The Palos Verdes Peninsula is home to over 75,000 residents distributed among four cities and two unincorporated areas. The mean average income and property values are above state averages, and the majority of the adult population is college educated, employed in professional and/or management positions and has high educational expectations. There is great community support of the outstanding instructional programs in the District. The Peninsula Education Foundation and the traditional high school PTSA give financial and educational support to the staff and students at Rancho del Mar. District office administration and staff, including the superintendent, are fully supportive and provide staff development and curriculum enhancement activities.
Rancho del Mar High School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and has been designated a Model Continuation High School. The school provides an alternative educational setting and an opportunity to earn credits towards graduation, for sixteen to eighteen year olds who are unsuccessful in the traditional high school setting. The non-competitive, no-fail atmosphere is less threatening than a traditional high school. The program promotes individual achievement and self-responsibility and develops self-esteem. Students are drawn from an ethnically diverse pool. Rancho del Mar serves typical students, students with special needs and English language learners.
Rancho del Mar has undergone a full modernization. All classrooms, restrooms and facilities conform to ADA requirements. Students receive instruction in three refurbished buildings. The Rancho del Mar staff consists of five certificated teachers, including a resource specialist, a principal and a counselor. All teachers teach in their credentialed area.
Students are accepted at anytime during the year. Most enrollees have poor attendance and/or credit deficiencies but some just want a smaller setting, an individualized program, or to graduate early. Courses, textbooks, curriculum, materials and instruction are standards-based and approved by the Board of Education. All courses are offered during the entire school year. Each subject area has sets of individual contracts that allow the student to work at his/her own pace. The teacher student ratio is less than 1:15 which allows teachers to work with individuals and small groups of students. Credits are earned upon completion of a class with a grade of “C” or better. Graduation requirements are identical to those at the comprehensive high schools.
Students are enrolled in five fifty minute periods. Rancho del Mar has a rigorous attendance policy. Students may attend all sports events, dances and student activities on the traditional high school campus. Associated Student Body (ASB) officers are annually elected by the students. The ASB officers work with the staff to host several Rancho del Mar student activities.
The Rancho del Mar principal and/or counselor personally conducts an Intake Conference with each incoming student and parent. Rancho del Mar’s education strategies, program, policies and expectations are reviewed. The student’s transcript, graduation progress and attendance records are analyzed and a course of study leading to a diploma, as well as to meet the student’s future goals, is planned. If the enrollee has been identified as a Student with Special Needs, a transition IEP is held. The counselor also meets with each student to discuss the student’s goals and plans. The counselor reviews the student’s cum folder, transfer grades and assessment data and works with the teachers to ascertain proper placement for the new student. The counselor and/or principal personally meet with each student whenever she/he completes a course, or as the need arises. Via Aeries, a student parent online portal, students and parents can access their individual student records, course assignments, grades and graduation progress. A progress report may be requested at any time.
Excellent communication is maintained among staff, students and parents/guardians. Examples include Back-to School Night, ongoing eblasts, the Principal’s Newsletter and updates, meetings with the School Site Council, the Rancho del Mar High School website, and formal and informal conferences involving staff, students and parents/guardians. Aeries also provides immediate student, parent, school communication. We, the stakeholders, feel that Rancho del Mar provides an exemplary program to students who need alternative education. Many graduates and/or their parents call or visit to let us know how Rancho del Mar transformed their educational experience into a success story.