October 26, 2018

Superintendent’s Office


I had the opportunity to visit Greene Middle School twice this week. The first visit included a meaningful discussion with the Student Council members. As always, the students were insightful regarding many topics. 

My second visit to Greene was today to see PAUSD host the soccer portion of the Special Olympics. The same Student Council members made a point to say hello in between cheering for the Special Olympians. It was a beautiful day for everyone involved. Our Special Education staff ran the event taking great care to nail every detail.


The Gunn High School “air band” rally was held last night. Every seat was filled for this spirited event that had everyone cheering, dancing, and having a great time.

Palo Alto High School held their dance competition and float presentations today. We clearly have some talented students and caring adults willing to provide guidance. 

I plan to make it to both games this evening to see more students enjoying the high school experience!


The Research Evaluation & Assessment (REA) team has worked with Cabinet and principals to establish more powerful data to inform our efforts. Part of this work in the future will include a detailed dashboard to measure student achievement in a variety of areas. The data contained in this report include a mix of reports found useful in the past and some new presentations of targeted data. 


The agenda items for November 13 are still tentative at this point and subject to additions, deletions, and revisions. Our tentative schedule includes:

  • Celebration of the PAUSD partnership with the Veteran Affairs Hospital and our special needs students learning vocational skills
  • Overview of the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) method of employee contract negotiations
  • Consideration to expand the Cubberley Community Center contract with Concordia to include the PAUSD properties at 525 San Antonio Road and Greendell Elementary
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PAUSD and the Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) for School Resource Officers
  • Approve Local Indicators for our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)
  • Student Achievement data report with a focus on key indicators

Education Services


On November 16, Gunn and Paly students, accompanied by two counselors and a teacher, will travel to San Jose State University (SJSU) to participate in a full day of workshops and activities designed to inspire African-American students to attend college. 

SJSU partners up with a number of community organizations, including the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators, 100 Black Men of Silicon Valley, California Alliance of African American Educators, Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, to sponsor the annual African-American College Readiness Summit.

We are pleased that PAUSD was invited to participate. We are also excited to have our students learn more about career options and better understand college entrance requirements.


The department of Academic Supports is launching a pilot program, at all three middle schools, targeting students who are not performing at grade level benchmark, are struggling in their classes, and are reflected in the orange, yellow, and red zones on the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Dashboard. The pilot will provide one-to-one tutoring in English and/or Mathematics after the school day, which is during Homework Habitat/JAWS, with the objective of increasing academic achievement. 


Unity Day, the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month, has been recognized in the United States since 2011. This past Wednesday, students all over the District wore orange to show their support of this year’s theme: Together Against Bullying; UNITED for Kindness; and Acceptance & Inclusion.
Schools hosted activities throughout the day on Wednesday. Some of the activities included:
•    Making class "Unity Branches" assembled into a "Unity Tree" 
•    An entire School Circle and Wave
•    Recess and lunch crafts
•    Mix it up lunch: Sit with new/old friends
•    Reading and signing Unity Day Pledges 
•    A unity tree made from orange “leaves” (post-its), sharing messages of kindness and friendship
•    Lunch time celebrations, presentations, and picnics


There are a number of different ways in which our schools provide support for students. One commonality across all levels, however, is the gathering of a team of specialists and experts to discuss student circumstances and possible supports. These teams vary from level-to-level, but are largely comprised of counselors, administrators, psychologists, special education leaders, and school nurses. Intervention experts were included in these brainstorming sessions about how to best support our most vulnerable and/or struggling students. They range from English Language Learner coordinators to Reading Specialists to Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs).

Meetings occur throughout the year. Elementary schools conduct meetings in the fall, often referred to as ‘kid-by-kid’, and then periodically follow-up for those students identified for additional support. At the middle and high school levels, meetings occur weekly and students are either identified or monitored for progress.

Supports and interventions range from academic to mental health, and often the two are intertwined. Plans for focal students are develop by all members of the team and include checkpoints along the way to monitor progress. As a result of either tremendous gains or lack of progress, amendments are made to the plans based upon the identified metrics. Metrics vary from level-to-level and can include California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results, Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) scores, North West Evaluation Association (NWEA) formative assessment, classroom performance, attendance, writing samples, behavioral data, and wellness concerns.

All of the teams partner with teachers throughout the year to provide support with the development, implementation, and monitoring of the identified intervention strategies.


