The district recently held a meeting at the Watsonville City Chambers to discuss the current state of educational achievement at the District level. The event highlighted the District’s recent experiences and the progress that is being made to prepare our students for both college and their future careers. The meeting also introduced the “4 Levers” that have been adopted District wide to help deliver the results that we are now seeing.
The 4 levers are being used as a guide as the District interacts with students, parents, staff and the community at large and are being utilized in many of the decisions being made that effect student learning.
The levers which include personalized learning for each student, building meaningful relationships with all stake holders in the district, informed instruction which utilized the most current data to identify areas of opportunity and finally alignment with the common core curriculum all are playing a part in the progress being made with student achievement at the district level.
The improving results are measured with the California State-wide Student Assessment system or CAASPP. Across the state approximately 3 million students took this test earlier this year measuring the state’s progress in educational achievement.
The District experienced growth in many areas over the last two years but several areas stood out. For instance, 4th graders experienced a 9-percentage point improvement in language and art, while 5th graders saw a 10-point improvement in math. Finally, 8th graders experienced a full 11-point improvement in language. The District, and the state as a whole have for years lagged behind other states in student achievement. By utilizing data to personalize instruction for each student and a focus on student achievement the District has been able to buck the negative trend in key areas.
The District also recently implemented a program called Foundational Literacy. This pilot program has teachers instructing students in small groups that are organized on the student’s current reading level.
Before this program 74% of our 1st graders were leaving 1st grade at their reading grade level. Now a full 94% are reading at grade level as they leave 1st grade, a 20% improvement. As teachers will tell you reading is a core competency that sets students up for success later. By working on the basics early on the District is helping students as they move on in their educational careers.
To be sure the District faces significant challenges. Too many of our students are dropping out or not performing at grade level. Furthermore, the District has a large percentage of students living in poverty, with special educational needs. We also face an uncertain funding outlook at the state level.
These are significant obstacles that as a district, and community, we will need to address. However, as the improvement in the last several years show we are moving on the right track in helping more students be college and career ready when they graduate from high school. That is something we can all be proud of.
On a side note this will be my last article as a Trustee for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. I made the decision early this year that two terms is the right amount for me and that it was time for new representation from the Aptos area at the District level. I want to take a moment to thank the local community for the opportunity to serve.
I have been approached at school events, local sporting events, grocery stores and even the gas station with questions and opinions about the District. I have appreciated every person who has come to me because their questions and insight shows their concern for the community. That concern is one of the reasons Aptos is such a special place to live and call home.
Thank you for the opportunity and please join me in supporting the newly elected and appointed Trustees as they work to continue the growth in student achievement.