CAASPP Results 2016 Parent Overview

Dear LCUSD Community,

I want to commend our students for their outstanding performance on the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).  Scores from districts across the state were released publicly today.  The percentage of LCUSD students meeting or exceeding standards on these rigorous measures in English Language Arts and mathematics was maintained or demonstrated growth at each of our school sites.  Placing amongst the highest performing school districts in California is a great accomplishment and our students should be proud of their significant achievements on this statewide assessment.  I am grateful to our teachers and support staff for their dedicated professionalism; they constantly provide outstanding instruction and guidance to ensure student success.  And finally, our parents are equal contributors to these stellar outcomes - continually partnering with our schools to strengthen our districtwide commitment to personal growth and academic excellence.

Our Chief Director of Assessment, Research, Consolidated Programs and CALPADS, Lindi Dreibelbis, crafted the following news announcement highlighting features of our students’ excellent performance.  Please take the time to read below so that we can celebrate together the outstanding achievements of LCUSD students on the 2016 CAASPP!

Wendy Sinnette


La Cañada Unified School District continues to perform as a top academic district in the state according to the test scores released by the California Department of Education this week. La Cañada students’ scored first, second or third place across the state in every grade level, except seventh, in both English and math. Fifth, sixth and eighth graders took top honors in English when compared to other traditionally high performing school districts. In math, LCUSD’s sixth graders also took first place. Other top unified districts in the state are San Marino, Piedmont City and Palo Alto. There is a tight pack among the highest performers. Other districts trail behind in greater margins.

Students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment System (SBAC) Summative Assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics last spring. These assessments are part of the larger California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. This is the second year of these new computer-adaptive tests. They are administered in grades 3-8 and 11 and also include a performance task. Aligned with the California’s challenging academic standards, the SBAC summative tests are designed to assess grade-level learning that measures progress toward college and career readiness.

At La Cañada Elementary School, 90% or more of students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 met or exceeded the standards in English. In math, the highest performance was in third grade at 94%. Palm Crest Elementary shined in sixth grade with its highest scores at 93% meeting the mark in English and 95% in math. Ninety percent of third graders at Paradise Canyon Elementary met or exceeded the standards.  Lindi Dreibelbis, chief director of assessment, said, “This high student performance is remarkable. The level of integration and application of learning expected of students today is demanding and our students continue to knock it out of the park.”

La Cañada High School juniors amazed staff by improving upon their extremely high scores from 2015. Juniors’ previous scores across the state were uncharacteristically high and a dip was expected this school year. Instead, in English, 92% of LCHS juniors met or exceeded the state target, an increase of 3% over juniors in 2015. Math scores also improved for juniors by 4% to 83% of students meeting or exceeding the state academic expectations.

There are four achievement levels in the SBAC Summative Assessments: exceeded, met, nearly met and not met. Looking at mean scale score performance also allows another level of analysis, Dreibelbis explained. There can be more than 250 points within an achievement level. Using mean scale scores is the most accurate metric to measure growth. In LCUSD, each grade level, except seventh, had a higher mean scale score this year than last in English. The same is true for math, except that eighth grade dipped less than one point. This shows the interest to improve all students’ learning, not only focusing on those at the top achievement level, Dreibelbis explained. 

The individual student score reports were sent to parents in mid-August. They received their child’s results over the last two years, if the tests were also taken in 2015. Unlike the former California Standards Tests (CST), vertical scaling was not available. Comparing one year’s results to another was not recommended in the old system. However, the new SBAC summative scores allow families, schools and districts to measure growth over time within the same group of students. For example, rather than comparing last year’s third graders to this year’s third graders, the new scores also allow comparisons between third graders in 2015 to fourth graders in 2016. Comparing cohorts as they matriculate in LCUSD will be a new additional way to review the quality of our programs, said Dreibelbis.   

She added, “The new standards are much more rigorous than the old ones. Our teachers have stepped up to meet the new challenges and students did not disappoint. I am very proud our district’s continual growth.”

The other assessment results in the CAASPP System: California Science Assessments and California Alternate Assessment will be released later in the fall.

Google Classroom Gets Parent Notifications

From the Google For Education blog:

Parent participation has a major impact on student learning. Today, we’re launching a new feature in Google Classroom that will automatically share summaries of student work with parents. Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements, making it easier to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the classroom. 

“I enjoy helping my children prepare for assignments that they have coming up – and the earlier I know about them, the better,” says Michelle Barrette, a mother of five Medfield, Massachusetts students and pilot user of the new Classroom feature. “This way I can prevent them from missing deadlines and see if they need help brainstorming topics or solutions.”

The Technology Department is currently testing this new feature and will be working on Google Classroom Parent Notification Guides for teachers and parents. Stay Tuned. 

Superintendent's Welcome Back Message and New Teacher Introductions

Superintendent's Welcome Back Message and New Teacher Introductions

Welcome Back to School!  I hope each and every member of our LCUSD Community has experienced a positive and successful start to the new school year.  I have enjoyed being at the school sites to welcome you back and have appreciated the enthusiasm with which students, teachers, staff and families are greeting each other and the start of the new school year.

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LCHS: Shines the Spotlight on Dr. Mark Ewoldsen

LCHS: Shines the Spotlight on Dr. Mark Ewoldsen

If you are looking for Dr. E, he makes himself easy to find. In between periods, he can always be found standing in the open doorway of his classroom greeting incoming students with a welcoming handshake and offering big smiles to those passing by.  

