In the Fall of 2019, Matilija welcomes sixth graders for the first time as it adopts a Middle School format. The reconfiguration of our schools from K-6th and 7th -8th grades to a true Middle School configuration was a topic of discussion and study in our District for more than four years.

One impetus that prompted this review was the State of California’s adoption, in 2010, of Common Core educational standards. “It’s important to understand that the way the new standards were created is around a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 configurations,” noted Dr. Sherril Knox, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, during a public meeting on this topic.  The curriculum that is approved by the California State Board of Education, and the textbooks that are published around those standards, are built to a K-5 and 6-8 configuration, our 6th grade elementary teachers have less options for curriculum unless they want to choose a program that is completely different from their K-5 colleagues". This makes it difficult for collaboration and 5th/6th combination class teachers. “We foresaw as a District that the older configuration would continue to limit our choices of approved textbooks and, therefore learning opportunities, in the future,” said Dr. Knox.

Additionally, as we reviewed the potential for reconfiguration we discovered decades of research by educators around the question: How do we best educate the 11-14 age group. The question was the foundation of the district's Sixth Grade Configuration committee meetings.  The research that much of what 11-14 year-olds need is Social Emotional Learning components balanced with academic learning needs.  For example, junior high schools tend to be more subject-oriented, and middle schools tend to be more student-oriented – see graph below. The middle school configuration has a true emphasis on educating the “whole child’, noted Dr. Knox.

“Because we want to make sure our district is able to deliver those learning opportunities for our 11-14 year olds, the thing I’m most excited about is our new advisory period,” said Dr. Knox.   This new component is a built-in part of the middle schooler's day. The students in this advisory period would daily participate in a smaller group, and stick with that teacher throughout the year, affording the teacher an opportunity to be their advocate and build a strong relationship and connection with the students.

For more information on the process of re-configuration, public forums and documents, please see links, below.

Junior High vs. Middle School Configurations

Junior HighMiddle School
Emphasis is on cognitive developmentEmphasis is on both cognitive and affective development
Organizes teachers in subject-based departmentsOrganizes teachers and students in interdisciplinary teams
Traditional instruction dominatesExperiential approaches to instruction
Six to eight class period per dayAllows for block and flexible scheduling
Provides academic classesProvides exploratory, academic and non-academic classes
Offers study hall and/or homeroomOffers advisor/advisee, teacher/student opportunities
Classrooms arranged randomly
or by subject or grade level
Team classrooms in close proximity

The above table indicates key differences between Junior High Schools and Middle Schools as outlined in the book Introduction to Middle School, by S.D. Powell, 2005

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education held a special board meeting to discuss the topic of the sixth grade moving to Matilija Junior High School. The meeting was informational and focused on the following topics: 1) a review of the 2014 sixth grade study committee process and recommendations; 2) the recent changes in curriculum and state standards and the impact on sixth grade; 3) the financial status of the district and enrollment projections; and 4) a discussion by Matilija administration on what the effect of continued declining enrollment would have on the campus. At the conclusion of these four presentations, the Board allowed time for public input. Any members of the community interested in learning more about this topic were encouraged to attend these important meetings held in the Boardroom at the District Office (414 E. Ojai Avenue).

Documents Provided During the 2018 Special Board Meetings

Report of the 6th Grade Study Team

6th Grade to Matilija

Special Education Presentation

Impact on Elementary Schools

2018 Special Board Meetings

February 15, 2018English
Not AvailableWatch
April 19, 2018English
May 1, 2018English

Documents Provided During the 2018 Special Board Meetings

OUSD Enrollment History - 32 Year Trend

April 11, 2014 Ojai Valley News: Sixth grade may be added to Matilija

CDE: Next Generation Science Standards 6-8 Grades

Article: The Status of Programs and Practices in America’s Middle Schools

Site Visit to Carpinteria Middle School

A Framework for Sixth Graders at Matilija Junior High School

Additional Information concerning a $15,000 expenditure in the District Budget

Individual Responses from Members of the 6th Grade Study Committee

2014 Sixth Grade Committee

April 14, 2014English
May 1, 2014English
May 14, 2014English
June 4, 2014EnglishCheck Agenda