November 22, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


We only have one more Board meeting before Winter Recess. The tentative schedules for the next two meetings are listed below for review:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

  • Authorization to Bid Refresh of Wired Network Infrastructure (Consent)
  • Authorization to Bid Uninterruptible Power Supply Equipment (Consent)
  • Authorization to Bid Refresh Data Center Servers and Core Networking Equipment (Consent)
  • Equity Snapshot (Report)
  • Special Education (Report)
    • Reviewing and Expanding Continuum of Services
  • Middle School Math (Report)
  • Title IX Student Presentations (Report)
  • New Course Discussion (Discussion)
  • Proposed BoE Calendar for 2020-21 (Discussion)
  • Middle College Expansion (Discussion)
  • Authorization to not extend our Managed Print Services Contract with Pacific Office Automation and re-bid our Hewlett Packard Managed Print Services (Discussion)      
  • Sale of Surplus Equipment (Discussion)
  • Annual Organization Meeting (Action)
  • First Interim (Action)
  • SAT/ACT (Information)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

  • Uniform Complaint (Williams Settlement) (Consent)
  • New Course Approval (Consent)
  • Equity Snapshot (Report)
  • CA School Dashboard (Report)
  • District’s Financial Report for 2018-19 (Report)
  • Auditor’s Report (Discussion)
  • Enrollment Projection Report (Discussion)
  • Parcel Tax (Discussion)
  • School Accountability Report Card (SARC)


I included the message below in our bi-monthly newsletter and wanted to also include it in this publication.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with students from our high schools as part of our new Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. It didn’t take long for them to feel comfortable about sharing their thoughts and opinions about a variety of topics. This didn’t surprise me. I was a little surprised by their strong desire for more uniformity and predictability across our school district. I expected students to hold a higher value for uniqueness and autonomy. Instead, they voiced a desire for our two high schools to look more similar than our current state.

Before we create a panic, our schools should have their own distinct cultures and strengths. The students said that there is value in having a consistent and calibrated curriculum, less dependent upon the individual teacher or school they are assigned. Creativity and innovation are important in Palo Alto and should remain celebrated cornerstones of the District. Our students simply stated that our courses should be recognizable by pace, grading, and outcomes regardless of which room the student is sitting.

Our students were also in favor of aligning the schedules of our two high schools in a way that may allow for more fluidity. They saw the potential in a system that would provide space for teachers and students to be less anchored to a single school from bell to bell. Our current schedules create impenetrable barriers to sharing of resources and collective problem-solving for issues facing all of our students. These viewpoints will be shared with both schools heading into schedule revisions in the future.

My last “take away” from the meeting is that we are clearly doing some things correctly. Our students are articulate, informed, engaged, and on their way to becoming productive citizens. They demonstrated a sense of fairness, global awareness, and a desire to make things better for all. We can all share a little piece of pride in the future leaders we are creating in Palo Alto!

Education Services


PAUSD has submitted a letter of intent to collaborate with WestEd and Concord Consortium on a research project to develop professional learning resources around building data science fluency. If the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding is granted, this project would research the conditions that help secondary teachers gain skills to foster rich data science discourse in students. Selected teachers would design professional learning opportunities and give feedback to support data science instruction.


The Amplify pilot has concluded and participating teachers have switched over to using HMH Science Dimensions materials for November and December. These materials will be on display at each middle school site and at the District Office until winter break. The advisory committee will analyze data from students, teachers, and parents from Amplify Science and HMH Science Dimensions in January. To find out more about the process, visit the Committees and Task Forces tab on the District website.


A newly improved web-based tool to support the implementation of the MTSS framework has been rolled out to all elementary site teams across PAUSD. Created through collaborative efforts from multiple departments, this aligned protocol for MTSS, at all elementary sites, is designed to encourage a collaborative and reflective process while keeping student success as the focus.


