November 2, 2018

Superintendent’s Office


The Board of Education has settled on a Stanford GUP Study Session for November 14 at 6:30 p.m. This meeting is the day after our regular Board meeting on November 13. We appreciate the attention given to this important topic.

The Stanford GUP outlines roughly 2.3 million square feet of academic buildings and an additional 3,000 beds in over 500 housing units. For context, the Empire State Building in New York is 2.7 million square feet. The proposed permit is the largest in the history of Santa Clara County.

We encourage community members to attend this meeting and to participate in the discussion. We have also invited representatives from Stanford University and Santa Clara County to attend and share their thoughts publicly. We are framing up the agenda, but are currently proposing the following:

  • Explain the Stanford GUP process
  • Outline the proposed housing development project and impact upon PAUSD
  • Discuss enrollment projections
  • Provide context to per pupil funding impacts of adding students in tax exempt properties
  • Share impact of proposal to add housing without dedicating land for a “community” school

A final agenda item will be provided by next week. 


We distributed our (first edition of the PAUSD School News Roll Call), including 9,500 printed copies at no charge to the District. Despite MANY eyes on the document, I found a typo in my own section! Despite that flaw, the publication is getting nice reviews.


We are evaluating our hiring, development, and retention practices to determine how we can best serve our students. As an organization with a $248 million budget, it is essential to have a system in place that reflects our commitment to having “best in class” talent in every position. Recommendations will be provided to the Board soon.


Several teachers across PAUSD are piloting different approaches to homework. I met with students at two of our middle schools to get their thoughts on the pilots, and homework in general. It is too early to reach conclusions at this point. I am encouraged to see our teachers recognize that there is an opportunity to look at the topic of homework differently. I would expect to have some more definitive feedback in the near future.


Agenda items for November 13 are still subject to additions, deletions, and revisions. At this point, the following items are tentatively scheduled for our next meeting:

    • Director of Agile Teams Job Description
      As part of the routine business of our Human Resources office, a job description has been created for a Director of Agile Teams to manage, coordinate, and support the work around “sprint goals” and flexible teams. The only official action is to approve a job description. 
    • Veteran Affairs (VA) Hospital Partnership
      Dave Hoshiwara and his team will share the PAUSD partnership with the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. Special needs students receive valuable vocational experience while serving our veterans. 
    • Kid-by-kid Meetings
      Hillary Miller, Principal of Palo Verde Elementary, and Chris Grierson, Principal of Duveneck Elementary, will share a “best practice” of discussing every student with teams to support their unique needs. 
    • Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB)
      PAUSD management team and our two professional associations, Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA), attended a joint-training to discuss a possible method of negotiating. While no formal decision has been made, the Board will receive a brief overview of Interest-Based Bargaining. There is no action required.
    • Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) Resource Officer Agreement
      After receiving feedback on the initial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement, the staff and PAPD have worked on a different approach to clarify the financial agreement between our two entities. We have a little work to complete before this item is ready to post next week. It is of enough importance to foreshadow that we intend to move the agreement forward. If the item appears on this agenda, it will not be agendized for immediate action.
    • California Dashboard Local Indicators
      A requirement of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process is to share our local measurement indicators. There is no action required.
    • Data Report
      Our Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) and Research, Evaluation and Assessment (REA) Department will present a comprehensive written report as an attached document on the agenda. The presentation will focus on subgroups and students not experiencing academic success as measured by meeting “standard” (Level 3) on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) exam. The presentation will not go through all data in the written report. Everyone is encouraged to review the written report in advance and think about questions that may come from the data. There is no action required.
    • Action Agenda Items
      We learned at our last meeting that we need to keep a section for Action in the event that a Consent item is pulled. Action sections are reserved for items not routine enough for placement on the Consent section. 
    • Summer School
      A brief update will be attached regarding a minor shift in the duration of summer school sessions at the elementary and middle school levels. There is no proposed revision to the high school program.

Education Services


With the fourth consistent year of administering the CAASPP assessment, we are able to evaluate student performance by matched cohort. The matched cohorts are the same group of students who have attended Palo Alto schools for each administration of the assessment. 

Last week, we shared the current 6th grade cohort data for English-Language Arts (ELA). This week we are sharing the 6th grade cohort’s data for Mathematics, adding in the current 9th grade cohort results over time. Next week, we will share the 9th grade cohort data for ELA. The benefit of looking at matched cohort data is to observe student achievement over time. Analysis of the data will lead to identification of strategies to implement and evaluate for impact. 

Upon review of the cohort data, we learned that the current 6th grade cohort, as an entire group, has consistently performed above the state standard on the Mathematics portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), with a decrease in the distance from standard of 15 points in 5th grade. Hispanic/Latino students’ growth kept pace with the state standard until 5th grade, when there was a significant drop of 35 points below benchmark. The Hispanic/Latino group was consistently below the District average. Socio-economically disadvantaged Hispanic/Latino students scored below state standard in 3rd grade by 26 points on average. That gap widened over time to 85 points below state standard in 5th grade. All socio-economically disadvantaged students scored, on average, 14 points below standard in 3rd grade, with their distance from standard doubling year after year from 3rd to 5th grade.

Analysis of the current 9th grade cohort reveals similar trends to the current 6th grade cohort. Overall, the cohort performance on the Smarter Balanced Mathematics assessment continues to improve over time. Upon a disaggregated review of data, we are able to see the performance of students by sub-group. This particular set of slides shows identifiers for ethnicity and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Just as the younger cohort, Asian and White students perform significantly above standard; by 99 points in 8th grade. Hispanic/Latino students in the cohort perform slightly below standard: five points below standard in 8th grade. When the additional factor of economic status is factored in, the performance of Hispanic/Latino students drops significantly: 67 points below standard for 8th grade. 

