By Nicholas von Wettberg
The Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) Board of Education was missing two of its elected members for Thursday night’s meeting at the City Hall Community Chambers, but the agenda proceeded as planned.
During the meeting, members from the Superintendent’s office gave an update about efforts the district is making to close the local achievement gap.
Under the state’s finance system, each school district is required to take part in a three-year open and transparent planning process, drawing up a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The intent, according to the funding formula, is to “identify goals and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators.”
In the opening remarks to the LCAP Committee presentation, Superintendent Winfred Roberson called the plan “our roadmap for success,” adding that “we reflect on it daily.”
Roberson recognized the fact that the district has worked under LCAP for only one year. He also stressed the need for full disclosure.
“We want to make sure that the board, as well as the community and our entire organization is kept up to speed with how we’re progressing, how things are going and this update is intended as a part of a series of updates to be given,” Roberson said.
Associate Superintendent Dr. Clark Bryant, who heads up the commission, provided the update on the implementation of LCAP, reminding the board early on about three priorities California has developed: learning conditions, engagement and student outcomes.
“I just wanted to bring those back to us, so we had an opportunity to reflect on how each of those may impact student’s learning within the classroom, and later when we go through some data connecting back to these tenets that the state has advanced for us.”
Bryant explained that the implementation of Common Core and student access to A2G classes fall under the category of learning conditions, while priorities for engagement include ensuring that kids’ minds are active and being challenged inside the classroom.
As for student outcomes, the belief is that it may be a small sample size but at least one year of scores provides a baseline from which to work.
In the update, Bryant went over the eight goals involved in the process, which he says have been years in the making – long before it became policy just over two years ago.
Included among the implementation highlights of Goals 4, 5 and 6 for 2015-16 are Reading Support Equity and Early Literacy (Student Goals), the development of “pathways” through the implementation of Career Tech Ed (CTE) classes (Student Goals), Elementary Councilors (Climate), and Restorative Practices.
While Goals 4 and 6 are considered to be more about engagement, and “adding lenses,” Goal 5 has to do with the progress and proficiency of English Learners. That was covered in greater depth later on in the meeting.
Monitoring the achievement gap requires the use of LCAP metrics, which includes, among other things, a youth truth survey used to measure student connectedness, and compares student progress annually through SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) proficiency.
Graduation rates for last year’s Davis students have not been released, although improvements have been noticeable, according to Bryant, through the means of tracking data and identifying successful strategies.
“That’s one step we’re taking,” Bryant said. “Also making sure that we’re identifying students by name. They’re not just numbers on a chart, but they’re names of students in a classroom and making sure that teachers are aware of which students need that support.”
Some of the other key components Bryant pointed out are providing engaging environments for students and providing the appropriate support to set them up for success.
As for the goal-setting aspect to the plan, after looking at data from the one year, they found it was occurring “in pockets all the way from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”
One unifying factor is the development of SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals. This type of curriculum allows for baseline factoring.
These are some of the next steps, “pieces of the plan,” that have been put into place in order to ultimately narrow the achievement gap.
There are a number of upcoming opportunities for the public to engage in the LCAP process. The second LCAP advisory meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 30, and in the middle of January there will be a LCAP Community Forum.