CUSD’s Students Perform Well As New Common Core Testing Scores are Released - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

CUSD’s Students Perform Well As New Common Core Testing Scores are Released

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Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 9:13 am

As Americans, we seemed to be hard-wired to crave data and rankings. The more numbers the better, especially when they turn out to be really good numbers. Last spring Coronado students who were in grades 3-8 and 11 were tested in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics as part of the California Assessment for Student Performances and Progress (CAASPP) and they collectively performed very well.

A comparison of district-wide scores found that Coronado Unified and Poway Unified were essentially in a dead heat for top honors in San Diego County, as reflected by the CAASPP scores. According to CUSD Senior Director of Learning Claudia Gallant, Coronado won the combination of students who met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, touching out Poway Unified 74-73. Poway Unified won the Mathematics ‘title’ by a margin of 65-60. For some perspective on the scores, San Diego County students as a whole averaged 51 for their ELA scores and 40 for Mathematics. Statewide, California’s students scored an average of 44 on ELA testing and 33 on Math.

In addition to the scores by district and by school, parents of each student who took the test will, or by now probably have, received a two-page report containing individual test scores for their child in the mail. Student ELA scores will be broken down even farther, showing results in reading, writing, listening, research and inquiry. Math scores for students will also include concepts and procedures, problem solving and modeling and data analysis, plus communicating reasoning.

During the course of her presentation to the CUSD Board of Trustees Thursday, Gallant noted that the school districts who undertook the challenge of addressing the Common Core standards first, scored best on the CAASPP tests. In a phone interview earlier this week, CUSD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Felix followed up on that thought. “I was a superintendent in 1997, which was right when we were getting ready to implement the California State Standards, so I experienced this the first time around. What I saw in the Common Core looked, smelled and acted like 1997 and we (Coronado Unified) jumped on it immediately. We’ve been working on it or three years now and I feel like it’s been three cycles with the teachers, getting organized and keeping up on it. We found other peers in the county who thought the same way we did. Del Mar and Encinitas were both on top of their game and we worked with them. The San Diego County Office of Education was the curriculum lead in the county and we feel like we were right there side by side with them.”

Felix estimated that the district was 85 percent integrated in the teaching of Common Core standards. “We have just a couple of little pockets of resistance; people who have been teaching for 30 years are not going to change. Some teachers are resistant to change at first and then we get them working and thinking about it and after that they are pretty good about it. Our secondary math (teaching) teams were the last bastions and about a year ago we reached our tipping point. We brought in Dr. Patrick Callahan, co-director of the California Math Project, who happens to live here in Coronado. He got all of the teachers in a room and worked through the struggles. We were very pleased.”

As for the test results themselves, Felix characterized his reaction as being, “Over the moon. I was so excited to see the results of our hard work of three years reflected in the assessment. We gave each other a big hug. It was also the result of our teachers moving to a new way of teaching. The test scores were some of the best in the state. Valley Center is the smallest unified district in the county and we are the next smallest unified district. We were in the 60’s for our test scores and theirs were in the 20’s. Their community fought the Common Core.”

Another main topic of discussion during the Sept. 10 meeting was air conditioning in schools, made relevant by the influx of heat and humidity that caused Felix to close the district’s schools at 12:30 p.m. twice last week. The concept wasn’t lost on anyone in attendance at the Board meeting, as the District Office is also not air conditioned. The outside temperature at the first gavel for the board meeting was in the low 90’s, with the humidity levels at a similar level.

Felix noted that when the existing school sites were planned in 1986, the district made a conscious decision to not include air conditioning in the sites. Felix said, “The master plans called out to not have air conditioning. They knew it would be good for 96-97 percent of the year.”

Trustee Lee Pontes requested that the topic of air conditioning be brought forth for discussion. Pontes approaches the issue with the background of being Coronado High School’s in-class NJROTC instructor for several years. Pontes said, “This came up first in 1986 and we are still meeting annually and talking about this. It’s a tough problem to fix. I think the frequency of calling for heat days and the number of complaints we are seeing have not gone down. I’m not sure what the most effective way is to manage the problem. We have to provide students a safe and supportive school where they and the staff can survive. I don’t know what it would cost to air condition all of the buildings, but at some point we owe it to ourselves to investigate that. It should show up in our strategic planning sessions with parents, teachers, administrators and board members. That’s the one time all of those people come together.”

