October 11, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


The next three tentative agendas are provided below and are subject to change. Our October 15 meeting will have a couple of very interesting items. We will have a substantive discussion regarding staff housing. There is no action required and no established timeline for any decisions.

We will share CAASPP results in several formats. Global results are agendized as an attachment, while most of our time will be spent examining subgroup performance.

Mike Jacobs will also lead us through our first safety presentation. It will be the first of many updates leading to future decision points.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 (moved from October 22)

  • Uniform Complaint (Williams Settlement) (Consent)
  • Solar Amendments (Consent)
  • Developer Fees (Report)
  • Escondido and Barron Park Testing Results / Highlights (Report)
  • Career Themed Pathways (Report)
  • Physical Safety and Start of Year Procedures (Report)
  • CAASPP  – Distance from Standard (Report)
  • Board Bond Advisory Committee (BBAC) (Action)
  • Staff Housing (Discussion)
  • All CAASPP (Information)
  • Parcel Tax Oversight Committee Report (Information)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  • Social-Emotional Learning (Report)
  • MTSS (Report)
  • District Alignment to Goals Update (Report)
  • CASSY Counselors (Report)
  • Progress of Cubberley Lease Between PAUSD and City of Palo Alto (Report)
  • Elementary and Secondary Dyslexia Update (Report)
  • Rail Committee Update (Report)
  • Disciplinary Practices and Student Outcomes (Discussion)
  • Science Instructional Materials Recommendation Update (Discussion)
  • Bell Schedules/Later Start Time/Common Schedules (Discussion)
  • First Quarter D/F Report (Information)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 

  • First Interim Report (Report)
  • Work-Force Analysis (Report)
  • Blended Learning (Report)
  • Local Assessments – Elementary Literacy (Report)
  • Parcel Tax Polling Data (Report)
  • IEP Goal Writing Tool (Report)
  • Progress of Cubberley Lease Between PAUSD and City of Palo Alto (Report)
  • Title IX Student Presentations (Report)
  • Elementary Principal Professional Learning Community – Barron Park and Escondido Update (Report)
  • Measure Z Construction Update (Discussion)


Our performance indicators for middle school subgroups remained mixed with some areas worthy of concern.  As the Superintendent of Schools, I have directed our Educational Services team and site principals to reengage in a complete evaluation of our current programmatic policies and practices. Specifically, I have directed the team to engage our teachers to evaluate the mathematics program and return with recommendations prior to Winter Recess. They have been asked to consider the following:

  • Historic outcomes for HUR and economically disadvantaged students
  • Acceleration opportunities
  • Placement practices, including the number of exams and cut scores
  • Potential to add a non-honors Geometry course
  • Sharing of placement scores with parents
  • Philosophical reasons for current grouping at 6th grade
  • Increasing services for struggling students
  • Examination of 5th grade dips prior to entering middle school
  • Evaluating existing instructional time that could extend learning in math
  • Unintended consequences of grouping students differently
  • Naming of mathematics courses (using numbers 6, 7, 8 vs. titling courses by content)
  • Homework practices
  • Teacher credentialing issues for content-specific courses

Our team sees this evaluation process as an opportunity to challenge past assumptions and look for the next right answers. Our secondary math leaders are together on October 22 and will be leads in this discussion. The three principals will lead site efforts and broaden the conversation to include School Site Councils and PTA. I anticipate great energy around these topics and have full faith in our ability to improve the experience and outcomes for all involved.

    Education Services


    Elementary and Secondary Special Education Directors attended a county training on discipline alternatives to support student growth. As part of the Districtwide Staff Development Day on October 11, 2019, the Special Education Department will host various workshops, including training for Instructional Aides, to support development within their roles and responsibilities. Also, Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and Resilience and Engagement for Every Learner (REEL) will collaborate on providing training for teachers.


    On Friday, October 11, 2019, the elementary PK-5 staff will meet at Gunn High School for Powerful Practices 5.0. This is an all-staff professional learning day with most of the presentations and trainings given by PAUSD teachers. The elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) have been working for several months to design a day that includes content related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), instructional practices, and inclusion strategies for all elementary teachers, administrators, specialists, and student attendants.

    This year, Powerful Practices 5.0 will offer teachers 59 sessions from 50 PAUSD staff presenters, and nine outside staff development pros from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, San Jose State University, Resilience and Engagement for Every Learner (REEL), Acknowledge Alliance, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, and our keynote speaker, Jonathan Mooney. Mr. Mooney is a highly sought-after speaker on neurodiversity, education reform, and the learning revolution.

    The sessions include a wide variety of topics, such as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) phenomena lessons, math differentiation, digital literacy, learning challenge simulations, classroom supports for students with dyslexia, and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). All 550 PK-5 staff members will have an opportunity to attend three sessions of their choosing.


    Full-day kindergarten began this week. A full-day kindergarten program allows students increased opportunities to participate in structured social activities and enrichment. Kindergarteners across the District will now be participating in additional activities, including Physical Education and Visual and Performing Arts.


