On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees we welcome back our wonderful children and parent community. The 2015-16 school year will be filled with exciting new programs for our children and we look forward to building new joint activities with our tremendously supportive parent groups.
In an effort to provide you with an overview regarding your child's performance on last year's new Common Core assessments, I have included the article written by Ms. Sarah Tully that will provide you with valuable background information regarding our new assessments that our children will be given in grades 3rd-8th grade. I plan to provide additional information regarding our student test results during the month of October.
Standardized Testing Information
A few words on the new testing from EdSource by Sarah Tully.
The vocabulary has changed, and so have the numbers and the format. The two-page report that parents will receive later this year describing their children's results on the new Smarter Balanced tests on the Common Core State Standards will be very different from what they've seen in the past.
That's intentional. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the State Board of Education are using multiple cues to send a uniform message: Parents shouldn't compare the new results with scores on past state standardized tests; this year's English language arts and math tests are, they say, more difficult, and are based on a different set of academic standards. They mark a break from the past.
The new report doesn't use the terms that designated five levels of achievement on the California Standards Tests: far below basic, below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. Instead, Smarter Balanced uses four achievement levels, which state officials have designated: standard not met, standard nearly met, standard met, standard exceeded. The levels will designate the degree of "progress toward mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for success in future coursework." For 11th-graders, they measure the degree to which students are on track to be ready for college or a career after graduating from high school.
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Soquel Union Elementary School District is very fortunate to have a long standing tradition where our community works together to create exciting programs for all students. During the past few years we have strengthened our academic programs in the areas of Art, Music, Project-Based Learning and 21st Century Instruction. We are passionate about providing every child with the opportunity to reach his or her highest learning potential. Here is a brief overview of our terrific schools.
Main Street School
One of the strengths of Main Street School is their staff's ability to seek different levels of instruction to benefit the educational program for all students. Main Street School is leading the way in creating opportunities for teachers to specialize in areas like Math, Language Arts and Science. It takes a tremendous amount of collaboration and a willingness to invest a significant amount of time to be able to specialize as a Science teacher for all fifth grade students. It is exciting to observe the unique learning environment that occurs when teachers are able to specialize.
New Brighton Middle School
Our middle school is dynamic because the staff has been able to balance academic rigor in an environment that is rich in nurturing the adolescent child. When you visit New Brighton you will quickly become aware of the wonderful interactions that takes place between student to student, adult to adult and student to adult. The school flows with positive energy and the excellent educators are able to provide a very demanding academic program for all students.
Opal Cliffs School
Our Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program begins its 3rd year at Opal Cliffs School. It is without question that the TK program at Opal Cliffs School is fantastic. We created a school design that embraces early education at so many levels. The key to our wonderful TK program lies in the staff who are experts in the area of early childhood education. They have developed a program that centers on engagement and exploration for all students. The happiness that surrounds this program is a joy to observe.
Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School
The rich interaction that is shared between all staff members at Santa Cruz Gardens has enabled this school to create a wonderful inclusion program that is highly supported throughout the community. It is absolutely terrific to support various teaching models that are tailored for the students at Santa Cruz Gardens. The strong sense of a united philosophy in educating all students is to be commended.
Soquel Elementary School
The excellent staff at Soquel Elementary School has committed itself to receiving some of the highest professional training offered to educators today. It is most impressive to be a member of a staff where decisions regarding curriculum and instruction are embraced and aligned (K-5) with every educator at the school. The transformation of the instructional program has been led by this highly talented and trained staff. The collaboration to improve the instructional program among staff members is exceptional.