IUSD Ranks Top in State and County for California Assessment Scores


The Irvine Unified School District’s state standardized assessment scores have outperformed both state and county score averages, with IUSD ranking the highest in the state among public school districts of 25,000 or more for students who exceeded the standards in both Math and English Language Arts/Literacy.  IUSD was also the top performing district overall in Orange County.

Last spring, IUSD students in grades three through eight and grade 11 participated in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which provides information on each student’s progress on state standards.  While the scores are just one of many measures of student performance, they help to enhance our understanding of each student’s needs and inform our educational efforts.

“I am incredibly proud of Irvine Unified students’ outstanding performance.  These results are a testament to our collective efforts and the special partnership between our hardworking students, dedicated families, and talented staff,” said Superintendent Terry Walker.  “As a key driver of excellence, IUSD is guided by our Continuous Improvement Efforts, which are focused on critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and other learning outcomes also found in state standards. These student capacities have been an integral part of IUSD’s educational mission and vision since our inception. As we strive to ensure that the Irvine Unified School District remains one of the highest-performing districts in the country, we will continue to leverage collaboration and connections with our students, parents, staff and community partners.”

California released this statewide aggregate data on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.  IUSD anticipates that individual student score reports will be mailed home in the next few weeks.

In the interim, please keep the following in mind about these assessments.

Scores are One of Many Measures

Assessment scores should be recognized as only one measure when evaluating student learning; they provide some but not all information about a student’s knowledge and skills.  Results from tests should be reviewed in combination with other measures, such as in-class assignments, classroom tests, and teacher input.  For more information about your child’s academic progress, please stay in close contact with your child’s teacher(s) and school.

How Test Scores are Used

IUSD will use these scores to better understand each student’s learning and help us continue to improve upon the high-quality instruction we provide.  The scores will not be used to determine student advancement to the next grade level or as the sole piece of information when making academic decisions about students.

For additional information, please visit the following resources:

iusd.org/statewide-testing
cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/
http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/


IUSD Opens Portola High School and Beacon Park K-8


As IUSD kicked off the 2016-17 school year on August 24, it opened two new schools; Portola High School, the District’s fifth comprehensive high school, and Beacon Park K-8.  Serving the Great Park Neighborhoods and parts of north Irvine, both schools are state-of-the-art educational facilities designed to foster collaboration, innovation and integration of technology to ensure students are prepared for 21st Century college and career opportunities.

Common features between Portola High School and Beacon Park include:

  • Design Labs – These spaces become easily accessible extensions of classrooms to facilitate small or large group learning and project-based learning.  They also provide students with collaboration skills they will need to be college and career ready.
  • Dedicated Music Classrooms – Such dedicated spaces improve music instruction and student learning with better acoustics and less time to transition from a general use space.
  • Innovation Labs – These labs are designed to foster flexible learning and technology spaces for a variety of projects and various group work.  They create a robust environment for students to learn, collaborate, innovate and brainstorm.
  • Flexible Furniture – Each school site is equipped with flexible furniture, throughout each campus, to foster student-centered learning. This flexibility enables teachers and students to reconfigure their space for large or small group instruction and collaboration.

Both schools have been designed to meet criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning as reflected by IUSD’s Continuous Improvement Efforts.  In addition, many of the features at both schools are designed to mirror innovation and design lab features at such universities as Stanford and UCI.  As IUSD also continues to strengthen our relationships with the business community to ensure our students are prepared for 21st Century careers, we have developed the flexible student-centered spaces to be reflective of innovative workplaces.

Below is a list of features by school site.

