Oak Knoll School

Oak Knoll School, one of three elementary schools in the Menlo Park City School District, has been chosen as a 2020 California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education. The recognition reflects “outstanding education programs and practices” and represents “not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts” according to a statement from State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond.

The state selects schools based on a variety of assessment outcomes and also one Model Program or Practice, which the school chooses to highlight. Oak Knoll was selected in part because it has maintained a high level of achievement as measured by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing.

In 2018 (the year upon which the Distinguished School award was based), 85% of students exceeded or met standards in the area of English Language Arts (ELA), and 82% in math. At that time, the achievement of disaggregated groups continued to rise for gains of 14% average growth in math and 27% average growth in ELA across all student groups.

Oak Knoll serves a wide range of students with very different life experiences and speaking over a dozen different home languages, yet maintains cohesion through a positive school climate where students, teachers, and parents remain engaged and motivated.

In addition to its strong academic performance and assessment measures, Oak Knoll was selected for its Model Practice called Teacher, Peer, Admin (TPA). TPA improves teacher efficacy and has a significant impact on student achievement by providing a regular forum for classroom teachers to give and receive feedback, scale best practices, and professionally develop. During TPA, two teachers and an administrator visit classrooms together, discuss observations, and then share them school-wide.

“We believe that our success is the result of three things: the clarity of our school mission and goals, our positive school culture and climate, and our strong relationships and instruction,” said Principal Kristen Gracia. “Our students are so fortunate to have such incredible teachers. Our high-quality teachers are the main reason our students thrive.”

The California Department of Education recognized 323 elementary schools for 2020, including  eight from San Mateo County. All four of MPCSD’s schools — Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll, and Hillview — have received the Distinguished School honors multiple times. Oak Knoll previously received the Distinguished School award in 2014 for its equity work and growth mindset instruction. Oak Knoll will retain the 2020 honor for two years.

InMenlo file photo

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World Cup soccer champ Tierna Davidson returns to Oak Knoll School

Underscoring her Otter roots, Tierna Davidson (pictured far right) of the winning U.S. World Cup Soccer team, returned to her alma mater, Oak Knoll Elementary School Friday morning, speaking before an enthusiastic crowd of students and teachers. She offered three pieces of advice: Do things because you love to do them, not because someone else […]

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It’s the annual Oak Knoll School Halloween parade!

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Spotted: California missions at Oak Knoll School

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Oak Knoll fifth grader working to save the tigers

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Girl Scouts in action for positive changes in the environment at Oak Knoll School

Yesterday, Girl Scout Junior Troop 61842 worked towards their Bronze Achievement award by making pleas for positive changes in their environment and community at Oak Knoll School. In the morning, Scouts Sophia and Cleo (pictured right) presented the project to their school via the KNOL closed circuit TV station. In the afternoon, many of the girls walked the carline and streets surrounding the […]

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Chalkboard traffic signs near Oak Knoll School are proliferating thanks to Brownie Troop

Kelly Schmitz, one of the leaders of Brownie Troop 62349 emailed: “The best way to kick-off our Brownie Year as third graders was to take our Oak Knoll School’s theme this year — CONNECTED — to our community. “Many of our girls loved Courtney Gillette’s signs on Oak Avenue reinforcing safety, slowing down [and stopping.] “These signs actually gave […]

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Bidding a fond farewell – and hearty thanks – to Oak Knoll School principal David Ackerman

Wandering over to Oak Knoll School late this afternoon, we encountered a youngster sitting on the perimeter of the festivity surrounding the retirement of the school’s principal, David Ackerman. “Why was she there?” we asked. “Because he’s the best principal ever,” she replied. “He told my parents that he wouldn’t retire until I was in 5th grade, […]

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Spotted: Rainbow of colors on Oak Knoll School fence

InMenlo contributing photographer spotted this rainbow of clothing colors on the Oak Knoll School fence just before spring break started. If not claimed, the items are donated during the break, so it should be a clothing free fence come Monday!

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If it’s Thursday, it’s Coding Club day for first and second graders at Oak Knoll School

Stop by Bill Quarre’s second grade classroom during lunch time on Thursdays and you’ll find two dozen or so  girls and boys with headsets on and iPads on their desks. No, they’re not playing video games. Instead, they are learning to program using an app called Kodable. Oak Knoll School Co-Principal Kristen Gracia explains that […]

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Master Chef Junior participant Mia Wurster celebrates with Oak Knoll Co-Principal Kristen Gracia

In last Tuesday’s episode of Master Chef Junior, participant — and Menlo Park resident — Mia Wurster exited the show, losing the alligator challenge. But there was still reason to celebrate, which is what Mia did at lunch on Friday with her Oak Knoll School Co-Principal Kristen Gracia. Emailed Kristen: “Oak Knoll School is proud of Mia and the compassion and […]

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