Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Superintendent Cindy Marten 'exceeds expectations'

The San Diego Unified Board of Trustees has released Superintendent Cindy Marten's first year evaluation, finding that "Cindy Marten has exceeded our expectations," in a joint statement released by the five-member Board of Trustees.

Supt. Cindy Marten "Ms Marten has exceeded our high expectations, embracing the board’s Vision 2020 and:
-  Has put teaching and learning at the center of the organization
-  Excels in her ability to reach out to the community and a broad range of stakeholders
-  Manages the larger vision of the district, while being attentive to all levels of operation
-  Has brought forth a strong team of leaders who share her passion for improving student achievement for all students.
-  Developing strong multi-year budget strategies

Responding to the Board of Education’s evaluation, Ms. Marten said she was "gratified by the Board's confidence," and "excited to continue this important work, alongside extraordinary educators and staff in ensuring we serve the needs of all of our amazing students."

The Board of Education focused its evaluation on four of the indicators for Quality Neighborhood Schools:
-  Access to broad and challenging curriculum
-  Quality Teaching
-  Quality Leadership and
-  Professional Learning for all

On the operational side, the key factor was budget development.

The following rubric was used to measure progress in each area:

Beginning – The Superintendent has launched the work and there is no evidence of progress yet.
Developing – The Superintendent has launched the work, is continuing to develop the implementation, and there is some evidence of progress.
Accomplishing – The Superintendent has accomplished the implementation of the work and progress is evident.
Extending – The Superintendent has accomplished the work and significant progress/impact is evident.

The School Board rated each focus area as follows:

Access to broad and challenging curriculum: Accomplishing
Quality Leadership: Extending
Quality Teaching: Developing
Professional Learning for All: Accomplishing
Operations and Budget Development: Extending

Trustees Extend Superintendent Cindy Marten's Contract Another Year

Superintendent Marten's accomplishments to date have reinforced the Board's confidence that her leadership will result in greater success for all students. Therefore, the board has decided to extend her contract for an additional year beyond the original four-year contract.

The Board of Education indicated that, “while many challenges are ahead, we are confident that under the leadership of Cindy Marten, all students will thrive and have the opportunity for success.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

‘Run to Learn’ program encourages students with disabilities

For children with disabilities, participation in the right exercise program can improve their quality of life and increase their aerobic capacity and overall mobility.

Achilles Kids Run to Learn program For more than 60 district and charter students, the "Achilles Kids: Run to Learn" program provided them the opportunity to exercise and compete in a virtual 26.2 mile marathon over the course of the 2013-14 school year. Each participant received a new pair of Saucony running shoes and an Achilles International t-shirt.

“The facial expressions of the students were priceless,” said teacher Daniel Feldman, who coordinates the program. “In addition to receiving new running shoes, the students felt achievement in reaching their physical activity goals and in the process, gained confidence and had fun.”

As part of the marathon, students from grades K-8 complete as many laps as they can based on their ability levels. Some of them are physically challenged, medically fragile, and/or intellectually challenged. To complete this marathon, they run, jog, walk, or someone pushes their wheelchairs during this year-long adapted physical education activity.

This is the 13th consecutive year that Feldman has coordinated the Achilles Kids program, which is part of the Achilles International program that helps bring hope, inspiration, and joys of achievement to children with disabilities. Participants included students who receive adapted physical education from schools including Euclid Elementary, Hollie Drive Charter School, Horton Elementary, Knox Middle, Marshall Elementary, Paradise Hills Elementary, and Riley School.

“With the help of this program,” Feldman said, “my students have been eager to attend their adapted physical education class.”

For more information, contact Carrie Rea, Program Manager, Related and Specialized Services, or call 858-573-5941.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elementary school students spend summer exploring science

IN THE NEWS: About 100 second- and third-grade students from southeastern San Diego have been meeting twice weekly for the In the News past month to learn about earth restoration. The students' meetings take place at EarthLab, a 4-acre San Diego Unified School District property in Encanto. At EarthLab, students improve their scientific literacy with science-focused demonstrations and instruction. Read more from KPBS.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Standley Middle student wins USD essay contest

Character is hard to define for many, but seventh-grader Ashley Meader already has a firm grasp of its meaning and purpose.

