September 3, 2013
Dear Parents, Community Members and Colleagues,
Welcome to the 2013-14 school year! As we begin the new school year, I now take the time to briefly reflect on the year past and congratulate our students for their accomplishments and commend our staff's commitment to academic achievement. Our driving force is our impassioned belief that all students can learn at high levels and that we are all responsible for their success.
We begin the 2013-14 school year by implementing our District Strategic Plan which is our roadmap to realizing the Common Core State Standards. Our plan continues to demonstrate our commitment to integrate technology into teaching and learning as well as developing our students as competent and fluent writers. Our plan includes promoting 21st Century Citizenship skills to enable all students to explore, develop and express their own values and opinions, while listening to and respecting the views of others. In addition, we want to connect math and science with technology and engineering to prepare more students for these studies in college.
As we transition into the Common Core State Standards and the new Smarter Balance Assessment system it is important to identify the significant instructional shifts for both English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. In ELA, there is a strong emphasis on literacy across all content areas with a greater focus on informational texts, students building knowledge through the reading of complex texts and using evidence from multiple sources to inform conversations or to make arguments. In mathematics, although students are expected to have speed and accuracy with simple calculations, there is a convincing emphasis on deep conceptual understanding to ensure that students are able to transfer mathematical skills and understanding across concepts and grades. Students are expected to apply these concepts to new situations as well as demonstrating their understanding through writing and speaking.
The new Smarter Balance Assessments (SBAC) are going to require students to apply and demonstrate their thinking and understanding and to problem solve using real life application. In other words, there is an increase in the level of thinking that is required of students to successfully engage with and solve a task. Students will also be required to use technology to demonstrate and apply knowledge which means we must give them multiple opportunities to use technology in the same way as part of their daily instruction.
As we embrace these new standards and assessments it is important to celebrate our students' successes over the past ten years as measures by the California Content Standards and the STAR testing system. The District API increased by 130 points with our current API at 830. Individual school achievements also increased ranging from 57 - 162 point gains. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and enthusiastically welcome the challenges of the Common Core State Standards and learning new knowledge and skills to ensure that our students graduate from our District College and Career Ready.
The District's focus on academics, achievement and accountability continues to be our foundation for moving forward. No district can succeed without the collaborative efforts of the Board of Education, administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents and community. These relationships are well established in West Covina Unified School District; therefore, I am confident that we can continue to work together to ensure that we provide a challenging and meaningful learning experience for all students.