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 Superintendents and School Principals Meet At 10th Annual Achievement Gap Task Force

​​San Diego County school district efforts to close the achievement gap between students of different ethnic and socio-economic groups was the headlining topic of the recent 10th Annual Superintendents Achievement Gap Task Force Forum (AGTF). This year, 500 district superintendents and school principals packed the San Diego Convention Center to examine district and school-wide systems that support and accelerate the learning of English Language Learners (EL).

Task Force Chair Bill Kowba, San Diego Unified Superintendent said, “It is my hope that all of you will take away golden nuggets from this conference to take back to your schools. This forum is all about learning and supporting each other to close the gap.”

Kowba identified several grade-level and subject-area tests that showed a narrowing of the achievement gap. In particular, Kowba cited the percentage of 10th graders scoring proficient or better on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). “The high school exit exam only reflects a minor competency of where our students are,” said Kowba. “There has been a six percent increase in the amount of students of color who have passed the CAHSEE in grade 10. That is evidence that the gap is closing, but the work must continue.”

The forum featured leaders from schools and districts that have shown progress, describing the sometimes-difficult steps they’ve followed. Representatives from San Diego, La-Mesa Spring Valley, National, Grossmont Union High and San Marcos shared program highlights that are working during break-out sessions. Topics included: Transformational Change: Becoming a Place Where Adults Cause All Children to Learn; Laying the Foundation for Growth: How One School Used a Systematic Approach to Improve Student Achievement for All; Supporting English Language Development with Data Teams and Best First Instruction; The Data Cycle as a Tool for Change; and Leveraging the District’s Systems to Improve Student Learning.

“What’s most positive about the AGTF forum is that it’s a great place where superintendents, principals and districts can have conversations on where they can improve in their processes and instruction,” said San Diego County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Leadership Services Division Debbie Beldock. “It’s about gaining access to one another and sharing strategies that will help our kids. It’s also about reflecting on what systems are already in place for EL Learners and identifying next steps.” ​