Why It Matters

Starting in 2002 Hillsdale High School has redefined the comprehensive high school experience by putting the student’s needs at the center of a nationally recognized Small Learning Community model. Hillsdale combines the best of small schools — personalized learning, extended relationships, grade-level advisory — with the best of big schools — athletics, clubs, and electives. The result is a place that is more than a school; it is a home for students and staff, a place where you will be known.

 Since Hillsdale’s SLC conversion, the number of students taking AP and advanced academic classes has more than doubled, the school has attained a School Climate Report Card in the 99th percentile of high schools in the state and Stanford University has recognized Hillsdale as a Partnership School.


Small Learning Communities are based on the idea that learning is a social endeavor, and that students learn best when they are known and cared for by trusted adults. Every grade level is divided into three equal SLCs (or houses) and students meet daily with advisors to set goals, research college and career options, prepare for exams, and more. The SLC model is more resource intensive because it requires additional staffing to achieve smaller class sizes and advisory periods. Learn more (goes to HHS site)


September 2016, The National Education Policy Center out of the University of Colorado has named Hillsdale a “School of Opportunity”, the first in California to earn the gold level and one of 8 schools to be so recognized across the country this year. The Schools of Opportunity designation comes after a detailed application and a visit from the Center and it reflects the fact that Hillsdale has implemented specific practices and structures that the NEPC recognizes as most effective in creating equitable and powerful learning environments. The Schools of Opportunity rankings were created to counter the increase in standardized test-based rankings that show up in magazines like U.S. News and World Report. It is a ranking that aligns with the values that have driven our work for many years. Washington Post 


Hillsdale’s efforts have brought increased academic rigor and higher student achievement. Its Academic Performance Index (API) was the lowest in the district in the early 2000s and now it is well above the state-established goal. It is higher overall and within each sub-group. Low-income and Latino students have shown extraordinary growth.

Dramatically more students are taking, and passing, Advanced Placements tests, and are taking more challenging math and science classes, meaning many more grads are eligible for UC and CSU admission.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!  See where they are attending college by clicking here!


Though Stanford does not provide funding, the SLC program engenders a valuable relationship with Stanford. Hillsdale hosts 6-10 Stanford student teachers each year, providing a second expert teacher in many classes. Stanford professors and staff act as consultants to Hillsdale, and Hillsdale and Stanford co-host three seminars yearly on effective change for schools from around the country. At this point, almost 20% of Hillsdale teachers are Stanford graduates. Donate now

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The SLC model is more ‘resource intensive’ than traditional models

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