Dear Bonsall School Community,

This spring all schools in California are currently administering the Smarter Balanced Field Test in English-language arts and mathematics. This field test is a major step in our State’s transition to a new assessment system, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). You might have heard that some states had great difficulty assessing the Common Core Standards. Those states used the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which is a different assessment consortium than the one in which California participates. Serendipitously, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in which our State participates, copied many of the successful practices of NWEA’s MAP test, an assessment we have used successfully for several years.

We’re so fortunate that the Governors of the states got together with the State Superintendents to develop the Common Core Standards, and allowed for more choice and local control of which assessment California would select. Our Federal government’s congressional dysfunction can’t even manage to correct the flaws in No Child Left Behind; we’ve been waiting for several years. Luckily, we don’t have to wait on Congress to act; California’s educational direction supports our District purpose statement of “Academic excellence and support for all students to be highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or college”.

Bonsall schools are currently “testing the test”, and so far the feedback is good. We purchased a few hundred Chromebooks to update our aging hardware, and there have been no major concerns. Our State Board of Education, and our Bonsall Union Board of Trustees are to be commended; ensuring the validity of the test protocol was very prudent because the depth of knowledge required in the Common Core Standards, and the new performance tasks on the new assessment call for more than multiple choice questions. Such a big shift requires getting the glitches worked out before data can be considered reliable.  Because we are “testing the test” there will be no reporting of student scores this year.

Our MAP testing, which is now aligned with Common Core Standards, has provided data already that shows the need for increased expository (non-fiction) writing by Bonsall students, particularly in the seventh and eighth grades. All other areas in math and English-language arts show growth at all grade levels. Combining our MAP data with previous years’ California Standards Test (CST) data shows us that the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), that holds school districts more accountable for student learning in low income, English learner, foster youth, and special education student populations, is just what Bonsall schools need. Our data over the years show that for these student populations, we need to be sure we are serving their needs as well as the rest of our student population. Districts are receiving some extra money (supplemental grant) to be directed toward supporting low income, English learner, foster youth and special education students in a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). About 38% of our students fall into these populations. School districts with more than 55% (all of our neighboring districts) get extra funding (concentration grant) to support these students. Once again we are receiving relatively lower funding than most districts, but I am confident we will maintain our high performance through effective use of our resources.

This effective use is addressed in our LCAP, which currently has a survey link

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/99G33PG

on our website for you to add your input to, and is focused on goals related to improving our student learning. The goals are:

1)   District-wide writing program

2)   Focus on assessment vocabulary

3)   Focus on math at the primary grades

4)   Increasing numbers and training of bi-lingual paraprofessionals

5)   Increasing early intervention support for special education students

Bonsall High School is hiring outstanding teachers to implement our New Tech model. These new teachers are going through trainings this summer to successfully kick off the New Tech model. Construction to begin the High School at Sullivan Middle School will begin in mid June. In my last blog I wrote about a possible CIF partnership for athletics with Fallbrook High, but FUHSD is not interested. As the High School begins we will support development of a club sports model until we are large enough to consider a CIF membership. In case you missed last Sunday’s Union Tribune, the front page of the Local section presented a very positive article on Bonsall High School. The link is below:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/apr/27/bonsall-high-new-tech/

It is important to remember that our students will also be enrolling in various college courses while they are in high school. In the article I was quoted as wanting to seek community support similar to the way colleges and universities are supported. This is a critical innovation for Bonsall; the District will more than double in size in the next 8-10 years as several developments are planned to bring in more students. Bonsall High School can attract a desired demographic profile into those developments; people that move into school districts with the expectation of great schools always create great schools. This can dictate the quality of this community for succeeding generations and have a very positive impact on property values in the area.

The Bonsall School Community is set to lead public education into a higher level of performance. It is a great opportunity and privilege to serve you in such a time as this.

Yours,

Justin Cunningham, Ed D

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