement, and are rewarded with swag for sharing a meaningful experience. The former principal, Torrin Johnson, said some of the student responses were inspiring and transformative for his daily practice. Additionally, since sharing our identity with students, they have taken ownership of the statements, using them to lead many events and initiatives showing how Atwater embodies their identity every period, every day. Having a clearly articulated vision has driven schoolwide changes that reflect the identity of our community and support approaches to learning designed to serve all kids. 
The percentage of students at Atwater High School who demonstrated being “prepared” on the College/Career Indicator scale on the California School Dashboard rose from 59.3 percent in 2017 to 70.8 percent in 2019, which is nearly 26 points higher than the state average. Most impressive is that rates for students historically underserved in education (Hispanic, English Learners, students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students) are 23 to 40 points higher.  Also, the percentage of students at Atwater High School who were suspended has decreased from 1.7 percent in 2017 to 0.8 percent in 2019, with an over 2 percent decrease for students with disabilities and students who are homeless. 
School leaders continue to collect student feedback about their experiences with each of the maxims. Students say: 
  • “I have stopped people from bullying others.” 
  • “My mom left to Mexico so I had to learn to take care of myself.” 
  • “I helped my parents with college work… because it was something I learned here, I was able to help them.” 
  • “I have helped my neighbors to clean their house and front yard.” 
  • “I am teaching myself a third language.” 
  • “I use my creativity so my parents don’t waste money on things they can use right there in the house.” 
  • “The more I make myself think, the better my thought capacity.” 
Through these words, we track positive changes in our students. Through our CCI numbers, we are quantifying progress on student readiness.
Students at Atwater High School in Merced, CA.
Students at Atwater High School in Merced, CA.
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