High academic achievement continues to be the main focus in the South Pasadena Unified School District as principals from each of the city’s five campuses recently gave high marks during their executive summaries to the Board of Education.
Various data points, specific goals and strategies designed to reach positive outcomes were presented by principals Janet Anderson from South Pasadena High, Dave Kubela from South Pasadena Middle School and Cheryl Busick, Patricia Cheadle and Dr. Laurie Narro from Arroyo Vista, Marengo and Monterey Hills elementary schools, respectively, during this month’s school board meeting.
“It’s a collective effort by each of the schools,” explained South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz , noting that the strategic plans are developed and approved by School Site Councils, comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, classified staff (janitors, instructional aides, secretaries and office staff) and, in some cases, students.
“The work is very important because the principals take the time to evaluate aspects of the schools and develop objectives and goals to continue to move things forward,” said the superintendent.
What Yantz took away from each presentation was that the South Pasadena Unified School District is, for the most part, a well-oiled machine top to bottom, from 12th grade all the way down to preschool.
It doesn’t come as a surprise to the superintendent that SPUSD placed in the top five among all K-12 unified school districts in California following the state Department of Education’s release of the 2016-2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results in September.
In a statement issued by the district, reports on English language arts and math statewide assessments completed by students in the spring of 2017 showed a 7 and 5% increase, respectively, from the prior year, in students meeting and exceeding standards district-wide.
“We are seeing year-over-year success with CAASPP testing for our students,” said Yantz in the statement. “Our team of teachers, staff, administrators, and parents ensure that students are learning and excelling in the state standards. District-wide, strategic goals keep us focused on the best ways for students to succeed, and we’re experiencing terrific results.”
He said school plans presented to the Board of Education by each of the principals are highly comprehensive and take a considerable amount of time to compile to address the needs of all students, “Who come to us with varying degrees of backgrounds,” said Yantz. “We do what we can to identify those needs and get support to students as quickly as we can.”
Yantz said the growth and overall achievement at each of the school sites over the past year “was fantastic, very encouraging.”
He recognizes that students took sizeable gains in academics as well as “the social and emotional side of things. I believe the schools are doing what’s best for the kids.”
Yet, Yantz insists there’s always work to be done and improvements to be made.
Challenges? Oh yes, there are always going be obstacles facing the district, explained Yantz, but most can be overcome with additional funding. “We need money to provide programs for kids,” he said. “There’s never enough you can do for kids who need intervention and support. So, the challenges are the limited funds we have available to support kids with the level of staffing.”
In the statement issued by the district, Christiane Gervais, assistant superintendent of instructional services, is pleased to note that students are continuing to improve in the classroom. “Strong academic growth and student progress is indicative of an educational system that is working well,” she said. “Our exemplary teachers are helping students meet and exceed California standards in their classrooms, and with the help of supportive parents, administrators and staff, students are seeing positive results.”
For more information about CAASPP testing, including videos and guides to understanding the score reports and assessments, go to: http://bit.ly/2inKUa7.