Midpeninsula Post

PAUSD board approves the 2023-24 PAUSD Promise

Palo Alto High School in November 2022. (Mike Zhao)

The Palo Alto Unified School District board approved the proposed PAUSD Promise for the 2023-24 school year at Tuesday’s board meeting. 

The PAUSD Promise defines the district’s priorities and metrics to measure progress. Healthy Attendance, a priority introduced in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be replaced with Innovation next school year. Through this goal, PAUSD hopes to support diverse learning and intrinsically motivate students to learn, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation Jeong Choe said at the April 18 meeting. 

“Some of the key strategies under this section include expansion of dual enrollment, improving the effectiveness of instruction and learning through standard-based grading,” Choe said. “Being in the heart of the Silicon Valley, we also want to expand our industry partnerships and provide more real world opportunities for our students.” 

In line with the district’s key strategies, Superintendent Don Austin said the district is committed to providing students with opportunities for innovation. 

“Innovation is a critical component of preparing our students for the future,” Austin said in an April 21 press release. “Our goal is to embrace new approaches in curriculum design, instructional strategies and technological integration to prepare our students for the careers and challenges ahead.”

The goals Serve and Celebrate Others, Equity and Excellence, Mental Health and Wellness and Early Literacy, which were set in the 2022-23 school year promise, will remain the same into the next school year. 

The district collected 174 responses from students, parents, employees and other community members in a stakeholder feedback survey, which was used to finalize the goals. Based on survey responses, the district incorporated innovative classroom practices, support for Stanford partnerships and safe use of emerging technologies into the final promise. 

The district will continue to monitor progress on Equity and Excellence using the newly revised Systemwide Integrated Framework for Transformation, which outlines a district-wide plan to create an equitable learning environment for all students. The SWIFT plan includes five goals: Academic Achievement, Access and Opportunity, Educator and Leadership Development, School Climate and Student Supports.

The SWIFT report card will be used to analyze data from two focus groups, which are composed of historically underrepresented students — including socioeconomically disadvantaged, Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander and Native American students, as well as students in special education programs. 

“These students are having a very different experience than the majority of our students,” Board President Jennifer DiBrienza said at the meeting. “We need to make sure that we are creating an environment that they too have access to their education and where they feel as much as part of  this community. The fact that the SWIFT plan is embedded in the promise is vital.”

Quantitative goals for the focus groups include achieving higher standardized test scores and increasing the number of students who attend at least 95% of school days. 

“We still have so much work to do, and we’re never really done with it,” DiBrienza said. “But we’ll keep talking about it. … I’m really excited to support this promise for next year.”

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