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 Named Top Five District in Nation for Student Achievement


Technology-Master-PlanAt 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.

Visit, iusd.org to learn more about IUSD programs and initiatives. To read the Ed Source article, “Achievement gaps in Irvine, San Francisco are among smallest of US cities,” click here.

 


IUSD Ranks Highest in State in Math


The Irvine Unified School District’s state standardized test scores ranked highest in the state in math and second highest in the state in English Language Arts/Literacy, for school districts of 25,000 or more.  This comes on the heels of IUSD being ranked first in Orange County for both math and English Language Arts/Literacy.    Elementary classroom

“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.  “IUSD continues to thrive in a challenging environment, including a new state funding model that will continue to adversely impact our educational resources.  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.”

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

For more information about state standardized testing and IUSD’s perspective, click here or visit iusd.org/statewide-testing.

To read the Orange County Register article, click here.


Standardized Assessment Scores to be Released in September


IUSD students in grades three to eight, 10 and 11, who participated in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), will SBAC Imagereceive their assessment results by mail in late September or early October.  Below is important information about the assessments, score reports and what they mean to you and your child.  For more information, visit iusd.org/statewide-testing.

CAASPP assessments include:

Grades 3-8 & 11

  • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics
  • California Alternative Assessment Field Test (alternate assessment for students with special needs)*

Grades 5, 8 & 10

  • California Standards Tests Science
  • California Modified Assessment Science (modified for students with special needs)
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment Science (alternate assessments for students with special needs)

New Scores Cannot be Compared to Old Scores

The Smarter Balanced assessments are aligned with the new state standards and are scored in a completely new way.  Therefore, scores from these new assessments cannot be compared to older state testing scores.  Click here for a sample score report.

The New Assessments Provide a Baseline for Future Progress

The new assessment results will provide students with a baseline to track progress over time.  As our students and schools become more familiar with the new assessments, we expect the scores to continue to increase.

Scores are One of Many Measures

Assessment scores should be used as one of many measures 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, teacher conferences and other factors.  For more information about your child’s academic progress, please contact your child’s teacher(s) or school.

How Test Scores Are Used

IUSD will use these baseline scores as one of many measures when looking at individual student learning.  They will also help the District 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.

Additional Information and Resources

iusd.org/statewide-testing
iusd.org/common-core
cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/

*Students who participated in the California Alternate Assessment Field Test will not receive results this year.  The 2015 year was a field test, meant to measure the quality of test items, not to measure student performance.

 


Six Irvine elementary schools earn California Distinguished School honors for 2014


Six campuses in IUSD have earned the state’s highest level of recognition for public schools.

Eastshore, Stone Creek, Stonegate, Turtle Rock and Westpark elementary schools, as well as the K-8 Vista Verde School, were among 424 sites announced as California Distinguished Schools Wednesday by Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Nearly 60 earned the distinction in the county, according to the Orange County Register.

Distinguished logo“We could not be more proud of the students, staff and parents at these six campuses, which exemplify our mission to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision,” said Sharon Wallin, president of the IUSD Board of Education. “To have a single California Distinguished School in your district is cause for celebration. To have six in one year is phenomenal.”

Now in it’s 29th year, the California Distinguished Schools program has continued to evolve, focusing more recently on the ability of public schools to provide an equitable and rigorous education. It also recognizes sites that have made significant progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

Those that were eligible to apply for the honor — based in large part on their accountability scores — were required to submit written applications that included comprehensive descriptions of two signature practices, which were later validated through a county-led review process.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” State Superintendent Torlakson said. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

All of this year’s California Distinguished Schools will be honored in early June during regional award ceremonies. They have also agreed to share their signature practices with other schools that would like to replicate their work.

For those scoring at home, IUSD campuses have now earned Distinguished School honors 61 times since the program began in 1986. Here’s the complete list:

distinguishedschools


IUSD seeks feedback from local stakeholders for new accountability plan


As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula represents a dramatic change in how education dollars are allocated in California, channeling greater resources to the students who need them most.

Meanwhile, the new funding system also calls for additional accountability measures.

LCFF-LCAP

Beginning this year, every school district and county office of education must develop, adopt and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan — or LCAP — with input from parents and other community stakeholders.

That’s where you come in.

IUSD is now encouraging its parents, students, teachers and community members to take a few minutes to respond to six questions covering topics that include academic standards, college and career readiness, parent involvement and school climate. Feedback provided by the April 4 deadline will be considered carefully as the district drafts its first Local Control and Accountability Plan, which will set new goals and establish measurable benchmarks for progress.

You can access the Irvine Unified School District’s 2014 Stakeholder Survey by clicking here.

[UPDATE on May 14:  The deadline above may have passed, but IUSD’s LCAP isn’t due to the county until July 1, and you can still weigh in. First, to get an overview of the plan, check out this slide presentation from the Board of Education’s April 29 Study Session, or view the full draft by clicking here. Then tell us what you think through this online input form.]


IUSD gearing up for field test of modern assessments tied to Common Core standards


IUSD, along with hundreds of school districts throughout California, will be participating in a field test of the state’s brand new student assessment system this year.

You may already be familiar with the old STAR testing program that launched in 1999. Well, that’s being replaced statewide by the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress – or CASPP – which features modern computer-based exams that are aligned to the Common Core standards for English and math. While these exams won’t be officially administered until 2015, they will be piloted for many students this year.

One of the goals of the “field test” is to determine how well specific questions measure what students know and still need to learn. IUSD is also welcoming the opportunity to see how well its technical capabilities meet the demands of the new computer-based assessments — and whether additional resources may needed for teachers and schools.

Meanwhile, students may want to view this year’s test as an opportunity to try out the new system without consequences, as IUSD won’t be capturing or utilizing their scores. Instead, district officials plan to use what they learn to help ensure a successful launch of the new system during the 2014-15 school year.

In the weeks and months ahead, the field test will be administered to students in grades 3 through 8 at each of the district’s elementary schools, as well as grade 11 at each high school. If you’d like to preview what types of questions students will see, or how the test will be presented, you can access an online practice test by clicking here.

For more information, visit the California Department of Education’s Smarter Balanced webpage. And if you have any questions regarding your child’s participation in Irvine, you may want to check out IUSD’s Common Core webpage.


Stonegate tops the Orange County Register’s list of OC’s best elementary schools


The Orange County Register has released its latest breakdown of high-performing elementary schools, ranking our own Stonegate Elementary School at No. 1 in the county.

“Irvine’s Stonegate Elementary was this year’s leader, jumping from No. 14 to No. 1, a year after earning federal recognition with a Blue Ribbon Award,” the newspaper says. “School staff say they constantly explore new ways to teach, whether by adapting to new technology or holding yoga classes to keep kids focused – all while enrollment has more than doubled in the past five years.”

stonegate-1024x683IUSD’s Stone Creek Elementary School also earned a gold medal in the special report published Sunday, Feb. 16, and Turtle Rock and Westpark elementary schools each earned bronze medals.

As we’ve said before, school rankings can be highly subjective, as news outlets use different criteria for evaluating campuses. Nevertheless, the Register’s annual analysis of Orange County’s public schools draws a lot of eyes locally and is definitely worth noting here.

In making its selections for 2014, the paper says it awarded only 22 medals to the county’s 371 elementary schools after assessing a number of metrics, including academics, fitness and diversity. Though K-8 schools like Plaza Vista School and Vista Verde School weren’t included because their data doesn’t match up as well, their accomplishments were spotlighted in this companion piece.

To access the Register’s take on the best schools in Orange County, click here. (Note that a subscription is required to access the paper’s website.)


State’s new funding formula designed to direct additional dollars to students in need


California’s budget for 2013-14 has brought major changes to the way school funding is allocated, with the goal of channeling greater resources to the students who need them most.

At this week’s Board of Education meeting, Alan Schlichting, IUSD’s director of student support services, offered an overview of the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula and what it means for Irvine.

Here were some of the key takeaways:

The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, starts with a base funding level that is the same for all districts, though the amount allocated per-student is differentiated slightly by grade level. Next comes a layer of supplemental funding in the form of an additional 20 percent of the base for each English-language learner, low-income student and foster youth.

There is a third pot of funding called a concentration grant, and that’s equal to 50 percent of the base, but only for schools and districts where English-learners, low-income students and foster youth exceed 55 percent of the total enrollment. (IUSD doesn’t qualify for the latter grant.)

Schlichting said the LCFF model has replaced the Revenue Limit formula that’s been in place for nearly 40 years, as well as about three-quarters of the state’s categorical programs, which are smaller pots of money designated for specific purposes. Under the new system, he said, school leaders — along with parents and other local stakeholders — will have greater flexibility to determine how best to use available dollars to further local priorities that improve student outcomes.

Still, the LCFF won’t be fully funded until 2020-21. Until then, school districts are expected to receive about the amount of funding they were eligible for in 2012-13, plus an additional amount each year to gradually close the gap. (To put that in perspective, the 2012-13 funding levels were well short of what they were in 2007-08, before the state’s budget crisis hit.)

Greater accountability

California’s new funding model for education also includes additional accountability measures. Under LCFF, school districts and county offices of education must each develop, adopt and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with input from parents and other community stakeholders.

The initial plan, due July 1, will based on a template adopted by the State Board of Education. Districts will be required to identify annual goals, take action and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators, including academic achievement, school climate, access to a broad curriculum and parent engagement.

Academic priorities must be tied to each district’s spending plan, so the school board will be expected to approve the accountability plan before adopting its annual budget, Schlichting said. County superintendents will be tasked with reviewing these plans to ensure alignment of projected spending, services and goals. And county offices of education will provide technical assistance if the plans are rejected. The state superintendent of public instruction may also intervene if a school district fails to show improvement across multiple subgroups in three out of four consecutive years.

The local impact

So what does this all mean for Irvine?

It means more funding will target students with the greatest needs, including English-Learners, foster youth and low-income students. It also means the state is looking at broader benchmarks of success. Instead of simply focusing on test scores, the LCFF requires schools to develop plans to boost student engagement, increase parent involvement and create more positive learning environments. Finally, school leaders and parents will have a greater say over spending to ensure academic programs and services meet the unique needs of local students.

“We will have additional resources for students, and especially for those students who have greater needs,” Schlichting said. “We will have the opportunity to collect information from our stakeholders and make local decisions on how we’re going to move forward. There will be increased accountability, where we look at many pieces of data to determine how well our district is doing. And there will be alignment between our budget and the LCAP plan that we put together.”

Expect to see more on the NewsFlash about this topic. In the meantime, you can review Schlichting’s slide presentation here. And for even more information on the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plan, check out these resources:


State education officials partner with California PTA to offer Common Core resource for parents


What do the Common Core standards look like in the classroom?

Parents and community members can now read lesson samples and learn how to support the standards at home through a new online resource made available by the California Department of Education and the state PTA.

Both organizations are promoting a series of reader-friendly PDF brochures called “Parents’ Guide to Student Success.” Available in English and Spanish, these grade-level guides feature an overview of key Common Core lessons in English and math, suggestions for supporting learning at home and tips for parents on how to talk to teachers about their children’s academic progress.

The series, which was originally developed by the national PTA, can be accessed here.

“Parent Involvement Day is the perfect time to release these guides,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said last week, “because we know that well-informed, engaged parents can make all the difference in our work to give every student a world-class education. With modern standards and assessments and a new approach to school funding, we have a historic opportunity for serving these students, their families and our entire state.”

The Common Core standards, which happen to align nicely with IUSD’s own Continuous Improvement Efforts, were crafted to promote the knowledge and skills necessary for students to pursue competitive colleges and careers. They’ve been adopted by 45 other U.S. states, and they’re prompting big changes to California’s standardized testing program.

IUSD has more information about the standards on its Common Core webpage.