IMG_9490Portola High School
This year, Portola High School welcomed approximately 400 freshmen and will add additional classes each year, resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by 2019-20.  The school is designed to support up to approximately 2,400 students.  In addition to a dedicated team of high-caliber educators, this state-of-the-art facility offers the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities, including:

  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs and visual and performing arts classrooms
  • A student union featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • Design lab for students’“Senior Passion Project” development
  • An elective building that will house a video production studio, 2D and 3D art, acoustically designed music rooms and more
  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning
  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields

To learn more about Portola High School, visit iusd.org/phs.  Additional resources include:

IMG_9513Beacon Park K-8
Beacon Park will accommodate approximately 1,000 students at capacity.  Similar to Portola High School, this state-of-the-art campus will also include the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities including:

  • Student collaboration spaces across all grade levels
  • Dedicated music classrooms
  • Dedicated science classrooms in grades 6-8
  • Innovation Lab
  • Design Lab
  • Parent Center
  • Full-Court Gymnasium
  • Dedicated kindergarten play area
  • Large outdoor play field
  • Hard court activities including handball and tetherball equipment
  • Dedicated fitness lab for students in grades 6-8– Mirrors athletic spaces found at the high school level.

 To learn more about Beacon Park, visit iusd.org/bp

IUSD is pleased to welcome back to school all of our more than 32,000 students and their families and we hope those attending our new schools feel at home as they settle in for a great year ahead.


Portola High School Welcome Message from Principal Pehrson


Dear Portola High School Community,

We are excited to open our doors for the first class at Portola High School on August 24, 2016.  This historic graduating class of 2020 will be the beneficiaries of more than five years of expert vision, design and construction on our 42-acre campus, which is adjacent to the Great Park.  While we are opening with only freshmen in the 2016-2017 school year, we will add an additional class each year resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.

Portola High School will offer the same opportunities for ninth graders as those offered at any other high school within the Irvine Unified School District.  These opportunities include a rigorous and relevant curriculum, a visual and performing arts program, an athletics program with a complete offering of freshman level teams, and a robust activities program.

Portola High School was designed in partnership with the best experts in the industry.  The planning involved numerous stakeholders throughout this multi-year process, resulting in a state-of-the-art 21st century facility complete with a performing arts complex, centered around a 700 seat theater, an aquatics complex including an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor gym (with three full sized courts) that is able to seat 2,000 guests, a 3,500 seat athletic stadium, a student union, and a learning commons designed to spark innovation.  The school also contains several dedicated student and teacher collaboration meeting rooms.  Finally, a fully equipped innovation lab (also known as a “Maker Space”) is located off the Student Union near a design room which will be used for a variety of purposes but most importantly, it will provide a space for our learners to create and develop their “Senior Passion Projects.”

Technologically, Portola High School boasts a WIFI system capable of up to five devices per person at full capacity.  As we move closer to a paperless system, our learners and instructors will use the latest software to manage and facilitate learning.  Furniture is flexible and stackable throughout the campus, allowing each space to convert readily from one learner-centered arrangement to another.

There is no doubt that the school site and all its amenities are beyond incredible.  That being said, what really elevates Portola High School is the quality of the staff that has been assembled.  The leadership team has been in place for more than a year prior to our opening.  Notable support from the District has afforded us time for the research and mind-work necessary to put structures and protocols in place that form the foundation of this unique and innovative 21st century school.

Our vision is that Portola High School will be a place where every learner belongs, contributes, and thrives.  We purposefully use the word “learner” to include not only students but adults, as well.  In this rapidly changing world, we all need to be continually growing, taking risks, and experimenting with new knowledge and skills.  From this vision, came our mission and our Bulldog PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy) motto, which describes the characteristics we want each of our students to demonstrate on a daily basis.

The core of our work and what we are about as educators are what we call our “learning outcomes.”  Our efforts each day are driven by our commitment to help each learner become capable, creators, communicators and contributors.  Each of these learning outcomes are defined by a set of 21st Century skills that will be specifically addressed across the curriculum and through our advisement program.

The Portola High School bell schedule is unique in that it is a mixture of an eight-period alternating block schedule with one day per week in which all periods meet for an abbreviated time.  The Portola Leadership team decided that it was in our learners’ best interest that instructors teach six classes rather than five in an effort to minimize class size.  Rather than the typical class size of 38-40, Portola will run classes at an average of 32 students per class.

Within the bell schedule, we have established designated time for teacher collaboration (professional development and staff meetings included), Office Hours (a time for students to receive extra support two times per week), and Advisement (a time for each teacher to meet with 25 students twice a week in a non-academic yet structured setting).  The schedule has been purposefully designed to give students flexibility and options in selecting their courses, as well as fewer classes each school night to focus on for study.