On October 24, all three middle school staffs convened for the first of three annual joint department meetings. These meetings are planned by Instructional Leaders and focus on articulation within disciplines across the sites. Below is a brief summary of what some of the departments focused on.


The history/social science teachers continued to work on implementing the new Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI) History Alive! California Series program that the District adopted last May. The meeting was facilitated by the Instructional Leaders.  They alerted their departments to some helpful tools on TCI’s online platform, including differentiation lessons, a skills toolkit, media resources, and also covered some of the nuances of the TCI assessment system. Finally, teachers had a chance to practice using some of the new tools.    


The English teachers listened to a presentation from the secondary English Language coordinators and teachers in the District who introduced teachers to the state’s new English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC). They explained what students scoring at different levels on the ELPAC should be able to do. The second half of the presentation addressed various forms of scaffolding, an effective English Language strategy that teachers could apply immediately in their classrooms.


Science teachers continued screening textbooks and instructional materials under consideration for adoption by the State Board of Education (SBE) in early November. There are a number of programs available with exciting new options for California science learners. To learn more about the publishers that submitted programs for approval, this link will take you to the California Department of Education (CDE) website for science adoption


The graphs on this link represent the progress made by the cohort of our current 6th grade students who have attended Palo Alto schools for the last three years. Overall, this cohort has consistently performed above the state standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), and their average score has grown from 3rd to 5th grade relative to the state standard. Hispanic/Latino students’ growth kept pace with the state standard, yet were consistently below the District average. Socio-economically disadvantaged Hispanic/Latino students scored below state standard in 3rd grade by 30 points on average. That gap widened over time to 50 points below state standard in the 5th grade and farther below the District average.

This cohort data includes ELA results from 2016, 2017, and 2018 administrations, with the current 6th grade class – with their 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade average scale score results. PAUSD grade-level scale score results are charted against CA “Standard Met” (Level 3) in each graph.

This data has been shared with principals and we are scheduling a study session with REA to examine the information more closely to explore the relationships between academic supports and student progress over time. We will identify students who improved their performance and examine practices that have supported this improvement.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Wednesday, October 17, also known as White Cane Safety Day was declared Blind Americans Equity Day by President Obama in 2011. Around the world, people who are blind or visually impaired celebrate blind achievement on this day. California School for the Blind organizes this event every year for students around the Bay Area who would like to join the celebration. This year, the theme was “Celebrate Independence.” Students enjoyed an art extravaganza, a virtual visual scavenger hunt (using Aira technology), and a White Cane fashion show. 

Four PAUSD students attended the event: a 1st grader, an 8th grader, an 11th grader, and a 12th grader. We had three instructional assistants who came and did a great job helping the students participate in all the activities. A big thank you was sent to a parent who transported their child in a wheelchair to ensure she could spend a meaningful amount of time participating in the event. It was a great group effort from parents, teachers, and instructional assistants who came together to make the day a success. 

Business Services


Palo Alto community members are invited to play a big role in the process to redesign the Cubberley Community Center. The City of Palo Alto and PAUSD, in partnership with Concordia engagement design firm, are holding four meetings to encourage the community to help re-imagine the space. The first of those meetings took place on Thursday, September 27, at Cubberley Community Center. Over 240 community members attended that co-design meeting. 

Community members participated in two interactive exercises to provide their ideas for the future of the site. The first activity focused on what additional programs and activities the site could provide. In the second activity, residents used blocks to illustrate their preferred balance between building mass and green space on site.

Each meeting will build upon the results of the previous meeting and the results from the first meeting will directly inform the content of this next meeting. Community members are encouraged to come to any or all of the remaining meetings and share their vision.

The next meeting will be on Thursday, November 1, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Cubberley Pavilion, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303.


The City of Palo Alto contracts with GreenWaste for landfill, compost, and recycling pickup services. Every other year, GreenWaste performs waste audits for all PAUSD dumpsters to check contamination levels and provide the District with valuable feedback about our student, staff, and community waste sorting efforts. These efforts will be underway soon, and over the next six months, PAUSD will receive scores via a red-yellow-green rating system for each school site's waste dumpsters. To prepare for the audits, sites should practice the same conscientious waste sorting as always, and provide sorting refreshers to staff and students as needed.

Technology Department


As part of our efforts around ensuring our website is accessible for all users, some major changes to the menu look and feel will be coming in the next couple weeks. The changes will ensure the search and menu structure can be navigated without the use of a mouse or trackpad. It will also show all menu items at once, so there's less confusion on where various sections can be found.