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What An Honor!

Updated: May 25

Since its inception in 1964, St. Michael’s School has been committed to providing students with an exemplary education rooted in the Catholic faith, with high expectations and academic rigor, while also instilling morals, values, and a focus on building character. Since 2014, our school has been intentional in its efforts in implementing the research of John Hattie, founder and world renowned researcher and author, and Visible Learning (VL) to drive our academic program. (If you would like more information on the research and practices behind VL, please go to In short, while there are hundreds of strategies that are available to improve student learning, we are focusing on learning and perfecting the strategies that have the most significant impact.

Two years ago, we obtained the services of a VL consultant, who spent a day with us, observing the work we had put in to implementing VL, and speaking with teachers and students about what learning looks like at SMS. He completed his analysis of our current practices in the form of a School Capability Assessment (SCA), which outlined our successes to date, and provided recommendations for future needs. Based on this information, we drafted a Case Study, with our plans for growth over the next two years. A Global Review Team evaluated both documents, and as a result, we were awarded the status of a Visible Learning Associate School, and were recognized at the Annual Visible Learning Conference – one of only a handful of schools nationwide to achieve this accomplishment. While we were proud of the honor, we knew we still had work to do.

On May 1, 2023, we obtained the services of another VL consultant, who again spent a day with us, specifically looking for growth since the previous visit two years prior. He submitted his SCA report, and we drafted a new Case Study outlining goals for the next two years. We were notified last week that we have been awarded with the next level of achievement – that of a Visible Learning Partner School. This recognition is awarded to an even smaller number of schools across the country (SMS is the only K-8 school in California to have earned this distinction), and, needless to say, we are thrilled that the growth we have recognized has also been acknowledged by professionals in the field. I provide for you a quote from founder John Hattie based on our submission:

“It is impressive that the whole school agrees that they have a focus on learning, and 100% agree that teachers empower students to take greater ownership of their own learning. Not only is there convincing evidence that SMS has made significant gains in each core Visible Learning strand, the impact on students is convincing. I was particularly impressed with the evidence: Commensurate with the increase on the SCA ratings, SMS achieved superlative growth in STAR math and Reading scores. Even when most schools across the United States experienced COVID related drops in academics, from 2019 to 2023, SMS yielded gains in average scaled math and reading scores year after year.”

John Hattie

Furthering our work, SMS serves as a mentor to others. When hosting school visits, other educators noted, "the exemplary level of instruction and student engagement throughout the school". This level of rigor and excellence was also observed by our visiting consultant.

We are excited to continue on our VL journey and look forward to the impact it will have on our students. To that end, teachers are already implementing the new strategies they gleaned from our most recent professional development on September 22, and we are eagerly looking forward to another professional development day on April 19. That ALL teachers and staff from K-8 are committed to this work is significant, because it ensures continuity of the curriculum across and between the grade levels.

In Mission, Kathy


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