When Portola High School students are in their fourth year, they will participate in what we call the “Senior Passion Project.”  This course, designed across disciplines, will support the students throughout a four-year process, from grade nine to grade twelve, so that, by the time they enter their senior year, they will be ready to address one problem or issue of personal interest and relevance, to research a possible approach or solution, and to create a product or model which they will present to a panel of experts from the community—whether academic, artistic or entrepreneurial.

Needless to say, we are excited beyond what words can describe.  Our staff has fully embraced the concepts of intellectual risk-taking, learning through failure, continuous improvement, and Portola PRIDE.  We eagerly await what 2016-2017 has in store for us and the students we serve, and we very much look forward to your partnership with us.

Serving with PRIDE,

John Pehrson, Principal
Go Bulldogs!


IUSD High Schools Ranked Top in the Nation


Newsweek magazine has published its annual list of the top public high schools in the U.S.  IUSD was the only Orange County school district with Newsweek Top Schools Ranking 2016schools in the top 100 nationally.  Equally impressive, three IUSD high schools were ranked top three in Orange County.    Northwood High School ranked first in the county and No. 25 nationally, University High School was second in the county and No. 57 nationally, and Woodbridge High School was third in the county and No. 69 nationally.

Newsweek selected 500 of the nation’s best from more than 20,000 public high schools.  The ranking process included indicators such as standardized test scores; counselor staffing; college acceptance and enrollment; SAT and ACT participation and performance; Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) participation and performance; and dual enrollments.

Below are the 12 OC high schools on the top 500 list:

  • Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District (25)
  • University High School, Irvine Unified School District (57)
  • Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District (69)
  • Corona del Mar High School, Newport-Mesa Unified School District (100)
  • Yorba Linda High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (172)
  • Aliso Niguel High School, Capistrano Unified School District (252)
  • Arnold O. Beckman High School, Tustin Unified School District (295)
  • Tesoro High School, Capistrano Unified School District (323)
  • Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District (335)
  • Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (346)
  • San Clemente High School, Capistrano Unified School District (403)
  • Marina High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (475)

Other publications, including U.S. News & World Report and The Orange County Register, have also curated lists of top-performing high schools over the years, using their own respective formulas. While no ranking system can tell the full story of what goes on inside a school or classroom, each adds something to the discussion of educational success.  IUSD schools have been consistently recognized.


Reminder: Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee Applications Due Aug. 10


The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) is seeking 10 qualified volunteers to serve on the independent Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee.  Measure E, which was passed by voters in June 2016, is a $319 million school facilities improvement measure.

California state law requires that a Citizens Oversight Committee be appointed by the Board of Education to monitor bond expenditures and ensure bond revenues are allocated in compliance with the voter approved measure.  The committee provides transparency and maintains public confidence in the use of Measure E bond funds.

Applicants must commit to a two-year term of service and reside or own property within the School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) boundaries.  Click here to view the SFID boundary map.  Membership is voluntary, without compensation, and members must be 18 years of age.  Employees, vendors, contractors, consultants, or IUSD officials are not eligible for appointment to the Committee.

The Committee will meet quarterly, with all meetings conducted in the evenings, after work hours, and open to the public. Dates and times to be determined.

Applications will be accepted from July 6 through August 10 and are available online at iusd.org/MeasureE  or at the front desk of the Irvine Unified School District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604.  Completed applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on August 10.  Committee appointments are expected to be approved by IUSD’s Board of Education at the August 23, 2016 Board Meeting.

Applications may be returned by:

  • Email at MeasureE@iusd.org (Subject Line: Citizens Oversight Committee Application)
  • Fax to 949-936-5259 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)
  • Mail or hand-delivered to the District Office at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)

For additional information or questions, please email MeasureE@iusd.org, call 949-936-5251 or visit iusd.org/MeasureE.


