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Superintendent's Update - March 24, 2023

Superintendent's Update - March 24, 2023

From the Office of the Superintendent:


The Board agenda calendar can be found HERE.


At a recent school Board meeting, one of our student representatives made a powerful statement. While his comments were connected to the topic of math placement and acceleration, he was really referring to hearing students in order to inform decisions in general. If you want to be inspired by a student who was vulnerable, strong, insightful, an advocate for his peers, and brave, please consider watching his video HERE

I thought a great deal about his comments and the assumptions we have (as adults) about our students. How many things do we THINK we know about the way our kids see the world, or what they believe? How often do we discard information that does not confirm our bias or understanding of issues? Probably too often… 

As a result of Daniel’s comments, we put together a survey for our high school students to explore their experiences and some thoughts about the future. At the time of writing this update, the district had responses from nearly 2,000 students. The number will grow throughout today before closing this afternoon. For context, response rates can be determined reliable with as few as five percent, although 20 percent or higher is obviously better. At the current rate of receiving responses, we will receive more than 50 percent, making the results reliable for our purposes.   

The live link to view student responses can be found HERE. Some of the information is fascinating. This update is also going out to our high school students this week. I want them to see their survey results. I also want them to know their insights are valuable and appreciated. 

Like most meaningful surveys, the data should lead to more questions in some areas. In a number of areas, the responses were close to what we expected. In others, we could not have been further from correct in our assumptions. A few observations include the following: 

  • Roughly 20 percent of our students believe they will work in a job or career that does not currently exist. This was surprising for a couple reasons. First, many sources suggest up to 65 percent of the jobs our students will accept after high school do not currently exist. We also thought living in the heart of the Silicon Valley would have influenced more of our students to believe they would be doing something novel in the future.  

  • Most students still see college as valuable, and a large percentage of students plan to take the SAT or ACT.  

  • Less than 20 percent of our students believe they will work in a job that does not require college. Nationally, roughly two-thirds of jobs do not require college degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good source of information and can be found HERE. With the explosion of people making a living in non-traditional jobs, including social media avenues, the traditional outlook of our students is a little surprising.  

  • The common belief that “every student has a tutor” is clearly debunked in the data. While approximately 20 percent of our high school students reported seeing a tutor routinely, more than half have seen a tutor four or less times this year. 

  • While not necessarily recommended for most students, more than 65 percent of those who challenged a math course by examination were successful.  

  • The percentage of students who skipped a level of math in middle school is accurate, but somewhat misleading. Students in high school at this point had a different core program and path. Starting next year, Geometry is the default starting point for ninth grade. That path was not the case for the students surveyed. As you will see, more than 20 percent of our surveyed students began high school in Algebra I in the past.  

  • A large percentage of students across all grade levels reported struggling in one or more classes.   

  • Most students expressed a feeling that they are doing well in their math courses.  This feedback is consistent with other data.  



Planning the in-person programs for Summer School 2023 began prior to Winter Break with solicitation of stakeholder input. The district believes in developing a summer program that equitably supports and challenges students through an engaging and integrated curriculum. This curriculum should blend academic instruction with enrichment. Students must be currently attending a PAUSD school prior to being accepted into the Summer School programs. More detailed information and progress for all programs can be found on the PAUSD website under the Student Supports tab.

All programs will be offered in-person. Registration is being conducted on a rolling basis within the following general time frames:

  • Elementary invitations will be sent through Parent Square on Monday April 10.

  • Middle school themed-program registration starts on Monday, April 10. An email will be sent to all rising six through eighth graders.

  • School counselors will automatically register high school students who are credit deficient for Semester 1 and Semester 2 through Infinite Campus. 

  • The high school Living Skills and Economics enrollment information has already been sent to rising seniors. Please contact Student Services at (650) 329-3736 with questions. 

Student enrollment for all general education summer school programs is dependent upon available staffing.

Extended School Year (ESY) is an extension of the existing special education Individualized Education Program (IEP) services. This service is provided during the summer recess to assist students with maintaining skills based on goals and objectives from their current IEP. The need for ESY service must be determined annually by the IEP team. Applications for ESY were shared with families earlier this week. In order for the Special Education Department to complete this process, the deadline to respond is Friday, April 14. Please note that only students with ESY services on their current IEP are offered this programming.



The State of California and Santa Clara County have made the process and requirements to get a substitute teaching permit easier. Anyone who holds a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university can apply for a 30-day permit via the Santa Clara County Office of Education. More information on how to become a substitute teacher is available at at this time. 



Gunn High School hosted a Career Speaker Series in February. The Palo Alto High School student-run Career Speakers Series Committee organized virtual and in-person events this week. Professionals from various industries were able to witness the showcase of student career pathways, including their personal journeys. Industry sectors represented include:  media arts, entrepreneurship, design, risk management, education, communications, manufacturing, law, journalism, hospitality, engineering, politics, and non-profit. The district thanks our awesome speakers for presenting and engaging in lively Q & A sessions with students. 



The Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory met on Thursday, March 23. The purpose of the CTE Advisory is to work as a bridge between the district and industry partners. Committee members provided industry perspectives and personal insights on career exploration, leadership opportunities, post-secondary connections, labor market needs, and industry exposure in accordance with Perkins CTE Improvement Act grant guidelines.  Notes from all CTE Advisory meetings can be found here. These collaborative sessions are key in order to develop programs that prepare students for college, career, and high-employability.  

Individuals with industry expertise are encouraged to contact the district using the “Get Involved” button below.




In partnership with Children's Health Council (CHC), the district is excited to offer a high school Parent Education Night focused on mental health, via Zoom, on Monday, March 27, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. This free parent webinar is for families with students who attend high school in PAUSD. Please see details below, and register for the event using the Eventbrite link.

The Pressures of High School:  Supporting our Students' Mental Health

Date and Time:  Monday, March 27, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Location:  Zoom (provided through CHC Eventbrite registration)

High school can be a difficult time for students. As they continue to develop their identity, students can be confronted with various pressures. The pressures range from grades to testing to the transition from high school. Students face these challenges as their peers become more and more prominent in their lives. These situations impact their mental health. So, how can you best support your high school student during these years?

Join us for a Parent Ed session where we will hear from CHC's Catherine T. Harvey Center for Clinical Services expert Dr. Melina Foden, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist. She will discuss how parents can support high school students as they navigate these challenging times.