Outgoing, friendly, and a tad unpredictable, he prides himself on being genuine and available to his students, “I tell them at the beginning of the year, ‘I want to treat you the way I want my kids to be treated.’” From impersonations of The Swedish Chef to self-defense moves to shaving his head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, he is famous for fearlessly going the extra mile for students. Recently, LCHS staff held their own head-shaving event to raise money for children’s cancer research. “I did the St. Baldrick event because students asked me to do it,” said Dr. E, “for more interaction with them.”

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Student Free and Minimum Days 2016-2017

The 2016-17 Student Free and Minimum Days pdf can be found below and on the Parent, Teacher, and Staff portals on all school sites. 

Download here: Student Free and Minimum Days 2016-2017

These dates have also been added to the site calendars for your convenience: 

LCE Calendar - click here
LCHS 7/8 Calendar - click here
LCHS 9-12 Calendar - click here
PCR Calendar - click here
PCY Calendar - click here

Update on GATE Qualification Letters for the 2016-2017 School Year

Update on GATE Qualification Letters for the 2016-2017 School Year

There are two ways students may qualify for GATE:  either through passing the OLSAT at 98% or above or through the alternative criteria, using standardized assessment (CAASPP) and district writing assessment scores.  Instead of sending letters to families twice, once after OLSAT testing and again after CAASPP scores are available, it was decided by the GATE Advisory Committee to wait until CAASPP scores were available to inform families of their child’s qualification.  Letters will be sent out as soon as the CAASPP scores are made available.  The following explains a bit about this process...

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LCFEF: Rose Harrington Educators of the Year Named

LCFEF: Rose Harrington Educators of the Year Named

LCHS English teacher, Justin Valassidis and LCE second grade teacher, Karen Gilmour  were named the 2015-16 Rose Harrington Educators of the Year on Thursday, May 26th.  The Rose Harrington Educator of the Year Award, which comes with a cash prize, was established in 2002 by a bequest made in the estate of local resident Rose Harrington, who herself was an educator.   The bequest is managed by the LCFEF Endowment Fund and this year’s selection was coordinated by a committee appointed by LCFEF Trustees, drawn from a pool of nominations that were made by the public at large.

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PCY: Printing in 3D: Coming to PCY Near You!

PCY: Printing in 3D: Coming to PCY Near You!

The PCY computer lab is home to a brand new 3D printer, thanks to the Patron Group, a local company that specializes in distributing cutting edge technology tools to educational organizations.

Company owner Frank Paton along came to PCY during the fall semester to talk to students about 3D printers and all the ways they can be used. He and Gary Culper, a Makerbot specialist, shared examples of how doctors, artists, engineers, and even scientists at nearby JPL are using 3D printers to develop their work. His presentation made a lasting impression on PCY fifth graders who later wrote him individual thank you notes, full of questions about 3D printing technology, ideas for its use, wishes to have one at PCY, and hopes that he could return to talk about it more.

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LCUSD Reaches Tentative Agreement With LCTA

From Superintendent Wendy Sinnette

The La Canada Unified School District has reached a tentative agreement with the La Canada Teachers Association.  The tentative agreement covers all items which were sun-shined by both parties at the beginning of 2016, including salary and the development of contract language on both professional collaboration time and teacher evaluation.

The bargaining teams spent over ninety hours at the table over the course of fourteen sessions.  I would like to thank both parties for their intensive commitment of time and energy to the negotiations process.  The contract language which guides our district’s approach to teacher evaluation and professional collaboration time is truly reflective of best practices.  

For the 2015 – 2016 school year, a 4.25 percent increase to salary retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year was tentatively agreed upon.  This increase will be applied to the main salary schedule (Appendix D) and that schedule will sunset as of June 30, 2016.  Because this salary schedule sunsets, the retroactive increase does not carry forward.

For 2016 – 2017, the tentative agreement on salary creates a restructured salary schedule, which will take effect on July 1.  The restructured salary schedule includes an overall increase of 5.28% in teacher salary expenditures.  The restructured salary schedule is a uniform schedule that has predictable step and column movements, which was an identified interest of both parties.  The terms of the salary agreement and a chart of salary comparisons with other high performing school districts is presented below.

Finally, I would like to thank the Governing Board for their guidance and stewardship which has allowed a tentative agreement to be reached.  The LCTA membership will review and vote on the tentative agreement through May 31, 2016.  The Governing Board will be presented with the tentative agreement for ratification at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 14, 2016.

Tentative Agreement
May 25, 2016

For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, an increase of 4.25% shall be permanently added to the 2014-2015 Salary Schedule (Appendix D). As of June 30, 2016 the existing salary schedule will sunset.

For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the following Salary Schedule shall replace the updated 2015-2016 Salary Schedule. This new schedule shall be permanent and ongoing subject to the scope of bargaining. This salary schedule will take effect July 1, 2016 for the 2016-17 school year. This brings the 0.54% increase budgeted for the additional day in 2017-2018 forward to start in 2016-2017. The additional day will not be added to the calendar until the 2017-2018 school year, however the increase will already be on schedule so there will be no additional increase for the extra instructional day when it goes into effect in 2017-2018.

Note: Class II-California credential is a preliminary or clear credential.

PCY: PCY Accepts the Egg Drop Challenge!

PCY:  PCY Accepts the Egg Drop Challenge!

Thanks to STEAM, PCY students are walk'n on eggs, instead of eggshells. At the most recent STEAM sponsored event, students participated in an egg drop and an egg walk, both demonstrating principles of physics and fun!

STEAM is a program that explores science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, and most importantly how they all work together. The STEAM program at PCY offers many interesting opportunities for students to apply science outside their daily classrooms, such as Science Exploration Classes, Science Night Out, Robotics, Future Coders, Math Olympiad, and several engaging field trips, from whale watching to touring the Endeavor space shuttle!

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