Newhall School District nearing LCAP goals 

The Newhall School District Office. Dan Watson/The Signal

While not quite at pre-pandemic levels, the Newhall School District is aiming to meet its metric goals and is on track with its expenditures to do so, according to Kate Peattie, assistant superintendent of instructional services for the district. 

Peattie presented a mid-year update for the district’s local control and accountability plan, or LCAP, at a recent governing board meeting. LCAPs are typically a three-year plan with goals for the district and funding that is set in order to attempt to meet those goals, otherwise known as a local control funding formula, or LCFF. 

“The main points are just that we are on track in terms of our expenditures,” Peattie said in a phone interview. “The LCAP really outlines for us what actions we’re going to take and what we’ll be spending on each of those actions. Those actions all involve how we support student learning. So, it’s just kind of a check-in in that midpoint of the year to see how we’re doing in terms of those actions and expenditures.” 

Peattie noted that not every metric, such as state test scores for the current school year and parent surveys, can have their progress marked as those results do not come in until later in the school year or past that point. 

All school districts in California were required by law to present this update by Feb. 28. 

Test scores and grading 

While state test scores for this year won’t be released until the fall, the district used last year’s results, which show that students, on average, are 37.8 points above the state standard in English and 24.9 points above the standard in math. Both numbers come from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. 

The district is hoping to see all students in grades 3-6 be at 45 points above the standard or greater. 

For science, which uses the California Science Test statewide, 56% of students are meeting or exceeding the standard, just above where the district is aiming to be for the next round of testing. 

A similar pattern can be seen in student grading, with the district wanting 80% of students from kindergarten through sixth grade to be meeting or exceeding the standard for trimester grading set by the district. Currently, students in third through sixth grades are at roughly 70% on average, while second-graders are at 63% and first-graders are at 54%. Kindergarten assessment was still in progress at the time the report was made. 

The district is also seeking to tighten the gap between unduplicated students — those who fall into one or more of the categories of English learners, low income and/or foster youth — and special education students when it comes their test scores compared to students who do not fall into those categories. Currently, on average, English learners are 18 points below other student groups, special education students are 45 points below other students and low-income students are nine points above other students. 

The goal, Peattie said, is to have every student testing at the same rate. She added that teachers and district staff are working to teach to the essential standards that the state focuses on. 

“When we compare ourselves to other districts, we are making more progress towards that goal, I would say more quickly getting back to those pre-pandemic levels,” Peattie said. “We’re not quite there yet, and so we continue to do just a lot of work around professional development with teachers, really focusing on the essential standards that students need to learn in each of the grade levels and the focus on accelerating student learning.” 

Increasing attendance 

Another casualty of the pandemic, Peattie said, was a drop in average daily attendance, an issue that other school districts have also had to combat. 

The baseline that the district set is 97%, a mark that Peattie said was typically hit prior to the pandemic. The district is currently at 95% after dipping to lower numbers in the years since the pandemic. 

“That is certainly our focus and we are making progress towards that,” Peattie said. 

Increasing parent involvement 

Bringing parents into the classroom to understand how their children are learning and what schools are doing is another focus of the district, Peattie said. 

Nearly every school in the district saw at least 90% parent participation in fall conferences, save for two, both of which were within 2%. 

Parents are also being encouraged to participate in the monthly superintendent chats, with a goal of 75 participating on average and the current number at 67 from August 2023 through February. 

“That is something that we’ve been able to really boost, our parent involvement since the pandemic, really bringing parents back into the conversation,” Peattie said. “We’re having lots of parent education nights, parent workshops where we can partner with families to help support students. So, that’s an area we’re really proud of and continue to work on.” 

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