The first school board meeting of the new school year started off with a celebration as 25 students, grades four to eight, were honored for achieving perfect scores of 600 on the math portion of California Standardized Testing and Reporting known as the STAR test. Each student shook hands with school board members as Superintendent Lindy Delaney lavished praise. “What impresses me most is how capable you are,” Delaney said. “You took that brain power and performed. Good for you!” Each student received a certificate and, in addition, Delaney granted each student one free homework pass. This entitles each student to skip one homework assignment. Many proud parents were on hand to support their child’s achievement and photograph the special occasion.
The school board also welcomed 16 new staff members. “This has been the easiest transition ever at the beginning of a new school year,” Delaney said of her five years with the district. “We can only offer our thanks and support.”
Assistant Superintendent Cindy Schaub then gave the school board a report on the STAR testing results. “Our hard work is paying off,” Schaub said. “We’ve been working at this for three to five years and now six out of seven grade levels have achieved 90 percent proficiency or better.” Only second grade didn’t hit the 90 percent proficiency mark. On the other hand, 95.7 percent of all fifth-graders received a score of 90 percent or better ranking them as the best in San Diego County.
Still, there are challenges ahead. “Our kids are struggling with problem solving,” Schaub said.
“It’s critical students get problem solving,” school board member Carlie Headapohl said. “It’s a little pain for a lot of gain. These problems eventually become real world problems.” Other school board members concurred.
The concerns come at a time when the state of California is changing its math requirements. Algebra 1 is now mandated for all eighth-graders in California. Usually Algebra 1 is taught at ninth grade or in high school, but the course is now being taught earlier to keep students competitive with math requirements established around the world. The math mandate has become national news. Schaub sees pluses and minuses with this new program. “As a former teacher, I don’t want to see an eighth-grader take Algebra 1, get frustrated, and then just give up on math.”
Rancho Santa Fe School District is prepared to meet the challenge. “We want the students to move from proficient to advanced,” Schaub said. “Those are our goals for the future.”
Schaub also reported that the Rancho Santa Fe School District ranked in the top 10 districts in California; out of more than 1,000 districts, it ranked in the top 1 percent.
The school district is also working to expand the use of technology in the school. “We’re working to figure out what our priorities are,” Ben Holbert, technician in charge of technology at the school, said. “We want to prepare our students for the 22nd century.”
Holbert stated that the school has 700 computers and 18 servers, plus projectors, printers and databases. With only two technical support people on staff, the district may need to increase technical support. “We’re keeping our eye on it,” Delaney said. “We need personnel to support the hardware and staff we have. We’re using technology more than other school districts.”
The next Rancho Santa Fe school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.