February 7, 2020

Superintendent’s Office


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

  • Temporary Employee Release (Closed Session)
  • Probationary Non-Reelects (Closed Session)
  • Equity Snapshot (Report)
  • Authorization to Issue Addendum No.’s 22, 23, and 24 to Gelfand Partners for Additional Services at Addison, Hoover and El Carmelo Elementary Schools (Consent)
  • Purchase of HVAC Equipment for Titan Gym - air conditioning (Consent)
  • Approval of the Conceptual Designs for the J.L. Stanford MS Library and Administration Building Project and Architect and Construction Management Contracts for Full Services through Construction, the Budget and Transfers to Fund the Projects, and Authorization to File for CEQA exemptions (Discussion)
  • Approval of the Conceptual Designs for the Palo Verde Multipurpose and Administration Building Project and Architect and Construction Management Contracts for Full Services through Construction, the Budget and Transfers to Fund the Projects, and Authorization to File for CEQA exemptions (Discussion)

In addition to the items previously appearing on the calendar, we will have a brief report on the coronavirus and consider a resolution of support for Foothill/DeAnza College bond and parcel taxes.


We were selected as the cover story for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) newsletter cover story regarding our efforts around dyslexia. The Board's commitment to early literacy, struggling readers, and dyslexia serve as a call to action for school districts throughout the state. The magazine is delivered to every school administrator in California. The article can be found on the EdCal ACSA webpage

Education Services


The Round 1 Registration period ends Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

If your child is currently attending a PAUSD school, you must complete the Annual Data Update (instructions will be sent in March) to enable auto-enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. Current residents (within PAUSD boundaries) NOT attending a PAUSD school may register students by following the instructions at the Registration website. 

The deadline for elementary and middle school Choice Program applications is Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at noon. Information on how to submit an application is available at the Choice Programs website.


The Special Education Department received the corrective actions from the California Department of Education (CDE) regarding the Disproportionality Review, which was completed in October 2019. The District was asked to review a group of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and determine whether they addressed all components regarding support for English Learners (ELs), including specific EL IEP forms, accommodations, goals, and assessment results. The areas needing corrections were related to assessments in the native language, addressing language needs of ELs, and IEP goals that did not address how language development is supported. The corrective actions mandated by the CDE were to assess in the native language and focus on adding language development in the goals for ELs. The corrective actions were completed and resubmitted to the CDE on January 30, 2020.

As part of the review, the District was given specific student names with the task to review their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and determine whether they addressed all components regarding support for English Learners (ELs), including specific EL IEP forms, accommodations, goals, and assessment results. In December, the District received corrective actions for a couple of additional students. The areas needing corrections were related to assessment of students in their native language, addressing language needs of EL student, and IEP goals that did not address how language development is supported. The corrective actions mandated by the CDE are:

  • assess the IEP in the native language and focus on adding language development in the goals for EL students.

The corrective actions were completed and resubmitted to the CDE on January 30, 2020.

On February 13, Districtwide Professional Learning Day, Special Education aides will receive training in specific areas. Due to the number of aides at each level, the training will be divided into grades PK-5, and grades 6-post-secondary. 

  • PK-5 areas of focus will include: implementation of facilitated play; small group activities on how to encourage student participation in math, reading and social groups; creation of social stories; self-care to help with stress; material production, including creating tokens, communication boards, visual schedules, and social stories.
  • Focus areas for secondary programs, grades 6-post-secondary, will include: disaster preparedness; supporting students in the general education setting; understanding the 13 eligibility categories and how to support students. The Futures Program aides will be joining their classroom teachers in the Unique curriculum presentation. Our hope is to build the capacity of our aides in order to better support students and meet their academic and behavioral needs.  

The department also worked collaboratively with site leadership teams to address programs and projections for the 2020-21 school year. In order to better serve students with disabilities, we discussed program options that would increase the continuum of service. Learning centers will be expanded to accommodate grades K-2 and 3-5 classrooms, and a learning center will be established in each middle school. Sites were presented with the projected number of students who are transitioning from grades PK-K, 5-6, 8-9, and 12 to post-secondary. Based on these numbers, the department proposed and informed administration of staffing allocations in order to best support the number of students and programs at each site. Input from school sites and review of our current programs was taken into consideration when determining staffing needs. Revisions were based on student needs. 


