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 500 School Leaders Collaborate to Close Achievement Gap, Raise Achievement for All Students

​More than 500 principals and superintendents from throughout the county heard from colleagues who’ve had success in raising achievement among English Learners at the October 20 Superintendents’ Achievement Gap Task Force Forum at the San Diego Convention Center.

Task Force Chair and San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Bill Kowba told the participants that five keys to raising English Learners’ achievement and closing the gap in achievement between students of different ethnic and income groups were:

  • Access to rigorous courses and high expectations for all students;
  • Coherent instructional models, using common language and common norms of practice throughout the school district;
  • Knowing every student and their needs, and having systems to monitor their progress;
  • Leadership;
  • Building systems that support both students and teachers, so teachers have the skills to accelerate student achievement, and there are systems that accelerate achievement versus remediating skills.

The Forum was titled “Building Systems to Support Our English Learners,” and featured five breakout sessions with presenters who’ve made progress in their schools and districts in closing the achievement gap and helping English Learners.

Those presentation topics and teams were:

  • Pathways to Closing the Achievement Gap: Leadership & Systems Change, featuring Chula Vista Elementary School District leaders John Nelson, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, Executive Director for Language Acquisition Emma Sanchez, Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School Director Jorge Ramirez, Heritage School Principal Gloria Ciriza, and Harborside School Principal Laura Serrano-Duran.
  • Understanding the Differentiated Needs of English Learners, featuring staff from the County Office of Education and members of the Long Term English Learners Network: SDCOE Senior Director Monica Nava, Director of Academic Achievement Tony Mora, Coordinator of Assessment Karla Groth; and Long Term EL Network members Maritza Koeppen, Director of Special Programs at San Marcos Unified S.D.; Brian Randall, Principal of Woodland Park Middle School in San Marcos Unified; Manuel Zapata, Career Tech/EL/ Academic Intervention Coordinator in the San Dieguito Union High S.D.; and Luz Elena Perez, Literacy Specialist in the Escondido Union High S.D.
  • Accelerating the Learning of English Learners in Mathematics, featuring Rancho Minerva Middle School/Vista Unified S.D. Principal Steve Riehle and teachers, Cheree McKean, Tina Shinsato, Theresa Woodward.
  • From API 1 to 7 in 3 Years, featuring San Diego Unified Garfield Elementary Principal Chip Dale and Garfield teachers Julie Best, Michel Cazary, Yadira Llanes-Torres, and Joscelyn Love, and Early Literacy Support staff Cathy Bradler, and former principal Chaz Moriarty.
  • Building Capacity: High Academic Rigor and Personal Growth for All Students, featuring San Marcos High Principal Julie Mottershaw and Assistant Principals Tiffany Campbell-Cunefare and Chad McGough.