New Blach principal finds school 'welcoming'

Alicia Castro/Town crier
New Blach Intermediate School Principal Bhavna Narula, above, meets with parents at the school’s orientation event in August.

Although Blach Intermediate School’s new principal has a wide range of teaching and leadership experience – from preschool to graduate school – junior high students hold a special place in her heart.

“I have a passion for junior high education,” Bhavna Narula said. “I love the stage in life where they are getting a sense of who they are becoming. I love being a part of that journey with them.”


Local students fundraise for clean water for those in need

Photos Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members held their first club meeting Friday at Los Altos High, left.

It’s one thing to help those in need, but it’s an added bonus to empower youth. Los Altos High School sophomore Lia Evard aims to do both.

After successful fundraising efforts as a student at Egan Junior High, Evard sought to continue raising money while encouraging others to change the world with their efforts as well.


St. Francis High opens new Event Center

Courtesy of St. Francis High School
Guests gather outside the Kevin Makley Event Center at St. Francis High prior to the dedication ceremony.

More than 200 members of the St. Francis High School community gathered in August to dedicate the Kevin Makley Event Center, the newest facility constructed on campus.

The building is named in honor of President Emeritus Makley, who retired in June after 30 years at St. Francis, 19 as school president.


State scheduled to release test results today

The California State Department of Education has a new measurement of school and district success and is scheduled to release the baseline results of the new standardized tests today. For a chart of local results, see this article

Replacing the state’s Academic Performance Index, the state will now report student performance in greater detail using the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.

Earlier this year, third- through eighth-grade students and high school juniors took Smarter Balanced assessments in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The tests are designed to measure the effectiveness of the new Common Core State Standards.

Rather than a single score being assigned per school or district, reports will reflect how students performed per grade group at four achievement levels and by an average score between 2,000 and 3,000.

Test results will show the numeric score, which places the student in an achievement level of Standard Exceeded, Standard Met, Standard Nearly Met or Standard Not Met. The numeric range, which corresponds with the achievement level, grows with each grade as the grade-level skills broaden.

In addition to the numeric and achievement level, results will record even more detail with “claim” results, which gauge success in different skill areas. The claim results will rate students at either Above Standard, At or Near Standard or Below Standard, and will include information on how to interpret the standards.

English/Language Arts claims will include feedback on Reading, Writing, Listening and Research/Inquiry. Mathematics claims will feature feedback on Concepts and Procedures, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Communicating Reason.

“I love the idea that we report on claims,” said Sandra Mc- Gonagle, the Los Altos School District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “That can be important information for teachers. That is much better information than that one overall number.”

Because this marks the first year reporting results from the new tests, state and local district officials have repeated the same message: This is a baseline and not to be compared with previous years’ testing results.

“California’s new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and students to learn,” wrote California Department of Education officials in a report to the media last month. “Patience is required. This year is just a starting point. Parents, teachers and schools should consider this year’s results a baseline for future progress.”

McGonagle said this year’s results should be taken with a “grain of salt” but could eventually prove important to teachers and administrators when trying to personalize education in the classroom.

“It is a baseline and a data point,” she said. “What is happening in our classroom gives a much clearer view of how students are progressing and learning.”

Awaiting results

Local school districts don’t yet have the individual reports to send home to parents. Officials from the Los Altos, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School, Mountain View Whisman and Cupertino Union school districts all confirmed that they are still waiting on their individual student reports from the state.

Preliminary online data has trickled in over the summer, but many districts are waiting on the official full picture as of last week.

District administrators, who are bracing for the state to release state, county and district information this week, used the words “disappointing” and “nightmare” to describe the feeling of not having the entire picture.

School districts and the media were informed that results would be sent to districts “no more than eight weeks” after students completed the test. For local districts, that date has come and gone.

Tina Jung, information officer for the California Department of Education, said the eight-week window was always an estimated time for delivery.

Jeremy Nishihara, chief information officer for the Cupertino Union School District, said he was told reports would be delivered in September, but he doesn’t know if that is a reliable time frame anymore.

For results – scheduled to be posted after the Town Crier’s press deadline – and more information, visit caaspp.org.

State scheduled to release test results today Graphic Courtesy of California Department of EducationIn addition to a numeric value, the results of the new state standardized tests will provide detailed “claim” results, above, designed to help teachers and students identify areas for improvement.

Graphic Courtesy of California Department of Education
In addition to a numeric value, the results of the new state standardized tests will provide detailed “claim” results, above, designed to help teachers and students identify areas for improvement.


Montclaire grads travel in the name of peace and understanding

Courtesy of the Kane Family
Caroline Kane, above left at right, participates in a group dance activity during the Children’s International Summer Villages program.

Three Los Altos students left the comforts of home this summer and returned with a completely different view of the world – not to mention a host of friends from such faraway places as Latvia, the Netherlands and Ecuador.

The students, who had just graduated from fifth grade at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos, attended the Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV) program, a volunteer organization with camps around the world that promote peace and cross-cultural understanding.


BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need

Zoe Morgan/Town Crier Editorial Intern
Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp counselor Sonia Uppal teaches students the basics of computer coding last week.

The Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp aims to reduce the achievement gap by offering a hands-on academic and enrichment program to ease the “summer slide” for underserved students.

The weeklong camp, held July 27-31 at Bullis Charter School, targets local English Language Learners and students entering grades 2-4 who receive a free or reduced-priced lunch. This year’s camp hosted 45 students, most from Santa Rita and Monta Loma elementary schools.


BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local underserved children who didn’t have the opportunity to attend preschool are preparing for their transition to kindergarten this summer at Bullis Charter School.

Charter school officials partnered with the Family Engagement Institute (FEI) at Foothill College to offer Stretch to Kindergarten – a six-week, tuition-free program designed to help children from low-income families adapt to an academic setting.


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