In December, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which accredits and monitors teacher preparation programs, including induction programs, sent notification that programs should disseminate the guidelines to all enrolled candidates. The PAUSD Consortium, which serves teachers in PAUSD, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, and Los Gatos Saratoga School District, has implemented a plan to support mentors and participating teachers in learning about dyslexia guidelines and actually putting them into practice. At the January mentor meeting, several mentors with expertise in dyslexia provided an overview about dyslexia and the origin and contents of the guidelines. The consortium looked at characteristics of dyslexia by age group and engaged in a robust discussion about next steps. Over the next month, mentors will be reading the guidelines and generating ideas about how to share them in a meaningful, accessible manner with PK-12 teachers.


As the Elementary Education Department digs deeper into word study and the “why” for students struggling with reading, we are learning how important it is to have a common understanding of what phonics is, prior to actually teaching phonics. So, what is phonics?

Phonics is the method of teaching beginning readers to connect the sounds of spoken language with letters or a group of letters. The goal of phonics instruction is to teach students the most common sound-spelling relationships, so that they can decode, or sound out words, by blending the sounds of letters together.

Phonics instruction is necessary for children to become skilled, fluent readers. They need to have a repertoire of strategies to draw from. Many struggling readers rely heavily on one reading strategy, such as the use of context and picture clues, to the exclusion of other strategies that might be more appropriate. These strategies include using knowledge of sound-spelling relationships; in other words, an understanding of phonics. In addition, research has shown that skilled readers attend to almost every word in a sentence and process the letters that compose each of these words. Therefore, phonics instruction plays a key role in helping students comprehend text. It helps them map sounds onto spellings, thus enabling them to decode words. Decoding words aids in the development of word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Students can then concentrate on making meaning from the text instead of having to decode words. In addition, phonics instruction improves spelling ability because it emphasizes spelling patterns that become familiar from reading.

This leads us to a common misconception that phonics is the same as phonological awareness. These terms are not interchangeable. Phonological awareness is the awareness of sounds in spoken words, whereas phonics involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols. Despite these different focuses, phonics instruction and phonological awareness instruction are connected. In fact, phonological awareness is necessary for phonics instruction to be effective. Before students can use a knowledge of sound-spelling relationships to decode written words, they must understand that words, whether written or spoken, are made up of sounds. Phonological awareness can exist without phonics, but you cannot have phonics without phonological awareness. Without this insight, phonics instruction will not make sense to students. This is something to be mindful of as we continue to support students in becoming successful readers.


Last week’s update provided background on the Common Writing Assessment (CWA) and explained how its development was strongly informed by work already underway at each middle school. This week, we will summarize the results of a study conducted last year by the Department of Research, Evaluation and Assessment (REA) on site-specific CWAs being administered at Fletcher and JL Stanford Middle Schools (JLS). (Greene Middle School was not included in the study because of the diversity of department-specific assessments and rubrics in use there.)

REA’s study compared students’ Spring 2018 CWA scores with Spring 2018 Smarter Balanced Assessment English Language Arts (SBA ELA) scores. The two objectives were:

  1. to determine whether CWA scores at Fletcher and JLS were predictive of SBA scores; and
  2. to consider how best to use the existing CWAs at each site to maximize their impact on student learning.

In order to determine whether CWA scores at the two middle schools were predictive of SBA scores, the study first compared the distribution of overall SBA ELA scores with CWA scores. Students at both sites were found to perform at least as well on the SBA as on the CWA. The JLS and Fletcher CWAs could thus be seen as conservative predictors of SBA ELA scores. Since the CWAs at each site were given before the SBA, one potential explanation for this finding was that, during the time between the two assessments, students continued to learn and develop as writers. Second, the study drilled down further by comparing the distribution of SBA writing scores with CWA scores. Here, again, the scores were found to be positively correlated and the CWA emerged as a conservative predictor of SBA writing results. 

The study concluded that CWA scores at Fletcher and JLS were significantly correlated with SBA Writing scores and SBA overall English scores, and that the CWA was a conservative predictor of student performance on the SBA. The CWA could therefore be used as a formative measure of student writing progress to predict SBA performance and to guide teacher instruction.  

In February 2019, the English Steering Committee and the REA Department met to review and discuss the results of this study. The English Steering Committee began discussing various options to align the CWAs across the middle schools. As a first step toward using the CWA formatively across sites, the Fletcher 7th and 8th grade teams decided to move up administration of their site-specific CWA to January, which paralleled the JLS CWA administration timeline. The Fletcher 7th and 8th grade teams were subsequently able to spend a release day analyzing CWA scores and planning for reteaching and extension lessons to improve students’ writing in preparation for the spring SBA. With the timing of the two schools’ assessments thus aligned, a first step had been taken toward building CWA alignment across sites.


