Dear Bonsall School Community,

We have less than two months of this school year left and it’s time to evaluate our course and make adjustments to continuously improve. As stated in the last blog entry, the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) results are showing success in reaching our goals. We have been reporting results to the Board and meeting with groups around the District, asking for input on how we might perform at an even higher level, particularly for our English learners and low-income students.

With new State Standards and Assessments, we are at a point where academic excellence is being redefined. Our relatively high performance on the old California Standards Test (CST) was measured by our State’s Academic Performance Index (API), and the flawed federal regulations of No Child Left Behind. However, a new API formula and federal regulations are both being designed currently, but neither will be applied to this year’s new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), because it is the first year for individual student results and growth can’t be measured until after next year’s assessment results.

It is important to realize the major shift in assessment that is occurring in education. Traditionally testing was limited to knowledge and some skills; memorization was a key to high performance, and students were ranked and sorted by these tests.   The CAASPP is focused more on what the learner can do with knowledge, and what problems can be solved by applying knowledge to unfamiliar situations. Thinking becomes more important than memorizing because virtually anything you can memorize can be found on a smart phone. Reasoning that supports the solution to a problem is now required with the algorithm. Thinking long and hard is difficult.

This is a tough shift and a focus on growth rather than status is probably the most important shift in assessing students because the CAASPP doesn’t just rank good or bad, it tells the learner what they know or can do and shows the teacher what the learner needs next to improve. Motivation is the new intelligence and growth is the new metric to encourage motivation. For the last seven years Bonsall has been using computers to increase growth of learning through assessment. Now the whole state is moving toward the growth model with the CAASPP. It will be used to determine a student’s readiness for college. This week, the window for Bonsall students to take the CAASPP opens and we should have our results by late June. We are excited to see the results so we can adjust our LCAP toward our purpose of “Academic excellence and support for all students to become highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or college”.   It is truly an honor and a pleasure to serve the Bonsall School Community during these historic times!


Justin Cunningham, Ed.D.