Ashley Meader Her essay entitled “Human” won first place in the University of San Diego School Of Leadership and Education Sciences’ Character Matters essay contest.

Responding to the essay theme “Why Character Matters,” her essay described the significance of the 10 Badges of Character and how they are an integral part of our lives. Those badges of character include respect, responsibility, gratitude, compassion, courage, citizenship, self-discipline, trust, honesty and perseverance.

“See, character is the basis of human nature. It is what drives us to help one another, to make the world better than it already is,” Ashley wrote in her essay. “Because character is what causes accomplishment. Accomplishment causes success. And success opens the door to making a bigger and better impact on the world.”

Ashley received a plaque from USD for her accomplishment, which was presented to her in class by a representative from the USD School of Leadership and Education Services.

“Ashley truly displayed character traits such as responsibility, courage, perseverance and self-discipline by taking on the challenge of the contest and reading her insightful and inspiring essay to her classmates,” said Ashley’s teacher, Judi Lattimore.

Each year, the Character Development Center at USD sponsors the essay contest. The Center works with educators and youth to promote the development of life skills necessary for a productive personal and social life.

Monday, July 21, 2014

San Diego Unified Joins Nationwide Effort to Improve Achievement of Young Men of Color

Sixty big-city public school districts from across the country, including San Diego Unified School District, released a pledge to improve the academic and social outcomes of boys and young men of color at a White House event with President Obama today. Superintendent Cindy Marten was among the attendees at this historic event.

President Obama In a call to action by the Council of the Great City Schools, each of the urban school districts support boosting efforts to prepare males of color for college and careers. This pledge will include a number of actions, including a focus to reduce the disproportionate number who drop out of school or who are suspended, and to help them succeed.

“The pledge we are making with President Obama is a promise to our boys and young men of color that we firmly support equity and the opportunity for our students to fully realize their potential,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “It represents an unprecedented platform that sends a strong signal to the nation. As leaders of the largest public urban school districts, we stand with the White House to commit our resources, efforts, hearts and minds to act with courage and conviction to positively impact the life outcomes of our young men.”

Nearly 32 percent of the nation’s school-age African-American males and 39 percent of the country’s school-age Hispanic males are enrolled in big-city public schools. San Diego Unified has approximately 46.5 percent Hispanic students and 10.5 percent African-American students enrolled in its schools. The 2013 graduation rate for San Diego Unified white students was 94.1 percent, the graduation rate for Asian students was 92.9 percent; compared to a graduation rate of 82.8 percent for African-American students and 81.6 percent for Hispanic students.

The San Diego Unified Board of Education adopted a resolution on June 10, 2014, in support of the pledge by urban school districts to address the achievement gap, particularly regarding males of color.

“The achievement gap is an urgent matter that we must address as a school district,” said Board of Education Vice President Marne Foster. “We have established multiple strategies and are closely monitoring students who are on track for graduation in order to have a laser-like focus on supporting our students.”

San Diego Unified approved the Local Control and Accountability Plan that specifically outlines the goal of “Closing the Achievement Gap with High Expectations for All” as the first goal. This plan outlines specific actions and metrics that San Diego Unified will implement to measure ongoing progress in closing of the achievement gap, among other goals.

