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Sweetwater Union High School District


The Sweetwater Union High School District is committed to holding its students to rigorous academic standards, which will successfully prepare them to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Supported by the collaborative effort of staff, parents and community members, our students will exhibit academic and technological competencies which enable them to achieve career goals, become lifelong learners, and make meaningful contributions to a multilingual, multicultural society.


Sweetwater district schools serve approximately 39,000 students in grades 7-12 and 29,981 adult learners in the south San Diego county communities of Bonita, Chula Vista, EastLake, Imperial Beach, National City, Otay Mesa, South San Diego and San Ysidro. It is the largest secondary (grades 7-12) school system in California.

Founded in 1920, the district has grown to encompass ten middle schools, one junior high, twelve senior high schools, one continuation high school, four adult schools, and an alternative program for grades 7-12. To help keep pace with unprecedented growth, Sweetwater opened Otay Ranch High and EastLake Middle School in July 2003, and plans for three new schools-a high school and two middle schools in the next decade-are on the drawing board.

Sweetwater prides itself on the cultural, linguistic and economic diversity of its students. Eighty-four percent of students come from ethnically diversity backgrounds. One of every two students speaks a language other than English at home and about 27% are limited-English proficient.

All district high schools are accredited by the Western Assiciation of Schools and Colleges and have received the maximun 6-year awards. Three Sweetwater high school-Bonita Vista, Southwest and Sweetwater-made the pages of Newsweek magazine where they were ranked among the top 4% of high schools in the nation. The Compact for Success has inspired district students to increase thier percentage of comletion of the A-G requirements for admission to the University of California and California State University system.

A five-member board of trustees governs the district and establishes policies; the superintendent manages policy implementation and daily operations. Sweetwater's annual budget is approximately $282.5 million, and with over 3,873 employees, it is the south county's largest employer.

Focus: Student Achievement

Maximizing student achievement is the number-one priority at all Sweetwater schools, and each campus has a set of Expected Learning Results. Improving student performance rests on a five-plank platform-known as the Education Summit Goals-that was developed with broad community input. Goals emphasize:

  • developing rigorous academic standards that prepare students for college and/or employment;

  • integrating parents and community members as education partners;

  • targeting skills that prepare students for the high-tech, multicultural 21st century;

  • creating a safe and supportive learning environment;

  • and establishing overall district responsibility based on student performance.

Key district priorities also include literacy, educational technology and School-to-Career programs.


District curriculum provides challenging courses that prepare students for college and/or careers. The four core content areas of English/Language Arts, mathematics, science, and history/social science have been aligned to the state content standards and testing. Standards and Assessment Teams in thecore areas-comprised from representatives of each of schools-monitor the alignment of the curriculum annually. Instructional coaches at each of the schoolsites have been trained in the curriculum and instructional delivery.

Sweetwater schools offer a variety of electives ranging from criminal justice and Web Publishing and Multimedia for Business. Many students take advantage of specialized training through the district's academy program. Focus areas include travel and tourism, criminal justice systems, biotechnology, creative and performing arts and media institute.

Sweetwater's educational system also provides students with:

  • Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate studies

  • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare for college

  • Comprehensive special education for physical and mental challenges or learning disabilities

  • Programs for English-language learners (including courses for University-of-California eligibility)

  • Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

  • Learning centers and alternative education options

  • SAT-preparation programs

  • CAHSEE preparation program

  • Extended learning opportunities, such as after school programs and tutoring center

  • School-to-Career programs: internships, work experience, Regional Occupation Program (ROP), and Tech

  • Prep associate degrees in business, engineering, health, and technology

  • Students may also choose from an array of clubs, athletics, visual and performing arts, student-government and after school activities.

Adult and Continuing Education

This award-winning division is a model in the state because of its excellence in several key areas. The California Department of Education awarded Sweetwater's Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, vocational and professional skills development, as well as literacy and other general education courses that help students prepare for a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalency certificate. Parent education and personal development courses are also available.
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