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Spotlight on Student Learning

Spotlight on Student Learning

Drawing of a Spotlight with text: Spotlight on Student Learning


June 6: Mental Health Program Update

At the June 6 Board meeting, April Torres, District Manager of Mental Health, along with several District therapists and social workers, presented an overview of 2023/24 programs and equitable services. The presentation emphasized the program's crucial role in creating safe and supportive school environments and meeting the critical mental health needs of our students. The presentation also highlighted the significant impact our social workers have made in improving attendance and strengthening community connections and support. The team of social workers have developed and streamlined a Student Attendance Review Team (SART) practice at each of our campuses, which has become vital to our efforts in supporting students and families.

To learn more, view the slide deck and read the board memo


May 9: Instructional Framework

At the May 6 Board Meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Julia Kempkey gave an update on the development of the District’s Instructional Framework. In the 2020-2021 School Year, the District renewed its commitment to Equity and Anti-Racism and the development of this Instructional Framework serves that commitment with the goal to increase student engagement and success, specifically BIPOC and historically oppressed student groups. 

Learn more about the framework.

Read the board memo

March 28: Student and Family Panorama Survey Results 

At the March 28 board meeting, Superintendent Randall Booker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Julia Kempkey and Director of Curriculum and Assessment Brian Simmons reported on the progress in achieving the goals outlined in the 2021-2024 Local Accountability Plan (LCAP). Specifically, the following survey results were discussed: 

  • Winter Student Survey Results (January-February 2023) 

  • Fall Staff Survey Results (October 2023) related to school climate and culture 

  • Fall Family Survey Results (October - December 2023) related to school climate and culture 

Learn more by reading the board memo.

Watch the presentation from the March 28 board meeting

March 14: Professional Learning-Certificated

Dr. Julia Kempkey, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction; Sabbie Hopkins, Manager of Teacher Induction and Professional Learning, and Marlo Bagsik, District Professional Development Coordinator, gave an update to the Board about the January 29 and January 30 Professional Development events. 

On January 29, all teachers and site administrators gathered at Capuchino High School, and on January 30, certificated staff engaged in professional learning with their school site teams.

The theme of the professional development activities was, “'Interdependence & Antiracism: Healing Together to Address Systemic Racism in our Classrooms and School Community.” 

Through diverse sessions led by internal and external experts, educators explored instructional strategies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity and engaged in meaningful conversations, becoming agents of positive change, working towards educational excellence for all students.

View the board memo and presentation

February 8: Unified PE Course of Study

Director of Special Education Services Holly Wade and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Julia Kempkey presented to the board a Unified Physical Education Course of Study for Approval. 

A Unified Physical Education Program is designed to promote inclusivity and provide opportunities for students to engage in physical education activities together. Unified Physical Education will include students with all ability levels. This class will develop awareness, empathy, wellness, and relationships to promote success and self-confidence in the Physical Education setting. All students will participate in activities that follow the state standards for various team and individual activities, weight training, outdoor and adventure activities, dance, yoga, and aquatics. 

The class will include involvement in Special Olympics and other related activities/field trips. Students will work toward achieving lifelong personal wellness habits through fitness training and learning positive health skills as a part of this course. Additionally, the class supports the development of leadership skills for all students, and the empowerment of ALL students (coaches and athletes) to foster an inclusive class and school-wide environment.

Learn more.

February 8: Fall Semester Highlights

Superintendent Booker reported out on Fall Semester Highlights from all school sites and District departments. The presentation emphasized the incredible dedication of our educators and all they do on behalf of our students. 

View the slide deck.

Read the board memo (EnglishSpanish)

January 18: Update on Class of 2023

The SMUHSD Board established ambitious goals and objectives in its 2021-24 Local Control Accountability Plan. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Julia Kempkey and Director of Curriculum and Assessment Brian Simmons reported on the District’s progress in achieving those goals and metrics transparently. The  following topics were presented in detail: 

  • 2023 Graduation Rate

  • College and Career Readiness

  • Access to College-Level Courses; and 

  • College Matriculation

View the presentation.     

December 14: Instructional Leadership Initiative 

SMUHSD is prioritizing resources to ensure every student graduates and thrives. This second phase of the Instructional Leadership initiative focused on creating a Manager of Multilingual Learner Programs to oversee support of our multilingual learners. The Manager of Multilingual Learner Programs was also instrumental in the successful completion of Federal Program Monitoring.