On January 29, teachers from Fletcher, Greene, and JLS middle schools gathered at JLS for the second of three Joint Middle School Meetings.

English teachers were updated about the work of the Middle School Literature Committee, which has spent the first semester vetting current PAUSD literature, and will spend the second semester researching and vetting new titles in Young Adult Literature. Staff were encouraged to pass their book recommendations to Committee members. English teachers also debriefed the 6th and 7th grade CWA administrations and determined which revisions to materials might be helpful for next year.  

Using existing course catalog and course guide descriptions, History/Social Studies teachers spent their Joint Middle School meeting developing common course guide descriptions for each grade level. These course descriptions will appear in each school’s course catalog next year, and ideally, also in course-alike teachers’ course guides.

Math teachers gathered to discuss how the ongoing redesign of the middle school math program will move some Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics to different grade levels. They analyzed which foundational topics build on something taught in the previous grade and made plans to adjust units and topics accordingly.

Science teachers discussed the formatting options that Amplify Science offers for digital access, a hardbound book, and various workbook configurations. They also made suggestions for how to incorporate additional hands-on experiences into this curriculum, if approved by the Board. 


SVMI, described as a comprehensive effort to improve mathematics instruction and student learning, is comprised of over 150 members, including school districts, individual schools, and educational organizations in California and across the United States. Mr. David Foster, Founder and Executive Director, spent a day visiting middle school mathematics classrooms. Consultants from SVMI will be working with all middle school mathematics teachers on February 12 and 13 to support District goals in reimagining our middle school math courses. Mr. Foster’s observations informed planning conversations for the upcoming teacher workshops to ensure they are meaningful and that the outcomes will be impactful for student learning. 


The Innovation and Agility Department hosted its Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory meeting on January 29. The focus was equity and recruitment for Gunn High School’s Business pathway and Palo Alto High School’s Engineering pathway, both being introduced in the 2020-21 school year. The role of the CTE Advisory is to focus on building a bridge between the District and industry partners, specifically tackling challenges around providing paid internships for students. Minutes from all CTE Advisory meetings can be found on the Curriculum and Career Education website.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), in partnership with the CDE, announced annual funding to implement a regional technical assistance structure to assist teachers and industry partners in implementing high-quality CTE programs. Education Code 88833 appropriates $12,000,000 in annual career technical education funding to support the establishment of CTE Key Talent field positions to support both the CTE Incentive Grant Program and the K-12 component of the Strong Workforce Program, with the positions of K-14 Technical Assistance Providers and K-12 Pathway Coordinators. PAUSD, through the Innovation and Agility Department, is putting in an application to host a K-12 Pathway Coordinator for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, working closely with Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District and Fremont Union High School District. The K-12 Pathway Coordinator will act as a point of contact and work with high school and community college CTE programs, and various stakeholders, as well as provide technical assistance to ensure sequential CTE courses align with regional post-secondary pathways. For more information, visit the CDE website. 

In preparation for the CDE’s mandatory reporting requirements, the annual postsecondary CTE survey has been mailed out to recent PAUSD graduates. Data collected during this process is used to improve our CTE program offerings. The data will also be reported to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) through the new Postsecondary Status File (PSTS) in the CALPADS Fall 2 submission. More information is available on the CDE website.


Henry M. Gunn High School has been recognized for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP). Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded young women’s access to AP Computer Science courses.

Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 achieved this important result during the 2018-19 school year. This represents nearly 20% more than the 685 schools recognized the previous year.  

Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award achieved either 50% or higher female representation in either or both of the AP computer science courses, or the percentage of female computer science examinees met or exceeded that of the school’s female population.

Stefanie Sanford, College Board Global Policy Chief, wrote:

We hope to see even more high schools inspire female students to harness the potential of an AP Computer Science education. It empowers young women to see themselves as creators, innovators, and problem-solvers. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education plays a critical role in fostering a lifelong relationship with learning and setting students on a path to success in a 21st century workforce.

The introduction of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016 was the largest course launch in AP Program history. In 2019, nearly 100,000 students took the AP CSP exam, more than doubling participation in three years. During that time, the number of female AP CSP students has far outpaced overall growth, with an increase of 136%.

