November 8, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


While tentative, the next two agendas are taking shape. The First Interim report occurs in December. This year, we only have one meeting in December. The report is not finalized until November 20. As such, we plan to post the document during the week of November 20. On December 10, we will request a waiver of the two-meeting rule to approve the report. There is no other practical way of handling the item.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 

  • California School Employees Association (CSEA), Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA), Non-represented Groups – Contract Settlement (Consent)
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goal Writing Tool (Report)
  • Elementary and Secondary Dyslexia Update (Report)
  • Parcel Tax Polling Results (Report)
  • Measure Z Construction Update (Discussion)
  • Authorization to Bid Network Refresh (Discussion)
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) Battery Backup Units (Discussion)
  • Work-Force Analysis (Information)
  • Blended Learning (Information)
  • Quarterly Strong Schools Bonds Measure A and Measure Z Progress Report (Information)
  • Homework (Information)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

  • Resolution Amending Conflict of Interest Code (Consent)
  • Special Education (Report)
    • Post-Secondary Options
    • Non-Public School Reduction Options
  • Middle School Math (Report)
  • Title IX Student Presentations (Report)
  • New Course Discussion (Discussion)
  • Proposed Board of Education (BoE) Calendar for next year (Discussion)
  • Middle College Expansion (Discussion)
  • Annual Organization Meeting (Action)
  • First Interim (Action) – Item will be posted on November 20 for public
  • Authorization to Bid Network Refresh (Action)
  • First Interim (Action)
  • SAT/ACT (Information)


Students from Gunn and Paly attended the first advisory group meeting to discuss topics affecting students. As expected, the students were engaged, articulate, passionate, and fun! They expressed a desire for more consistency between the two schools, which was slightly surprising. That’s why we ask the questions! More meetings are scheduled throughout the year.

Education Services


Since the Superintendent’s weekly communication with the Board and larger community on October 11, 2019, a team of staff from all three middle schools and the District Office have been engaging in a reimagination of the middle school math program. The team has been meeting weekly and working through the multiple elements required to evaluate the current status of the program and create a plan for moving forward that improves the experiences and outcomes for all students.  

This task is complex and involves analyzing performance data, researching best practices, determining metrics for evaluation, looking at models from other districts, etc.  Several experts in the field of education are supporting the work of the team through consultations. Jo Boaler, the Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University and faculty director of youcubed, has provided insight about mathematics instruction in the 21st century and will continue to provide support to the team as it relates to the way in which mathematics instruction is delivered. Linda Darling Hammond, President of the California State Board of Education and founder of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, has been consulted on her work in the state to identify positive outliers in closing achievement gaps and for her expertise on designing equity-focused programs. Finally, David Foster, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (SVMI), will be providing guidance to the team related to performance-based assessment that helps students and teachers better understand the thought process used to solve complex problems and identify where students have misconceptions.


In an awards ceremony on November 2, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) won the 21st Annual Service Above Self Employer of the Year Award, for its sponsorship of the Project Search program, run by PAUSD and Hope Services.

This award, provided by San Andreas Regional Center, specifically targets individuals or organizations who go above and beyond in serving individuals with developmental disabilities.

Project Search is funded through the PAUSD Special Education Department. The program serves 18-year-old students who are selected through an interview process involving staff of PAUSD, Hope Services, and LPCH. Students participate in a year-long program, rotating through various hospital departments, leading to a placement in gainful employment.


The Special Education Department received the 2018-19 Disproportionality data from the California Department of Education (CDE) on November 5. As anticipated, PAUSD had a third year of disproportionality in Indicator 10, Specific Learning Disability, for African American and Hispanic students, qualifying the District as significantly disproportionate. Indicator 10 is defined as the rate of racial and ethnic disproportionality by disability. Disabilities that are considered for this indicator are Autism, Emotional Disturbance, Intellectual Disabilities, Other Health Impairments, Specific Learning Disabilities, and Speech or Language Impairment.

Why is PAUSD disproportionate and how is disproportionality calculated?

A district with three consecutive years of disproportionate representation in any one indicator is considered Significantly Disproportionate. The CDE Data Evaluation and Analysis Unit (DEA) extracts data from the California Special Education Management Information System (CASEMIS) and California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), and calculates a risk ratio. Any Local Education Agency (LEA) over the threshold of three is found to be disproportionate in that indicator.

The department has already begun working on exploring corrective actions to take as we move forward.


Elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) and the Secondary Science TOSA led this month's Wednesday Workshop on NGSS: Inquiry in Five Steps. The workshop focused on how teachers can promote inquiry in science to match NGSS practices. 

Scientific inquiry begins with the teacher trying to ignite curiosity by introducing a phenomenon, an observable event in the natural world, or a problem. Students try to make sense of it. Next, students wonder and ask lots of questions. They determine which questions can be tested, and begin constructing scientific explanations through models. At this point, students will often plan and carry out investigations. Finally, the students refine their explanations or engage in augmentation. They look at their evidence, make their claim, and justify their findings.

In the past, science teachers lectured, provided a vocabulary list, assigned readings on a topic, and discussed the topic with the class. Then students investigated the concepts through experiments, etc. Test results determined mastery of the material. 

With NGSS, teachers introduce a lesson with an overarching storyline and/or anchoring phenomenon. Students are at the center of learning and sensemaking. They ask questions, develop theories and models, and test them. The teacher acts more as a facilitator and will clear up misconceptions or missing pieces later in the process through lectures, readings, videos, or additional experiments. Furthermore, vocabulary is introduced later, after the students have experiences with the concepts. Rather than ending the unit with a test, students demonstrate an understanding of the concepts through models, posters, technology, data, explanation, etc. The process is usually seen as more valuable than the product.