This week, two Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) Staff Developers came to Barron Park, a TC Lab School, to work with their teachers and the principal. One of the amazing things about working closely with Teachers College is that teachers learn the latest research-based and classroom-tested techniques the project is now implementing. These new practices and techniques are revised yearly, with the students always at the center of the work. Therefore, this rich and invaluable staff development goes much deeper than the information published in the TCRWP Reading, Writing, and Phonics spirals alone.

On Monday and Tuesday, the primary grade staff developer worked with kindergarten teachers on Shared Reading, an instructional approach in which the teacher explicitly models the strategies and skills of proficient readers. The first-grade staff focused on their next writing unit and tips for increasing writing volume. Finally, the newly published TCRWP Phonics Units of Study was the focus for grade two. They worked on developing best practices for transferring phonics skills into Writing Workshop.  

Wednesday through Friday, the intermediate (3-5) staff developer worked with third-grade teachers to analyze their students’ reading data in order to plan for the needs of all students. Additionally, they learned strategies for using mentor texts to raise the level of student writing. Writing Workshop was the focus of the 4th grade. The trainer taught them the newest thinking around student conferring. Furthermore, she explained the differences between upper and lower grade phonics principles and ways to incorporate them into the TCRWP curriculum. They practiced several cycles of differentiated writing conferences under her guidance. Finally, text complexity was studied by the 5th grade.  These teachers delved into the TCRWP Nonfiction Reading Progressions, studied student work samples and sorted them by skill-level groups to plan the next steps, and learned powerful ways to use nonfiction read-aloud books to support this challenging work. While kindergarten through 5th grades had different focuses, all grade levels worked on differentiation and planning for small groups since this is one of the most efficient ways to help students grow.

This week pushed teachers’ pedagogy and practices on the grade-specific targeted areas, such as writing, phonics, and/or reading. The staff developers instructed the teachers, modeled lessons and small groups in classrooms, coached teachers as they implemented the work with students, debriefed and discussed, planned for the next steps, and developed tools for carrying on this work. Having the time to learn, watch, practice, refine, and set goals for future advancement provides deep and meaningful skill development for the teachers.

Lab school sites (Barron Park, El Carmelo, Nixon, and Palo Verde) are open for all staff to observe and learn the latest phonics, reading, and writing workshop strategies Districtwide.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


Fletcher Middle School Principal, Melissa Howell, with the support of District Office leaders, kicked off the first of many meetings to discuss plans to address the needs of low performing students. The staff participated in a SLOT analysis to identify the school’s Strengths, Limitations, Opportunities, and Threats to collect feedback that will help guide the design for equity and excellence. The work at Fletcher Middle School, coupled with efforts Districtwide, are designed to lead to sustainable improvements in the outcomes for all students. 


Plans are underway for one of the biggest PAUSD events for families. PAUSD has partnered with the PTAC, CAC, PiE, PAH, and parents to make this event even better than last year. The theme for this year’s event is Opening Doors to Student Wellbeing and Success. Topics around supporting diverse learners, health and wellbeing, academic success, and engaging with PAUSD, will provide parents with a variety of takeaways that will help them support their students in school and beyond. This event is all about empowering and engaging our most important partners…our parents!

Many thanks to the entire Equity and Student Affairs Team for leading the planning and logistics to ensure a successful event. We expect to attract over 500 families for this event. For more information on how you can be a part of this special event, please contact Lana Conaway.


PAUSD is conducting its biennial administration of the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys (CalSCHLS). The CalSCHLS is comprised of CHKS, the California School Staff Survey (CSSS), and the California School Parent Survey (CSPS). The CHKS was conducted for students in grades 5, 6, 9 and 11 on November 6-20. The CSSS is currently in its administration phase and has been provided to all site staff members across the District.

The CSPS for parents will be conducted on December 4-18 and will be provided to all parents who have a child currently enrolled in PAUSD. Each family can complete one survey per school regardless of the number of children enrolled in that school. Paper copies, as well as Mandarin and Spanish versions of the survey, are also available at the school sites and events that follow.  

In an effort to increase accessibility and continue providing opportunities to engage and connect with parents, the District will host multiple family outreach events to encourage participation in the survey. All events will have computers loaded with the survey.  

