February 26, 2016

After the February 9 Board meeting, the feedback given regarding the proposed committee that would explore student support systems encouraged the staff to consider narrowing the focus and being more specific regarding the charge of the committee.  This was important information as the committee work must be intentional and directed, and leave room for possible variations of a recommendation that a selected committee, representing the various constituencies, would find to be the best possible fit for meeting the criteria outlined in the charge below. 

A distributed counseling model is based in the belief that it is the responsibility of all of the adults in a school to provide a caring, safe, and supportive environment for students.  The principle envisions a counselor working with a cohort of students and supporting their teachers to share responsibilities for both the academic and social-emotional development of the students.  This is one possibility in a distributed counseling model.  With this very brief explanation of the model, the staff revisited the charge with the primary focus supporting students’ academic development and playing a secondary support role for another committee, focusing primarily on the coordination and assessment of the health and wellness supports available to students across the district.  This revised charge will be brought back to the School Board for further review in March.

Committee Name: Distributed Counseling Committee (DCC)

Charge:  To investigate, analyze, and recommend a distributed counseling model of high school student support by December 2016 that ensures students thrive socially, physically, emotionally, and academically and are prepared for their futures in the 21st century.

Mandated Recommendation Criteria:

The Committee’s recommendation must…

  1. Connect every student to a caring adult (Source: Board Goals, LCAP, WASC).
  2. Include weekly dedicated time for students to access staff and school-offered services on a consistent and substantial basis (tutorial, advisory, office hours, etc.).
  3. Identify and distribute academic counseling duties as well as coordinated components of a health and wellness curriculum in a model that is comprehensive, clear, and accessible.
  4. Offer culturally inclusive services that meet the diverse needs of our school communities and professional development that enhances the cultural competency of all staff.
  5. Train all staff members involved in the distributed counseling model (certificated, classified, coaches, etc.) in providing holistic student support.
  6. Be grounded in current research and practice with distributed counseling models that promote student growth, learning, health, and wellness. (Source: Board).
  7. Identify any current school practices that may require modification in order to effectively implement the recommended distributed counseling model, as well as the timeline and project lead for each identified system. 
  8. Recommend an aligned distributed counseling model to be implemented on both high school campuses.

A revised committee member descriptive list and revised timeline focusing on early stakeholder feedback to inform the committee’s direction will be shared with the School Board in March, as well.  We continue to remain fully committed to the effective support of all students in a variety of ways.

Elementary Education – Barbara Harris, Chief Academic Officer, PreK - 5

Teaching and Learning

Our 4/5 teachers spent quality time engaged in a math think tank session on a Problem of the Month during the February 11 Professional Development Day activities.  Take a look at this exciting video produced by Math TOSAs Joe Young and Mangla Oza spotlighting teacher collaboration and teacher focus for the morning learning sessions:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgygZnIfgZQ&feature=youtu.be

A Day of Learning from Start to End

February 11 was a terrific day of learning and sharing in the most collaborative manner.  The elementary teachers met in grade level sessions across the district.  TOSAs Angie Lew, Arcia Dorosti, Hilary Mark, Chris Nosek, Laura Reeves, Joe Young, Heather Cleland, and Mangla Oza led 2 very collaborative interactive learning sessions in both Math and Literacy.  Kindergarten and first grade teachers met at Duveneck, second and third grade teachers met at Fairmeadow, and fourth and fifth grade teachers met at Nixon.

Topics for each of the learning sessions included:

Math: MARS/Problem of the Month POM/Re-engagement

Literacy: Strands of Nonfiction Text Complexity

Escondido Spanish Immersion Costa Rica Trip

The annual Spanish Immersion fifth grade trip to Costa Rica took place during the last week of January.  The fifth graders were accompanied by teacher Agustina Lodoen, librarian Nina Bailey, and Principal Chuck Merritt.  Many hours of parent work went into raising funds and organizing logistics.  The camp, Campamento Amistad, focuses on science (biodiversity in the cloud rain forest), culture (the history and culture of Costa Rica), writing (various daily writing assignments as both expression and journal), and the rich experience of living alongside Costa Rican students and staff.  The experience was unforgettable for all who embarked on this exciting journey!

Red Carpet Tour

Escondido and Ohlone's immersion programs were honored this year on February 3 as the showcase schools for the annual Red Carpet Tour, organized by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  The tour began at the COE headquarters in San Jose where participants boarded a bus to Escondido School.  Students from the Spanish Immersion program spoke to their experience in both languages, followed by a tour of classrooms.  Next, the group drove to Ohlone to meet with the principal, Nicki Smith, and staff of the Mandarin Immersion program.  Participants were then escorted on a tour of the Mandarin Immersion classrooms. 

