Thursday, October 16, 2014

Miramar College and Mira Mesa High team up for proposed Early College pilot program

San Diego Community College District
San Diego Miramar College is working with Mira Mesa High School to provide college credit classes to local students. The early college pilot program is expected to start in Fall of 2015.

“This program will allow high school students to experience a higher education. Our goal is to keep students motivated and encourage them to continue pursuing their education right here at San Diego Miramar College,” President Patricia Hsieh said.

This new pilot program is expected to provide academic achieving high school seniors from Mira Mesa High School the opportunity to experience a high quality education in college level courses at San Diego Miramar College. The program will also improve academic preparation of potential incoming students to San Diego Miramar College and transfer students to four-year colleges/universities.

Mira Mesa High School will recommend 10-15 students for the pilot program and a final decision will be made by San Diego Miramar College counselors and subject area experts.

San Diego Miramar College will then offer an early college experience to a total of five Mira Mesa High School students. They will apply to the program and be selected by Mira Mesa High School and San Diego Miramar College in Spring of 2015.

In the 2015-16 academic year, seats will be reserved and dual credit will be received in the courses below for up to five selected students who place at a college level in the Math and English assessments:
  • Calculus (Math150-151) Fall and Spring semesters
  • Political Science (PoliSci 101-102) Fall and Spring semesters
To be eligible to apply for the program, the student would need a 3.8 overall GPA, have completed honors pre-calculus with a B or higher or take and pass the Miramar Math Department challenge test to clear the prerequisite for Math 150. They will also need to take the English Accuplacer to assure they are ready to take on college level coursework. A program application would also need to be submitted.

The program was approved by the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees on Oct. 9, 2014, and has been proposed to the San Diego Unified Board of Education. If approved, it would be the fourth joint project between the school district and community college district. The two districts currently collaborate on the MET program at Mesa College, the Early Middle College program at San Diego City College and the new STEAM Middle College at Lincoln High School.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Students at Rosa Park celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Students at Rosa Parks Elementary danced and read poetry in celebration of Mexican Independence Day while learning the historical significance of September 16 from special guests.

Rosa Parks Students from various grade levels performed dances and read poetry in both English and Spanish. These students practiced their dances all summer long with parent volunteers who worked every day to ensure the students knew their dances and would provide their audience an amazing and festive celebration.

After the dances and readings had concluded, representatives from the Mexican Consulate’s office spoke with students about how Mexico earned its independence from Spain in 1810.

Parent volunteers also created an artifact table representing Mexico’s cultural and provided beautiful decorations to create a festive atmosphere.

Superintendent Cindy Marten and Area 6 Superintendent, Fabiola Bagula, were also in attendance.

To learn more about the celebration, contact Rosa Parks Elementary Principal Carolanne Buguey at 619-282-6803.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014-15 signals first year of Local Control and Accountability Plan implementation

In June 2013 a new era of school finance in California was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The new funding model, known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), represented the biggest change to funding K-12 public education in California in decades.

Students at Benchley Weinberger “It reshapes school funding, with the promise of additional funding, trying to return to the funding levels of six or seven years ago, and provides us more flexibility in determining how state funding will be used to achieve our academic priorities,” said Jenny Salkeld, Chief Financial Officer.

The LCFF ensures that more money is attached to meet the needs of school districts’ most at-risk students. The three categories of students requiring greater resources include students who qualify for free or reduced priced meals, students who are English Learners, and foster youth.

As part of the LCFF, school districts, county offices of education and charter schools are required to develop, adopt, and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCAP is required to identify annual goals, specific actions, and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators, including student academic achievement, school climate, student access to a broad curriculum, and parent engagement. The academic priorities must be aligned to the district’s spending plan.

As part of the district’s focus on transparent communications on the LCFF and LCAP, Superintendent Cindy Marten will provide monthly LCAP Implementation Reports to the Board of Education that include the alignment of Vision 2020, the 12 indicators of a quality school in every neighborhood, and which details LCAP Year 1 activities. The reports will include actions, services, and baseline data. These reports will then be shared with cluster and advisory groups to provide an opportunity to provide input and feedback on the current implementation and suggested next steps.

The first report was provided to the Board at the September 23 meeting, and focused on Quality Indicator 12 – Safe and Well-maintained Facilities and how this indicator helps us achieve a goal of creating physical, social and academic environments worthy of our students.