There’s still time to enroll your child in IUSD’s preschool program for 2016-17


The Irvine Unified School District’s (IUSD) preschool program still has space available for the 2016-17 school year.  The program, open to children ECLC-cubages 3 and 4 who live within the District’s attendance boundaries, and is run by a staff of professional educators at IUSD’s Early Childhood Learning Center.  A variety of options are available, including subsidized funding for income-eligible families.

Established in 2002, the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) has worked collaboratively with local families to build a world-class learning community that supports each child’s social, emotional and pre-academic needs.

The ECLC campus is located at 1 Smoketree in Irvine. To learn more about registration and enrollment, visit the ECLC website or call 949-936-5890.


IUSD Seeks Applicants for Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee


The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) is seeking 10 qualified volunteers to serve on the independent Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee.  Measure E, which was passed by voters in June 2016, is a $319 million school facilities improvement measure.

California state law requires that a Citizens Oversight Committee be appointed by the Board of Education to monitor bond expenditures and ensure bond revenues are allocated in compliance with the voter approved measure.  The committee provides transparency and maintains public confidence in the use of Measure E bond funds.

Applicants must commit to a two-year term of service and reside or own property within the School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) boundaries.  Click here to view the SFID boundary map.  Membership is voluntary, without compensation, and members must be 18 years of age.  Employees, vendors, contractors, consultants, or IUSD officials are not eligible for appointment to the Committee.

The Committee will meet quarterly, with all meetings conducted in the evenings, after work hours, and open to the public. Dates and times to be determined.

Applications will be accepted from July 6 through August 10 and are available online at iusd.org/MeasureE  or at the front desk of the Irvine Unified School District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604.  Completed applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on August 10.  Committee appointments are expected to be approved by IUSD’s Board of Education at the August 23, 2016 Board Meeting.

Applications may be returned by:

  • Email at MeasureE@iusd.org (Subject Line: Citizens Oversight Committee Application)
  • Fax to 949-936-5259 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)
  • Mail or hand-delivered to the District Office at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)

For additional information or questions, please email MeasureE@iusd.org, call 949-936-5251 or visit iusd.org/MeasureE.


Woodbridge High Students Place Third at National History Day Competition


Nat Hist Day Woodbridge Winners 6.20.16

This month, National History Day winners were announced during the 42nd annual Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. Woodbridge High School students Eunji Son, Chai Won (Bella) An, and Kenny Chung, placed third in the senior group exhibit, titled, “Perry Expedition: Exchange through Encounter of Japan.”

More than 600,000 students from around the world competed in five categories: documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances and websites. Less than 1% of those entries were awarded the opportunity to compete in the national finals at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest held in Maryland.  Competitors represented the top entries from 57 affiliate members, including every state, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, South Korea, South Asia, China and Central America. Nearly 3,000 middle and high school students presented their work related to the 2016 theme, Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.

“The competitors at this contest are some of the brightest students of their generation,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “The work they produce is astounding in its breadth and scope of historical research. Once again, they amazed myself, the NHD staff, and the judges with their hard-work and creative projects. I want to congratulate them all for being in the top 1% of History Day projects created this year and especially congratulate those whose work was deemed the best of the best.”

During the Orange County National History Day competition, in the junior level, 15 projects out of a possible 18 projects were IUSD projects and advanced to the state competition. IUSD middle school students swept the website, documentary and historical paper categories in both the individual and group entries.

IUSD high school students also had an impressive finish at the County competition, with 18 out of 27 projects continuing to the state level, with IUSD sweeps of the documentary and historical paper categories for both the individual and group entries.

While at the state competition, IUSD students were recognized in three award categories: Honorable Mention, Runners-up and Champion.

Honorable mention winners included a Junior documentary “Perry’s Voyage: Opening the Gates of the Rising Sun” and group exhibit “The Kennedy-Nixon Debate: How Television Changed Politics Forever” from Sierra Vista Middle School and a senior historical paper from University High School “Star of the North: Catherine the Great’s Exchanges with Western Europe and Russian Encounters with the Enlightenment.”

Runners-up included a junior website from Jeffrey Trail Middle School “The Beatles: Revolution on Abbey Road” and a Senior individual documentary from University High School “The Okie from Muskogee.”

