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Basics+ Program History


Millikin Basics+ is an alternative school open to all children in the Santa Clara Unified School District.  The primary emphasis of the Basics+ program is the mastery of basic academic skills and establishment of good study habits.  Grade level standards of performance, accountability, and behavior are maintained.  The program places greater responsibility on parents to develop the individual personal growth and responsibility of their children.  The school places an emphasis on achieving proficiency in academic skills.

The Basics+ Formal program was initiated by the Santa Clara Unified School District during the 1976-77 school year and successfully operated at Raynor School (K-3) and Laurelwood School (4-6) for two years.  The program was moved to Briarwood School as a total program (K-6) during the three years 1978-1981.  From 1976-1980 the program maintained one class at each grade level 1-6.  For the 1980-81 school year the program added a kindergarten class as well as a one year pilot 7th grade class.

In 1981-82 as a result of district reorganization, the program moved to Millikin School, where it has since occupied a total campus.  Previous years saw the program functioning along with a regular program as a school within a school.

The program is noted for its excellent parent support, consistency, organization, and total staff commitment to student progress and responsibility.  Constancy, refinement of purposes, and problem solving have resulted in an excellent alternative school program for the Santa Clara Unified School District.


The philosophy, goals, and objectives of the Millikin Basics+ Alternative Program were approved by the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Education (1976) and follow the general objectives of SCUSD Policy #6000 and the State of California Education Code #58500.


The Basics+ School provides an alternative program which stresses the teaching of basic education fundamentals in a consistent manner using established teaching techniques in a structured environment.  Grade level instruction is delivered by the teacher to the whole class.  Classroom aides and volunteers are not utilized in the classroom.


Based on the belief that most children do not have the experience to know what they need to learn to become productive and responsible citizens in a free and competitive society, the Basics+ School seeks to achieve the following goals:

Stress the teaching of basic education fundamentals.

The fundamentals are oral reading, reading comprehension, writing in many genres, English grammar, spelling, handwriting, and mathematics.  The fundamentals  also include social studies, science and health.  Other subjects are taught, but the basics receive priority.                                                                                                                                            

Provide a consistent pattern of instruction.

The adopted California State Basic and Supplementary Texts are the basis for reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science instruction K-5.     Textbooks are a continuous series whenever possible.  State standards are followed in grades K-5.

Utilize established teaching techniques.

The repetition, review, and practice necessary to the mastery of the basic subjects is stressed.  Tests are administered frequently.  Homework is given on a regular basis to reinforce instruction, encourage independent work, and instill good study habits.  Progress in basic subjects and behavior is graded on an A-F scale.  Progress in other areas is marked Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).

Provide a structured environment.

Classroom activities are teacher initiated, directed, and supervised.  Students are expected to do work neatly, properly, and on time.  Interruptions are kept to a minimum by limiting access to the classroom. Administrators and academic peers are welcome.  High standards of courtesy, respect, and discipline are  enforced.  Each child is accountable for his/her conduct and performance.  The classroom arrangement is generally desks in rows during basic skills instruction.  Other settings may occur in other instructional modes.

Instill a positive self-concept within each student.

The Basics+ School strives to establish a sense of responsibility, citizenship, and pride in accomplishment, based on an acceptance of behavioral standards, which enables each child to achieve at grade level.                         


In order to accomplish its stated goals, the Basics+ School establishes the following objectives:

  1. State and District standards define the level of expected achievement for each grade.  Promotion to the next grade is contingent on attainment of that  defined level of  expected achievement.                                                     

  2.  Reading program in grades K-2 stresses phonics.  Millikin Basics + uses Houghton Mifflin Journeys, Lucy Calkins – Units of Study and Whole class readers in grades K-5. Students in grades 4-5 are required to read at least one grade-level library book per month and complete a written, oral, or electronic report.  Students in grades 1-3 complete book reports at the teacher's discretion.

  3. The Language Arts program stresses oral and written language.  Students write regularly in a variety of genres.  The work is corrected and rewritten as needed to ensure attainment of required skills.

  4. Handwriting is practiced daily.  Transition to cursive writing is made by the end of the second grade.

  5. Spelling is part of the Language Arts program.  Spelling lists from the literature program, daily work, and from high frequency lists are used to test accuracy and competency. 

  6. Mathematics: Origo is the adopted district math program Basic skills are taught and reinforced.  Supplementary materials are used to enhance the basic math program.  Progress is checked via a continuum of skills and grade level standards for grades K-5. 

  7. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in grades 3-5 is used to gauge students' annual academic growth and the school's progress compared with district, state, and national averages.  District performance based assessments in reading, writing, math, science are also used to assess what students know and are able to do.

  8. Homework is assigned to reinforce instruction, encourage independent work, and instill good study habits.  Parental assistance may be required for students who find it difficult to work independently.  Daily homework for students in grades 4-5 will be approximately 50-60 minutes, Monday-Thursday, with shorter  assignments for students in grades K-3.  These times may vary according to a student’s work habits and ability.   Students are expected to follow given directions, do work neatly, and return work on time.  Long term assignments, for example state reports and mission reports, may require homework on weekends and additional daily time.

  9. Students may take textbooks home and are responsible for proper care of their textbooks.

  10. Each student is accountable for his/her conduct.  Parents will be notified of serious misbehavior.  Students are expected to maintain established standards of courtesy, respect, and behavior.  If a student's conduct is unacceptable, the teacher will contact the parent(s) to work out a mutually acceptable solution. Parents indicate acceptance of the program's philosophy and regulations on the Parent Registration Agreement form.

  11. Class size is maintained at the district level:  Grades K - 3:  24 students per class; Grades 4 - 5:  30 students.

  12. Habitual absence or tardiness is detrimental to the child, disruptive to the classroom, and contrary to the philosophy and goals of the Basics+ program.

Communication between teachers and parents occurs regularly by notes, phone calls, or newsletters.  Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled during the 1st trimester of each year.  Other conferences may be held at teacher or parent request.  Parents are asked to put such requests in writing to allow teachers to prepare.