February 13, 2020

Superintendent’s Office


We are still determining the proper placement for a few items, but the next meeting is shaping up as follows:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

  • Temporary Employee Release (Closed Session)
  • Probationary Non-Reelects (Closed Session)
  • Award of Wired Network Refresh Bid (Consent)
  • Authorization to Transfer Funds from Measure Z Reserve to Tech Fund (Consent)
  • College and Career Indicator Report: A-G Eligibility Discuss Steps Taken By Our Sites to Impact the Achievement Gap Between Groups (Report)
  • Equity Snapshot (Report)
  • Bid Results for Gunn and Paly Fields (Action)
  • Review Budget Assumptions - Draft (Discussion)
  • Science – Middle School Instructional Materials (Discussion)
  • Addison Magical Bridge (Discussion)
  • The rest of the calendar for the year has been revised to capture requests from the Board at our last meeting. Items not appearing will be covered through Friday updates posted to the front page of our website. The revisions should be in place shortly for your review.

Education Services


Over the last couple of weeks, we provided some background and shared the results of a study that the Department of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) conducted last year about the site-specific CWAs previously administered at JLS and Fletcher middle schools. This week, we will briefly explain how the development of the new Districtwide CWA was informed by the REA study.

A team of one or two volunteer teachers from each middle school came together for two release days (one in May 2019 and one in September 2019) to create the Districtwide CWA for their grade level. Each CWA was thus developed by a cross-site team of five-to-six teachers. Additionally, this team of teachers continued to work on fine-tuning the prompt, sources, rubric, administration instructions, and materials, during the fall of 2019.

The results of the study conducted by REA (outlined in last week’s installment) informed the teams’ decisions in a couple of key areas. First, teachers elected to administer the CWA in December (for 7th grade), January (for 6th grade), and early February (for 8th grade). Teachers felt that if the CWA were to be a truly formative assessment, it would need to be given early enough in the year to allow teachers to use the scores to adjust their instruction in a meaningful way. Student results on the Smarter Balanced Assessment English Language Arts (SBA ELA) could then be treated summatively and used to measure progress.

Second, grade-level teacher teams considered student scores on the SBA writing performance tasks for ELA when they were trying to decide which Common Core text type to use for their CWA prompts. The SBA scores indicated that, while PAUSD students generally performed very well when given a narrative performance task, their argumentative and informative/explanatory scores were not quite as high. The 8th grade team, which was the first group to take a release day, ultimately felt that having an argumentative CWA prompt would allow students an additional opportunity to practice developing a counter-argument and rebuttal before moving on to high school.

Learning how to support a claim through the selection of relevant evidence, insightful reasoning, and a well-developed counter argument and rebuttal are typically one key focus area of 8th grade English. Coupled with the SBA data, this fact helped inform the 8th grade team’s decision to make their prompt argumentative. On their subsequent release days, the 6th and 7th grade teams thought that it would be valuable to keep the genre consistent across grade levels so as to more easily be able to compare student progress in writing from one year to the next. They ultimately decided in favor of argumentative prompts. In addition, the 6th and 7th grade teams modeled their rubrics closely on the 8th grade rubric in order to allow for a clearer comparison of student progress across grade levels. The 6th and 7th grade teams were thus able to build off of the good work of the 8th grade team.


Secondary Options programs instruct, guide, and support students and adults as they prepare for and embark on a working life. The program collaborates with many organizations and offers a wide range of opportunities for students and adults. One such program is WorkAbility.

WorkAbility I (for high school students in special education) and WorkAbility II (for adults with disabilities) programs provide comprehensive pre-employment training, employment placement, and follow-up consultations for individuals making the transition to independent living. WorkAbility is a grant-funded program through the California Department of Education (CDE). PAUSD is a current recipient of the high school grant, through which students are able to access a range of employment and workplace experiences that help them explore a career field and learn important job skills.

In conjunction with WorkAbility, a number of students from Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School had the opportunity last week to see behind-the-scenes employment positions at Oracle Park in San Francisco. It was a great day for all!


