May 31, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


Our last two meetings of the year are held without a break between them. Our meetings are scheduled for June 11 and June 18. As a result, we are foreshadowing proposed items for both meetings. There is always a chance that things can shift between now and the meetings.

Proposed items for June 11:

  • LCAP presentation
  • Budget presentation
  • Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) plans
  • Middle College update
  • Dyslexia presentation
  • Cell Tower resolution (pending)

Proposed items for June 18:

  • LCAP approval
  • Budget approval
  • SPSA acceptance
  • Art program overview
  • PAUSD Promise approval


We are nearly ready to translate the current portions of the PAUSD Promise into more languages. Additionally, the staff has heard requests for additional clarity around the plan in general. Our team is creating a Year 1 plan that clearly calls out Power Goals.  We intend to identify the most powerful and impactful levers as our non-negotiable goals. Each of the Power Goals will be tied to the specific initiatives that will positively impact the desired outcome from each goal. Finally, the metric for each goal will be identified with a schedule for Board check points throughout the year. For our visual learners:

Power Goals → Discrete Aligned Initiatives → Routine Measurement of Outcomes

I am excited to see energy around the idea of shared or distributive leadership to shape and implement Districtwide initiatives. Human Resources is also using the Power Goal structure to focus on meaningful feedback loops and calibration of evaluations. As a team, we will make progress in each of the areas of the PAUSD Promise, although the Power Goals are designed to address levers that will make us better through focused efforts and alignment of resources. 

Education Services


The Curriculum and Career Education Office, located at our Greendell site, will be processing work permits over the summer. Please visit the District’s Work Permit page for additional information.


Over 100 secondary educators will attend PA-YOU!-SD June 4-6. This professional development opportunity is a series of workshops focused on assessment, instructional agility, and student engagement, in direct support of efforts outlined in the PAUSD Promise in High Quality Teaching and Learning. Specifically, workshops will support teachers and administrators to implement the following key strategies:

  • Analyze formative and summative data to inform instructional next steps.
  • Ensure course-alike teams of teachers have common Learning Targets; common formative and summative assessments; and that teachers communicate Learning Targets to students, both orally and in writing.
  • Ensure course-alike teams of teachers have common grading practices, with increased use of evidence-based grading; revision/retake opportunities; and scaled rubrics based on learning targets, homework load awareness, etc.
  • Pilot alternative homework strategies that result in reduced homework load for students.
  • Teach students to self-assess progress and set goals for next steps.

The conference description reads as follows:

Assessment sits at the center and is the engine behind so many of the systems, structures, routines, and goals of the education system. For students, assessment—done well—provides the understanding, hope, and motivation to build efficacy on the path to achievement. Teachers will learn how to spark a growth mindset in students, avoid the most common mistakes in assessment design and analysis, and collaborate in teams to identify specific learning issues for targeted instructional solutions.

Developing one’s assessment literacy­ – that is, understanding the principles and processes of sound assessment practices – is the most efficient and effective professional investment any educator can make. To teach without assessment is to never quite know whether the intended learning goals are being met, where learners might have some misunderstandings, and what the array of next steps are in order to continue to advance their achievement. Teaching without assessment is not really teaching; it’s delivering information. 

Over the course of the three days, four internationally renowned facilitators will provide keynotes and breakout sessions designed to work toward the following outcomes.

Assessment Architecture

  • Develop a balanced assessment system with formative assessments, summative assessments, and common/collaborative assessments.
  • Acquire processes, tools, and skills for designing and employing quality assessments and attending tools (scales, rubrics, etc.).
  • Apply tools to review and revise assessments to effectively guide instruction, involve students, and communicate learning.

Instructional Agility

  • Analyze data/student work to determine next steps and give effective feedback.
  • Engineer conversations and dialogue to assess in real-time.
  • Design and use homework as a formative assessment tool to impact student learning.

Student Investment and Communication

  • Examine protocols and tools to help students monitor and reflect on their learning, set goals, and track progress.
  • Explore and learn strategies for effective and efficient feedback practices.
  • Explore different grading practices, policies and methods that focus on learning.
  • Learn the systems, structures, and routines that can redefine accountability and reshape a school’s culture.