Elementary Spectra Art

The Elementary Spectra Art Team (18 visual artists) engaged for their fourth professional learning event of the year. Having the opportunity to practice being a student is so important to adults who engage with young people. This week we continued to model, practice, and demonstrate “checking for understanding” while creating collaborative art projects. Teachers learned to create symbols that represent family and community as they designed their original work, collaborating and incorporating their visions of family and symbols in trees. Their products, along with PAUSD faculty art, will be on display in the District Office starting Monday, November 11.

Middle School Art

Students at Greene Middle School finished their Clay unit by putting the finishing touches on their creations. Greene runs five sections of Clay classes. These creations will dry for a week, be glazed by students, and then fired in one of Greene’s four kilns.


Fourth graders at all elementary schools started playing their recorders this month. Learning to cover eight holes, blow the correct amount of air, use the tongue to separate the notes, and read music are all combined skills students strive to acquire throughout their 4th grade music classes.

Greene Middle School Choir presented its first concert of the year. The program included a lesson on solfege for the audience, ukuleles accompanying one of the pieces, and audience participation, singing a round, “Belle Mama.”


Two high school productions begin next week: Almost Maine at Paly and The Importance of Being Earnest at Gunn.


All K-2 students participate in seven weeks of dance instruction provided by a dance teaching artist, and sponsored by Partners in Education (PiE). This program is the result of a partnership with the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


On November 3, Paly’s First-Generation Advisor and College Advisor, took seven seniors to tour five colleges and universities in Southern California. Paly hopes to hold another Southern California College Tour with the AVID junior class and first-generation college-bound students during spring semester.

On November 4, the College and Career Center (CCC) hosted former Paly counselor and Middlebury alum, Paige Johnson, who gave a presentation to seniors on how to prepare for college interviews. In addition, the CCC offered a college application workshop for students applying to non-Common Application Colleges on November 5.

The LatinX Club, sponsored by CCC advisor, celebrated the Day of the Dead on November 8 in the Quad at lunch. They offered students an opportunity to decorate sugar skulls, play games, and learn more about the holiday. They also set up an altar in front of Guidance to celebrate the lives of important Latino figures who have passed. 


On Saturday, November 2, Paly and Gunn Wellness teams took part in the Youth Community Service and Search Institute’s workshop on strengthening families and developmental relationships. The Wellness Centers hosted a booth before and after the event and discussed wellness resources with parents. During the event, the Wellness team and community partners from the YMCA and Project Safety Net discussed the developmental relationship framework being presented, and addressed how it applies to our work with youth.

The Sources of Strength program at Paly is now hosting regular “Open Meetings” on the second Tuesday (during tutorial) and fourth Thursday (during lunch) of every month. These meetings create a regularly occurring space for Paly students and staff to come and learn from each other’s life experiences. Every meeting follows the same structure, beginning with a student or staff member sharing a struggle they’ve faced in their life, the sources of strength they drew upon to help them, and how this positively affected their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Free discussion is then invited in small groups on a related question or topic, giving everyone a chance to share. These meetings openly acknowledge the ups and downs of the human experience, affirming we are not alone and hope, help, and strength can be found all around us. Information about these meetings will be shared across campus so all students and staff know when and where they are available to attend throughout the year. The next meeting will be held during tutorial on Tuesday, November 12, in Room P11.

Tuesday, November 5, was the start of Gratitude Month at Gunn. During flex time, students played a Jeopardy game that promoted gratitude and appreciation for cultures around the world.

Technology Department


A group of 13 teachers, from elementary, middle, and high schools have volunteered as members of the CRPG for this school year. This group has already had two meetings and will be meeting monthly to pilot new devices and discuss multiple options to replace the aging SMARTBoard infrastructure across the District. Each teacher will be trying different configurations of classroom hardware including device agnostic, untethered devices that either allow for touch capability on a larger classroom flat panel or through teacher touch devices. The group is tasked with experimenting with these new classroom options and recommending possible solutions for the future of PAUSD classrooms. The dedication and expertise of the CRPG teachers is appreciated and shows a deep dedication to improving classroom experiences for both teachers and students in PAUSD.

Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department


The REA team partnered with Wellness & Support Services to host a professional learning day for middle school counselors on Thursday, November 7. Middle school counselors worked with a Naviance representative to plan how to leverage Naviance to support students’ social emotional development and exploration of life and career planning. 

Counselors from all three middle schools participated and learned about Naviance features including the Strengths Finder, Career Cluster Finder, and the Roadtrip Nation Video Series that follows professionals as they describe their career and life paths. The counselors designed their school Naviance platform and planned common lessons for piloting. This middle school pilot supports several aspects of the PAUSD Promise including Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Equity, & High-Quality Teaching and Learning and will expand on existing college, career and life readiness programming. 

Naviance is a helpful tool for building student and family awareness of the wide variety of college and career paths and navigating the post high school planning process. This tool can be especially beneficial to first-generation college students and families. Naviance also includes free test prep for the SAT and ACT exams, financial planning support for parents, a comprehensive scholarship database, and school-specific estimated aid packages based on family need.  


PAUSD school sites are in the process of conducting their biennial administration of the CHKS on November 6-20 to students in grades 5, 7, 9, and 11. PAUSD has administered the CHKS since 2003 as a crucial method to gather important data on student safety, engagement, and connection in their school community and student 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, as well as the Permission Form for 5th Graders, can be found on the CHKS PAUSD website.