We are currently facing our biggest challenge to our students’ education…Covid-19. The trustees, teachers, and administration have been working non-stop to create comprehensive, engaging, and safe environments to support our students and staff. It is clear that we need knowledgeable trustees with both experience and connections to our community to navigate through these challenges.
As information about COVID-19 is evolving and frequently changes, we review information and guidance from local, county and state education/health authorities regularly. While we began our school year with Level 3 – Distance Learning and the Cloud Campus, we continue to prepare for Level 2 on-campus learning formalizing protocols for sanitizing, hiring/training additional staff, health screening, classroom accessories, transportation, and purchasing PPE products.
As we work toward bringing our students back to campus in a safe manner, up to date information on 2020/21 School Re-Opening Plan, change notices and help lines are available on the NMUSD website as well as school websites.
The California Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) is taken by students in grades 3-8 and in grade 11 in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. It is a computer adaptive test that adjusts the difficulty of the test items based on how the test taker responds. This provides a more precise measure of student performance.
NMUSD students remain above Orange County and California averages overall in both ELA and Math. When compared with 2015 baseline assessments, NMUSD students showed a growth of 9% in ELA and 7% in Math in students meeting or exceeding these standards. Individually, 22 of our schools showed growth in both ELA and Math, with 12 schools showing double digit growth in both subjects including Adams Elementary, California Elementary, Killybrooke Elementary, and Victoria Elementary. While TeWinkle showed improvement in some years, there is more work to be done. As only 11th graders take the test in high school, Estancia High School as with all our high schools struggle to encourage our students to excel on the SBAC as the score is not on their transcripts and students become burned out with ACT and SAT testing that directly determine their college admittance.
Third grade students in particular showed a 16% growth in meeting or exceeding ELA standards with English Learners showing a 9% growth. Seeing our lower grades have steady growth is a testament to our intentional efforts and supports at the elementary level.
When compared district-wide to the 2018 assessments, 25 of our 32 schools showed growth in meeting or exceeding ELA standards and 19 schools showed growth in Math standards.
While statewide assessments provide valuable information on overall student progress and areas of improvement, they do not provide a holistic view of student achievement. The California School Dashboard provides a more detailed view of performance, based on multiple factors, including graduation rates, suspension rates, chronic absenteeism and college and career readiness as well as implementation of academics standards, parent engagement and local limit survey.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
NMUSD provides a tiered system of supports and services to all students to cultivate social-emotional skills, mitigate difficulties impacting school success, and reduce the impact of mental health challenges within safe and inclusive schools that foster the advancement of self-reflective, academically engaged, and resilient students. While we continue to grow our team by hiring additional social workers and behavior specialists, we provide training to our staff in recognizing struggling students for referral. We are developing zone special virtual wellness centers and most recently added two general education elementary behavior specialists.
We continue to offer parent classes to support emotional and mental health and established a mental health advisory committee to look at resources and needs. We have embraced the “new normal” at a time when our work is anything but normal, and will continue to conduct home visits, evaluate student learning needs and learning loss, explore virtual mentoring opportunities and develop a referral process for drop in tutoring programs/opportunities. We will continue to support students and families most especially during this difficult time.