Thirty-one San Diego County district superintendents and principals attended the second of a series of collaborative sessions designed to close the achievement gap in local schools.
The forum focused on the achievement gap in mathematics, particularly for students learning English and those with special needs. County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward welcomed the group and Dr. Don Phillips, Chair of the Superintendents Achievement Gap Task Force and Superintendent of Poway Unified, gave a brief overview of the forum objectives.
"Today we will focus on creating an authentic mathematics learning community, identifying strategies and practices that districts and schools can use to accelerate student learning," said Phillips.
Dr. Timothy Kanold, Superintendent at Adlai E. Stevenson High School District in Illinois, was the keynote speaker of the forum. "As leaders it is our job to set standards and targets that will make us better as a whole," said Kanold.
Kanold is co-author of 27 mathematics textbooks, grades 6-12, written for Houghton Mifflin/McDougal Littell Publishing Company. Kanold has presented several seminars with the primary focus on the creation of equitable learning experiences for all children in mathematics and English.
"If it is required that staff actions be collaborative and common grounds are established, positive changes will start to happen," Kanold said.
Kanold stressed the importance for districts, school sites, principals and teachers to collaborating with one another on an ongoing basis to develop common and congruent homework assignments, grading practices, and exams. He also mentioned the need to implement effective lesson plan designs that will engage all students during small group discourse.
Joining Kanold as speakers were principals Steve Baum, San Marcos Unified; Lisa Danzer, Poway Unified; and Linda Stanley and Maria Castilleja from the Sweetwater Union High District. Each principal gave a brief presentation on supporting English Learners and students with special needs in elementary, middle and high school mathematics.
Kanold pointed out that student achievement in mathematics should not solely be an issue with teachers. "Teachers should honor the expectations of the program and principals should monitor what is going on," said Kanold. He also expressed the need for parent involvement and the leadership responsibilities of district offices.