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Superintendent's Update - August 21, 2020


The upcoming agenda for our first regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education includes the following items of emphasis:

  • Review of safety measures in place and in progress for PAUSD sites.
  • Report on Human Resources hiring trends and efficiencies during closures.
  • Support systems for students, including meals, supplies, and engagement.
  • Foreshadowing report regarding the Learning Continuity Plan (LPC) and future steps.


As our students and parents have noted, Schoology pages are greatly improved over last year. The new pages reflect our professional development and the commitment our teachers made to producing the best possible experience for our students. The pages are well-organized, intuitive, and robust.


Informally, we are told that roughly one third of our secondary teachers are utilizing their classrooms for instruction and a little over half of our elementary teachers are doing the same. Additionally, some elementary teams of teachers are rotating classes through content areas and truly working as a cohesive unit. While there is no mandate or expectation for instruction to be delivered from sites, many appreciate rooms being open and available this year. We are close to finalizing some dedicated space at Cubberley for those wishing to work at a common site.

Each school has administrators on site and classified support staff are in place. Visitors are still not allowed during school hours. The District Office will reopen soon to the public with appointments similar to City Hall.


We are thankful for our classified staff members for their work on the front end of returning to sites. Many assistants are back in place in addition to custodians and food service workers. Some positions will be reassigned to categories in higher need during the closure.


A recent parcel tax informational flyer was sent to residents containing a typo. The flyer inaccurately stated that parcel tax generated 17% of the PAUSD budget. While still significant, parcel tax actually generates 7% of our budget. A correction will be mailed to clarify the error.


We have been in communication with California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and surrounding school districts regarding athletic conditioning and facility rentals. Surrounding school districts are not consistent, and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidelines are difficult to rationalize. Our current position remains unchanged. Until we can serve disadvantaged and special needs students on campus, we do not plan to return for athletics and facility rentals. Our primary goal remains serving students with academic concerns first. We all appreciate the importance of extra-curricular activities and hope to make progress soon. Our core mission must remain primary, making everything else secondary. Our principals and athletic directors are in agreement and have been understanding as we navigate these challenging times.


The Department of Innovation and Agility-Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) is beginning its 4th year of support for the Elementary Creativity Cart program. The mission of the program is to nurture student creativity and resiliency while connecting them to today's real-world complexities. As with many things this school year, the Creativity Cart program looks a little different during distance learning. Using Agile Methodologies, the Department of Innovation and Agility and Academic Support Services are collaborating with Nutrition Services, Transportation, and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to pilot a modified program. This program will provide socio-economically disadvantaged elementary students with supplemental enrichment opportunities twice a month to enhance the distance learning experience.

Creativity Cart materials come with a guiding instruction sheet. Each set of materials is stocked with recycled materials to be used in activities that foster creative thinking. Activities provided promote the cultivation of skills with respect to design, investigation, and problem-solving. Elementary students who participate in Creativity Cart projects are encouraged to explore a variety of topics at appropriate grade levels. By allowing each student to choose tailored project subjects, with general guiding questions, the program fosters genuine student interests that can be extended to any topic. At the end of each month, CCE will be hosting "Invention Convention" via Zoom! For more information, please contact the Curriculum & Career Education Office.


During the August 25 Board Meeting, there will be a report about the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan (LCP). Staff will share information about its requirements and the tentative timeline for completing and submitting the report. Stakeholder engagement is part of the creation of the plan and opportunities for providing feedback are listed in the timeline. In addition, community members can provide input using Let's Talk!


The PAUSD Parent Education and Engagement Advisory Committee met over the course of three meetings to explore parental needs related to supporting students with distance learning and wellness. The committee included nine parents with students across the District and two Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) from Educational Services.

Committee members were given the opportunity to discuss and share their thinking around the following guiding questions to make recommendations to Executive Cabinet:

  • What support is needed for families to use Schoology, Seesaw, and Zoom?
  • What support is needed to help students in distance learning?
  • What support is needed to help students become independent learners?

Recommendations and feedback also encompassed these four broad categories: Instructional Models, Platform Learning Usage, Social Emotional Learning, and Accessibility Tools. In addition to Zoom meetings for discussion, members used a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools to share ideas and observations from their respective Parent Teacher Association (PTA) networks. After contributing to a catch-all brainstorm sheet, members worked together to prioritize and determine top recommendations and identify short- and long-term goals. As a result, the committee decided that a common theme running through all categories is the area of communication. Once top recommendations and rationales in the four main areas were determined, overarching suggestions for communication priorities and venues were also included.

Main recommendations are summarized in the graphic below.

Distance Learning Supports For Families - Chart

Work to support struggling readers across the District continues this fall, building on last year's progress. Below is a brief recap of last year's work to support students and outline of plans for the 2020-21 school year.

