Congratulations on another smooth start to the school year. The first weeks of school can be challenging, but your work is making a huge difference as we strive to uphold our vital mission of “supporting the intellectual success of every student, every day,” and to achieve our vision of “every student becoming a responsible productive citizen in a diverse and competitive world.”
More than slogans, these ideals are engrained in a thoughtful, detailed Strategic Plan that we developed with broad input from employees and the community. Now our school-board-approved 2011-16 Strategic Plan is being brought to life by our dedicated employees. Consider some examples:
Strategic Plan Objectives 1.4 and 1.3 call for increasing eighth grade algebra participation and proficiency. The latest numbers show eighth grade algebra proficiency – key to college readiness – jumped by 5 percent to 69 percent in LBUSD last year. That’s 20 percentage points above students statewide.
Increased algebra proficiency rates have occurred here even as the school district boosted participation in eighth grade algebra from 2,573 students in 2009 to 3,610 last year. We have a thousand more eighth graders taking algebra than just two years ago, and yet our proficiency rate continues to climb steadily.
Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan states that all students will graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary and career options.
I’m pleased to report that the latest California High School Exit Exam data show an upward trend here. For the Class of 2012, pass rates were 94.3 percent in LBUSD, up from 93 percent for the Class of 2011. Districtwide, pass rates for all ethnicities in LBUSD are now at 93 percent or above. In addition, recently released data on Advanced Placement college preparatory course enrollment showed that 5,062 students took one or more AP courses in LBUSD last year, nearly double the number in 2003.
Objective 3.2 calls for reducing bullying at schools. Our school board adopted a strict new policy on bullying, which will be complemented by related curriculum this year. This fits into the overarching Goal 3, which states that “all departments and sites will provide a safe and secure environment for staff and students.” Our brand new Nelson Academy that opened in Signal Hill this month is another prime example of our commitment to safe, secure schools.
Objective 4.1 calls for increasing knowledge of our Strategic Plan, which we are doing through communications like the one you’re reading now, and through a newly produced Strategic Plan poster and various other avenues.
Your ability to remain focused on our vital work is all the more impressive given the unprecedented challenges we face. I am now in my 31st year as an educator, and I have never seen an assault on public education like the one being waged through billions of dollars of ongoing cuts to schools. We desperately need the resources that would be generated by voter-approved taxes in November. Yet in the meantime, you continue to achieve great results for our students and their families. They deeply appreciate all that you do, and so do I.