Each year, the PUSD Board of Education sets goals to enhance its K-12 educational program, and District staff then develop an Action Plan to achieve these goals. At the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, September 23, the principals of all six PUSD schools, along with the Director of Instructional Technology and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, gathered to report on the progress toward implementation, and in many cases the accomplishment of, the 2013-14 Action Plan.
Superintendent Connie Hubbard provided an overview of the Board goals and Action Plan, which are based in part on a long-range policy and planning workshop held in October 2013. More than 100 people participated in the day-long workshop that culminated in discussions among District staff, parents and the community, and established themes and priorities to guide District policy over the next several years.
Cheryl Wozniak, the District’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, reported on the goal of supporting professional development and promoting instructional effectiveness:
- The District trained 22 teacher coaches to support colleagues and uphold educational best practices. There are now nine teachers receiving mentoring support from these coaches. In addition, five teachers completed the rigorous National Board Certification process.
- The District provided a broad range of professional development opportunities and support programs to prepare staff for the shifts in curriculum and classroom practices related to the new Common Core curriculum and assessments. The District worked with both the Alameda County Office of Education and the Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI). SVMI is a consortium of more than 120 school districts, providing workshops and extensive online resources to support the transition to Common Core.
- This was the second year of full implementation of the new teacher evaluation procedures. Representatives from each school site participated in monthly meetings to refine the process and create an evaluation guidebook and a resource guide for educators.
Stephanie Griffin, Director of Instructional Technology, reported on the goals of modernizing school facilities and infrastructure and adapting and improving the educational program to meet the educational needs of students:
- The District completed infrastructure upgrades and logistics planning to support new State-mandated online testing, which started in the Spring, one year earlier than anticipated. The District was fully prepared for 1200 students to take five hours of testing over four weeks, in 60 classrooms across five sites, using 10 carts of 30 chrome books each.
- The new wifi, AV, and communications systems improve classroom resources as well as school safety and District-wide emergency preparedness.
- The 1:1 mobile device pilot program, called Connected Learning, is now underway.
- The District adopted new Computer Science standards, and more than half of the students participated in Code Week, promoting computer literacy. The number of computer classes increased this year to meet rising demand, as enrollment grew from 132 students last year to 211 this year.
Elementary principals Anne Dolid, Carol Cramer, and Michael Corritone reported on literacy curriculum, a tri-school initiative to make homework as useful as possible, and a new format for reporting student progress:
- The Readers and Writers Workshop curriculum is now in use in all elementary classrooms. Many teachers participated in professional training in these programs this summer at Columbia Teachers College, and training will continue throughout this year.
- Working with Stanford Professor Denise Pope, the elementary schools are implementing a new homework policy this year. Over the past two years, Pope worked with teachers and presented to parents to promote a tri-school conversation about the purpose of homework. Pope shared research that supports a shift from quantity to quality of homework, and a shift in focus from achievement to engagement. Pope emphasizes the value of “playtime, downtown, family time, and sleep” for all students.
- The elementary schools have developed a new report card that reflects the new math and literacy standards under Common Core, and is intended to provide more meaningful reporting about each student’s progress. The new report cards, developed with the input of the Tri-School Site Council, will be implemented this November.
Piedmont Middle School Principal Ryan Fletcher reported on the broad range of social-and-emotional, academic and elective programs offered at the middle school this year for the first time, and completion of the Learnscape Lunchpark:
- PMS started a new program this year, Scots Camp, to orient incoming sixth graders to the school. The two-day camp, led primarily by eighth grade counselors, included team-building activities and conversations about respect, doing the right thing, and digital citizenship.
- PMS is now offering Common Core mathematics for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The entire math faculty has worked for more than a year to prepare for this shift in curriculum and classroom practice, and professional development, training and collaboration will continue throughout the year. Throughout this year, this work will continue with the Math Task Force as we investigate and discuss questions relating to math pathways and compression and expansion of common core curriculum.
- PMS is offering new “spokes” in the sixth grade elective wheel: Fundamentals of Computer Science; Applied Computer Science with Artbotics; and Makers. These electives, some of which were piloted during summer school, are designed to teach computational thinking, encourage creativity, and spark an interest in computer science, coding, and robotics.
- PMS celebrated the opening of the Bill Drum Memorial Learnscape Lunchpark on September 5, the culmination of several years of work to enhance the campus with greenspace for both recreation and learning.
Millennium High School Principal Ting Hsu Engelman reported on enhanced service learning initiatives that provide opportunities for students to learn outside of the traditional classroom and engage with the broader community to promote global citizenship:
- At MHS, each school year starts with an all-school retreat. This year’s retreat, held at Juaquin Miller Park, included service learning curriculum concerning economic disparity in the Bay Area. The group discussed the reality that many students in nearby Bay Area communities lack basic school supplies, and that this lack of basic supplies makes it more difficult for those students to succeed academically. Following this discussion, students and teachers packed 350 new backpacks with school supplies for students at the International Community School (ICS), a bilingual elementary school in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. MHS students then visited ICS to deliver the backpacks in person. This donation of backpacks continues a relationship between PUSD and ICS that started several years ago, when ICS welcomed PUSD’s summer service learning program (AISCE) onto its campus to work in ICS’s kindergarten and first grade classrooms to support students in reading and math.
Piedmont High School Principal Brent Daniels reported on initiatives to: reduce student stress; create service opportunities for students to develop as global citizens; and set expectations for responsible behavior inside and outside of school:
- PHS and MHS modified the bell schedule to allow for a later start of the school day, based on research that a later start can significantly reduce student stress and improve student health and development.
- PHS became affiliated with Challenge Success, a program started at Stanford University that is dedicated to reducing student stress. PHS administrators, educators and parents are attending the annual Challenge Success conference, and will share with the community recent research and recommended strategies for promoting a healthy learning environment for high school students.
- PHS and MHS are increasing service learning opportunities for students, with projects for each grade level (relating to protection of the environment/stewardship of natural resources, discrimination/social justice, poverty/homelessness, and economic disparity). These projects provide opportunities for students to work in teams, learn outside of the traditional classroom, and think beyond individual achievement. Other service learning opportunities include a partnership with Camp Everytown, which provides community-building retreats for students, and a student Ground Crew that mentors freshman through the transition to high school. These service learning initiatives are based on research showing that adolescents who engage in community service are happier, less stressed, more solution-oriented, and empowered to solve problems for themselves and others.
- PHS is developing a strong partnership with the Piedmont Police Department to communicate expectations for student behavior at and outside school. Chief Rikki Goede has already met with students on several occasions, and is in regular conversation with school administrators concerning safe and responsible student behavior.
For more information about PUSD’s programs and initiatives, please visit the District’s website at www.piedmont.k12.ca.us