    At the October 15, 2019, Board of Education Meeting, the Distance from Standard (DFS) data report will be shared. DFS is the distance a student scores above or below the minimum Standard Met (Level 3) scale score on the Smarter Balanced component of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Understanding DFS allows us to better describe student growth and quantify performance gaps.

    The report will show Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) cohort data of English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics results from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, for our current 6th and 9th-grade groups of students.


    Innovation & Agility-Curriculum and Career Education (CCE) continues to provide support for various career-themed pathways and work-based learning.

    • October 8, 2019 - First AAR mentor/student forum at Paly
    • October 15, 2019 - First AAR mentor/student forum at Gunn
    • October 18, 2019 - Fall Career and Job Fair at Paly
    • October 25, 2019 - Fall Career and Job Fair at Gunn

    This continued level of community engagement provides our students with opportunities to gain real-world experiences, pursue student interests and passions, foster connections that go beyond the classroom experience, and gain skills that prepare them for future careers

    Department of Equity and Student Affairs


    On October 7, over 30 PAUSD employees, including classroom teachers, principals, and district office personnel met to kick off the 2019 Equity Initiative. The theme for the evening was “Transformational Change Starts with You.” Milton Reynolds, Equity Consultant, provided opening words to inspire and encourage the group to look closely at our history and to understand the cultural psychology of racism in education. Staff members shared their individual commitment to equity and some shared personal stories related to navigating the PAUSD environment as a member of a historically underrepresented group. We were also pleased to welcome, Jennifer DiBrienza, Board President, who stopped by to support the work of the team. The group discussed educational equity and adopted a definition that reflects our understanding that true equity is dependent on addressing inequities at multiple levels. We define Educational Equity as  “The educational policies, practices, and programs that reflect explicit efforts to eliminate educational barriers and provide equal educational opportunities so that historically underserved or underrepresented students meet the same rigorous standards for academic performance expected of all children and youth," (Corwin, 2003).

    Equity team members ended the evening with the following stated commitments to:

    • Champion a vision for equity and empower and encourage others to participate.
    • Use data to surface root causes and foster insight into inequitable outcomes.
    • Publicly commit to equity and have the courage to openly talk about race.
    • Understand and acknowledge power, privilege, and oppression as factors shaping inequitable outcomes.
    • Have the courage to respectfully disrupt unconscious bias in conversations and behaviors of our colleagues and our students.
    • Intervene to stop inequitable practices even when it is uncomfortable to do so.


    The Saturday program is funded by the Low Performance Student Grant through the California Department of Education. The grant is one-time monies from the state that is meant to target students who scored a 1 or 2 on the CAASP, and are not identified as special education. The Office of Academic Supports coordinates the program and will be sending invites to eligible middle school students. The fall SABE program will focus on mathematics, and the spring SABE program will shift to literacy. Students will rotate among three classes; math Dreambox class, math application, and a test taking strategy component. The Dreambox program is computer-based, interactive, and adjusts to student levels. The teacher is able to view student progress and identify in real time areas of student need and pull a student to provide individualized instruction. Students will be provided a brunch during the day. The SABE program will begin on October 19 at Fletcher Middle School and on October 26 at Greene and JLS Middle Schools. Invitations for all programs are being sent this week.


    The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education held a Truancy Abatement Workshop last week. Assistant supervisors of attendance for PAUSD attended to learn the impact of chronic absenteeism in grades K-3, truancy laws, District Attorney Mediation, and the steps taken if a school district refers a family with students enrolled in 1st and 8th grades to court prosecution. In addition, the Safe and Healthy Schools Department Director discussed the shift from truancy to chronic absenteeism, the use of data, and creating interventions under a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework.


    Gunn’s Wellness Team hosted activities focused on staying calm during challenging times. The team supported the school disaster drill on October 8 by preparing an emotional triage station including a de-escalation kit filled with fidget toys, cards, books, coloring pages, and soft pillows to support students while in a schoolwide crisis or natural disaster. This week’s Flex Time activity focused on debriefing, relaxing, and using meditation practices to stay grounded during a crisis moment and centering after.


    The Sources of Strength program at Paly held its annual peer leader training on Tuesday October 8. Approximately 30 students from all grade levels along with five staff mentors attended. Sources of Strength is an “upstream” mental health and wellness program that leverages the connections that exist between its peer leaders and their social networks to spread messages of hope, help, and strength. Sources of Strength aims to foster safe, authentic, and compassionate connections between students and their peers as well as trusted adults on campus. The ultimate goal is to strengthen resilience on campus while also increasing help-seeking behavior. At the training, peer leaders and adult mentors practiced how to talk about their struggles in healthy ways. Focusing on the protective factors in their lives, they draw upon during those times of struggle. They also practiced the core components of listening with empathy; and validating and supporting not fixing problems for others. Members from the School Counseling and Wellness Team shared about services Paly provides, their personal experiences, shared advice for ways of knowing that others are struggling, how to support them, and assist them in getting help. Dr. Shashank Joshi, a Stanford Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Development & Psychiatry partners with Sources of Strength at Gunn and Paly, shared his perspective as a youth mental health and wellness professional. The Sources of Strength Peer Leaders will work as agents of positive social change, helping to shift cultural norms and promote an epidemic of strength in our school community.


