December 18, 2015

The holiday season is a time for festive celebration, spiritual reflection, and also provides the gift of time with our families.  It also marks the end of 2015 that featured so many positive highlights for our district including operationalizing recommendations from the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Task Force, the launch of Advanced Authentic Research, a new bell schedule at Gunn, broad successful implementation of the Teacher’s College Writing Workshop at the elementary schools, extensive use of Schoology at the secondary schools, the pilot of the student course input survey for every class every semester at our high schools, a renewed emphasis on social emotional learning and mental health, successful inclusionary practices, and countless individual student, faculty and staff accomplishments.  Needless to say, 2015 also had its share of serious challenges, tragic events, and somber moments and reflecting on those has led us to develop our powerful district goals and a passionate, driven commitment to assure that all students – and we mean ALL students – have the academic, social, and emotional opportunities, access, and support to succeed and that we continue to strive each day to “develop our students’ knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving skills, nurture their curiosity, creativity, and resilience – empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social, and creative potential.”

Staff Weeklies

This last school week of the calendar has been a busy one, and please take time to read the weekly messages from our different departments.  Thanks to our IT team, we have finally enabled readers to reach all of these messages in one click off our home page.  My message pops up in one column and the others are listed under Related Content in the right column.  You can also access past weeklies on this page.

As you will read in the weekly memo from the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, we have filled two key positions – the Equity Administrator and Communications Coordinator.  City Manager James Keene and I also interviewed a finalist for the Project Safety Net, Executive Director position, and we expect to hear news regarding that position very soon. 

Also, please attend to Mr. Bob Golton’s note on Addison School.  As we wrote earlier, working through a third party, an anonymous donor expressed interest in funding significant building and site improvements at Addison and subsequently funded a $25,000 planning grant for us to engage our architect, the Addison site council, and the Addison community in conceptual thinking about what improvements were needed and could be made.  Over the course of the last few weeks the collective vision has coalesced to the point that our architect, Lisa Gelfand, has been able to produce a conceptual design pamphlet this week.  Mr. Golton’s note provides more information and a copy of our architect’s work product.  At this point, there have not been any further conversations with the donor’s representative, and if a donation in excess of $50,000 is offered, it will be brought to the Board for extensive discussion and eventually for action.

The Educational Services, Student Services, and Business Services weeklies contain important information, so please take a few minutes to read them.  Our Chief Business Officer, Cathy Mak, highlighted two pieces of good financial news.  The Association of School Business Officials International notified us yesterday that PAUSD won the Meritorious Budget Award for our 2015-16 budget book.  This recognition validates the thorough attention and long hours that the business staff members devote to provide detailed financial information in a user-friendly manner.  Moreover, we were recently notified that Moody’s upgraded the District’s bond rating from Aa1 to Aaa.  PAUSD is among the first six school districts in the state to receive this rating upgrade.

Cubberley

Last Monday, the City Manager convened a meeting to discuss our joint master planning venture for Cubberley.  We had an exciting exchange of ideas and agreed to have a formal launch to the planning process in January.  The lead staff members for our team will be Sharon Ofek, Principal of JLS; Bob Golton, Bond Program Manager; and Tom Hodges, District consultant with the firm fs3 Hodges.  Cubberley is an important community asset, and a comprehensive master plan developed through a collaborative, broad, and inclusive planning process will advance our district’s vision, provide an array of program opportunities for all residents, and create closer school community ties.

Academics

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR):  Nearly all of the 80 participants in our AAR program have worked with our mentors, Dr. Jeong Choe, and our faculty to create formal proposals.  Their abstracts are posted on the AAR web page and are well worth reading.  I am highlighting it EXTRA LARGE FONT so you won’t miss this opportunity to be amazed:

http://aar.pausd.org/projects

I trust you will be impressed with the quality of our students’ thinking as well as the breadth of the proposals that span all disciplines and often integrate disciplines.  The formal proposals are not yet accessible to the public, but Dr. Choe read them all and I have reviewed a few, and I am so impressed with the depth of the students’ research and understanding of the foundational concepts and theoretical framework underlying their research.  This spring the students will be presenting their work and we will invite the public to hear their presentations, see their posters, and read their papers.  If the proposals are any indication, it promises to be quite an event.

