November 10, 2022
Teaching and Learning
Vista Unified recognizes that learning is a “process that leads to change, which occurs as a result of experience and increases the potential for improved performance and future learning” (Ambrose et. al., 2010, p.3). Additionally, learning is not something done to students but rather something students themselves do as a direct result of how they interpret and respond to their experiences within a caring and supportive environment. Learning is a natural process for all of us that goes beyond classroom walls. We are wired to make meaning through experience and reflection. Families and communities are partners in the learning process, supporting the development of students in becoming kind & confident, curious & connected, and capable & knowledgeable. Check out how a hike became a learning opportunity for a parent and learner in our district. Read this article to explore how families can partner with learners.
Building a Performance Framework
Our focus as a school district is to set the conditions for all students to discover their strengths and grow their skills and abilities in a positive, supportive learning environment. To this end, our staff is laser focused on building a new system to measure student growth. This system will move away from primarily using high stress assessments to a broader performance framework.
When teachers at the elementary level assess students, are they opening doors for them or closing them? This is the question a group of elementary teachers are grappling with in collaboration with the San Diego County Office of Education and Envision Learning Partners. Through this collaboration, teachers are beginning to design performance assessments that will give students an opportunity to show their learning in multiple ways. These assessments will be “piloted” in classrooms in the spring, and teachers will share the results with each other during a Spring Convening. In conjunction with this project, teachers are also redesigning the progress report to reflect a standards or mastery based grading system and align character traits from the Vista Unified Learner Portrait.
At the middle and high school level, work has begun to build a performance framework that will create a comprehensive student profile, allowing teachers, students, families, and administrators to see a larger and more detailed picture of each learner on campus. Students will be provided meaningful and authentic opportunities to demonstrate what they know, and teachers will collect common evidence of the mastery of standards. Assessments will not just be limited to end-of-unit tests but will also include benchmarks and formative assessments that will allow teachers and students to adjust instruction and learning to better meet the needs and fill gaps before units are completed. And, in addition to academic assessments, students will also be given the opportunity to reflect on and self-assess their social-emotional wellbeing in terms of belonging, connection, and engagement. These began in October and will be completed this week. And, starting in December, students will also have three opportunities this year to self-assess their progress in the Vista Unified Learner Portrait, sharing how they have demonstrated being kind and confident, curious and connected, and capable and knowledgeable.
Dia de Los Muertos
The Vista Unified family continues to celebrate cultural events not only to show respect but also to build our relationships and support for each other. The Dia de los Muertos event was a fantastic display of our community support for this sensitive and important Hispanic tradition. We had over 1,400 members of the community join us. Three musical performances added to the success of the event. A huge thank you goes out to the entire FACE Network of community liaisons for planning and supporting this important event.
Health and Safety - Keeping our Students Healthy Surge in Flu and Respiratory Viruses
This cold and flu season has been especially hard on families with the triple threat of the influenza virus, or flu, respiratory syncytial virus (better known as RSV), and COVID-19. Although we have seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases, many people are reporting flu and respiratory illnesses much earlier than the typical “flu season”. One of the reasons for this early surge is that fewer people are wearing masks and taking other COVID-19 precautions like we did the last two years due to COVID restrictions. Here is a quick read for those seeking more information on this early onset of flu season: Why Everybody You Know Is Sick Right Now.
- What Symptoms to Look For - The flu and COVID-19 are both spread from person-to-person, especially indoors and in crowded places. Symptoms for both viruses include fever, headache, and muscle and joint pain, as well as a sore throat and coughing. Symptoms of RSV include cough, runny nose, and fever. Treatment consists of managing symptoms and, in some cases, hospitalization.
- Tips to Avoid Getting Sick - San Diego County health officials offer these tips as a way to stay healthy this cold and flu season:
When in crowded spaces, consider wearing a face mask
Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap
Use hand sanitizer, if unable to wash hands
Stay away from sick people
Avoid touching your eyes,nose, and mouth
Clean commonly touched surfaces
As a reminder, students with symptoms must stay home until symptoms have improved, are fever-free for 24 hours, and have a negative COVID-19 test.
COVID-19 Testing Kits for Thanksgiving Holiday
Once again, Vista Unified has secured at-home COVID-19 testing kits for all students and staff in our district. The kits will be delivered to school sites this week and sent home with students by Friday, November 18th. Families are strongly encouraged to test their students within 24 hours of returning to school on Monday, November 28th. Any positive test results should be reported to your student’s school. And, if your student is experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, we ask that you keep them home. The most commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Free Heart Screening Event at Madison Middle School
Vista Unified and Madison Middle School are pleased to partner with the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation and offer free heart screenings to the Vista Community. Last year, a Madison Middle School student tragically lost his life to sudden cardiac arrest, a leading cause of death among children, especially student athletes. To honor his memory, Madison Middle School hopes to screen 600 students and community members for undetected heart conditions.
Join us on Sunday, December 4th for free heart screenings. Each screening will include a cardiac risk assessment, EKG, cardiologist consultation, and if indicated, a limited echocardiogram. This special event is only available to those 12 years of age or older. Please register early at Madison Middle School Screen Your Teen or through the QR code on the attached flier.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District