School district discusses state metrics, accountability measures

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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During the Feb. 2 Winters Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting, Assistant Superintendent Phoebe Girimonte presented two recent state accountability measures for California school districts.

The first of these measures was the School Accountability Report Card (SARC). As described by Girimonte’s presentation, the SARC “provides comparability data for the community and for educators, includ[ing] student achievement outcomes” and “communicates a school’s progress in achieving its goals.”

Girimonte briefly reviewed the information included in the Winters schools’ SARCs, including “demographic data…school safety and climate for learning…academic data and outcomes,” and a number of other metrics related to education metrics and logistics. This information was submitted to the state on Feb. 1, and Girimonte asked Trustees to approve the SARCs.

Trustee Everardo Zaragoza, having reviewed the SARCs, asked Girimonte about suspension rates at Winters Middle School, noting “the state average is three percent, our other sites are around two to five percent, but the middle school is at 15 percent, so are we doing anything to improve that?”

Girimonte said the school district shares this concern, saying “I would agree that our suspension rate does demonstrate that we are excluding students from school too frequently” as it causes “students leaving the school space (and) not being included in instruction because of suspension” and that the district is looking into solutions both for the remaining school year and in the long term. She expounded on this later, saying the district will use “other lower-tiered interventions and ways to reengage students before (a) suspension.”

The next presentation focused on the California School Dashboard. As summarized by Girimonte “the California School Dashboard provides parents and educators

with meaningful information on school and district progress so they can participate in decisions to improve student learning.”

In the presentation, Girimonte briefed Trustees on changes made to the Dashboard for 2022, including a metric that took absent data or data affected by the pandemic into account, as well as the Dashboard’s indicators for success, which includes an academic performance indicator, a graduation rate indicator and a suspension rate indicator. 

On a graph including all Yolo County districts, Winters scored similarly to regional averages, with identical scores as Woodland and Washington. For Winters, this meant low to very low English and Math, very high chronic absenteeism, medium progress in English learner performance, high suspension rate, and a high graduation rate. Winters’ scores make it eligible for the second category of state assistance, “Differentiated Assistance” of which 63 percent of all California districts and five out of six of Yolo County school districts are in. 

Going forward, Girimonte said the Winters JUSD will be meeting with accountability partners in the school district to review the results and plan new paths ahead for each school, including identifying actions and services that led to these results, discussing root causes, and identifying areas where additional support may be needed for students at risk of falling behind.

Girimonte also noted that because of continuing inconsistencies and changes still being corrected from pandemic-related adjustments, some of the actions taken to fix these issues may not be reflected in state data for a few years. As a result, Winters will “really have to be thinking proactively: what worked this year, what didn’t work this year, what are we going to do differently to re-engage students and make sure that they are able to attend school.” 

Girimonte emphasized the importance of communication with students and the community in determining the causes behind these findings, stressing “the importance of having the conversations and asking the why, and the need to broaden the scope of the conversation so that we are speaking directly with students, their families, understanding what the lived experience is” as well as the importance of staff engagement to create “collaborative solutions, to brainstorm, and to start looking at these problems in dynamic and different ways.”

Superintendent Rody Boonchouy agreed, adding “to have those conversations is critical in order to get real clear, as a staff, what is our strategy to address this…how do we adjust our strategy to show improvement.”

The next Winters JUSD Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Winters JUSD office building board room.

Trustees are expected to take action on:

  • The approval of the agreement for Facilities Master Planning
  • The comprehensive school site safety plans
  • Salary agreements for Site Administrators

Trustees will also hear an informational update on school bond Measures R, D, P and W.

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