“We have developed metrics to show what we are doing with the funding, how we allocated it, and what the results are,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We have more than 30 measures to indicate how we’re doing for every funding allocation and every decision we’re making for our dollars.

“My monthly reports will allow me the opportunity to share where we are in implementing our LCAP so our community can hear each month how we’re doing and provide us feedback,” Marten said.

Video clips of the presentations, excerpted from the Board meetings, will be posted on the LCAP web page under the Resources section.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Common Core settles in across district

San Diego Unified and other districts across the nation continue to prepare students to compete in the global marketplace as they teach students to think critically, learn independently and communicate better in order to meet the new guidelines outlined in the Common Core State Standards.

Science at Kearny HS These standards align with the district’s goals set forth in Vision 2020 to create a quality school in every neighborhood, and more specifically, provide students with a broad and challenging curriculum.

Adopted in 2010, the Common Core State Standards are a set of academic standards that establish clear and consistent guidelines for what every K-12 student across the country should know and be able to do in math and English language arts. Implementation of the Common Core, including how the standards are taught, the curriculum developed, and the materials used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards, is led entirely at the state and local levels.

“It’s important to remember that Common Core is not a curriculum,” said Jim Solo, executive director of leadership and learning. “It’s a shift in how subjects are taught to students and a change in what we expect students to do with the material we teach. How we assess students is also changing. “

The district’s focus this year is twofold: there is continued emphasis on making sure principals and teachers receive guidance and materials needed to teach students the way the standards demand; and schools are preparing students for the new assessment under Common Core, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which will be administered for the first time this year starting in May.

Last year, the district hosted numerous professional development sessions for principals to support them in their understanding of Common Core so they could lead it at their site as well as provide support for their teachers. This year, the district has scheduled more than 100 professional development sessions for teachers that are organized around four themed learning cycles.

Teacher participation in Professional Learning Communities, which allow teachers to share best practices at the ground level, has also proven effective in preparing teachers to teach to the Common Core Standards.

As teachers become more proficient in delivering the content, student progress will continue to advance as well.

There is concern, however, that as the district transitions to more demanding curriculum and new assessments are put in place, students may be missing out on valuable instruction and test scores may appear lower than they have in the past.

Solo recognizes these concerns but thinks that the Common Core curriculum is so much more rigorous than the previous material and the demands are so much more that we are more likely to see growth in student knowledge rather than any loss in instruction.

“You have to remember the tools [for measuring] are extremely different than any tools that have been used in the past,” Solo said. “It’s not just simply asking students multiple choice questions, which was what you had with the CST (California Standards Tests). Now, they have to respond in writing, they have to do tasks with their peers, then come back and write about it. In addition, there will be some multiple choice questions as well as short and longer answer questions. We’ve never assessed students this way in California on a state exam.”

Students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will take the CAASPP during the testing window that stretches from April to June. Parents will be notified by schools when testing will occur for each grade level, but can check the district’s website now for general testing dates.

To prepare students for May assessments, the district has been continually updating and refining the curriculum that is being taught to meet the Common Core Standards. It spent the last several years strengthening the integrated math curriculum and will do the same with English language arts over this year. History is integrated with the English language arts portion of the Common Core Standards while science standards are being revised and will ultimately follow the Next Generation Science Standards.

“The integrated math curriculum is very strong and will prepare students for college,” Solo said. “It offers multiple pathways at the secondary level that will enable students to reach calculus by their senior year.”

Common Core allows for a deeper understanding of a subject while at the developmental stages. Rather than learning a little about a lot of topics, the curriculum is setup to allow more time for understanding the fundamentals. For instance in math, K-3 level students focus heavily on numbers, being able to break apart numbers and understand numbers in multiple ways. In grades 4-5, there is heavy emphasis on fractions. Probability, which used to be part of elementary school, is not addressed until middle school.

“They’ve done a lot of shifting around of the topics,” Solo said. “A great deal of the research from around the world shows that many countries with really smart math students go really deep in the things that matter at the developmental stage. Then it progresses from there.”

Ultimately, the goal with Common Core is to prepare all students for the global workplace.

“We have a lot of jobs in the country right now that American students are not qualified for. Engineering jobs being one example,” Solo said. “When you think about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Common Core aligns itself very well to STEM. We are trying to produce students who are ready for the jobs of the future.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Edison ES library gets well-deserved makeover

Edison Elementary School Principal Derek Murchison was speechless when he saw his school’s library for the first time after its makeover.

