Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series looking at how Santa Clarita Valley school districts performed on the fall 2017 release of the California School Dashboard.
Results of the fall 2017 California School Dashboard indicate that the Saugus Union School District has some areas of improvement, with a few overall performance indicators in the orange and yellow.
Released last Thursday, the Dashboard gives districts and schools an “online report card” of their performance while shining a light on inequities in student performance.
Using both state and local indicators, the Dashboard uses a color-coded system of graphics to give educational agencies a score ranging from blue—the best—to green, yellow, orange and red—the worst.
These scores are based on overall performance as well as change over time to encourage continual improvement among schools.
“The Dashboard is an opportunity for us to see growth… It’s about ‘Are we making progress?’ and if we are, it’s celebrating that progress,” said Isa DeArmas, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Saugus District. “It’s a flashlight of looking at our data and analyzing it and making informed decisions about our work and our instructional practices. The state is really pushing for us to understand it’s not a gotcha. It’s about growth.”
With an enrollment of 9,900 students, SUSD is the largest elementary school district in the Santa Clarita Valley. Of those 9,900 students, 20.3 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged, 12.2 percent are English Learners and 0.4 percent are foster youth.
Overall, the Saugus District had no indicators in the red, the lowest level, and had an overall high student performance in the green, or second highest level.
The district performed in the blue for suspension rate, in the green for English Language Arts test scores, in the yellow for math test scores and in the orange for English Learner progress.
Each indicator also noted that at least one student subgroup was performing in the orange. None of the student subgroups were reported in the red.
In addition, the district maintained its English Learner progress toward English proficiency with 74.2 percent of students making progress toward proficiency in 2017.
A change to the fall Dashboard included the addition of local indicators like the Basics of teachers and instructional materials, the Implementation of Academic Standards, Parent Engagement and School Climate.
The Saugus District met all four local indicator measures this fall.
A point of success for the district was its parent engagement that highlighted parental involvement in stakeholder meetings, school events and parent workshops.
“We met all of the targets. Our surveys indicated a huge increase in our parent involvement,” DeArmas said. “We have had many parent workshops about understanding what parent involvement looks like, which is connecting activities to learning.”
The results of parent surveys indicated an 80 percent increase in engagement and involvement from parents in the district at events, workshops, meetings and educational nights.
In addition, the district hired parent liaisons to help parents connect at all 15 of its schools.
“Because they’re under our LCAP, they [the parent liaisons] were hired specifically to work with our English Learners, our foster youth and our homeless families,” DeArmas said. “We’re looking at how we engage all those families as well.”
DeArmas said that in the Saugus District, one liaison works specifically with second language learners and their families and another liaison works directly with foster youth and families that need support.
“It’s not just about our math and language arts scores, it’s about the whole child,” DeArmas said.
The Saugus District also performed well on its School Climate local indicator, which relied on climate surveys about school safety and connectedness given to students in transitional kindergarten (TK) to sixth grade.
Results from surveys given to the students indicated that a majority of students feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to their schools.
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