This data has been shared with site administrators, and discussions about how to best utilize the data are already under way. In addition, the administrators are compiling a list of additional reports that would be helpful in drilling down into the information. This work is ongoing.

Last week, middle school math teachers convened for a joint meeting. The 6th and 7th grade teachers engaged in finding and using detailed assessment data to impact their classroom work with students. Once students’ achievement with specific topics were identified, teachers discussed differentiation, including regrouping, creating or finding interventions, and utilizing extensions. The 8th grade teachers discussed methods of support and intervention for struggling students, as well as rethinking the teaching of math concepts from a problem-based structure.


The Elementary TOSA Team recently rolled out Lab Days and Wednesday Workshops for teacher professional development around English Language Arts, Math Differentiation, Science, or Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI): Social Studies Alive! Lab Days follow the Teachers College model, where one grade-level previews, co-teaches, debriefs, and plans for next steps around a chosen lesson. Two grade-levels will meet with a TOSA per day.  New this school year, Wednesday Workshops are offered once a month after school. Teachers sign up for workshops based on a variety of topics to support instruction and foster professional learning.


Sixth grade Computers Wheel teachers received training in the implementation of coding with emotive Artificial-Intelligent robots. After the training, the teachers prepared a dozen common lessons to implement this semester. Students will learn the variety of actions that can be taken by the robot, and work on solving problems or challenges with the robots. All students will plan their program using a flowchart; implementing and revising their program; and reflecting on what they’ve learned. There are three different environments for coding: interconnected coding, block coding, or JavaScript. Differentiation is built into the module, including levels of challenge and choice in implementation.


During the high school Computer Science meeting, participants considered California Computer Science Standards that could be integrated into core subject matter, as well as a stand-alone one-semester Computer Science course. In order to create opportunities for all students to learn some Computer Science concepts, core classes required for every student were considered for integration. Such integration assumes that although some coding may be learned, the focus would remain on the core subject matter. Any recommendations for integration would be proposed in the appropriate steering meeting.

A one-semester course would benefit students who believe they should have a focused Computer Science experience before leaving high school, but do not wish to commit to a year-long introductory course. The development of a shorter course would provide experiences that meet the majority of the California Computer Science Standards and would be accessible to all high school students.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Wellness Center staff hosted a student fishbowl at the October 24 Paly staff meeting to improve student well-being, equity, and access. School Climate & Culture TOSA facilitated the activity in which historically under-represented (HUR) students were invited to participate and share their experiences. During the fishbowl learning activity, Paly staff listened as juniors and seniors shared their experiences in PAUSD and what teachers and staff can do to make Paly a better learning environment for HUR students.


On Wednesday, October 10, Gunn freshmen and sophomores spent the day with their SELF cohorts participating in a variety of activities. Freshmen started the day collaborating with their cohort members to escape from the Escape Rooms. Students had to work together to find objects around the room and solve different types of puzzles and challenges to complete the tasks. In preparation for Homecoming, they then participated in field games competing against other cohorts.

Sophomores spent time learning about different education and career pathways, and post-high school community members shared their experiences and pathways to “success” in life and career. Guest speakers included: employees from Comcast Sports Network and NBC Sports; former Santa Clara County district attorney; manager of Twitter's Live Video; as well as many other. After hearing stories from the community, sophomores could do their own exploration about their interests using our different surveys available through Naviance, the District’s college and career preparation platform.


Wellness & Support Services and the REA Departments hosted a Design Thinking activity at the Student Wellness Council meeting on October 18. Members of the council brainstormed ways to engage students making sense of recent trends in student data to learn what would help target improvements. Student outreach will be a “Sprint Challenge” priority project for the Student Wellness Council in collaboration with Wellness and Support Services, and Research Evaluation and Assessment Departments. The Council’s next meeting is January 23, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. in the SDC at the District Office.

On October 22, Wellness and Support Services staff participated in a meeting hosted by the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s (SCCOE) Safe and Healthy Schools Department. The following was discussed:

  • The Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) meeting highlighted the need to continue our prevention and interventions efforts to decrease our youth’s use of tobacco, vapes, marijuana, JUUL, and Hookah. PAUSD is a Tier 1 grantee on year two of a three-year grant.
  • The Foster Youth/McKinney-Vento Liaison meeting discussed support for students and families. This included a transportation MOU for foster youth, which will be shared with all Santa Clara County District Superintendents for review and execution.


On November 1, the Department of Special Education hosted its monthly Special Education Parent Forum. This monthly forum was designed to engage parents in discussions about special education and related topics. The evening began with a gallery walk. Participants were asked to walk around to each of the whiteboards and identify “glows and grows” related to their experience with special education in their child’s school. Topics included: transition services, Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, programs and services, staff responsiveness, and the school environment.

Dr. Rita Rodriguez provided parents with a session titled, “A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Dyslexia and Supports.” At the end of each session, the Department of Special Education regularly solicits feedback with a program survey. These ongoing efforts to engage, empower, educate, and learn from parents will continue to assist the District’s Leadership Team in making meaningful improvements in the Special Education Program.

Weekly Glows and Grows

Technology Department


We have various tools that monitor components of our network infrastructure and supported services. Today we are launching a public status page that provides a high level overview of selected services, in both our data center, as well as connectivity between our sites. The page can be found at:


Launching today will be a new look to the menu on our District website. This change brings our menu and search features in compliance with mandated website accessibility standards. The entire menu can be navigated with only a keyboard, as well as being more friendly to individuals accessing our website with screen readers.