March 1, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


The following items are currently proposed for the March 12 Board meeting and are subject to change:

  • Progress update on Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)
  • Report of A-G completion / eligibility and recommendations for moving forward
  • Stanford University General Use Permit (GUP) progress
  • PAUSD Promise discussion – High-Quality Teaching & Learning / Special Education & Inclusion


The Board of Education Study Session on February 27 was helpful to create direction for our staff. The team is examining options for a position dedicated to handling the “business” end of Special Education. We will also provide more information on our current staffing ratios, non-teaching certificated assignments, and places where efficiencies can lead to savings. The feedback from the Board, public speakers, and staff all contributed to a meaningful exercise.


The proposal to expand the ages of eligible students, as space allows, will appear as a consent item. As a reminder, this item only allows for a lottery system if there is available space in our existing program.

I had the opportunity to attend the Sixth District PTA event today in Santa Clara.  Stanford professor and researcher, Deborah Stipek, was the guest speaker and focused her time on the importance of early childhood education.  She specifically spoke about the role of TK and research that points to best practices that make a difference later in a child’s educational career. Her top alignment action steps include:

  • Expand access to pre-kindergarten
  • Co-locate pre-kindergarten and elementary school
  • Administer pre-kindergarten through District
  • Place pre-kindergarten through the elementary principal
  • Develop or select continuous curricula and assessments
  • Provide professional development for pre-kindergarten teachers with early elementary teachers
  • Create data systems following children pre-kindergarten into elementary schools

These recommendations seem to fit perfectly with our move to create two new locations on the sites of Duveneck and Barron Park. It makes sense that articulation between TK and K-5 should occur regularly. We are also considering the expansion of TK and following students with data. We have tentatively scheduled April 23 as a report to the Board about the TK program, including details about the use of Duveneck and Barron Park as instructional sites.

Education Services


With the help of colleagues from PAUSD middle schools and high schools, JLS English teachers scored approximately 1,150 Common Writing Assessments (CWA) — not once, but twice! Each of the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade essays was scored anonymously by two readers and received a holistic score of Advanced, Proficient, Developing, or Emerging. A score of Proficient indicates end-of-year grade-level writing expectations have been met. Since the CWA is given mid-year, results are used to inform students and teachers of areas of strength and growth. Students will have the opportunity to review their writing and to confer with their teacher about their results.


The California Language Teachers Association (CLTA) Conference will welcome almost 1,000 California language teachers to the Bay Area this weekend for their annual conference, Innovating with Languages. Five PAUSD teachers were accepted to make presentations. For more information on these innovative sessions, please see the Innovate with Languages Conference website.

On January 9, the new World Language Standards were adopted by the State Board of Education. Gunn High School World Language teachers used a portion of the February 14 Professional Learning Day (PLD) to familiarize themselves with the standards. They will continue this work throughout the year and discuss how to integrate the standards into their teaching practice. Palo Alto High School World Language teachers also used the PLD to create thematic units and performance rubrics.


PAUSD high school Algebra (1 and 1A) courses will pilot the integration of computer science into the Algebra curriculums, utilizing a program known as Bootstrap: Algebra. The program utilizes a Math-concept-compatible programming language and is aligned to California Common Core Math Standards, as well as the national K-12 CS Framework. The high school Algebra teachers and co-teachers will train in Bootstrap: Algebra in late spring/summer. Research* about student progress due to the use of Bootstrap: Algebra indicates that students improve in their successful completion of algebraic word problems (math modeling) even on un-scaffolded problems.

*E. Schanzer, K. Fisler & S. Krishnamurthi, Assessing Bootstrap: Algebra Students on Scaffolded and Un-scaffolded Word Problems, ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 2018


On March 12, Gunn High School’s AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) classes will host a group of students from Denmark. The visiting students are curious to learn more about high schools in the Bay Area, and are thinking about attending high schools in different countries. Both sets of students and teachers will discuss innovation and design thinking in the Advanced Placement (AP) CSP work. This meeting is an extension of the friendship that PAUSD enjoys with the Innovation Center Denmark – Silicon Valley.   


The Elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) joined staff developers from Teachers College for multiple days of on-site professional learning across three of the four lab schools. Teachers learned ways to enhance their whole and small group instruction in the Phonics and Reading and Writing Workshop. The TOSAs are developing District professional development, highlighting these strategies to bring equitable learning opportunities to all elementary school sites. In addition, TOSAs are providing ongoing academic coaching and support for grade-level teams and individual teachers at each site.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


On February 27, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) hosted the 15th Annual Sweetheart Awards to recognize and honor parent nominated, bus drivers, teachers, aides, crossing guards, fellow students, and other PAUSD staff and volunteers that go that extra mile to make a positive difference in the lives of children with special needs and learning differences. Over 100 staff and community members were honored with 16 of our 18 schools represented in the nominations. We are so proud of all of the dedicated educators and support staff that work with our students with disabilities.  