In “A Pledge by America’s Great City Schools,” each of the 60 urban school systems committed to carrying out specific actions. San Diego Unified has implemented or will be implementing the following actions:
  • Board of Education adoption of the pledge in collaboration with Council of Great City Schools on June 10, 2014.
  • A Harvard Study was conducted in 2013-14 to examine problems of practice in the school district that included: 1) Evaluating discipline policies and practices; 2) Enhancing early childhood readiness; 3) Closing the achievement gap and increasing graduation rate; 4) Improving teacher and school leader recruitment, retention, and evaluation; 5) Long-term English learners.
  • Provide access to classes required for admission to the University of California and the California State University System (A-G courses) are a part of the graduation requirements for the class of 2016. San Diego Unified will closely monitor the ongoing progress by males of color towards completing these requirements.
  • Establishment of the Lincoln High School Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Middle College in collaboration with the San Diego Community College District.
  • Collaboration with the Association of African American Educators for implementation of the Blueprint to Accelerate the Achievement of African American and African Students.
  • Collaboration with the Latino Advisory Committee to develop and implement Cultural Proficiency Standards.
  • Establishment of the San Diego UNIFIED Through Diversity Committee to develop recommendations to the Superintendent and Board of Education.
  • Organization of the Teacher Pipeline Task Force to explore and address issues of diversity in the teaching corps. This work is being carried out in partnership with local universities, employee organizations, and community based organizations.
  • Development of the Local Control Accountability Plan that includes metrics and measurements to monitor the access and completion of rigorous coursework such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and College and Career Technical Education classes.
  • San Diego Unified is currently implementing the Uniform Discipline Policy, which offers direction to principals to reduce the disproportionate number of suspensions of young men of color by utilizing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and Restorative Practices.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

U.S. Dept. of Defense approves $34M grant to modernize two district schools

Department of Defense On July 16, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) approved a grant for more than $34 million to provide needed facility improvements at Hancock and Miller elementary schools in the Tierrasanta community. This DOD grant will be combined with approximately $8.6 million in existing Proposition Z bond funds for a total construction budget of nearly $43 million to perform repair, renovation and replacement work at the two schools.

This federal funding allows the district to replace more than 20 aging, portable classrooms with state-of-the-art permanent classrooms to achieve a more functional learning environment at Hancock and Miller. This will have a significant, positive impact, and supports the initiative to provide quality neighborhood schools.

"San Diego Unified's Vision 2020 calls for quality schools in every neighborhood," said Superintendent Cindy Marten. "This generous grant from the Department of Defense will help ensure that the students at Miller and Hancock elementary schools receive a world-class education in a state-of-the art learning environment."

"This is another example of how kids benefit when we collaborate with our community partners," added Kevin Beiser, president of the Board of Education. "We are pleased to work with the DOD and are grateful to receive this grant. We have a proud military tradition in San Diego, and we are glad to have the opportunity to give back to our service men and women by providing their children with the best possible learning environments."

Construction at Hancock and Miller is scheduled to start in spring 2016 and is estimated to be complete in late 2018. The schools will remain open while construction is underway. Construction phasing and other strategies will be employed to minimize disruptions to the teaching and learning environment.

Planned site improvements in the whole site modernizations will include:
  • Renovation of existing open classrooms 
  • Replace aging portables with single-story permanent classrooms 
  • Replace and enhance campus security, as well as fire and emergency safety systems 
  • Renovate and enhance existing heating ventilation and air conditioning systems 
  • Replace aging electrical systems and upgrade technology network infrastructure to support the i21 Interactive 21st Century Classroom Technology Initiative 
  • Repair and replace sidewalks including accessible ramps and stairs 
  • Renovate and upgrade food services areas 
On April 5, 2011, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act was signed into law, authorizing the DOD to provide up to $250 million to construct, renovate, repair and expand elementary and secondary public schools located on military installations in order to address capacity or facility condition deficiencies.

Related links:
DOD News Release:
Hancock ES project info (scroll down to "Project Schedules"):
Miller ES project info (scroll down to "Project Schedules"):

Thursday, July 17, 2014

San Diego Unified earns perfect score for transparency in bond program

Propsoitions S & ZSan Diego Unified earned a perfect score from the San Diego Taxpayers Association for transparency in the bond program and is one of only two school districts to earn this distinction. The report was released on July 9.

According to the report:  "The San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation conducts research on issues relevant to taxpayers including transparency. Taxpayers should be able to quickly determine if new libraries, new pools and new classrooms, for example, that school district officials promised to voters while pitching the bond have been built. In many districts, this information is easier to find today than it has been in the past. This report is intended to provide tools for San Diego County school districts to use in the ongoing process of improving transparency with respect to school facilities bond programs.

Only San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union High School District earned perfect marks on the Transparency Scorecard, with all other districts having at least one missing section."
Media coverage: