At a time when the achievement gap between low-income students and their affluent counterparts is growing nationwide, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) was named one of the top five districts in the nation to close this gap, by Education Cities. The nonprofit organization, which recently published the first-ever Education Equality Index tracked data from school districts in the 100 largest U.S. cities. According to the organization’s website, “the index score is calculated by identifying the percentage of students from low-income families that reach proficiency averaged across every subject/grade.”
“IUSD and our dedicated teachers and staff continuously work to improve how we deliver the highest quality education we can envision,” said Superintendent Terry Walker. “The recognition that IUSD is providing educational equity for all students is another piece of powerful evidence of our significant accomplishments in support of students.”
IUSD has made student intervention and a commitment to supporting the individual needs of students a critical focus. Intervention work includes training teachers to assess student performance and to identify the necessary resources and strategies to maximize student learning. To support our learners in reading, the District utilizes targeted small group instruction to assess students as they are learning and to provide increased rigor or greater support during lessons. This kind of differentiation ensures that teachers monitor student needs and intervene appropriately.
In addition, IUSD integrates evidence based intervention with the support of highly trained intervention lead teachers and intervention psychologists. Our increased focus on intervention began seven years ago, and continues to be an integral part of our practice. Meeting the needs of each student, encouraging student voice and generating greater levels of authentic engagement are integral components of our practice.
IUSD believes that our robust science, technology engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programming for all students as part of their daily instruction also supports student success. These opportunities could not exist without our gifted and committed Instructional staff who enable IUSD to reduce class size and individualize instruction. The addition of classified support staff enables teachers to work more closely with students and facilitates effective small group instruction.
Support staff includes:
- Instructional Aides are an effective part of IUSD’s current strategy to reduce class size and increase individualized instruction.
- Teachers on Special Assignment, who perform a wide variety of tasks designed to support classroom instruction based on the needs expressed by teachers and school sites.
- Science and Technology Coaches, who support teachers and students on meaningful integration of technology in classroom activities.
- Intervention Lead Teachers, who monitor students in need of additional support.
- Intervention Psychologists, who design and provide effective intervention and intervention training.
- Health and Wellness Staff, including school psychologists, counselors, guidance paraprofessionals and guidance assistants.