Students are making good use of the drop-in for support available at the high school Wellness Centers. Following the release of progress reports, the Wellness Teams and counseling staff members have seen an increase in student walk-in appointments. Students are seeking help from trusted adults who help them process what they are experiencing, celebrate their wins, are present during difficult times, and help them take perspective on their disappointments. This is a good reminder to all of us to be mindful of student stress levels and encourage them to reach out for support, use their self-care strategies, and practice self-care activities with them. Please reach out to your school counselor, psychologist, or high school Wellness Center if your student or family are in need support.


Wellness & Support Services is partnering with Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) to increase the parenting supports PAUSD offers in native languages. An AACI Therapist will facilitate an exciting parenting workshop called “Inter-Cultural Dialogue,” which is designed to help families navigate across generational and cultural differences in their families. This program is offered in Mandarin on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., March 7 through May 16 in the Greene Middle School Library. Space is limited to 25 participants. For more information or to save your place, please RSVP on Eventbrite. 

Participants will gain useful communication and parenting strategies to get children to talk and open up with parents through interactive group discussion, watching demos on parenting skills, and practicing their skills through role play. Also, a father and student who went through depression will share their experience. Topics will include:

  • Building connections with teenage children
  • Bridging the generational and cultural gap with your children
  • De-escalating teenagers’ intense emotions
  • Parents addressing their own anxiety level
  • How to praise and to set limits, friends’ issues, children’s development, conversation on “video games”


On Wednesday, February 20, Paly’s Wellness Team recently collaborated with the Bring Change to Mind Club to sponsor a second semester “Cocoa with Counselors” activity. This activity connected over 300 students with staff therapists, grade-level counselors, psychologists, and school wellness staff. Students got to know the specific staff members to turn to if they, or a friend, need help or support.


In late February, Paly College Advisors visited 10th and 11th grade AVID classes to lead an activity where students use their transcripts to map their progress in achieving A-G course requirements. Advisors marked transcripts to show how California State Universities/University of California (CSU/UC) grade point averages (GPAs) are calculated. Students then tracked their CSU/UC GPA and American College Testing (ACT) or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) (to estimate SAT) scores on the CSU Eligibility Index to check if they’re on target toward meeting eligibility and, if not, see what GPA/score they need to strive toward.  


Gunn counselors are finishing up one-on-one sophomore conferences and will begin meeting with each junior for their individual conference in March. These conferences are a great time to check in on student progress, consider planned coursework, and talk about timelines for post-graduation planning. To support rising 9th graders, Gunn’s school counselors presented to 8th graders at the three PAUSD middle schools and have held one-on-one meetings with over 400 8th graders to discuss and finalize their course selections for the 2019-20 school year.


Health Services partnered with Human Resources to provide TB assessments to over 100 employees on Wednesday, February 27, and Friday, March 1, at the District Office. Certificated and classified employees are required to provide proof that they were examined and found free from active TB at initial hire and every four years after. In January 2015, the mandate was updated to require a TB Risk Assessment in lieu of a TB examination. TB examination through skin test, blood test, or x-ray is only required for those who have identified risks on their TB Risk Assessment responses. The TB Risk Assessment must be completed in a face-to-face encounter with a health care provider. For information on when you are due for a TB assessment and future TB Clinic dates, please contact Human Resources.


Over 50 staff members attended Gender Identity and LGBTQ+ 102 on Monday, February 25. This second LGBTQ+-focused workshop in this Equity Workshop series builds upon participant knowledge and skills by exploring recent research to understand factors that impact LGBTQ+ youth. Participants familiarized themselves with PAUSD policies, California laws, and federal laws that protect LGBTQ+ and transgender students. They also practiced with strategies and language to build awareness, build inclusive practices, and intervene to support students.


This week, 175 pre-kindergarten students at Greendell School participated in the District’s 3rd Annual Young Athletes Day. This two-day event was run as part of the Special Olympics School Partnership program. The aim of the event was to unify students with and without disabilities through sports. The Young Athlete program provided the students with the knowledge, experience, and skills necessary to create and sustain a school community that promotes inclusion, acceptance, and respect for all students. Students of all abilities participated in eight different movements/sports activities and shared their enthusiasm with their families who supported the event and cheered on the students. 

Technology Department


A special thanks to all students and staff for their patience as we worked through internet access issues with our service provider this week. All services should now be restored to full functionality as of Thursday afternoon. In looking back at the reliability of our service, I’d like to share the graph below that was produced from one of our monitoring tools. This graph represents one of the major backbone services we use, and by proxy also monitors internet access. The red represents the number of times we have experienced outages in the past year. With the exception of this week, we’ve enjoyed a very stable connection this school year.

IT Uptime Chart