Providing female students with access to computer science courses is necessary to ensuring gender parity in high-paying technology jobs and to drive innovation, creativity, and competition. A 2014 Google study found that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


This week, February 3-7, is National School Counselor Appreciation Week. This year’s theme "School Counselors: Helping Build Better Humans,” highlights the impact school counselors have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. During National School Counseling Week secondary sites are planning events to honor the work of school counselors and to bring awareness to the work that counselors do and how to access them.  


Over 50 Paly students, staff, and community volunteers experienced a fun and powerful Challenge Day on Monday, February 3. Challenge Day is a day-long experiential social and emotional learning program for grades 7-12 that offers schools an opportunity to ignite a shift toward greater school connectedness, empathy, and inclusivity (source: www.challengeday.org). Challenge Day is also designed to build community through a fun and powerful transformational day that builds student’s understanding of others and empowers them to be the change and create the type of school climate they want. Participants connected through fun activities, sharing their stories and supporting one another. Students and adults walked away with an unforgettable and impactful experience. Thank you to the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club, to Paly staff, and our community volunteers for making this experience possible.


Our first Teen Talk Middle School parent night was held on February 6 at Greene Middle School. Approximately 22 parents were in attendance. Teen Talk Middle School, is a comprehensive sexual health education program for our 7th graders developed by Health Connected that provides an opportunity for students to receive consistent, medically accurate information about sexual health, healthy relationships, and family communication. Parent Nights offer parents/guardians the opportunity to receive details about the content of instruction, the latest adolescent sexual health legislation, and raise any questions or concerns about the program.

If you were unable to attend last night’s parent night, the PowerPoint can be found here. Lesson materials are available for viewing in the front office of your school site and can also be viewed in the Education Services at the District Office. If you have any questions, please contact Health Services.  


The Department of Academic Supports in collaboration with the Department of Maintenance Operations and Transportation (MOT) held a community meeting with families who participate in the Tinsley Program to discuss transportation on February 5. Over 44 families attended the event. The meeting reviewed current needs and concerns and the District’s plan to address them. Identified Gaps were discussed and staff received feedback on innovative ways to address challenges. Next steps in improving student experience on the bus were shared with staff which included; recruitment of bus drivers and monitors, aligning behavior protocols with school sites, and improving communication to families.

The PowerPoint used at the meeting can be found on the PAUSD website.


On February 1, over 80 students in grades 4th-8th participated in the SABE program. The winter SABE program focuses on English Language Arts (ELA). Students rotated among three classes – English class, enrichment component, and a test-taking strategy class. Students were provided a brunch during the day. The next three sessions are February 8, 22, and 29. 

The Saturday program is funded by the Low Performance Student Grant through the CDE. The grant is one-time monies from the state that is meant to target students who scored a 1 or 2 on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), and are not identified as special education. Elementary invites were sent to students scoring a 2 on the CAASPP. A second session for students scoring 1 on the CAASPP is planned for March.

Human Resources


It is very important for us to understand your priorities in selecting a new principal. In order to facilitate the gathering of input, we have set up “Needs Assessments” meetings with parents at Paly and Gunn during their upcoming School Site Council Meetings.  

  • Paly SSC Meeting: Monday, February 10, 3:45 p.m. in the MAC Boardroom.
  • Gunn SSC Meeting: Monday, February 10, 4:00 p.m. in the Staff Lounge.


The Human Resources Department is excited to announce the second annual PAUSD Career and Advancement Fair, which will be held at Palo Alto High School in the Peery Family Center Gym on Saturday, March 14. The Peery Center will be open from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Interviews and other activities will take place from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Thanks in advance for supporting our efforts to recruit and retain an excellent workforce in PAUSD.

Career and Advancement Fair

Technology Department


Our neighbors at Mountain View Los Altos High School District have been in the news, so I wanted to provide a few quick updates on our efforts to prevent our District from being in a similar situation. As you are reminded every day by the email quarantine notification, we implemented an additional inbound email filter that has been working for us since June 2019 and has been silently blocking and removing threats from inbound email, one of the major ways networks are penetrated. Yes, there are a few false positives every once in a while, but overall the filter has been largely effective.

The graph below is data from the last 30 days, from which impersonations are our biggest challenge. These messages appear to be from a known person or service and usually contain a link to a fictitious login site or a malicious file attachment. Automated filters are a component of defense against these attacks, but it’s also important to verify you know the actual email address of the sender. The US Department of Homeland Security has published some tips about protecting against ransomware.

Email Attacks in the Past 30 Days