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Superintendent's Update - February 2, 2024

Superintendent's Update - February 2, 2024

From the Office of the Superintendent .  .  .

Board Agenda Calendar

View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24

Superintendent Austin’s Message    

As we enter Black History Month, it is crucial for us to reflect on and acknowledge the significant contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation's history. This month serves as a dedicated period for us to explore and celebrate the rich heritage, culture, and resilience of the Black community, which has played a fundamental role in shaping our country's fabric.

The importance of Black History Month extends beyond recognition. It is an opportunity for learning, understanding, and growth. It invites us to engage in meaningful conversations about the struggles for civil rights, the achievements against the odds, and the ongoing fight for equality and justice. By immersing ourselves in the stories and accomplishments of African American leaders, thinkers, artists, and everyday heroes, we gain a deeper appreciation of the diversity and strength of our collective American identity.

Palo Alto Unified School District is committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment where every student feels valued and empowered. This month, our schools will host a variety of educational activities and events designed to inspire and inform. We encourage each of you to participate actively, whether by attending these events, engaging in discussions, or exploring resources that highlight the contributions of Black Americans.

Let us use this time not only to celebrate, but also to commit ourselves to the principles of equity, inclusion, and respect for all. By doing so, we honor the legacy of those who have done important work before us, and pave the way for a future where everyone can achieve their full potential.

Expect messages from our schools throughout the month. This may also be an excellent opportunity to have discussions with children at home about what they have learned and the experiences they have at school and in the community. 

See something? Hear something? Say something!

PAUSD provides secure and confidential platforms for students, parents, and staff to anonymously report safety concerns or potential threats without the fear of retaliation. Through anonymous reporting, individuals may feel more comfortable in coming forward with information that can help prevent or address issues such as threats of violence, bullying, harassment, physical security, or other safety concerns. This collaborative approach can foster a safer and more supportive environment for everyone.

Report threats of violence, security issues, or other physical safety concerns via Let’s Talk.

Report bullying or harassment via the District’s Online Reporting Form.

School News Roll Call

The  School News Roll Call publication , highlighting each school in the District, has been published three times each school year, since 2018. The February 2024 Edition of School News Roll Call  is now available to enjoy and share. PAUSD Promise Priority Areas: Serve and Celebrate Others, Mental Health and Wellness, Early Literacy, Equity and Excellence, and Innovation are in-focus at all schoolsites. Also, read articles about Lifeskills at Addison, School Climate at Barron Park, Black History Month at Duveneck, Purposeful Reading at Fletcher, Challenge Day at Greene, Artificial Intelligence at Gunn, and Diversity at Palo Alto Adult School.

Middle School Math Validation Process Update

For Spring 2024, rising sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students who wish to accelerate beyond the already compacted middle school math program may participate in the Math Validation Process. 

The updated Math Validation Process will now consist of one paper-and-pencil assessment, instead of the previous two-part test. This assessment will evaluate the readiness for the grade-level math course the student would like to challenge, in addition to the student's knowledge of the topics and skills covered in the course. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.

These assessments are aligned to the state-adopted mathematics content standards. They will consist of multiple-choice (MC) and free-response questions (FRQ). The updated assessments are being developed in partnership with WestEd, a national leader in research, development, and service, alongside PAUSD Math Instructional Leaders. Assessment dates are being finalized and will be shared with the PAUSD community soon.

  • Students who are interested may opt in to take the test.
  • The test will be administered in May. 
  • The test will cover the grade-specific standards and concepts for mastery. 


  • Is my child required to take the math validation test?
    No, this test is optional.
  • What are the dates for the validation test?
    May 2024 test dates are being finalized. 
  • Where will the validation test be held?
    Validation tests will be administered (after school hours) at your neighborhood middle school.
  • How long does the test take?
    Test time will be approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. 
  • Are there study materials for the test?
    No. Only the information on the standards of the course being challenged will be available. 
  • Is there just one test, or is there a separate test for each challenged course?
    There will be only one test for each challenged course. (i.e., one for each of grade levels 6, 7, and 8).
  • Who is scoring the paper-and-pencil test?
    PAUSD middle school math teachers will score the test.
  • Will my child’s results be shared with me after they are scored?
  • What happens if my child doesn’t pass the validation test?
    Students who do not pass the validation test will be placed in a math course based on their current grade-level sequence. 
  • Are retakes allowed?
    No. Retakes will not be allowed.
  • May I accompany my child during the test?
    No. Students will be tested in a secured location with other students.
  • May a parent review the test if they believe there was an error in scoring?
    No, as these are secured tests.

Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA)

JLS 8th-Grade Orchestra Performs at California All-State Music Education Conference

Congratulations to the JLS 8th-Grade Orchestra on being selected to perform at the 2024 California All-State Music Education Conference in Sacramento. They were chosen through a rigorous, anonymous audio audition process. This recognition is a testament to the dedication of the JLS 8th-Grade Orchestra students and their teachers. Under the direction of Valerie Lee and Sandra Na, the orchestra presented a diverse program, showcasing a range of pieces spanning different genres, styles, composers, and time periods embodying the values of diversity and cultural responsiveness. The performance also featured student soloists.  A special thank you to guest conductor Sandra Lewis and guest musician, Jason Lewis.


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