From the….. Superintendent’s desk
By Robert W. Graeff, Ed.D.
Ramona Unified School District
On behalf of the Governing Board of the Ramona Unified School District, it is my pleasure to welcome back each of our local school families to our schools for 2011-12! Each of our 10 schools is open for business on Monday, August 29 — and we believe this year will be better than ever!
Starting on a high note, our students will be walking back into classrooms where schools are celebrating our highest test scores in district history! Parents may recall that our overall API gain last year of 22 points as an entire district was the highest gain in all of San Diego County for districts with more than 200 students — pushing us to an overall API score of 809 for the entire district. Recognizing that scores will vary from site to site, our overall STAR results show an impressive number of overall gains:
•Language Arts scores maintained or increased in all but three grade levels (2-11)
•Math scores maintained or increased in all but one grade level (2-11)
•Science scores maintained or increased in every grade level tested (5-11)
•Social Science scores maintained or increased in every grade level tested (8-11)
Overall, the District’s STAR scores maintained or increased in 29 of 33 testing categories, Grades 2-11 — and that is only because students, teachers, parents, support staff, and administrators worked very hard to raise the bar of student achievement for all students, regardless of ability or background. While we still have a long way to go in ensuring that all students are learning at their fullest potential, I am personally very proud of our achievement record last year — especially when one considers that our classroom employees could easily have become distracted with budget issues, layoff possibilities, and other diversions in their day-to-day responsibilities.
In the coming year, students will see much more emphasis on teaching “21st Century Skills” — a blend of core content along with strategies for learning communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Accordingly, students will be invited to bring their own technology to school so that teachers can help students harness the new power of mobile technology in their daily learning.
More so than ever, the fiscal challenges of California will be providing significant hurdles to what we are trying to accomplish in our classrooms. With declining resources at both the state and federal levels, our teachers will be trying to do more with less — an equation which occasionally hurdles the overall educational experience. As the state’s budget woes continue to swirl, my office will continue to communicate with the community through the local media in an effort to keep you informed.
Still, I am keenly aware that most parents — including my wife and me — are probably more concerned with their own children than the state of the entire system. To that end, let me offer four basic tips to assist parents this year in supporting their children within our local schools:
1. Speak positively about school. Children learn to value what their parents value, and positive words in the home about teachers and the importance of completing quality work go a long way to keeping children focused on positive school habits.
2. Monitor daily work. Whether a child is in Kindergarten or 12th Grade, it is critically important for parents to review their daily assignments. Parental interest in their work helps keep children focused and provides parents with a daily awareness of their children’s success in their studies.
3. Maintain a high level of expectation. Regardless of how gifted students may or may not be, always expect them to perform at their highest level. In an increasingly competitive collegiate and world environment, our children’s future will require them to excel at a higher level than their predecessors in order to achieve the lifestyle they may eventually desire.
4. Supplement school work with outside reading. Even with the increasing emphasis on technology, research shows that nothing indicates future academic success better than reading skills. Parents should make every effort to ensure that their children read 20-30 minutes a day in independent reading activities. Visiting our school libraries, our public library, local bookstores, or online bookstores should become a regular habit for every household with school-aged children.
As we begin this new school year together, I urge parents to challenge themselves to make this year the best one ever in the practice of their own parenting skills. While we all navigate the perils of the current economy together in our schools, our neighborhoods, and our homes, we must continue to partner together — parents, students, and schools — in an effort to continue our enthusiasm for the success of our most precious resource — our children.
- Schools ready for new year
- Superintendent outlines budget challenges
- County Superintendent of Schools Inspires Warner Graduates
- Summer school adapts to economy—and technology
- ESP Summer Camp threatened by low enrollment
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