Edison ES Target Library Makeover The once drab and monochrome environment had been transformed into a colorful, vibrant space with 2,000 new books, furniture, carpet and shelves, and a complete technology upgrade, including new iPads, interactive white board and more.

“Thank you Target and The Heart of America Foundation for this wonderful gift for the wonderful students and staff at Edison Elementary,” said Murchison once he found his voice. “Your dedication to the love of reading for students, not only here, but across our country is priceless.”

Edison Elementary School is the fifth school in San Diego Unified to receive a library makeover over the past five years. Other recipients include Miller, Kimbrough, Angier, and Hancock elementary schools. The official unveiling and ribbon-cutting of the Edison library was held Sept. 26. Students, staff and parents were joined by Superintendent Cindy Marten to celebrate the opening of the library after a month of secret renovations.

“These library makeovers play an important role in the district’s Vision 2020: Creating Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood,” said Supt. Marten. “Quality schools have quality libraries. Quality schools serve as neighborhood centers.

“This amazing program breathes new life into elementary school libraries,” Marten added. “We could not be more appreciative of our partnership with Target and the Heart of America Foundation.”

Since 2007, Target team members have dedicated their time and talent to transform 175 public school libraries across the country through the Target School Library Makeover program. Target works in partnership with The Heart of America Foundation to create fun and inviting spaces for students to read. This is one of the many programs Target supports as part of our commitment to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015. By the end of this year, Target expects to celebrate a big milestone: 200 School Library Makeovers completed and more than 113,000 students impacted since the program began in 2007.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Farb Middle Students Shine at Board Meeting

More than 15 students from the Farb Middle School Advanced Choir sang the National Anthem at the Sept. 23 Board of Education meeting.Watch the video.

Farb MS Choir The students were joined by the Patrick Henry High Navy JROTC, who presented the colors, to kick off the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner.

The choir was led by teacher Robyn Dye. Farb Principal Courtney Rizzo also attended to support of her students.

The students were invited by Board President Kevin Beiser. Each month, one of the board member selects students from one of their schools to present or perform at a regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting.

Friday, September 26, 2014

District adding text messaging capabilities to mass notification system

San Diego Unified will soon have a new way to communicate with its employees and families.

On Oct. 22, the district will be adding text messaging capabilities to SchoolMessenger, the mass notification system it now uses to deliver important information by phone and email to its stakeholders.

The system will be configured to send text messages to cell phone numbers in SchoolMessenger whose recipients have agreed to receive them. Employees and parents are encouraged to opt-in now to receive texts.

“We have heard from principals that some parents would like to receive texts so we are making this option available to school sites as another means of communication,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “This new tool aligns with the Board of Education’s focus in 2014 on enhancing communications and parent engagement as outlined in Vision 2020.”

The district and its school sites currently have the option of sending recipients either a voice or email message, or both. Now they will also have the ability to send text messages, expanding the tools they can utilize to communicate with parents and staff. It is important to note, however, that recipients will only receive text messages if they opt-in, have a cell phone number on file with the district and the message sender provides content for a text message.

The district will likely limit its use of text messaging to emergency situations, such as lockdowns, in which short, quick communication is helpful. Texts may also direct individuals to an email or a website for more information.

“SchoolMessenger uses short code texting, which is highly reliable and fast because it’s regulated by the wireless carriers,” added Jennifer Rodriguez, the district’s SchoolMessenger liaison. “Our goal is to make sure that the district and its schools have all the tools they need to effectively communicate each day, but especially during emergencies.”

The district will be encouraging all stakeholders throughout October to opt-in to receiving texts. To do this, recipients can text “Yes” to 68453 from each mobile device at which they wish to receive text messages. Should you opt-in and no longer wish to receive messages, or vice versa, the process for switching preferences is simple; either text “YES” or “STOP” to 68453.

For those that have not opted-in on their own, a reminder message will be sent district-wide Oct. 22 to all cell phone numbers on file reminding individuals to opt-in. The message will read “San Diego Unified text messages. Reply Y for aprx 3 msgs/mo. Txt HELP 4info. Msg&data rates may apply. See”

The reminder text message is sent on the same day, Oct. 22, that district and school sites can start sending text messages to individuals that have opted-in.

The district will send reminders throughout the school year to encourage recipients to opt-in. Information about text messaging is available on the district’s Communications Department webpage.