Four IUSD champions at both the Junior and Senior levels advanced to the national competition. From Lakeside Middle School a historical paper “Unlikely Explorers: The Mormon Battalion;” Nat Hist Day Woodbridge Project 6.20.16from Sierra Vista Middle School a group documentary “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Jonas Salk’s Pioneering Exploration into Poliomyelitis;” from Northwood High School a group documentary “Charles Lindbergh: Exploring Through Aviation, Exchanging Controversial Ideas, Encountering Hostile Criticism;” and from Woodbridge High School a group exhibit “Perry Expedition: Exchange Through Encounter in Japan.”

IUSD extends its congratulations to all of our students who participated in the county, state and national competitions and to the many dedicated teachers who worked tirelessly with the students.  To read about Sierra Vista Middle School teacher Jon Miller, who was named top middle school history teacher of the year, click here.

Founded in 1974 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, the National History Day Contest was created to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Since its creation, the contest has grown to an international competition with more than 600,000 participants that awards thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes annually. The theme for 2017 is Taking a Stand in History.


Sierra Vista Teacher Named Top Middle School History Teacher in the Nation


Jon MillersSierra Vista Middle School History teacher Jonathan Millers received the prestigious Junior Division Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award, worth $10,000, at this year’s Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in Washington, D.C. This honor is bestowed upon one junior division (middle school) and one senior division (high school) teacher annually. The recipient of the national award is selected from the affiliate winners of the prize. National History Day has affiliates in all fifty states, Washington, D.C., China, Korea, Guam, South Asia, Central America, and American Samoa. Millers became eligible for the prize after winning California’s Junior Division Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award.

Millers has participated in National History Day – California (NHD-CA) for nine years. NHD-CA, sponsored by the Sacramento County Office of Education, is one of the largest state history competitions in the nation. Each year more than 40,000 students from 28 counties explore historical topics and create projects that are entered in school, district, and county competitions. County champions advance to the annual state wide contest which includes more than 1,200 participants.

“Mr. Millers has a love for history and seeing students engaged in learning,” said NHD-CA State Coordinator Craig Irish. “His passion is evidenced by the students who pack his classroom each day during lunch and before and after school to work on their history projects. We are proud to have Mr. Millers represent California as the Junior Division Behring Teacher of the Year.”

As an 8th grade History teacher, Millers engages his students with hands on activities such as historical court case reenactments, or encouraging students to adopt the persona of a historical figure. Sierra Vista began participating in the National History Day Contest as an extracurricular activity. However, after seeing its effectiveness to improve student skills in research, use of technology, reading, and writing, it was decided to expand the program. It is now a key component in the school curriculum. The annual school presentation of these projects draws more than 300 attendees, including former students who offer advice to the next generation of National History Day Contest participants.


Aaron Jetzer Named Principal of Eastwood Elementary


Aaron Jetzer-GroundbreakingIUSD is pleased to announce that Aaron Jetzer has been named Principal of Eastwood Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in August 2017 to serve the new community of Eastwood Village. However, Mr. Jetzer will continue in his current role as Principal of Culverdale Elementary and begin the transition to Eastwood in January, 2017.

Mr. Jetzer has 16 years of education experience and is recognized as an outstanding leader in IUSD.  He currently serves as Principal of Culverdale Elementary, where for six years he has developed an excellent reputation as a site leader who works collaboratively with students, staff, and the parent community, including the PTA and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.  Innovation and continuous improvement are the hallmarks of Mr. Jetzer’s leadership, including the piloting of math and reading programs at Culverdale before they became standardized across the District. He continues to revamp the school’s technology and wireless infrastructure and in 2012, Culverdale was recognized as a California Distinguished school.

Mr. Jetzer is looking forward to the challenge of opening IUSD’s newest K-6 school and will work closely with students, staff and parents to develop an environment that personalizes learning to ensure that all students develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to connect to the world around them.  He is experienced at working with diverse student populations, has high expectations for academic achievement, and will offer a broad range of extracurricular programs.

Mr. Jetzer lives in Laguna Niguel with his wife and two kids.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching his kids play soccer, working on home projects, cooking, biking, running and yoga.