Students interested in pursuing an AAR project next year should check out this page http://aar.pausd.org/news/interested-aar-next-academic-year and start thinking about submitting a letter of interest for an exploratory project in February.

Mathematics:  In preparation for a mathematics adoption in the 2017-18 academic year, Barbara Harris, Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education, has been working with our principals, faculty, and Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) to develop a comprehensive plan for this year and next. 

This 2015-16 academic year is an EXPLORATION year and 2016-17, is the PILOT year.  Our primary focus will be for sites to explore a variety of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned math curricula.  This collaborative exploration will strengthen teacher understanding and instructional strategies in relation to the CCSS and build a cohesive teacher leadership group that will recommend two to four curriculums worthy of a formal pilot.

In order to identify materials worth piloting, we have been working with the PAUSD principals and teacher leadership teams to develop a deep understanding of the common core mathematical practices and content standards.  While elementary teachers are still required to maintain the current mathematics scope and sequence, pacing, and assessments to assure that our students are meeting or exceeding benchmarks, all elementary teachers are encouraged, though not required, to select lessons, units, and activities from a list of CCSS aligned programs and use them in place of Everyday Math lessons.  We are asking teachers to explore two or more of the curricula and provide written evaluations of each of these.  In April our math lead teachers and TOSAs will compile and analyze the feedback, and in May they will recommend materials for a formal pilot. 

In addition, Barbara Harris is working with our principals and TOSAs to develop a parent and teacher survey about mathematics teaching and learning.  The results from these surveys will be used along with the teachers’ feedback mentioned above to evaluate each of the exploratory materials as well as the pilot materials. 

In accordance with the Board policy on curriculum development and evaluation, BP 6141, during the pilot year, we will use an inclusive process that “utilizes the professional expertise of teachers, principals, and district administrators representing various grade levels, disciplines, special programs, and categories of students as appropriate.”  The process also will provide opportunities for input from students, parents, postsecondary institutions, and other community members.  Pilot materials will all be on display and available for scrutiny during the 2016-17 academic year.

Laning:  Thanks to the generous support of our taxpayers who passed the Measure A Parcel Tax and strategic and visionary work of our Board of Education members who have supported funding to implement several of the recommendations from the MATD Advisory Committee, we are making progress toward achieving Goal #4 below.  There is one recommendation, however, that requires no additional funding but does require a larger conversation.  That recommendation concerns the practice of “laning” (aka tracking).  Section V of the MATD report reads, “We believe that the knowledge relevant to the choices for and impact of laning in mathematics and English courses should be universally understood by all students and families preparing to attend secondary schools in PAUSD.”  The report continues, “Laning in PAUSD, specifically in mathematics – has created a significant divide among students.”  The Advisory Committee’s recommendation is:  “Create clear, objective, and well-communicated information about laning decisions and waivers in mathematics in middle school and high school.”  At a future Board meeting staff will be discussing current laning and waiver practices as well as the educational pros and cons of laning in grades six to ten.

Goals

Looking ahead to next year, we are eager to focus on our goals and will be issuing a mid-year report on each measure and deliverable at our Board retreat on January 21.  For a refresher, here they are in an abbreviated format:

  1. OWNERSHIP FOR PERSONALIZED LEARNING. Assure that every student’s individual educational experience is engaging, challenging, purposeful, and ensures mastery of academic standards.
  2. CONSISTENT HIGH QUALITY TEACHING AND LEARNING. Foster conditions that provide a coherent district approach for aligning course curriculum frameworks, grading practices, homework expectations, project and testing schedules, and summative assessment instruments.
  3. DATA DRIVEN INSTRUCTION. To meet the unique educational needs of every student, coordinate the collection, analysis, and use of formative assessment data and other information to develop and modify instructional methods and materials.
  4. MINORITY ACHIEVEMENT AND TALENT DEVELOPMENT. To raise the achievement of historically underrepresented students and increase participation and success in rigorous classes at the secondary level, the district will assure equity of preparation, access, opportunity, and support from Pre-K to 12th grade by implementing essential recommendations of the MATD Advisory Committee with fidelity.
  5. ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT. To manage and plan for projected enrollment growth and foster conditions for current and future family connections to our schools, PAUSD will develop a strategic enrollment management plan.
  6. SAFE AND WELCOMING SCHOOLS. To assure the social, emotional, and physical health of our students and staff, the district will develop and implement a comprehensive system for monitoring, supporting and improving the health of learning and working environments at every site.

