Heidi's PAUSD School Board Newsletter - October 2015

October was an extremely productive month, with two School Board meetings, two study sessions on Enrollment Growth, and a Board Policy Review Committee meeting.  I also attended a California Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) meeting in Sacramento, a Schools for Sound Finance (SF2) meeting in Hillsborough, a Los Altos Hills Town Council meeting, the annual Santa Clara County School Boards Association (SCCSBA) dinner focusing on raising expectations for "at-risk" kids, and a day and a half internship program called Packard 101, which introduces local elected officials and community leaders to the world-renowned Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE (EMAC): During School Board study sessions held on October 5th and again on October 26th, we heard reports from the Elementary and Secondary sub-committees of our Enrollment Management Advisory Committee.  These were thoroughly-researched reports balancing both short-term and long-term enrollment needs.  Committee members documented historical enrollment growth patterns, researched studies on school size and achievement, analyzed PAUSD current and future enrollment needs, and proposed several scenarios for managing growth. 

EMAC--ELEMENTARY: Elementary sub-committee proposals included adding portables to Nixon to accommodate new Stanford housing, adjusting attendance boundaries, potentially adding or moving an elementary choice program to Barron Park, moving or co-locating our language immersion programs, and adding a potential 13th/14th elementary school(s).  The quality of this report is outstanding and I recommend reading it in full at: October 5th Elementary EMAC Report.  

EMAC--SECONDARY: Secondary sub-committee proposals included opening a new secondary school at Cubberley (6th-12th grade) which would embrace an "innovative academic curriculum, emphasizing experience-based, inquiry-oriented, team, and cross-disciplinary learning."  This new school could also become an "innovation hub" or "incubator" for the rest of the district.  Concurrently, the secondary sub-committee urged the Board to create a "house" system or "core teams" at our two current high schools to improve social-emotional connectedness, enable more teacher-student access and interaction, and make our large schools feel more personal.  The quality of this report is outstanding and I recommend reading it in full at: October 26th Secondary EMAC Report.    

STRATEGIC PLAN RESULTS: Each year in the Spring, PAUSD sends out its Strategic Plan survey to parents, high school students, and teachers in the PAUSD community.  We had 1,820 parent responses, a 22% increase from 2014.  Due to significant revisions being made in the survey and our conversion to a six-point rating scale, we did not survey teachers this year and our high school student survey went out late, so we only received 715 responses, in comparison to 2,425 responses in 2014. This will be corrected in the coming year.  One clear area for improvement is in delivery of our high school counseling programs, particularly in college counseling services.  Next steps are to disaggregate and analyze the data by race and ethnicity, income level, and school. 

COUNSELING SURVEY RESULTS: PAUSD also administered a specific Counseling Survey for High School students in Spring 2015.  1113 Paly and 1059 Gunn students responded.  Results were consistent and counseling is an area in need of attention within PAUSD.  The Superintendent proposed convening a professionally-facilitated committee of faculty, staff, students, and parents from both high schools to specify social emotional learning targets, common assessments, common metrics for both academic and college and career service delivery, and an evidence-based model for assuring ready and regular access to effective social emotional, academic, and college/career counseling.  The Committee will draft a report by December 2016, with a plan for implementation beginning in Fall of 2017.  

HIGH SCHOOL MEASUREMENTS/TESTING: AP, SAT, & ACT:  The number of AP exams taken by our PAUSD students has increased 25% over the past six years.  94% of students scored a 3 or higher; 49% of students scored the highest mark of 5.  70% of PAUSD's Class of 2015 took and passed at least one AP exam before graduation.  These are impressive numbers, but when the data is disaggregated, it shows that only 14% of historically underrepresented students pass at least one AP exam in high school and only 6% of our African-American students pass at least one AP exam in high school.  With SAT scores, we find similar results.  Overall, students perform extremely well on the SAT exam.  For example, a student scoring a 1750 in PAUSD is in the 25th percentile of our district, while a non-PAUSD student scoring a 1720 is in the 75th percentile for the state of California AND nationally.  However, our historically underrepresented students continue to score about 200 points lower than our Asian and White students in each of the critical reading, writing, and mathematics scales. For the ACT college-readiness subject tests, results are similar.  For all four subjects (English, Math, Reading, and Science), Asian and White students are 88% and 81% "college-ready," while Hispanic and Black students are 49% and 0% "college-ready."  The Board adopted a focused goal this year to improve outcomes for historically underrepresented students and I look forward to seeing the solid recommendations of the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Advisory Committee implemented as soon as possible.

OCTOBER EVENTS: In other news, this month I went to JLS to hear Dr. Thomas Hehir, an inclusion schools expert from Harvard Graduate School of Education, here for a week to evaluate our inclusion efforts across the district.  I also attended a day-long Inclusion Collaborative Statewide conference organized jointly by Santa Clara and San Mateo County Offices of Education and participated in the City of Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan Community Advisory Committee's conversation on current and future transportation needs.  On October 9th, we had another successful Powerful Practices staff development day where 800+ teachers across the district are invited to present and learn from each other and from educational experts around the nation.  And finally, on October 21st, hundreds of students, teachers, and parents came together across our elementary and middle schools to wear orange as we celebrated Unity Day, a day to focus on bullying prevention efforts and create stronger and more inclusive communities at every school.  Check out photos from these events on my BLOG.  

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