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November 9, 2023 Family Communication

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S MESSAGE
Dr. Eric Prater, Superintendent

Why Thanksgiving? Why is gratitude so important?
Late fall is my favorite season. Maybe it’s because of the changing weather, the turning of the leaves, college football in the air, or Thanksgiving. Since my childhood, Thanksgiving has always been a time for all things that I love: family, friends, community, and great food. Not to mention the magical alchemy created when they all come together. 

In the landscape of education, fostering gratitude is not an afterthought but a cornerstone of our district’s mission to nurture the well-being of students, educators, and the entire community within our public schools. As superintendent, I must underscore the significance of giving thanks, a practice that transcends politeness to become a catalyst for personal and collective wellness.

The other evening, Trustee Brian Clausen asked, “How can we better celebrate and share the many great things going on in our district so people really understand how and what we’re doing?” I believe it is best answered through the lens of gratitude.

Within our schools, demonstrating academic proficiency on state testing is only a part of our story. Yes, we outperform most school districts in our region and across the state in English, Mathematics, and Science; however, academic success is not a solitary endeavor but a collaborative journey. 

In San Luis Coastal, educators play a pivotal role as architects of the future. Their tireless dedication, creativity, and passion lay the foundation for students' growth. Expressing gratitude towards these educational stewards is not only a professional courtesy but a recognition of the profound impact they have on shaping young minds. A culture of thanks uplifts our educators, fueling their commitment to the noble task of guiding the next generation.

Moreover, within our schools, gratitude becomes a bridge that spans differences and fosters inclusivity. By appreciating the unique contributions and perspectives of each student and staff member, we create a richer, more harmonious learning environment. In acknowledging our shared humanity, we strengthen the bonds within our school community.

From a superintendent's standpoint, I emphasize that gratitude is not a passive virtue but an active force for positive change. It transforms the school experience from a transactional exchange of knowledge to a relational journey of growth. Students who feel seen and appreciated are more likely to engage actively in their education, fostering a sense of purpose that transcends the classroom. To me, this is the ultimate success story. 

As we approach Thanksgiving, my hope is the following: let us practice gratitude, where every interaction contributes to the strength and vibrancy of the whole. As we express thanks for the efforts of our 1,200 employees, the achievements of our students, and the support of our parent community, we sow the seeds of a thriving, interconnected learning system that uplifts us all. Gratitude, therefore, is not just a virtue; it is a daily behavior guiding us towards a future where personal and collective wellness flourish in the fertile soil of appreciation. 

May you have a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and love.

Eric


EDUCATIONAL SERVICES
Lisa Yamashita, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services

Elementary English Language Arts Adoption Process
Our elementary sites are in the process of selecting a new curriculum to support the teaching of reading. In 2022-23, a group of K-5 elementary teachers, administrators, specialists, Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) and a few parents, came together as a reading committee for 4 separate days of learning. The learning included understanding the latest research on reading, a review of our state grade level frameworks and standards, as well as a review of possible curriculum. The reading committee concluded with a recommendation of 3 curriculum for classroom teachers to “pilot” (use in classrooms with students) and a rubric to guide their evaluation of the different curricula. 

In this 2023-24 school year, K-5 classroom teachers across the district have tried one of the three curricula. Those same teachers will be trained on the second program in late November and the last program in late January. 

Each month leading up to our adoption of a new ELA curriculum, the ISLA office will be sharing information regarding recent research on teaching reading along with links to further explore the topic.  We will also include updates about the reading adoption process.  Below is our first communication, which is focused on the models of reading.   

Models of Reading
“The science of reading is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically-based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing. This research has been conducted over the last five decades across the world, and it is derived from thousands of studies conducted in multiple languages.”  The Reading League.org

One example of the way that the science of reading research has grown and changed over time is shown in some of the models that have been developed to help to explain what readers need to know and do in order to read. 

