Sulphur Springs District receives high marks on fall Dashboard

FILE PHOTO: Elementary school students in the Sulphur Springs Union School District view the eclipse through eclipse glasses on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Courtesy of the Sulphur Springs Union School District

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series looking at how Santa Clarita Valley school districts performed on the fall 2017 release of the California School Dashboard.

The Sulphur Springs Union School District performed well on the fall 2017 California School Dashboard, earning results only in the green and blue, the two highest performance levels.

Released in early-December, 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.

“I actually really enjoy the Dashboard because it’s more detailed and it doesn’t give just one number of a score to a child.  It allows districts to look at the whole child and look at the entire organization,” SSUSD Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi said.  “On the dashboard it asks for school climate…. We look at that and monitor that and we’ll incorporate students’ responses and needs into our Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).”

The Sulphur Springs Union School District fall 2017 Dashboard.

State Indicators

In the Sulphur Springs District, nearly half—or 49.7 percent—of its 5,370 students are socioeconomically disadvantaged.  Also, 22 percent of the district’s students are English Learners and 0.7 percent are foster youth.

Overall, the district performed well on all of its state indicators, scoring in the blue for suspension rates and in the green for English Learner progress, English Language Arts test scores and math test scores.

“We know that the green and the blue is always the goal of the district and that is where our district is performing where the indicators are looking at,” Kawaguchi said.  “The green and the blue shows the performance level, that you’re doing well in that area.”

Kawaguchi credits the success of the district to its ability to work together with teachers, parents, staff and board of trustees as a “family.”

“We really work closely to make sure our teachers are provided professional development opportunities in the California State Standards.  We also make sure our parents know about the professional development being developed and the curriculum being taught to their students,” she said.  “Parents have really led to the success of our district as well as our Board of Trustees… They create high standards for us as well.”

The district also increased its English Learner progress toward English proficiency this year to 74.3 percent, compared to 70.1 percent in 2016.

“Melanie Morales-Van Hecke, our English Learner program coordinator, really has been a real strong lead in supporting us and working with our teachers on how to implement English Language Development programs in our schools and how to integrate English Language Development in our core curriculum,” Kawaguchi said.

However, the district does have room for growth and improvement among various student subgroups who are performing below the district average in areas like English Language Arts test scores and math test scores.

“We look at our individual subgroups… and we look at the data and see what areas we need to improve,” Kawaguchi said.  “We look to see what populations we need to focus on.  Like our foster youth and homeless population, we tie money directly to them as well.”

Local Indicators

The Sulphur Springs District also met all four of its Local Indicators, which were added to the dashboard’s results this fall.

“The district did meet all of its Local Indicators for the Dashboard and we’re very, very excited to continue to work on improving and supporting the Dashboard,” Kawaguchi said.

In its Basics indicator, the district worked to make sure all teacher were in the correct assignment, students had appropriate textbooks and buildings were safe and clean.

For its Implementation of Academic Standards indicator, the district provided professional development opportunities for its teachers in core subjects and implemented new curriculum.

“We’ve had a high focus on our Language Arts adoption this year and also our English Language Development,” Kawaguchi said.  “This our fourth year implementing the curriculum that is state-aligned and we continue in our professional development in those areas as well.”

The district also met its Parent Engagement indicator by offering opportunities for parents to be engaged in classrooms, at school sites and at the district office.

“We continue to embrace our parents and we know they are our partners in supporting their children,” Kawaguchi said.

Finally, the district also met its Local Climate Survey that evaluates students’’ perceptions of school safety and connectedness.

“We make sure that we survey all kids from TK all the way to sixth grade and we give them the opportunity to provide us input on the school climate,” Kawaguchi said.  “We use that survey to help supporting building our Local Control Accountability Plan.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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