Superintendent's Update

THINGS WORTH A LOOK

Since arriving at PAUSD, I have been asked by many people to reevaluate policies, practices, and outcomes related to aspects of our District. Engaged communities share opinions, research alternatives, and benchmark against other high-achieving organizations. Those are all positives! Looking to the horizon, I see opportunities for us to explore many topics including:


  • Opportunities to explore common bell schedules when we adjust start times to comply with new legislation
  • Middle school mathematics delivery, placement, equity, and acceleration options
  • Special Education
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) courses and implementation
  • Equity issues including academic outcomes, inclusion, discipline, and culture
  • School safety
  • Dual enrollment and pathway options
  • Staff housing options and purpose
  • Parcel tax renewal efforts
  • Construction priorities and sequencing


This is obviously a partial list of opportunities to improve experiences and outcomes for students. My request is to create and maintain space for civil discussions when differences of opinions emerge. Engaged workforces and communities sometimes struggle when polarizing positions and opinions skew to the extremes of an issue. Assuming the best intentions of others will help us to find the next right answers. If an approach misses the mark, we can regroup. We have all the tools to do amazing things for our students. It is our goal to serve our students at the highest possible level with the understanding that we are in a “people” business. Our promise begins with our best effort!


--

Donald B. Austin

Superintendent of Schools

NEW EMPLOYEES ANNOUNCEMENT

PAUSD is pleased to announce Tiyahri Wilson as the new Title IX Investigator and Anne Le as the new Director of Classified Human Resources. Both started their positions this month.

Tiyahri C. Wilson, Title IX Investigator


Dr. Tiyahri Wilson is new to PAUSD as the Civil Rights & Title IX Investigations Supervisor. She formerly operated campus wide as the Title IX Coordinator in higher education and served the collegiate community through education, prevention, policy, and procedures for the Office of Title IX.


Dr. Wilson provides experience as a mental health professional implementing trauma informed processes and a holistic approach in Title IX protocols and investigative processes. She holds undergraduate degrees in Human Services, A.A., Child and Family Studies, B.S., and graduate degrees in Psychology: Diversity Studies, M.S. and Clinical Psychology: Mental Health Policy & Practice, Ph.d.



Dr. Wilson is Atixa trained and certified as both a Title IX Coordinator/Administrator and Investigator. She will bring an abundance of training, education, experience, and expertise to implement the use of best practices and implementation of regulations and guidance as prescribed by the Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights for investigations.

Anne Le, Director of Classified Human Resources


Anne Le will serve PAUSD as the Classified Human Resources Director. Anne joined the District in 2014 as a Payroll/Benefits Technician and transitioned up to the Human Resources Secretary/Recruiting Analyst. Prior to PAUSD, Anne worked in retail management for over eighteen years.


Anne has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from the University of California Davis. As a native of Palo Alto, Anne has strong ties to the community and attended Ohlone Elementary School, JLS Middle School, and Palo Alto High School. Anne’s family is also deeply connected to the District as her mother is a retired teacher from Ohlone and her daughter attends Palo Alto High School.


Anne’s strong experience, passion, and relationships with District staff give her a solid foundation to be successful in this new role.

NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS)

The NGSS is based on the National Research Council’s 2011 Framework for K-12 Science Education, and reflects current research on how students best learn science. The NGSS were written for all students, and facilitate students to think of science learning with a broad understanding of integrated and interrelated concepts, called Disciplinary Core Ideas. One shift is illustrated by repeating components used at each grade level.


In classrooms, K-12 students use the same eight Science and Engineering Practices, such as, analyzing and interpreting data, or planning and carrying out investigations. Coherence from year to year is further emphasized by the seven Crosscutting Concepts that serve as lenses to view concepts in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering. For example, students will focus on flows of energy and matter in ecosystems, and then revisit the same idea with respect to a chemical reaction.


One of the significant shifts for the NGSS is that learning focuses on a holistic understanding of concepts that spiral from year to year, in contrast to previous standards, which emphasized memorization of disconnected facts. Finally, the California NGSS incorporates Environmental Principles and Concepts, which highlights the deep relationship between humans and the natural world.


