School/District Review

MVWSD completed in Fall 2015 its Google-sponsored comprehensive review of every school, division and program with the goal of clearly understanding our opportunities for growth and developing plans of action for improvement.

A School Quality Review (SQR) was completed for all the elementary and middle schools. Independent reviewers met with teachers, parents, students and community members and observed in classrooms. This process encouraged all members of our school community to get involved in the evaluation of and eventually the development of a strategic plan for our schools. The District Quality Review (DQR) used a process similar to the schools' of outside reviewers of its programs and initiatives.

This review created a baseline; not a comparison. The idea is that most issues can be solved collectively. The intent is to create the conditions for everyone to be successful and include all stakeholders in solutions.   

The findings are used in two primary ways:

  • First, we want to continue to capitalize on our schools'/district's strengths and identify areas of growth as part of the creation of the Strategic Plan 2021. This strategic plan will help us create the educational environment we all want and our kids deserve.
  • Secondly, the reports have helped schools and departments develop a plan of action for how to meet goals.  

What we learned from the SQRs

The findings by Cambridge Education fall into these four general categories.

1. Student achievement. SQRs show that schools "promote a culture that enable students and staff to believe that they can succeed." "There is a passionate and shared belief among parents, school personnel and students that the school is a great place to learn." However, the report suggests the District needs to support teachers with data and systems to facilitate "effective differentiation of instruction." This differentiation, or tailoring instruction to students' academic level, is key to students "making academic progress at at acceptable rate." The report suggests that one way is to  "support teachers in development of assessment strategies to effectively check for students' understanding during lessons."

Dr. Rudolph says: "We're not satisfied. We can close the achievement gap while raising performance for all of our kids. When they leave us for high school, our goal is that they are ready to be successful in the classes that put them on the post-high school path of their choice."

2. Data. The report shows "there is an insufficient amount of data" to "give teachers the tools necessary to make informed decisions about instruction." At all schools there is a need for "robust data systems that inform teaching practices," especially in the areas of ELL, ELA and special education. The SQRs suggest the District organize a "data review committee" or "instructional data team." Groups like these can "focus on analyzing individual, classroom, subgroup, grade level and school-wide data to inform decisions."

Dr. Rudolph says: "Data are important to know where you are. Data are the check-ups that allow us to quickly identify and address student needs as they arise. Data will allow us to nimbly adjust instruction because we know one-size-fits-all doesn't work."

2. Training. The SQRs suggest that the District "provide teachers with professional development on rigor and strategies for its incorporation in daily lessons," especially in relation to "learning objectives and success criteria aligned" to the new California State Standards. It also recommends that more could be done to "provide a structure of informal peer or administration observations and feedback."

Dr. Rudolph says: "We know great schools have great teachers, great principals and great outcomes. Our teachers are committed to their own professional growth and development. I've heard staff and teachers say that they want more training to help them address students' needs.Training that is linked to data and improves student achievement outcomes."

3. Communication. The SQRs report parents feel welcomed to volunteer and as "true partners in their children's education."  Parent support is strong and schools "provide opportunities for parents and community members to have a voice in making school-wide decisions" as well as encourage "parental input in its everyday routines." The report mentions the "need for stakeholders to be well-informed" of student achievement plans and objectives as well as strategic plans and vision.

Dr. Rudolph says: We want to constantly communicate, early and often. Parents want to know how they can help their kids. We will be honest about where we are and where we are headed, and that will be clear in our District strategic planning process this spring.

For full reports, click below:

Bubb Elementary Huff Elementary Stevenson Elementary
Castro Elementary Landels Elementary Theuerkauf Elementary
Crittenden Middle Mistral Elementary District Resultsen Espanol
Graham Middle Monta Loma Elementary District meta-analysis

What we learned from the DQR  

Factors that support District effectiveness:

  • There is a culture of dedication and commitment to serving the students in the District at all levels.
  • The new Superintendent brings a positive energy to the District Office and school communities.
  • Community partnerships provide a wide range of support and enrichment for student learning.
  • The District provides a broad curriculum that includes art, music, physical education and specialized programs at some schools.
  • Parents are engaged in supporting schools as volunteers, committee members, decision-makers and advocates for their children.
  • Parent engagement facilitators are providing a bridge between ELL parents and the schools.
  • Students and staff have access to technology to enhance and support student learning

Factors that limit District effectiveness:

  • Two-way communications are lacking throughout the District. Communications, both inside the District office as well as communication between the District and the schools, are insufficient and often unclear.
    • Recommendation: Establish systems of effective communication within and across departments at the District level, to and from schools.
    • Ayindé says: The communication loop is broken. Stakeholders feel this way. We need an intentional strategy to communicate, and will be supporting this with additional staff time and resources.
  • The District does not have a clear and relevant strategic vision or plan to guide its work at all levels.
    • Recommendation: Create a clear and relevant strategic plan based on data to drive the work of the District.  
    • Ayindé says: We know that this is a need. We'll officially be kicking off the beginning of the strategic planning process on January 21st. The DQR/SQR process is one source of data (in addition to my 100-Day Plan interviews and test scores) that we'll use to inform this process. In order to develop this plan we are going to need you.  We are One MVWSD, One Team and together we will develop One Plan.
  • There are no formal systems in place for monitoring, accountability or supporting professional growth of staff at any level.
    • Recommendation: Develop and implement processes across the District for personal and professional growth. Make sure that these have all the components of a growth cycle (self-assessment, needs analysis, planning, monitoring, support, evaluation).
    • Ayindé says: Our challenge is that we need to rethink how we do things and what systems we need to put into place. It's clear through this review that this is needed. Each District employee plays a role in student achievement. Employees need to know what expectations are and the metrics used to measure success. What I have seen, heard and what is reflected in this review is that as an organization we deeply care about every student who walks through our doors. We have committed partners, caring parents. We have everything we need to get the job done.
  • The Special Education program is not as effective as it needs to be to adequately serve the students in its care. Students with Disabilities (SWD) are not showing levels of progress to ensure they have the skills necessary for their next level of education.
    • Recommendation: Create and implement a plan to address the needs of the special education program and including teacher training, parent communications, supportive and consistent processes, and accountability.
    • Ayindé says: We have a small group of committed educators supporting many students.  But this isn't enough.  We are going to need to pull our collective thoughts together to develop a top-rated program that is supportive, empowering and inclusive on all fronts.
  • The provision for English Language Learners across the District is ineffective, inconsistent, and, in many cases, counterproductive.
    • Recommendation: A comprehensive revision of the provision for English Language Learners. Enact a comprehensive, clear and strategic plan of action for English Language Learners that includes language development skills and strategies across the curriculum.
    • Ayindé says: We have a small department that is supporting 1600 ELL students across the District.  This is one of our greatest needs, and yet we are not staffed effectively to support student achievement.  Moreover, we need to revisit our program and develop a system that reflects our unified commitment to all of our students.
  • There are insufficient structures in place to systematically address the widening achievement gap. Systems to ensure vertical alignment and the communication of and support for high expectations to ensure all students are achieving at their highest possible levels are not in place, resulting in a widening academic and social-emotional gap for many students.
    • Recommendation: Create systems that ensure all students have access to a broad and rigorous curriculum that will prepare them for success. Ensure vertical alignment across the District so that the curriculum and skills build upon a foundation each year.
    • Ayindé says: The District is made up of extremely hard-working, committed individuals. But I believe that we need to develop systems that allow us to work more effectively and efficiently.  For example, currently there is no single data protocol that the District uses across the board. It's not about needing more data, but knowing how to consistently analyze it.  When you couple an effective system with our dedicated team members, you will find that all things all possible.

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