In closing, our entire family and I wish you all – and we mean ALL – of our students, faculty, staff, Board members, education partners, taxpayers, and residents of this wonderful greater community the happiest of happy holidays. 

 

Board Calendar 2015-16 Academic Year

Month

Date

Event

December 

15

Elementary SPSAs

 

16-18

Finals Testing Day

 

18

End of Semester

 

18

District-Wide Minimum Day

 

21-31

Winter Break

January

1

Winter Break

 

4

Return to School, K-8 Only

 

4

Teacher Work Day, High School

 

5

Return to School, 9-12 Only

 

12

Board Meeting

 

18

Martin Luther King’s Birthday

 

26

High School SPSAs

 

26

Board Meeting

February

9

Board Meeting

 

11

Staff Development Day – No School

 

12

Washington’s Birthday

 

15

Lincoln’s Birthday

 

23

Board Meeting

March

8

Board Meeting

 

9

End of Third Quarter

 

11

Local Holiday

 

22

Board Meeting

April

1-8

Spring Break

 

19

Board Meeting

May

10

Board Meeting

 

24

Board Meeting

 

30

Memorial Day

June

1-2

Finals Testing Day

 

2

End of Semester

 

2

District-Wide Minimum Day

 

2

Last Day of School for Students

 

3

Teacher Work Day

 

7

Board Meeting

 

21

Board Meeting

School Events Calendar 2015-16 Academic Year

MONTH

DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

TIME

DECEMBER

12

PAUSD’s Code Fest 2015

JLS

1:00-5:00 p.m.

 

14

Cookies and Cram

Gunn Library

3:30 p.m.

 

15

Hoover Holiday Coffee Cart

Teachers Lounge

7:00-10:30 AM

 

 

15

Holiday Teacher Luncheon & Coffee

Briones, MP Room

12:00 PM

 

 

16

Assembly

Palo Verde Blacktop

8:20 AM

 

16

Buddy Performance Assembly

Fairmeadow

8:40 AM

 

16

Staff Holiday Luncheon

El Carmelo

12:00-1:00 PM

 

16

PTA Staff Cookie Exchange

Terman Staff Lounge

12:00 PM

 

16

Fairmeadow Staff Holiday Party

PF Changs, Sunnyvale

3:30 PM

 

17

Staff Appreciation Holiday Cookie Party

Barron Park Staff Lounge

8:00-9:00 AM

 

 

17

Holiday Volunteer Coffee

Briones

8:15-9:00 AM

 

17

Holiday Soup Luncheon

Hoover Staff Lounge

12:00-1:00 PM

 

18

Sing-A-Long

Nixon

11:00-11:45 AM

 

18

Grandparents and Family Holiday Workshop

Barron Park Room 15

11:30-1:30 PM

 

 

18

Cookies and Coco

Paly Quad

12:00 PM

Board Reports and Tentative Timeline 2015-16 Academic Year

December

15 AM

SPSAs – Elementary Schools - Daytime

January

12

Audit Report

 

26 AM

SPSAs – High Schools - Daytime

 

26 PM

OCR

February

9

Facility Planning

 

16

Budget

 

23

OCR

 

 

Staffing

 

 

Second Interim

March

8

Goal Updates

 

 

Staffing

 

 

Second Interim

 

22

OCR

 

 

Celebration of Tenured Staff

 

 

3-Year Calendar Preliminary

April

19

OCR

 

 

CCSS Budget

May

10

LCAP

 

 

K-12 Health Curriculum

 

 

Special Education Program Review Report

 

 

Mathematics Piloting for 2016-17

 

24

OCR

 

 

LCAP

 

 

Budget

June

7

Budget

 

 

Deferred Maintenance

 

21

Goal Updates

 

 

OCR

  LCAP
  3-Year Calendar Preliminary
  Budget
  Deferred Maintenance