State data compiled by SchoolDigger allows educators to compare the “Top 60” California Middle Schools, and Accelerated Achievement Academy’s results are exceptionally telling. Based on 2023 CAASPP and state demographic data, AAA can claim the most unique academic success of any high performing California school!

The data shows time and time again that AAA defies socioeconomic stereotypes, does more with less, embraces diversity and delivers some of the highest student performance in California! 

Among the findings: AAA ranked California’s #56 middle school in 2022-23; AAA had 61% free and reduced lunch vs. an average of 15% for the state’s Top 60 schools; AAA has the highest proportion of Hispanic students (64%) of the Top 60 schools; AAA has the lowest percentage of white students, at 18.2% of the student population; AAA has the lowest percentage of Asian students (12.4%); AAA has the lowest dollar investment rate among the Top 60 schools, spending $5,014 per student (compared to an average of $9,499 for Top 60 middle schools); and AAA has the second smallest school size—160 students—of all Top 60 schools. 

2023 Data Evaluation 

AAA is the highest performing school of need in California. AAA has the least per student investment (half the state average) of the top 60 high performing schools in California. AAA is overwhelmingly the most diverse high performing school in California.

Reasons for AAA’s overwhelming success

AAA Middle School Success is built on our elementary program. 

AAA elementary teachers welcome new students and start building the relationships so necessary to high academic success. Daily AAA teachers grow the individual academic stamina and provide the requisite and unique learning interventions that each student shows they need (gleaned from performance data). Each class is designed to reinforce and grow student and staff cultural commitment to kindness, inclusion and diversity. 

AAA staff is a committed Professional Learning Community 

A Professional Learning Community (PLC) works together in grade level and all school teams. PLCs work collaboratively and agree on the essential learning that all students must achieve and how students will demonstrate what they learned. Teachers use data to meet unique learning needs and strive to know every student by name and by need. 

AAA students are committed to their learning 

Students apply to AAA. Students (and their family) choose/want to learn at high levels. Students agree to thinking about their thinking, work in teams and seek to grow their critical thinking. AAA students participate in Project Based Learning (PBL) and work in small teams to build more complex understandings of the world and their place in it. AAA students do not do more homework either. AAA students have time after school to participate in sports, dance, music, drama, martial arts, rodeo, mechanics, wood working, agriculture or whatever other interests they want to pursue!

Inclusive enrollment 

Students from across the district and San Benito County are eligible to attend AAA. It is a common misconception that AAA only accepts advanced academic students. AAA is focused on attracting students who want to be here and have potential. AAA students must embrace diversity and commit to being kind to one another. 

AAA and Calaveras K-8 form a unique partnership 

AAA is very lucky to share the campus with Calaveras (CAL). AAA and CAL principals help all students from both schools and together have worked hard to build a shared culture of caring and excellence. We call it being “CouGators” (The CAL mascot is a cougar and AAA’s is a gator). Almost 40% of AAA’s students come from Calaveras. 

AAA is a work in progress 

AAA has made great improvements in math, which is still a high priority. AAA worked hard to close the gap between the school’s high-achieving English Language Arts (ELA) standards and its math performance. AAA closed that gap, but it reopened during and after the pandemic. 

We are working exceptionally hard to again be one of the only schools in the state with a high level of proficiency in both subject areas. Staff have implemented other new tools as well, such as student-led conferences. 

AAA builds community 

AAA maintains a culture where community is valued. It’s important that staff members are familiar with students even if they are in another classroom or grade. We strive to know student names and we know what they need. AAA emphasizes social-emotional learning. And we build integrated teacher teams that support student growth over years. 

Scott Wilbur is the Principal of Accelerated Achievement Academy in Hollister. 

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  1. Nice that the population mix is inclusive (I wonder if percentages reflect Hollister population totals linguistically and economically as well). I am glad if the inclusive population reflects the same needs as general population (incidence of special ed needs in areas of learning disabilities?)

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