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ELECTIONS: Closing the Achievement Gap at Campbell Schools

Candidates running in the three school board elections discuss how they will address the gap.

 

Candidates running for

answer how each will work at closing the achievement gap at their prospective district.

Both Campbell Union and Moreland school districts had schools recognized for their efforts in closing the gap this year.

Santa Clara County as a whole is outpacing the state in closing the gap between Latinos and White students, but the size of the gap is still a source for concern.

Campbell Union School District Board of Trustees candidate Juliet Tiffany-Morales:

Closing the achievement gap is a priority for CUSD. Teachers in our district have received extensive training and support to build strong foundations in literacy in the early grades as well as to help struggling students.

In addition, a variety of computer programs that target specific student needs in language arts in mathematics are available to our struggling students. Each year the computer programs as well as the training and support for teachers are evaluated to determine which approaches work best for which students. We will continue this ongoing review to refine our practices and we must also look to strong coordination among the schools, the afterschool programs, and summer school to address the achievement gap.

While supporting programs for struggling students, we need to ensure that all our students are challenged and engaged. We can only claim victory in closing the achievement gap if all students improve. Key to all our district’s efforts to close the achievement gap is analyzing our student outcomes and evaluating the effectiveness of our programs.

Campbell Union School District Board of Trustees candidate Michael Snyder:

I will help to close the achievement gap by making sure CUSD hires the best teachers, has the best intervention programs and pursues enrichment programs in mathematics and the arts.

Students need a support system, challenging curriculum, higher level order questioning and an opportunity to learn. There has to be frequent monitoring of students and school programs. I will continue to help provide teachers with the best possible programs.  

I will advocate for programs that help all students to fill safe at their schools. There should be programs that promote health and wellness. The schools need to have a climate of high expectations, a vision for the future and use technology effectively.

Campbell Union School District Board of Trustees candidate Leah Read:

Campbell Union School District has made a concerted effort to address the achievement gap. Teachers have been trained in Guided Language Acquisition and Development (know as GLAD) and Systematic English Language Development (or Systematic ELD) and are providing coaching and support to implement these strategies. The board has also shown their commitment to addressing this issue with the implementation of extensive intervention programs this last year. We will need to continue to evaluate these programs, making sure each child is in the appropriate program, provide training and support for our teachers, and focus on building a strong foundation in the early grades.

Moreland School District Board of Trustees candidate Julie Reyolds-Grabbe:

 I think the number one way to close the achievement gap is to find creative ways to engage more parents. The achievement gap is based on many factors including whether children have a single parent at home, the amount of parental support they receive, whether English is the primary language at home, the academic history and literacy of the student's parents, and whether the student is living in poverty. 

Living in poverty can adversely affect students by exposing them to less than adequate nutrition, housing and access to healthcare. They are at increased risk of living in areas with high crime and substance abuse which can also affect their school achievement. Although we can't directly combat many of the above issues, we can encourage parents to invest time and energy in their children's future.

I also believe that teachers and administrators must have high expectations for students coupled with access to resources if achievement falls short. Identifying and providing intervention for those students who need assistance is critical.

Another initiative that will potentially help with closing the gap is the Common Core State Standards which California is adopting in the near future. The CCSS will ensure that every student has access to teachers who are prepared to teach at levels  that facilitate a high quality learning environment. The instructional resources have also been designed to meet the needs of a diverse mix of students.

Moreland School District Board of Trustees candidate Robert Varich:

Moreland School District has been a leader in an effort to decrease the achievement gap, as evidenced by the above recognition and serving as Best Practice Model Schools for the region and our “Schools to Watch” designation.

Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees candidate Diane Gordon:

We currently have a number of programs and practices in place that will help close the achievement gap, small learning communities, AVID, workshops, parent groups support groups, and collaboration with feeder districts.

Last year we started a small learning community program at one of our sites. Initial analysis of the data shows a marked improvement in student grades. We are continuing to review the data but it appears that the smaller more structured classes are having an impact on student achievement.

We have had an AVID Program for the last number of years due to the success of the program I will be advocating for its expansion. The AVID program does the following:

AVID's  mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. The AVID program levels the playing field for minority, rural, low-income, and other students without a college-going tradition in their families.  The purpose of AVID is to prepare students for college eligibility and success. As AVID expands to a school-wide and district-wide program, it impacts educators by increasing best practices for engaging all students and increasing college readiness across the school and district. (Taken from the California Department of Education web Site)

Also we offer workshops in Algebra and English is a second language to allow students who would benefit from extra instruction in these areas.

We are also working on organizing more parent related education which should help the students. At del Mar we have Padre Unidos which supports Spanish speaking parents. We also have ELAC and DLAC parents groups to support parents and students. We also have taken over the management of our adult ed program which has allowed us to leverage those resources to provide parent education classes along with credit recovery classes for high school students. our Adult.

We continue to build on our strong relationship with our feeder districts which is allowing us to have conversations regarding data and achievement. This helps our feeder districts make sure students are ready for high school and we make sure we have the right classes and resources in the right places.

Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees candidate Rick Costanzo:

CUHSD State testing (API) scores, district-wide, have gone up 22 points in the last two years, with the score for white students going up 28 points. However, the score for African American students has gone up 36 points during the same time period, with a 27 point gain for Hispanics, an 18 point gain for English language learners, a 12 point gain for disadvantaged students and a 10 point gain for those with disabilities. 

Clearly, the achievement gap for CUHSD is being narrowed, so we are on the right track. I will continue to advocate for finding the funds needed to keep the programs targeted to provide the extra student support necessary to continue this trend.

*Campbell Patch will update these as missing candidates send in their responses.

For more of Patch's November 2012 Election Coverage, click here.

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