Preliminary Parent Math Survey Responses

To date, over 950 parents have shared their thoughts with PAUSD on their elementary-aged child(ren)'s math skills and experiences in our elementary schools.  (Question 1)

Of the PAUSD parents who responded, the top three goals cited for their elementary-aged child(ren)'s math-related growth were to develop a confident mathematical mindset (18%); make sense of problems and persevere in solving them (17%); and enjoy math (14%).  (Question 3)

PAUSD parents of elementary-aged children found quality of teacher preparation / instruction (22%), small group instruction (16%), and problem solving opportunities (14%) to be most valuable in their child(ren)'s math experiences in PAUSD schools.  (Question 4)

Apart from the items listed, and among other answers, PAUSD parents of elementary-aged children would most like to see more differentiation for students based on readiness and process (30 parents) and re-evaluation of math curriculum (40 parents) in their child(ren)'s math instruction.  (Question 5)

PAUSD parents of elementary-aged children cited the following supports: homework practice pages (52%), online math resources (37%), and specific teacher suggestions for their child(ren) (37%) to be most helpful in supporting students' math growth at home.  (Question 6)

Of surveyed PAUSD parents of elementary-aged children, 48% have heard of Common Core but do not know the specifics.  (Question 7)

Of the surveyed PAUSD parents of elementary-aged children who have since entered middle school, 49% indicated that they were satisfied or strongly satisfied with their child(ren)'s preparation. The most common response from PAUSD parents was that they were satisfied with their child(ren)'s elementary math preparation for middle school math (39%).  (Question 9)

Ohlone Dual Immersion Task Force

The Mandarin Immersion (MI) Master Plan process is in full bloom.  The work began with the task of defining the “task” ahead of the committee and a description of the rationale for engaging in this work.  Nicki Smith and Aleyda Barrera-Cruz shared that the master plan is about writing our program as it was designed.  The master plan will support the MI program for future programmatic and funding needs.  It will also help in the creation of the middle school pathway for students graduating from the MI program in fifth grade.  Rosa Molina, the facilitator for the group, shared that a dual language framework exists to support the instruction and design of dual language programs.

Key elements of a Master Plan include:

a.   District Mission/Vision

b.   District Demographics

c.   Data Findings/Rationale

d.   Program Design K-12

e.   Programmatic Elements Unique to PAUSD

f.    Enrollment Policies - elementary, middle, high school

g.   Marketing Plan

h.   Seal of Biliteracy – Resolution and Program Elementary

Research, Evaluation, and Assessment – Chris Kolar, Director

As of February 23, approximately 60 teachers in grades 3 through 5 have administered a California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Interim Assessment Block (IAB).  Grade level teams selected a domain to administer as their T2 math assessment.  Teachers will receive the results of this formative assessment in the coming weeks.  Teachers and students experience the same login process and testing interface that they will use when Spring summative CAASPP testing arrives.  The purpose of the IABs is to support teaching and learning in a formative way.  The process is new and we, like other districts across the state who are exploring these optional assessments, are learning how to use the results to support teaching and learning.

Survey Activity:

Food services launched their parent and students surveys; sixth grade teachers are contributing to the elementary math exploration by telling us about the 5-6 transition; and the elementary mathematics parent survey has been closed with over 900 respondents.

Secondary Options – Dave Hoshiwara, Secondary Options Coordinator

Alternative Placements:

Alta Vista – As a follow up from my last report, Palo Alto Unified School District and Mountain View Los Altos District are meeting end of this week to discuss the 2016-17 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  We will reduce the numbers significantly.

Middle College – Discussion regarding the next year MOU will occur this week.  We have also had exploratory discussions regarding increasing the Middle College program.  This will also be part of the discussion on Friday.

Terra Bella – We have officially received notice from the County that they are closing Terra Bella, effective the end of this academic year.  There will be essentially no program for expelled students in North County.  However, Fremont Union High School District is willing to house some of our students if that becomes necessary.  We are only requesting two spots with the county for the 2016-17 school year.

Department of Rehabilitation – We have completed the review and our program is going to be reduced in scope and amount.  Department of Rehabilitation has been directed to serve transition age students and no longer focus on adults.  The funding will be reduced from $400,000 to $300,000.  We are currently in the process of retooling the program and completing the contract for 2016-17.

Lockheed – The applications for our Lockheed interns have been released for the students that will work this summer and next year.

AAR – Jeong Choe and I have been working on a CTE Incentive Grant that will help to fund the AAR program for the next three years.  We have received preliminary notification of the award from CDE to our district.  We are currently working on posting and hiring new staff and putting some of the accounting structures in place for the receipt of this grant.

Packard Children’s Hospital School at Stanford – I have visited the Hospital School several times to meet with some of the high school students who are interested in work and also completed some interest inventories.  As usual it is an exciting location and hopefully we will be able to assist some students with work opportunities, as well as giving some direction for their future studies.

Palo Alto Veterans Administration – Work continues to go well at the PAVA and we are fully staffed.

Advanced Authentic Research – Jeong Choe, Coordinator

Our Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) students are currently working hard towards collecting and analyzing their research data.  In order to help the students independently set up their own personalized project goals that also meet our program goals, we discussed expectations for their poster presentation.  Thanks to Angela Merchant (Gunn AAR Liaison) for outlining these expectations through a formalized document.  Our team has also provided support for multiple projects to enter the Synopsys-Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair.  It is exciting that not just our science, but also business and computer science research students managed to successfully submit their proposals to Synopsys, as we are working to equitably support all array of projects.