    The JLS School Counselors held the first mentor lunch on Tuesday, October 9. The Mentor Program is designed to build relationships between students and staff through individual check-ins and during lunch events throughout the year including cookie decorating and ice cream social to seal the end of the year. The purpose of the mentor program is to link students with a trusted adult on campus helping them feel more connected to school and the JLS Community. Participation in the program is voluntary for both students and staff. Students in need of extra care, those whom have not yet connected with many people on campus or whom might be experiencing challenges at school or home life are recommended by staff to participate. The staff mentors commit to checking in with students once or twice a month in addition to the lunch time gatherings hosted by the Counseling Team.


    The Palo Alto Unified School District fosters a culture that promotes the health, safety, and well-being of students, staff, and parents. In an effort to continuously support this commitment, the District has approved an agreement with Care Solace.

    Care Solace is an online resource with a live 24/7 concierge line meant to assist individuals in finding local mental health related programs and counseling services. To use Care Solace, individuals answer ten basic questions in order to receive an extensive list of referrals to applicable care providers. Care Solace takes into account all types of private insurance including Medi-Cal, Medicaid, and Medicare and those that have no insurance. The system also filters by age, gender, zip code, and special requests.

    Care Solace is now available for use by Palo Alto students, staff, and families at no cost. Please note, this service is an optional resource available by choice and is not mandatory in any way. Care Solace does not require a user’s name, address, phone number, or date of birth. All of the information that is entered on their platform is completely confidential and stored securely.

    If you are interested in seeking counseling-related services at this time, please consider visiting Care Solace.


    During Friday’s Professional Learning Day, staff who support student physical and mental health participated in trainings and collaboration designed to develop and share best practices for supporting student health and wellbeing. Topics included: 504 Processes & Current Legal Guidelines, Social Emotional Learning: College, Career Life Readiness, Naviance College & Career Preparation Platform, Vulnerable Student Protocols, Suicide Prevention and First Aid Team Best Practices. The Health Services Team trained on responding to school emergencies where there are mass casualties and learned specialized triage procedures.

    Business Services


    Five of six PAUSD sites have completed solar energy arrays, and the sixth and final installation is scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving at Ohlone Elementary School. The completed arrays are located at Fletcher Middle School, JLS Middle School, Palo Alto High School, Nixon Elementary School, and Escondido Elementary School. All of the arrays are ground mounted, either as play field shade structures or parking lot shade structures, and an additional array at JLS is roof mounted. The Ohlone array will be a roof mounted structure. The entire solar portfolio is a power purchase agreement (PPA) in partnership with REC Solar, a subsidiary of Duke Energy.  

    Duke Energy owns and maintains the PAUSD arrays and sells the clean energy they produce at a predetermined rate that is below market rates, even as the cost of electricity is projected to escalate over time. Duke and PAUSD have twice negotiated these rates, as the result of federal tariffs on both solar panels and steel were enacted during the construction process. Currently, the rates are being finalized, and the PPA includes a potential seventh year buyout option, should PAUSD decide to own the panels outright. The portfolio totals over a megawatt of energy, and offers PAUSD the ability to generate a significant amount of energy on site. This alleviates demand on the overall electric grid, while the grid faces ever growing consumption as electric vehicles and a move away from natural gas become prevalent in the Bay Area.


    The Paly Science Addition foundation rebar installation is in progress and anticipated to be completed by mid of October 2019. The anchor bolts for structural steel are being set concurrently with the rebar. After the approval of rebar and anchor bolts installation by the structural engineer, foundation concrete pour will follow. Concrete pour is tentatively scheduled for the end of next week. Once the foundation concrete has been poured, slab on grade forms, under slab plumbing, and electrical will begin.

    Paly Science Addition

    Technology Department


    Understand your digital profile

    Internet-based devices are present in every aspect of our lives: at home, school, work, and on the go. Constant connection provides opportunities for innovation and modernization, but also presents opportunities for potential cybersecurity threats that can compromise your most important personal information. Understand the devices and applications you use every day to help keep you and your information safe and secure. Below are links to tip sheets produced by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Traveling Tips
    Online Privacy
    Social Media
    Internet of Things

    Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Department


    On January 1, 2014, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System was established. The CAASPP System includes several state-mandated assessments including Smarter Balanced (SBAC) and California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. The data in this report reflect SBAC results for Palo Alto Unified for the 2019 administration including select subgroups and the performance of two distinct cohorts, current 6th grade, and current 9th grade, over time. CAA participation data are also included. The California Department of Education (CDE) released official ELA and math results for the 2019 administration on October 9.