  • Greene Middle School – December 9 & 17, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Barron Park Elementary – December 10 & 19, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • East Palo Alto (Location TBD) – December 18, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

PAUSD has administered the CalSCHLS since 2003 as a crucial method to gather important data on student safety, engagement, and connection in their school community and students’ physical and psychological well-being. Parents are encouraged to participate and talk with their students about this important opportunity to share their experience and perspective. The survey questions can be found on the CHKS PAUSD website. The survey administration is supported by the Department of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA). Use of the data by school leaders, staff, and District committees typically begins in the late spring when results are delivered by the state. 


On Monday, November 18, SWC held its quarterly meeting. The SWC is made up of a group of individuals, representing both the school and the school community, who act collectively to provide support on aspects of school wellness to promote the link between health, safety, and academics, and to assist schools as needed in the areas of student and staff physical, social, and emotional health. 

The agenda items included a review of recent student attendance patterns in the districts. The SWC discussed data that would be helpful to inform sites, families, and student subgroups and engage them in relevant campaigns to improve attendance. The Wellness and Support Services Department, in partnership with Registration Services, has been working to align attendance coding and communication practices at all of our sites. These efforts will continue next semester, including parent outreach to all secondary sites. The SWC also discussed the current administration of CalSCHLS, planning for analysis, and sharing of the results which typically are received in the spring. Council members were asked to encourage parent participation during the survey window on December 4-18. Updates on community and District anti-vaping efforts including recent PAUSD BOARD RESOLUTION  NO. 2019-20.04 were discussed as well as resources available at school and in the community.

SWC members were asked to review the CA Physical Fitness Test and Student Wellness Board Policy 5030 before the next meeting on February 24, 2020, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office. The SWC is looking for redesign ideas to increase impact and participation from all stakeholders. Please email Lissette Moore-Guerra if you have any agenda items you would like to discuss in future meetings.


Congratulations to all of the parents who completed the fall cycle of Parent Project© & Loving Solutions©. The Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) and PAUSD honored the parents and their families on Thursday, November 21, with a graduation ceremony and dinner. Parent Project© is an 11-week parenting skills program that provides practical tools to help parents find solutions in addressing challenging adolescent behaviors and strengthen family unity. Participants expressed their appreciation of the curriculum, discussions, and belonging to a cohort of other parents. Loving Solutions© is a 10-week parenting skills program that targets families with children ages 5-10 who may be exhibiting challenging behaviors. Loving Solutions© utilizes the same principles found successful in Parent Project©, but these principles have been adapted to the needs of younger children. Families that completed the Loving Solutions© program, offered in both English and Spanish, shared that the program was very helpful and they feel more prepared and supported in their parenting efforts.

The next cycle of Parent Project© & Loving Solutions© is scheduled to begin Thursday, January 16, 2020. It will be held each Thursday night from 6:00-9:00 p.m. The program is taught in English and Spanish by instructors from both the PAPD and PAUSD. Dinner and childcare are available for participating families. While there is a nominal cost to participate in the program to cover materials, financial aid is available.

Please contact Agent Brad Young at 650-329-2274 or Lissette Moore-Guerra, LCSW, at 650-329-3722 to save your space. 


Health Services partnered with Human Resources to provide TB Risk Assessments to over 200 employees on Wednesday, November 20, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. 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. This collaboration between Health Services and Human Resources has reduced costs and streamlined this process simplifying the steps staff have to take to fulfill their requirements. For information on when you are due for a TB assessment and future TB clinic dates, please contact Human Resources.


On Tuesday, November 19, Paly’s College and Career Center hosted a workshop for seniors to receive help with their college applications, during Tutorial. Two particular areas students sought help with were how to enter 7th and 8th grade math and world language courses as well as report dual enrollment courses.

Over 200 colleges and universities visited Paly this fall to learn about our school, give updates, and meet with interested students. Many presented the school with their school pennants which are displayed in the center’s conference room and as a part of two inspirational displays. The season of visits from college representatives wraps up as they shift from high school visits to reading college applications.

