The Benicia Unified School District continues to make outstanding progress on behalf of its students. We are living in exciting times, and helping to prepare our students to thrive in the 21st Century drives our daily efforts. The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is our guiding document, providing a detailed account of District goals and actions. The three goal areas are as follows:
- Create a collaborative team of highly engaged staff that supports the academic, emotional and social success of all students for college and career readiness.
- Modernize and improve infrastructure to provide a learning environment that offers opportunities for 21st Century teaching and learning.
- Increase parental and community partnerships through awareness and engagement.
In the area of curriculum and instruction, staff continues to investigate, discuss and plan lessons centering on 21st Century skills, including: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Highlights at the elementary level include implementation of the newly adopted math series, Everyday Math. This is a comprehensive, research based math curriculum designed to provide a rich, experiential learning experience for students while providing a solid foundation for the eight mathematical practices outlined in the new standards.
The foundation of all learning is rooted in the ability to read, write and communicate effectively: these skills transcend all subject areas. At the elementary and middle school level, we are making outstanding progress with the implementation of the Reading and Writing program out of Columbia University. We are establishing affiliate school sites within the District which includes a partnership with the University, ongoing professional development and sharing of best practices among schools.
While curriculum and instruction is the driver of our efforts in the classroom, technology can act as a powerful accelerator. Therefore, we dramatically increased the student to device ratio and are providing students with an abundant array of experiences with technology, including the implementation of Google Apps for Education, Myon Reading and several online courses.
Earlier in the year, we took the Future Ready Technology Pledge, an initiative out of the White House, which included a thorough analysis of our technology infrastructure and use. This analysis is guiding the development of our technology plan, which includes a recent partnership with Code.org and surrounding school districts to provide ongoing professional development, curriculum and the adoption of new courses in computer science with a focus on computer programming.
We know that students learn differently from one another, and providing differentiated learning experiences is key to student success. With this in mind, we have dramatically expanded our AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which reflects our goal to prepare students for college and career, and the results are outstanding. We have increased program enrollment and improved academic performance and participation in Advanced Placement classes. We have expanded counseling services at the middle and high school, and are currently engaged in an analysis of the instructional school day at the high school, including ways to further support student social and emotional well-being, increase levels of engagement, enhance instructional and assessment practices.
We are excited about the addition of two new Career and Technical Education Pathways: a Communication, Information, and Technology pathway and an Engineering pathway. We are also exploring the development of a Health Science pathway. Emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) is also reflected in the addition of the STEM wheel at the elementary level.
Building strong partnerships with our parent community plays a central role in promoting excellence in learning and achievement for our students. We provide a number of opportunities for parents to engage with learning in our schools, including the myriad academic and showcase events offered by each school. Development of the LCAP and the facilities master plan also provides opportunities for broad community input.
Lastly, implementation of Measure S., including development and Board approval of the facilities master plan, is nearing completion and generating a great deal of excitement. The master plan acts as an overarching document guiding our focus on facilities needs, improvements and innovations.
Most importantly, we will continue to cultivate a culture that promotes safe and welcoming schools with students at the center of all our decisions. I want to thank all of our amazingly talented teachers, support staff and administrators for their hard work, energy and commitment to our students. Our superordinate goal is to provide a world class educational experience for all students. This goal can only be accomplished within a strong partnership with parents and the broader community. I want to thank all of you, as we could not make the kind of progress we are aiming for without your support.
Charles F. Young Ed.D.