Planning for next year, we anticipate supporting approximately two hundred AAR students.  We will have more accurate numbers once all the interested students complete both their course registrations and the AAR online sign-up forms.  Gearing up for next year, we are excited that we have been receiving support from both of our high school principals, Denise Herrmann and Kim Diorio, in terms of including special education students in the AAR program next year.  We have been working with special education teachers from both Gunn and Paly to identify students who may be well suited for the AAR learning environments where emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration, and self-management may benefit their future independence in their post-secondary lives.

There have been some exciting programmatic advancements both internally and externally.  Internally, our program is now submitted for University of California A-G Approval.  We also have been collaborating with the Social Justice Pathway (SJP) program at Palo Alto High School.  We (Jeong Choe, Erin Angell, Eric Bloom, and Deanna Chute) have submitted a grant proposal to Partners in Education (PiE).  Getting this collaboration project funded not only will improve the quality of this interdisciplinary curriculum project, it also will formalize the partnership and provide more solid infrastructure for the Social Justice Pathway students conducting research during their junior and senior years.  In addition, AAR students conducting research in areas of Social Sciences, Government, etc., will also use the curriculum written for this collaborative project.  We are hoping that the curriculum developed through this project will serve as a model for other types of capstone or innovative projects in our district.  We also plan to share this work with other educational communities through a publication upon completion of the project.

Externally, we shared the AAR program with the PAUSD-Stanford Liaison Committee members and Stanford Linear Accelerator Lab (SLAC) staff.  Discussions that stemmed from these meetings have led to an opportunity to collaborate with the Graduate School of Education.  We are starting to brainstorm ideas with their faculty with the goal of submitting the National Science Foundation-Discovery Research PreK-12 grant at the end of this year.  Currently, we are envisioning this grant proposal as having two tiers.  The first tier will be focusing on further developing, implementing, and improving the existing Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) Program, while the second tier will be geared towards evaluating the AAR program at the level of educational research and development in teaching and learning.  Currently, we are interested in researching two specific components of teaching and learning: 1) Personalized learning and 2) Student reflection and integration of knowledge through writing.  Finally, we are excited to continue to share our programs next week at the Principal’s Coffee at Gunn High School and PiE’s Leadership Circle Breakfast Briefing.  Some of our current students are also invited to share their Advanced Authentic Research experiences at both of these venues.

Student Services Division – Holly Wade, Chief Student Services Officer

Student Services

Psychologist Meetings

In the past few weeks I have started my one-on-one meetings with School Psychologists across the district.  What a treat!  My depth of appreciation for this team grows each time I have the opportunity to discuss their shared wisdom and breadth of knowledge that serves our students, families, staff, and school communities.  Each member of this team brings their assessment experience to support student learning and promotion of social emotional learning and health at their sites.  #gratitude

Wellness Visit to San Francisco Unified School District

SFSUSD welcomed PAUSD staff on Thursday to tour Wellness Centers at several district schools in San Francisco.  As a leader in the development of the Wellness Center model, staff was impressed by their approach and work toward supporting student wellness across their diverse city and to effectively meet a wide range of student needs.  #everydooristherightdoor

Gender Spectrum Training

Monday afternoon, staff joined Joel Baum for a second Train the Trainers workshop.  Staff teams from school sites are preparing to build capacity to provide Gender Expression professional learning at their individual school sites.  Mr. Baum was very well received and participants are feeling prepared and ready to practice for upcoming workshops for staff.  Mr. Baum will present to our PK-12 leadership team at our monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

CDC Update - Brenda Carrillo

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention has begun the fieldwork component of the epi-aid investigation in Santa Clara County.  As part of their fieldwork the CDC has been conducting informal meetings with groups and community organizations to learn about suicide prevention strategies being implemented at the county and local level, and discuss program feasibility and areas of improvement.  The meetings have spanned a broad range of organizations and individuals, including mental health and primary care providers, school staff, parents, administrator, board members, city officials and leaders, and county level groups.  These informal meetings will conclude later this week and are being used to provide context for larger data collection efforts.  The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has served as a liaison between the CDC, the school district, and the City of Palo Alto.  Additional information on the CDC’s visit and investigation can be found at the following link: http://www.psnpaloalto.com/cdc-epi-aid-in-palo-alto/

Special Education

12th Annual Sweetheart Awards

The Palo Alto CAC for Special Education and the Palo Alto PTA Council hosted their Sweetheart Awards Wednesday, February 24, at Nixon Elementary School.  This annual event celebrated Palo Alto community members, youth, and PAUSD employees who make a positive difference in the lives of PAUSD students with disabilities.  Over 100 members of our community received a special “thank you” and a cheer from a warm and welcoming audience.  With appreciation for our mighty volunteers who make this event possible each year, it was a truly special evening. 

Harvard Systemic Review

Monica Ng, Tom Hehir, and their team have begun the quantitative analysis to provide the student level descriptives at this point.  With this data they will complete the development of the survey for parents, teachers, and administrators.  They anticipate that this will be ready to administer by mid-April to the district.