The San Diego County Grand Jury released a report on Wednesday commending everyone associated with the Poway Unified School District for significant accomplishments in providing a quality education. The commendation states: “PUSD’s capacity to include the students, parents, teachers, staff, administration, union, and the school board in the commitment to provide a quality education is superb.”
The Grand Jury Report, “College Readiness for All – Gateway to Our Students’ Future” One School District’s Accomplishment, cites the last 10 years of steady growth in targeted academic measurements as testament to Poway Unified’s success.
PUSD’s significant accomplishments for the past 10 years, as listed in the report, includes:
• Increased API (Academic Performance Index) scores every year for 10 years;
• 21 PUSD schools exceeding API of 900 (Index target is 800);
• Percentage of students scoring “Proficient” or “Advanced” at the elementary, middle, and high school levels has increased in all academic areas;
• Percentage of graduates completing the college entrance requirements has increased from 51.7 percent to 69 percent;
• Participation in one or more AP (Advanced Placement) classes has risen from 29 percent in
2003 to 61 percent in 2011;
• In 2010/2011, 99.99 percent of seniors (all but five seniors) who had sufficient course credits toward graduation passed the California High School Exit Examination;
• At 2.4 percent, Poway has the lowest dropout percentage in the county, based on the most recent data from the California Department of Education, 2010/2011; and
• Overall—the district has seen steady growth in targeted academic measurements.
“Being recognized by the Grand Jury is extremely gratifying,” Poway Unified Superintendent Dr. John Collins said “While our school district is the 22nd largest in the state of California, with more than 34,000 students and 38 school sites, we are all committed to focus on the success of each of our students. It is through everyone in our school community working together and focusing on our students that we are able to accomplish our goals.
“I want to take this opportunity to recognize our students, teachers, staff, and parents for their focus on providing the highest quality education and learning experiences that make PUSD a special place to work and learn. A special thanks to our communities and business partners for their support.”
The Grand Jury also cited the success and awards that PUSD has earned over the past several years, including the naming of Los Peñasquitos Elementary School as a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School. The Grand Jury wanted to understand the significance of the award, which is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about the best school leadership and teaching practices, and decided to explore the efforts and philosophy of the school and the district by meeting with administration, staff, teachers, and students.
Fifteen PUSD schools have received National Blue Ribbon awards in past years.
Grand Jury Foreman James R. Lewis said, “One of the keys to success is everyone working toward the same goals. Even in spite of budget problems, the Poway Unified School District is able to accomplish its goals.”
Another area the Grand Jury cited is the teachers’ union and the school administration.
“The ability of the administration and the Poway Federation of Teachers to work together to ensure that only the best and most qualified teachers are employed and remain in the Poway school system is a program that could be a model for other school districts.”
Conclusions of the Grand Jury report state that “the school board, administration, staff, and teachers truly believe the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and habits of mind that prepare a student for success in college are the same skills needed to pursue post-secondary education/training or success in the workplace.”
They also state, “We need to think Pre-K-16, recognizing that our task is not simply to get students into college or other post-secondary education/training, but rather to prepare them for success following high school graduation.”
PUSD Board of Education President Linda Vanderveen said, “I never read or heard of a Grand Jury commending a school district for its efforts on behalf of students. This is a unique and singular honor.”