Fall 2013 Welcome Message for Families:
A new school year is a time of endless possibilities, challenges and excitement. I am honored to join a community with such a strong commitment to public education and to the success of every student in Berkeley Unified School District.
While the summer months were relatively quiet, it was a good time for me to get up to speed on all the great work that has been happening in our schools, and to meet many of the people who dedicate themselves to our students. Our young people today need each and every one of us working together to ensure they are ready to meet the challenges to thriving in our dynamic, global society.
Recent data from state and local tests demonstrate a sustained upward trend in student achievement in our district. In spite of the shortage of funding for public education in California, and even in a period of curricular changes required by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the Academic Performance Index (API) grew by 11 points, and more students are graduating. I am confident that, with the implementation of the new common core standards, students will continue to boost their skills as learning becomes both more rigorous, and more relevant to students’ lives.
One of my priorities this year will be to look closely at the practices that have improved teaching and learning in our schools, and expand what we know is working. For example, we will continue to strengthen the professional learning communities in our schools. All teachers and staff need time to hone and develop their craft, share successes and challenges, and learn from one another. In order to ensure that students master the desired skill each step of the way, as educators, we must consistently ask ourselves the four questions posed by educational expert, Richard DuFour: What do we want students to learn? How will we know if they learned it? What will we do if they have? What will we do if they haven’t?
I am committed to the success of each and every student. Raising inquisitive, creative, smart, healthy children requires all of us to build strong bridges between school, home, and community. During October, I am planning to hold town hall style meetings, as part of my “listening tour” around our community. (More details are available here.) I look forward to hearing your ideas and reflections about how we can take our schools to the next level of excellence.
It’s going to be a great year!
Donald Evans, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools