The California Department of Education released the 2013 California Standardized Test (CST) results last week, and Fallbrook’s elementary school district had students show achievement in both English language arts and math.
“Our achievement went up significantly overall,” said Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) superintendent Candy Singh. “In math, we had a 10-point gain throughout the district and a five to 10-point gain in English language arts.”
Singh pointed out that at this point in time, the district only had access to scores on a per grade basis, and did not have school-wide percentages to compare to other schools in the county or state.
“Still, I was talking with another superintendent, and he was telling me that we are likely to have the highest gains in the county,” said Singh. “I’ve been to every school with the governing board to welcome back everyone, and the support staff was thrilled. We are all so proud of our students.”
For the past two years, Singh and the district staff has worked to make changes in the professional development teachers undergo, focusing specifically on student achievement. When the positive results started trickling in, the board and Singh were hesitant to proclaim victory.
“We had guarded optimism,” said Singh. “We are with our students in the classrooms and at the schools on an ongoing basis, and have been monitoring students throughout the year, and have been looking at their improvement all year long.”
As part of the professional development, FUESD teachers have been preparing for the Common Core Standards. Support coaching staff is also available at each school to help teachers through the process of adjusting to the new standards, while outside consultants are brought in to model lessons.
“We have taken a very measured approach regarding the Common Core Standards,” said Singh. “We have taken a significant amount of time to support our staff to improve their teaching so that they can meet the Common Core Standards.”
FUESD will be implementing the math Common Core Standards this year.
“We want to focus on one subject area at a time,” she said. “I feel that our teachers have done a remarkable job in transitioning into the set of standards. We will also have our principals continuing to help our teachers. This is not a one-shot supplementary instructional development.”
“We have been committed to the process for two years, and have had an incredible focus on having high quality instruction practices in every classroom,” said Singh. “If we don’t stick with it, and follow up, it doesn’t take. We have had to make really hard decisions in these two years, and this increase in achievement is what we knew what could happen. We hope to continue that with the Common Core.”