November Update from Superintendent Zinn
Dear Lafayette Families,
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to take the time to let you know how grateful I am to you, the Lafayette school community, for your amazing support, for your kindness, and for your commitment to all of the work we are doing in our District.
I would also like to extend my deepest thanks to our exemplary teachers and staff, whose dedication to providing the very best for our students is second to none, and to LPIE, our parent organizations, and the hundreds of volunteers in our District, who support our schools in so many positive ways, and ask nothing in return. I am proud that we are one of the very best districts in the State, and that has everything to do with each of you.
I always want to keep you apprised of important information, so to that end, I do want to share the following updates:
Parcel Tax Update—We will be moving forward with a parcel tax election. While we are still in the process of determining when the election will be held, we do know that passage of the parcel tax is critical. Currently, revenues from the tax comprise 15% of our budget--$4.8 million. We also continue to operate with a structural deficit, projected to increase over time. Your support, as we move forward, is extremely important and necessary to ensure that our District remains one of the most outstanding in the State. More information will be forthcoming in the months ahead.
Collaboration with the Lafayette Police Department-- Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen and I had an excellent conversation, this past week, about the communication between the police department and the school district. We are working together to strengthen and solidify ways to ensure that direct communication is provided to the District and/or to our schools as soon as any incident occurs that might impact our schools. While we know that it is just one form of communication, administrators and office personnel have also subscribed to the Nixle alert system so that we have the most current text information that might be released about a situation. In addition, Chief Christensen and I will be meeting on a regular basis to discuss all issues, particularly those related to safety concerns. I can’t underscore enough the fact that the safety of our students and staff members is of the very highest priority, and to that end, we will do everything necessary to ensure that protocols and communications around safety issues are put into place and followed.
Smarter Balanced Assessment Update--On a completely different and unrelated note, we are moving into a transformational time with the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC), which will be field tested by all school districts in California this spring. The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) will replace STAR testing, and will usher in a completely new assessment system. It is an exciting challenge for us and for all districts as we work to prepare for this new type of testing. As we move into the field testing period this spring, please note the following:
- The current 5th and 8th grade science assessment that has been a part of the STAR assessment will continue to be used this spring.
- All 3rd through 8th grade students will be tested this spring using the SBAC assessment. 2nd grade students will no longer be tested.
- The State has set the window for field testing between the middle of March and the end of this school year. The State will assign districts a testing window sometime between March and June, but we have not received this information about our District’s testing window.
- Most recent news has said that students will be tested in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. They will not take both assessments this spring. The State will make the determination about who will take which tests, but we have not received any information about this at this time.
- All students will take the assessment on a computer. We are currently working with our technology department and with our administrators to create schedules to accommodate this form of testing. We have an outstanding technology department which has been working for the past year to ensure that our network and our computers are ready for SBAC testing.
- Districts will not receive results from the test this year. Parents will not receive individual student results, and the District, from what we understand, will not receive any specific performance data until spring, 2015.
You may be aware that our District was chosen to conduct a pilot of the SBAC assessment this past spring at both Happy Valley Elementary and Stanley Middle School. As you might imagine, we learned a great deal about the technology requirements for the assessment, as well as the specific kinds of questions that students may encounter when they take this particular test.
I am proud to share that the work we have been doing with the thinking strategies, New York Writing Project, and math has helped us to build a deep understanding of concepts required by the Common Core Standards, and has positioned us well for the SBAC assessments.
If you would like additional information about the Common Core Standards, please visit the Curriculum and Instruction tab on our District website. We also encourage you to attend our Math and Literacy Parent Education Nights where information related to Common Core Standards and the new assessments will be shared.
I wish you a wonderful holiday. I feel extremely fortunate to work (and live) in such a special community with all of you.