California was a lead state in this work and adopted the NGSS in 2013. In 2016, after considerable public comment and input, the CDE released the new Science Framework. This Executive Summary of the California Framework offers a concise, yet thorough, review of how the California Framework guides educators and stakeholders on these important changes to science education.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

The Special Education Department continues to work collaboratively with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to provide training to staff and parents. CAC presented the Dyslexia simulation to the secondary paraeducators group last Friday, with a great turnout and a positive reception. The group is also planning on presenting to the psychologists in November and will participate in the Family Leadership Summit in January.


The department met with the Assistant Director of the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) Education Preparation for Inclusive Classrooms (EPIC) program. EPIC is an accredited Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) Program in Special Education that focuses on inclusion in Moderate/Severe and Early Childhood Education. EPIC is currently offering a grant to assist in tuition fees. If selected to receive a grant, candidates are obligated to work for the respective districts for a total of 4 years after completion of the program. On October 11, during the professional development day, EPIC was invited to present to the secondary paraeducators. There were 20 staff who attended the informational session. This program and partnership are an avenue to recruit special education teachers to fill any current or future open positions.

MIDDLE SCHOOL ENGLISH LITERATURE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Members of the Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee held their second meeting of the year on Wednesday, October 16. The Committee reviewed the results of a student literature survey that was given to middle school students across the District in September. The survey garnered 1,833 responses, which means that roughly 68% of all middle schoolers participated. Students were asked for their opinions on current core literature, as well as their wishes for future titles.


After discussing the survey results, committee members listened to a presentation by Deborah Ford-Salyer, an Implementation and Training Specialist for TeachingBooks, a digital platform that can be used to make and share book lists. TeachingBooks will be used as an organizational tool and resource this year. Additionally, during the second half of the meeting, committee members continued vetting titles in grade-level reading groups.

INNOVATION AND AGILITY

The Innovation and Agility - Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) Department continues to provide support for our varied career-themed pathways and work-based learning. Fall Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) mentor/student forum events were held at Gunn and Palo Alto High Schools. These events provide students with the opportunity to receive feedback on general research questions from multiple mentors.


In collaboration with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) the following meetings are planned:


  • Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee Planning Meeting (November 13)
  • Year of Planning (YOP) meeting for Paly’s Engineering Pathway (November 19)
  • Year of Planning (YOP) meeting for Gunn’s Business Pathway (November 19)


The minutes from the September informational meeting are posted on the Curriculum and Career Education website. By working with multiple stakeholders and leveraging relationships with our community, we can continue to provide students with opportunities to gain real-world experiences, pursue passions, and foster connections that go beyond the classroom experience, preparing them for successful careers.

VISUAL & PERFORMING ARTS

On Thursday, October 10, 17 student ensembles from JLS Middle School, Fletcher Middle School, and Gunn High School, performed in a “Kaleidoscope” concert. The title of this concert is chosen because of the way these 17 student ensembles performed “in a succession of changing actions.” To view a video of the concert, click here.


PAUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator hosted 43 arts administrators from around the state in two days of professional development at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall. Agenda topics included: 6.2 million students who do not have access to Arts Education, and how to work with stakeholders to reduce this number; Mariachi ensembles; Creating Games while teaching music theory; LGBTQ; Equity and Music Education; and the release of the new Arts Framework.


PAUSD Spectra Art Teachers participated in their third professional development session where they practiced “checking for understanding” as they work on improving instructional strategies.

STUDENT NUTRITION SERVICES: A – Z SALAD BARS

PAUSD A–Z Salad Bars have made their return!


The Student Nutrition Services A-Z Salad Bar features fruits and vegetables representing every letter of the alphabet. Students that purchase lunch on their A-Z Salad Bar day will be able to select from 26 different fresh, seasonal, and locally grown fruits and vegetables.


Our first A-Z Salad Bar will be held at El Carmelo Elementary on Tuesday, October 22. The A-Z will then move to Barron Park Elementary on Tuesday, October 29, and then to Addison Elementary on Wednesday, October 30.


All elementary sites will have the opportunity to enjoy the salad bar this year!

THE PAUSD EQUITY BY DESIGN (EQxD) TEAM

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.

MIDDLE SCHOOL SATURDAY ACADEMIC BOOST AND ENRICHMENT PROGRAM (SABE)

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.

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: