SFUSD is learning how to better serve youths 

click to enlarge The School Quality Improvement System is replacing the No Child Left Behind guidelines as a way to measure schools' achievement and progress.
  • The School Quality Improvement System is replacing the No Child Left Behind guidelines as a way to measure schools' achievement and progress.

I love to learn and I bet you do, too. At the San Francisco Unified School District, we not only make sure our students are learning, but we are continuously learning how we can teach better.

How do we do this? By fostering a culture of professional collaboration and ongoing improvement among teachers, school staff, parents and students.

First, we need to understand what is and isn't working. Then we look at what changes will make the biggest positive impact. Next, we need to plan how to make those changes across more than a hundred schools. Finally, we have to measure our progress — and continue to make adjustments to our plan along the way.

To help guide these steps, we have updated our strategic plan, called Impact Learning, Impact Lives. It outlines the most important work we need to focus on now, in classrooms and schools, to ensure continuous learning and improvement across the district.

We also have a new approach to measuring our work's progress called the School Quality Improvement System. It was just approved by the U.S. Department of Education. It will help us continue to support students so they can thrive academically, emotionally and socially.

This means our schools' performance now will be measured in a variety of ways — including school safety, student academic achievement, student attendance and parent satisfaction. It replaces what was a narrow, more punitive system with one that is more holistic and focuses on networked learning and capacity-building.

The School Quality Improvement System replaces components of the previous federal accountability program, known as No Child Left Behind. In the past, elementary and middle schools that received federal Title I money and did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress measures (determined by standardized test scores) were identified as being Program Improvement schools. Under our new system, schools will no longer be categorized in Program Improvement.

Instead, the schools that are not showing students' academic growth with these new measures will be able to receive additional support, including more chances for professional training for teachers and additional social and emotional support for students and their families. Our struggling schools will receive intensive help from teachers and school leaders who have experience improving achievement with similar student populations at other schools.

More information about our new strategic plan and accountability system can be found on our website, www.sfusd.edu.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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