Mitchell Senior Elementary here in Atwater failed to meet government mandated goals for five years in a row. But now administrators have restructured the school's classes, and the changes appear to be paying off.
These 7th and 8th grade students may be years away from college, but the university system is already making its mark on the Mitchell Senior Elementary Campus.
When school started three months ago, students were divided into four smaller groups that are all named after different UC Mascots. Each so called college has seven core teachers and no more than 200 students.
Andrew Kersten, Mitchell Senior Elem. Principal: "All of the teachers check in with students on a daily basis. They mentor those students."
Principal Andrew Kersten says the re-structuring also stresses more contact with parents through daily phone calls, emails, and one-on-one meetings.
Kersten: "We expect to make over 3000 contacts home to the community, mostly positive, this year."
Denise Frazier says she appreciates the updates on her daughter.
Denise Frazier: "It's her first year here and it's been a good experience. We've received emails from the teachers letting us know her progress, notes home when she does well."
Administrators say the efforts are already getting results. Overall discipline referrals are down 24 percent this year while attendance, grade point averages, and both student and parent participation are all up.
Kersten: "On our report card night a college called every one of their parents, and we had almost 70% turnout of parents, which in a middle school is extraordinary."
The changes here at Mitchell are part of a 3 year plan, and the principal says at the end of that time, the school expects to be meeting all federal requirements.