Trustee Lou Smith added, “The truth is there aren’t great designs for the buildings that are not air conditioned. I watched the discussions (regarding air conditioning) in 2013. We have danced around this problem for a long time. We have a capital plan and maybe we need air conditioning. We need to do it one bite at a time and we need to see what the true cost for the facilities would be. We’re not going to have the money to do all of these things at one time. I think we need to put a plan together here and I suggest the superintendent and the staff prepare one.”

Trustee Kristina Cook concurred and said, “It seems that warmer days are more frequent and going farther into the year. I don’t think this is going to change.” Cook went on to agree that a study of the potential costs related to air conditioning was necessary.

A different approach was taken by Trustee Maria Simon, who said, “How important is this relative to the other things we have on our plate? Throwing this ahead of other discussions isn’t wise. We haven’t had the discussion that this is our No. 1 priority. How many days out of 180 (the length of the academic year) are affected. I’m not opposed to looking at it, but we need to do it in chunks, maybe through a sub-committee. I look at it as a global issue; we can’t do everything. (The defeat of) Proposition E told us to live within our means. Our decision as a board was to emphasize people. I do think we can afford something. I don’t think we are looking at this in a thoughtful manner.”

Simon later added, “I do support this as part of a strategic plan.” Board President Dawn Ovrom agreed with the concept of including air conditioning in the strategic planning process. She added, “We prioritized people over facilities on purpose.”

Pontes concluded the discussion by saying, “We have to have a number (air conditioning cost estimate) to throw at people in strategic planning. It would be nice to have a number. We at least owe it to ourselves to investigate the possibility, take baby steps, and talk to our constituencies and our employees.” Felix said he would bring information regarding air conditioning the sites back to the Board at a future meeting. 

In other Board actions:

• Coronado Schools Foundation CEO Patty Cowan presented a large check, literally and figuratively, to the school district in the amount of $679,295. Cowan noted that the CSF has raised $7.9 million for the district since 1982.

• Felix expressed his thanks to Coronado resident Brad Gerbel, who created a crowd funding drive to purchase box fans for some of the district’s classrooms. Felix said that 125 fans were delivered to the district and he thanked Gerbel and the community for their money and time.

• By a unanimous vote, the district approved a new full-time position of Teacher on Assignment to administer the district’s new five-year, $1.25 million Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Grant for Math, Mindset and Memory. The DoDEA grant requirements call for a director who works at least half time on the project.

• Ovrom and Smith were appointed by a unanimous vote as the district’s representatives to the “Coronado Healthy Child Initiative” Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors, in conjunction with the city of Coronado. They will join Councilmembers Carrie Downey and Richard Baily on the board.

• Assoc. Superintendent Dr. Keith Butler said in his business services report that the repair of the Brian Bent Memorial Aquatics Center pool was progressing well. Installation of LED lights in the pool will save the district $180,000 over the next 15 years. Contractors are redoing all of the tile, deck, and drains. “We’re getting a nice, almost new pool out of this,” Butler commented. “We’ve gone down this road and things are progressing well.”

• Smith asked Butler if in anticipation of an El Nino year, the district was ready for possible flooding. Butler replied, “We have fixed everything we know about. We are going to start to store straw bales and sandbags and we have asked the staff to be extra wary for rain and let us know if they see something.”

Gallant will conduct a detailed workshop that is open to the public, regarding the CAASP testing and results this Thursday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. at the District Office. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the CUSD Board of Trustees is Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, at 4 p.m. The District Office is located at 201 Sixth Street in Coronado.

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1 comment:

  • ThomasCole posted at 12:32 pm on Wed, Nov 1, 2017.

    ThomasCole Posts: 23

    Because our students are the best! They absolutely deserve it and even better. I would like to make an interview with one of them for so write me their contacts please.