This time of year, all PAUSD arts programs participate in culminating summative assessments of their chosen art form. Music ensembles are reviewed by industry professionals, in a variety of categories, through sight reading and through performance. Please review the performance scoresheet. In Theatre, through performances, students gain confidence, projection, expression of voice, and improve their speaking skills. Visual Art students at all levels create and display their work at the Palo Alto Art Center and the District Art Show. High school seniors, passionate about visual art, participate in an Advanced Placement class that requires them to collect and share their work from the past four years. Their portfolios are maintained in digital records.


Next week, June 3-7, from 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., rising seniors will be participating in the JUNIOR RISE UP Program. JUNIOR RISE UP, Realizing Individual Success in Education for Undergraduate Preparation, is a summer school program that supports students who will be entering 12th grade, and who will be the first in their family to attend college. Students were identified by the high school counseling departments. The course is a five-day program that focuses on preparing students to apply for college in the fall. On June 5, Academic Supports is hosting a parent night for participating families to discuss the upcoming college application season. Participants also have ongoing access to an English coach for support with writing college essays.


Each year, the City of Palo Alto Utilities generously donates $50,000 to further student learning in the areas of water and/or energy efficiency, and renewable energy. The online grant application allows a teacher, staff member, grade level, department and/or site to apply to use a portion of these funds for projects, speakers, field trips, professional development, and other activities and resources. This year, grant money has been awarded for Marine Science Institute field trips, electric cars, Lego education kits, squishy circuits, energy books, green bikes, Palo Alto Bayland field trips, and more!


Gunn and Paly's Stage Technology and Advanced Stage Technology courses have been approved for dual enrollment through the Theatre Technology program at Foothill College. Students in these courses, taught by Kristen Lo at Gunn and by Kathleen Woods at Paly, will receive college credits for Foothill's THTR45A through THTR45F (Technical Theatre in Production I-IV and Technical Theatre in Management I-II) in addition to high school credit.


The 2019-20 application for renewal has been submitted for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE) grant. 2019-20 marks a shift from the older Perkins IV grant to Perkins V, which includes updated regulations and requirements. Curriculum and Career Education (CCE) has been working with CTE teachers to determine needs for next year and prepare for the updated Perkins V. This annual resource helps fund equipment, field trips, and other vital services that support PAUSD’s CTE courses.


The K-12 SWP budget plan for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) program has been submitted. The funds will be distributed beginning in July. The K-12 SWP was formed “to create, support, and/or expand high-quality career technical education programs at the K-12 level. Funding is intended for efforts that are aligned with the workforce development efforts occurring through the Strong Workforce Program, that are responsive to regional economic priorities, and that increase the transition from secondary to post-secondary and career with an emphasis on a collaborative approach between the K-12 and Community College systems.” (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office)

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Members from the Wellness & Support Services Department attended a webinar sponsored by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) entitled, “Understanding the school impact on academic and social-emotional learning and lessons from the CORE Districts.” CORE districts adopted comprehensive school improvement and accountability systems as a part of their No Child Left Behind Waivers. They discussed the key aspect of California’s new policy approach to use multiple measures data system including local measures of school performance and the importance of using a school growth model to understand school performance. The webinar also highlighted two of the CORE District’s innovative data approaches and their school impact model and student surveys of social-emotional learning. Researchers shared their recent findings on applying a growth model to social-emotional learning surveys, the need for future research and discussed considerations for reporting of academic and social-emotional measures for different purposes and users.


Representatives from the Wellness and Support Services attended the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Conference on May 31. This is the first-ever Suicide Prevention Conference and it is sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) and the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department. This conference will cover topics such as current research and directions in suicide prevention to inform local program and planning efforts, data and best practices from collaborative suicide prevention efforts, and include a celebration of community organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to reducing and preventing suicides in Santa Clara County.


On May 23, members of the Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department and the Wellness and Support Services Department attended the Chronic Absenteeism Data Workshop sponsored by the SCCOE’s Professional Learning and Instructional Support Division. The workshop featured interactive sessions as well as individual District’s teamwork time to use new data analysis tools to analyze student attendance, student academic performance (Ds/Fs) and behaviors. The session was very valuable to understand how to use chronic absenteeism data to reduce student absences, and understanding district data using a multi-tiered system of support framework. After attending, staff members oriented the department with their learning and have started to plan staff training for next year to help site staff access and use the data to inform instruction and interventions.