Elementary Recap & Plan

During the 2019-20 school year, teachers in grades K-3 completed the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen for students in grades 1-3 at the start of the year, and mid-year for

kindergartners. This universal screening platform emphasizes phonological, linguistic, and academic performance from teacher observations to identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulties. Once identified, students who measure "at-risk" for dyslexia are provided Tier 1 supports in the classroom with ongoing progress monitoring, outlined in the Dyslexia Screening and Identification Process flowchart, which was finalized by Reading Specialists in the spring. This plan maps out the identification process and supports for students who screen "at-risk" for dyslexia. If a student needs more targeted support, the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) may be administered by a Reading Specialist. This comprehensive assessment of reading helps determine the student's specific subtype of dyslexia - dysphonetic dyslexia, surface dyslexia, mixed dyslexia, and reading comprehension deficits - to inform decisions about appropriate interventions. Additionally, Reading Specialists partnered in finalizing Section 4: Dyslexia Identification Process Including Screening of the Dyslexia Handbook.

In conjunction with the District's vision to provide professional development around multisensory reading strategies, all Reading Specialists and Education Specialists received the Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Training through the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE).

During the 2020-21 school year, the Dyslexia Screening and Identification Process will continue with the administration of the Shaywitz Dyslexia Screen for all students in grades 1-3. After analyzing the high percentage of kindergarten students measuring "at-risk" for dyslexia last year, it was determined that more developmental time is needed for this age group. Additionally, teachers need time and face-to-face interaction with students to observe reading behaviors. The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen will be a challenge to administer virtually and therefore will be postponed until hybrid learning can occur.

This year's Professional Learning will continue to focus on multisensory reading strategies. All elementary TOSAs were scheduled to receive this training in the spring, but due to COVID-19 it was canceled. After this training, TOSAs planned to tailor professional learning for teachers around the use of multisensory strategies when implementing the current literacy curriculum, to further support those students in the classroom who measured "at-risk" for dyslexia. All elementary TOSAs and new Reading and Education Specialists will receive the Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Training virtually through the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). Additionally, both elementary and secondary TOSAs and current Reading and Education Specialists will receive the Intermediate Orton-Gillingham Training virtually through IMSE. These trainings will provide the strategies needed to support teachers in instructional practices and student learning.

All teachers in grades K-1 were scheduled to receive the Phonological Awareness and Beginning Orton-Gillingham Training through IMSE on the October Professional Learning day. Teachers in grades 2-5 would attend TOSA-led sessions highlighting the multisensory approach. Due to the restructuring of the professional learning schedule this year, this plan has changed, and an alternative is being discussed to provide teachers with multisensory strategies to support those students in the classroom who measure "at-risk" for dyslexia.

Secondary Recap & Plan

Last year was an exploratory year for the secondary literacy/dyslexia team. Two pilots were launched, one at the high school level and one at the middle school level. Additionally, a third pilot already underway at Greene Middle School, moved into its second year.

At Gunn High School, a universal literacy screener called the Universal Protocol for Accommodations in Reading, or uPAR, was piloted during fall semester. Rather than testing a student's reading ability, the intent of the uPAR is to determine which reading accommodations are most effective in helping students to access the curriculum. Struggling readers can then be paired with the supports that will be most helpful to them. All mainstreamed students were assessed during their English classes using this protocol. Approximately half of the students scored at the 75% mark when reading independently and silently, but these same students scored in the 90-100% range when listening to the passage being read with either a human or text reader. The Gunn Literacy TOSA worked on providing students who had been identified on the uPAR as benefitting from support while reading with the appropriate accommodations. She also made sure that Gunn staff was informed about useful assistive technology.

At the middle school level, two separate pilots were underway. At Greene Middle School, Language Arts teachers continued for the second year with their Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program. The Fountas and Pinnell LLI system is a short-term, targeted, intensive, small-group intervention for students who are struggling with reading. It is intended as a supplement to regular Language Arts classes. To date, the program has shown strong success rates, as evidenced by data collected on the inaugural 2018-19 cohort, a group of eight students. Each of these students received a 1 or a 2 on the English Language Arts California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (ELA CAASPP) in 5th grade and were reading at a Fountas and Pinnell level R or S (or late 4th grade level) when they were given the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS). By the end of the 2018-19 school year, all eight students had advanced to at least a level W, and some had progressed to a level X or Y, meaning that each of the students was reading at grade level by the end of the year. Not only did students' BAS scores go up at least four levels, but for seven of the eight students, their CAASPP scores also improved. Six of the eight students also showed more growth on their ELA CAASPP score between 5th and 6th grades than they did between 4th and 5thgrades. Teachers followed up by checking in with these students in the middle of the 2019-20 school year, and their BAS scores had all either maintained or gone up one level. Greene Middle School continues to monitor student progress and evaluate effectiveness of the pilot. This school year, as they enter year three, they are expanding the program by running a grade 7/8 reading enhancement course.

At Fletcher and JLS Middle Schools, a pilot program was launched for 6th graders. This program provided literacy support after school with a reading specialist to increase academic achievement for students not reading at grade level. Students were referred by teachers to the Department of Academic Support Services. The Department of Academic Supports screened all referrals and assessments to provide the appropriate support, which included Tier I classroom strategies, after school tutor support, or intensive reading intervention provided by an elementary reading specialist. Beginning January 2020, the program ran after school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for eight weeks. Two students participated in the initial cohort with the elementary Reading Specialist, and although an end-of-intervention BAS was not administered to either student due to school closings, they both showed growth in mid-semester progress reports.