College BannersCollege Banners


Paly Wellness Center sponsored activities during the last two weeks of November to celebrate Gratitude Month. Many teachers in the Social Studies and English departments participated in creating a chain of gratitude. Students shared on slips of paper something they are truly grateful for. Each of the slips was connected to create a chain of positivity and gratitude, which was displayed in the quad all week. Throughout the week there were Gratefulness Challenge boxes around campus where students filled out postcards with three things that they are grateful for and submit them for a chance to win a prize for them and a friend. On Tuesday, November 19, the Wellness Center hosted Grateful Yoga, guided meditation and gentle yoga class, led by our yoga teacher, where all who participated left feeling more thankful, relaxed, and peaceful! On Wednesday, November 20, the Wellness Team hosted a table for students to write thank you cards and letters. The Wellness Team delivered cards that were written for staff. 

Gunn High School wrapped up Gratitude Month through a couple of activities aimed at giving thanks to ourselves and our community. During flex period, students learned about the importance of self-compassion and were given the task of writing letters to themselves expressing gratitude and kindness to themselves. This is the final task in the series of letters students wrote during flex period in previous weeks to other students and staff to show them appreciation and gratitude. Our two winners were finally chosen for this year’s Gratitude Challenge. Our winners got to pick from a variety of prizes to take home and received a free ticket to this year’s Turkey Feast for which all proceeds go to #TeamTrees to help plant millions of trees through the Arbor Day Foundation.

Technology Department


The existing 11-step process to create a parent account in Schoology will be completely automated starting in January. This means all parents will get Schoology accounts linked to their children automatically and will be accessible through the ID Portal for parents simply by clicking on the icon. This will bring consistency to the login process to our major platforms for all students, parents, and staff. Stay tuned for more information regarding the changes that will occur to existing Schoology parent accounts.

Business Services


The Santa Clara County Office of Environmental Health has approved PAUSD's proposal to remove the packaging from the salad bar items offered at elementary school sites pending a successful pilot of the new program at El Carmelo Elementary School, which will run during December.

The pilot will involve the removal of the plastic portion cups/lids used for cut corn, cut up fruit, and beans and replaces them with stainless steel reusable cups. These cups will be placed on the same reusable lunch collection carts students use for their other reusable lunch ware and washed daily. All other produce will be removed from sealed plastic bags and will be loose in the salad bar just like any other salad bar students would go through in a restaurant environment.

If the pilot is successful, this second phase of Food Services waste reduction will be implemented at all PAUSD elementary schools during the second semester of the school year.

Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department


The public release of the 2019 California School Dashboard (The Dashboard) is scheduled for the week of December 9. The Dashboard provides parents and educators with meaningful information on school and district progress so they can participate in decisions to improve student learning. Each district and school receive scores based on the following indicators: chronic absenteeism, suspension rate, graduation rate, college/career readiness, English language arts, and mathematics. These scores are based on current year results and whether results improved from the previous year. Performance on state measures, using comparable statewide data, is represented by one of five colors. You can view PAUSD’s 2018 scores here. The dashboard indicators are used extensively in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), School Plans for Student Achievement (SPSAs), as well as the PAUSD Promise.


As the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education prepares to launch a study of homework practices and strategies for remediation, REA has been piloting an innovative technology for students to contribute information about their experiences with schoolwork. In addition to a traditional survey going to all secondary students, invited high school students will participate in an Experience Sampling Method (ESM) study that explores both time and affect as the student navigates through school, home, and activities. There are currently seven District staff and two students testing the technology platform; a two-week study with ~150 students is planned to launch in early 2020.


Earlier this week, members of the REA team attended the 98th Annual California Educational Research Association (CERA) conference in Sacramento. The theme was Visualizing California’s Educational Future: Moving from Data to Action. Participants attended a series of lectures and breakout sessions that shared data visualization techniques, new research from across the state, and assessment and accountability updates from the California Department of Education (CDE). They were able to learn from and alongside representatives from other districts and county offices of education throughout the state.