The mid-year assessment window for K-5 elementary students reading assessment, Benchmark Assessment System (BAS), closed last week. School sites are preparing to analyze class reading data to better inform their instruction and set reading goals for the remainder of the school year.

In addition to BAS, the kindergarten teachers completed the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen for all kindergarteners using the new universal screening platform. The information collected will merge with the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen data from 1st through 3rd grade. As we forge ahead in creating a plan for those kindergarten students who measured “at-risk” for dyslexia, we continue to provide support for 1st through 3rd grade students and monitor progress. The Reading Specialists will be finalizing the Elementary Dyslexia Screening and Identification Process flowchart at their March meeting. The plan will map out the identification process and supports for students who screen “at-risk” for dyslexia.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


On February 6th the Department of Academic Supports met with Palo Alto High School’s Social Justice Pathway sophomores to discuss the achievement gap and how the District is addressing it locally. Topics included: the Tinsley program, first generation students on the pathway to college, and low income supports in the District. Students had many questions and were very engaged in all topics. It was a great way to hear student voices about issues that drive District staff.


The Department of Academic Supports and Professional Learning collaborated to provide a class on case studies in diversity to new certificated staff in January and February. The class consists of two face-to-face meetings with the remainder of the content delivered online. The curriculum included materials from Teaching Tolerance. The book is Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education by Paul Gorski and Seema Pothini. The class is part of a two-year professional learning journey for staff new to PAUSD and is also open to veteran staff who would like to participate.


On February 7, over 40 AVID students from JLS Middle School and Gunn High School went together on a college visit to SJSU. Under the organization of Gunn AVID Coordinator, the field trip was an opportunity for the AVID students to learn more about college opportunities and college life. The students were led by former Gunn students who showed them around campus and talked about their college experiences.


Wellness is sponsoring Healthy Relationships Month in February. During flex time this month, students will reflect on what makes a friendship healthy versus toxic. Activities will focus on identifying healthy partnership and friendship traits and getting the facts on unhealthy relationships.

Gunn students and families are invited to the mental health awareness fair to speak with organizations in and around Palo Alto that support families and their students’ overall well-being. Email Rossana Castil for more information. The Paly Wellness team is working with the student One Love Club, which is dedicated to raising awareness about healthy relationships, on relationship workshops called “Behind the Post.” In these workshops, students are able to discuss the impact social media has on relationships, identify the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships and discuss how to talk to a friend they are concerned about. Follow the activities at #relationshipgoals.

Business Services


While healthy eating can be a challenge for some students and parents, 15 elementary students from PAUSD will use their creativity and culinary skills to prepare healthy recipes as part of PAUSD’s Student Nutrition Services and Sodexo’s 2020 Future Chef Competition. This year’s theme is “Reimagine Your Favorite School Lunch Meal.”

PAUSD joins 253 other school districts across the country holding Future Chef events throughout February and March. The winning student and recipe from each participating district will be considered for 40 regional finalist awards, and the regional finalists will vie to become one of five national finalists competing for the public’s vote on SodexoUSA.com.

The Future Chef Cook Off Competition will be held on Wednesday, March 4, at the JLS MP/Common Room and Kitchen from 3:00-5:30 p.m.

PAUSD finalists were announced this week and received a chef coat and hat to be worn at the event. Recipe submissions from 10 of the 12 elementary schools were submitted and we have one of the largest finalist groups in our history with the event.

Human Resources


The Leadership Institute is a voluntary opportunity for all PAUSD employees who aspire to advance their careers within the District to gather on a regular basis for shared learning on important topics. LI #4 will be held on Monday, February 24, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the District Office. Our Leadership Institute has been well attended by both certificated and classified employees, and we welcome all interested employees to attend.


The next Wellness Wednesday event is on February 26. Come cycle at the Paly Spin Studio.

The Human Resources department developed Wellness Wednesday events open to all PAUSD staff free of charge. We encourage staff members to join us to connect with others and spend an hour focused on health and wellness.


PAUSD is continuously planning and preparing for emergencies that could interrupt the school day for students. We want to make sure that you are fully informed of our Emergency Operations Plan. To see important updates and ongoing work of our Emergency and Preparedness Department please visit our webpage.