During the 2020-21 school year, the secondary literacy/dyslexia team will be working to expand and align the pilot programs launched last year. The team will consist of three TOSAs, one focused primarily on high school level, one on middle school level, and one on elementary level. The group will work to systematize the screening and evaluating of students and to expand both the numbers of students who are assessed, as well as the services that are provided.

The District recently committed to implementing Lexia, a personalized, research-based literacy improvement program. Students in grades K-5 will be using Lexia's Core5 Reading program, and students in grades 6-8 will be using Lexia's PowerUp Literacy program as a supplement to their regular Language Arts classes. Qualifying high school students will also use Lexia's PowerUp Literacy program. Students take a diagnostic assessment and are placed in a content level tailored to their specific literacy needs. PowerUp develops skills in three areas: word study, grammar, and comprehension. Teachers are able to monitor students who are struggling so they can identify opportunities for additional support.



The principles of Student and Family Engagement (SaFE) have taken on a fresh new meaning in the 2020-21 school year. District and site teams, community groups, parents, and students have joined forces to make this school year one to remember for more than just the pandemic. Old strategies have received a refresh and are stronger than ever. New strategies are being created thanks to community-wide collaboration. The cornerstone of the work in the Office of Equity and Student Affairs is access and inclusion, but the work is a Districtwide collaboration. During times such as these, we needed to expand our reach beyond traditional school roles, and we met the challenge of COVID-19 head on.At no other time in PAUSD history have we seen such cross-departmental, Districtwide community collaboration and innovation in support of families.

Extending our Reach: Food Services, Transportation Services, and District Office volunteers have joined forces with the SaFE Team to make PAUSD+ a unique reality. We now have more dual-language support and more hearts, hands, and minds on the needs of students and families. This dynamic team will work to increase access to available resources. The SaFE Team will be systematically checking-in with families, recording needs, and connecting families with local resources. The team will increase contact with families based on needs identified during the initial closures in March. Additionally, they will work on developing more systems to keep families informed. SaFE Specialists will also increase communication and participation with school site teams, including teachers, education specialist, EL specialists, mental health supports, and more. The team will work towards empowerment of parents to increase use of available resources. Bus drivers and other workers will be helping with distribution of books and supplies; routing questions to the appropriate person; making deliveries; and more. District Office volunteers have also joined the team to ensure that a family or two has someone who can help them navigate the system. These volunteers will support the teacher's outreach work and allow for more personalized attention.

Access to Meals/Meals Delivery: The Food Services Department is operating three daily drive-thru meal formats at Gunn High School, Greene Middle School, and JLS Middle School. Roughly 100 meals were distributed on site on the first day of school. Home deliveries continue to be a hallmark of support to families. Deliveries are made directly to Buena Vista Mobile Home Park each day. PAUSD is also operating the Paly Kitchen as the home delivery hub, with bus drivers providing "Door Dash Delivery Service". On the first day of school, this team delivered 95 meals which increased to 127 the next day. Home deliveries will continue to grow as PAUSD will be adding deliveries to the Day Care Facilities operating in the elementary sites starting the week of August 24. In addition, Food Services will still be handing out 20-lb. fresh produce boxes every other Thursday starting August 20.

School Supplies/Supplies Delivery: All school sites offered drive-thru pickup and limited contact collection of school supplies students might need during our distance learning year. Although a majority of families were able to collect much needed basic supplies and materials for school, some were unable to stop by. The SaFE team, in partnership with school sites, is calling families and identifying those in need of supplies. They will then coordinate with school sites for families to stop by or arrange deliveries of school supplies.

Laptop/Internet Connectivity: Every student in PAUSD who needs a laptop or other approved device will receive one, regardless of the presence of one owned in the home. All laptops provide access to learning management systems such as Schoology, SeeSaw, and other District-sponsored tools. In addition, families who have limited or no internet access may request a Wi-Fi hotspot which will be provided at no cost. Though hotspots are limited, students and families facing financial barriers receive priority.

Student Supports and Outreach Advisory (SSOA): The SSOA is a group of parents, students, and staff who are committed to identifying and finding solutions to family needs. This advisory group held a few meetings, but the importance of the discussion and the potential outcomes led to an extension of the group timeline and a minimum of six (6) meetings. This group will help guide the District's response to ongoing student and family needs.

Childcare: Childcare is currently being offered across the District for students in grades TK-5. Currently, three providers support our families with one offering deeply discounted rates as low as $25 per day. The Student Supports and Outreach Advisory Committee is exploring opportunities to partner with nonprofits such as Reaching and Inspiring Success through Education (RISE), parent and community partners, and other partnerships to provide financial support for families with significant needs.



We have been working with the Zoom support team who has identified a bug in the application that affects students and other participants when joining meetings that require authentication. We have posted additional details as well as workarounds to the problem on our website until the issue is resolved.


381,535: Number of emails sent in August from our two broadcast platforms, Infinite Campus, and Blackboard

51,148: Number of assignments submitted in Schoology this week

10,179: Number of Zoom meetings this week