In 1986, The Simple View of Reading was published. “The Simple View of Reading identified two broad skills that predict reading comprehension: the ability to (1) read the words on the page and (2) the ability to understand oral language. According to this theory, individuals need to have skills in both word recognition and language comprehension to understand what they read.”

models of reading formula

In 2001, Scarborough's Reading Rope was published.  Language Comprehension and Word Recognition were still critical contributors to becoming a skilled reader but now the two areas were broken down into subcategories to better understand all that must be supported in order to help develop skilled readers. 

reading rope graphic

In 2021, researchers published their newest model to further help explain the areas needed to become a skilled reader. This model is called: The Active View of Reading.


active reading graphicThe Active View of Reading continues to acknowledge the role that both word recognition and language comprehension, and the subcategories identified in Scarborough's rope, play in creating a skilled reader. The Active view adds the skills that act as a bridge between word recognition and language comprehension (see the purple section). The Active View also adds the idea that “Active Self Regulation” plays a critical role in students’ ability to access the word recognition and language comprehension as well as those skills that bridge the two areas. 

The most recent research on what skilled readers need continues to grow and evolve. To learn more about the most recent research, click to read the article: The Science of Reading Progresses: Communicating Advances Beyond the Simple View of Reading. Click to hear a podcast with author Dr. Kelly Cartwright.

 

2023-2024 Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSAs)
State Education Code requires the Board of Education to annually approve school site plans that use state and federal funding to support their school’s goals. On November 7, the Elementary and Secondary  Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSAs) were presented for the Board’s review and were approved. 

The school site council team includes school staff, parents/community representatives, and (at the secondary level) students. Single Plans for Student Achievement move the schools forward in accomplishing their stated vision by incorporating goals based upon an analysis of student achievement data and by committing local, state, and federal funds to the content of the plans.

Plans contain measurable student achievement metrics, as well as trimester or quarterly checks for progress. This allows district and site leadership to work together to analyze progress on the goals throughout the year. High school administration has also incorporated Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) goals within the document.

All plans are organized around the three district-wide focus areas of:

  • Student Achievement
  • Student Achievement of LCAP Student Groups
  • Culture of Care

District actions from the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and Local Education Agency (LEA) Plan are included in each site plan which demonstrates an alignment in goals. Each site then included site-specific actions within those goals. This allows all schools to continue to move toward these common three focus areas in unison, but allows for some autonomy to reach these goals in different ways depending on the needs of each site. The SPSAs serve as a strong guiding document for school sites, so they can create goals with measurable student achievement metrics, actions to achieve these goals, and a culture of ongoing improvement.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results - District,County and State Comparisons
The results from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) have been released to the public and were presented to the SLCUSD Board on November 7. The presentation highlighted the overall results for SLCUSD and student subgroups with comparative data from surrounding districts, county, state, and some similar districts, and included data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and science, administered in 3 -8 and 11 grade in Spring 2023.

Morro Bay High WASC Visit Update
The staff and administration hosted a visiting WASC team over the past three days at Morro Bay High School. The visiting team met with parents and community members on Sunday evening, before observing classes on Monday and Tuesday. Staff were divided into different focus groups, with each group of teachers meeting with a member of the visiting team. During lunch on Wednesday, the visiting team presented their findings with the MBHS staff. 

Elementary Athletics for Achievementstudents playing volleyball outside
Athletics for Achievement completed the Fall season this past week, with Boys Soccer and Girls Volleyball competing in a district wide tournament at Laguna Middle School on Friday, October 27th and Cross Country athletes concluding their season by running in the SLO County Championships hosted at Laguna Lake Golf Course. San Luis Coastal had over 300 athletes competing in athletics this Fall season and are looking forward to having over 300 athletes participate in our Winter 1 season. Winter 1 sports include Boys Basketball and Girls Soccer and practices begin Tuesday, November 7th and first competitions will be held on Friday, December 1st. Thank you to all of our Cal Poly College Corps fellows, site leaders, coaches, and San Luis Coastal Education Foundation for their continued support of our athletics program.

SLCUSD Adult School - Parent Participation
The annual Costume Parade is a beloved decades-long Parent Participation Program tradition, and we happily enjoyed it again this year. The chance to dress up delights children, parents, and the lucky District Office personnel that get to admire them.  Families visited various district offices in SLO, or paraded around the playground at our Morro Elementary site, and collected non-food treats while posing for adorable photos.  Thank you to everyone who was part of making this a special event for the hundreds of families in the Parent Participation community.

families with young children
 

KSBY Story: Recess Time
California students in kindergarten through eighth grade will have a mandatory 30-minute recess break beginning with the 2024-25 school year, thanks to a new law recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Check out the news story here.


BUSINESS SERVICES
Ryan Pinkerton, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services

Affordable Connectivity Program 
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a great program that can help families pay for home internet. Please see the flyers below for more information about getting signed up.