The District has experienced a sharp increase in the number of multilingual learners, and their specific needs have become more complex. Over the last ten years, the District has seen a 20% increase in the number of total Multilingual Learner students. This includes students in the ELD program, Long-Term English learners and multilingual students in the standard educational program.

The District underwent and successfully completed federal program monitoring (FPM) review to analyze its education of multilingual learners. The outcome of this process will allow us to serve multilingual learners to provide better academic outcomes. 

View the slide deck from the December 14  presentation.

View the board memo to learn more.

October 26: Middle College

The Middle College program at the College of San Mateo is a collaboration between the San Mateo Union High School District and the San Mateo Community College District. Middle College at CSM aims to offer a unique pathway for students to accomplish their secondary and post-secondary goals while challenging and developing themselves in a supportive, individualized learning community. 

Middle College provides students with education acceleration through enrollment in student-selected college courses. Middle College stresses integration into the college environment, including attending classes with the college student body, attending high school classes on the college campus, and pursuing college community opportunities like student-senate or college clubs.

Read the board memo and view the slide deck to learn more. 

View the Middle College presentation to the board. 

October 26: Staffing

The SMUHSD Board approved a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Audit during the 2022-23 school year. The District hired DG Coaching and Consulting to facilitate the audit consisting of document review, differentiated student and staff surveys, and four focus group interviews of classified staff, certificated staff, management, and new hires. The total numbers of employees and students who participated were 841 and 489 respectively, for a total of 1,330.

There were many findings from the employee and student feedback. Much of it was positive in that the District has made noted progress through initiatives designed to transform the culture and become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. These efforts along with many financial assistant programs and facility improvements has provided more accessibility both in physical access and programmatic opportunities. The District has demonstrated a commitment to embrace the unique backgrounds of its employees and students to cultivate a sense of belonging and respect. The goals of the efforts in this area include the enhancement of creativity and innovation through expanded collaboration and open mindedness.

Read the board memo to learn more.

View the slide deck that was presented at the board meeting. 

September 28, 2023: Keeping Students on Track for Graduation and Supporting Learning in ELA, Math and Science

The SMUHSD Board established an ambitious set of goals and objectives in its 2021-24 Local Control Accountability Plan. In order to transparently report on our progress in achieving those goals and metrics, we regularly report progress on the diverse programmatic areas they cover. 

Watch the presentation on the SMUHSD Board Meeting YouTube Channel: SMUHSD Director of Curriculum and Assessment Brian Simmons September 28 Presentation 

View the slide deck. Read the board memo for more information

September 12, 2023: Professional Growth and Instructional Coaching

In 2013, a group of SMUHSD administrators and certificated employees came together to collaboratively change the teacher evaluation model to one that emphasized authentic professional growth and fostered a life-long learner mindset. As a result, the District piloted an instructional coaching and professional growth evaluation model for several years to refine and adjust the process in response to both certificated and administrator feedback. The current model is rooted in adult learning theory, goal and motivation theory, and research based professional learning practices.

Instructional Coaches engage in professional learning throughout the year to support the development of effective coaching strategies for teachers across subject areas and experience levels. Workshops are rooted in research-based best practices for preparing and supporting instructional coaches and mentors. Activities include focused reading discussions, consultancy protocols for problems of practice, exploration of coaching stances and strategies, and preparation and practice in coaching conversations.

Read the report, which includes a summary of findings from the instructional coaching and professional growth evaluation model pilot. 

View the presentation slide deck.

June 8: Mental Health/Wellness Programs

SMUHSD’s Mental Health and Wellness Program encompasses a comprehensive range of initiatives and interventions aimed at promoting well-being, fostering social-emotional development, and providing timely support to students facing mental health challenges. Through evidence-based strategies, such as social-emotional learning programs, school-based mental health care, and trauma-informed practices, we have been able to meet the diverse needs of our student population effectively.

As we move forward, we remain committed to the continuous evolution and expansion of our Mental Health and Wellness Program. We will actively seek ways to enhance our multi-tiered interventions, evaluate program effectiveness through data analysis, and ensure the long-term sustainability and impact of our efforts. Learn more by viewing the presentation. 

May 18: AVID Program Highlights and Senior Standouts

Each year, the AVID program at each of our sites nominates an outstanding AVID senior for recognition. These students have often overcome personal obstacles to find the tremendous success they have and embody what it means to "achieve (A) via (V) individual (I) determination (D). Additionally, we shared some program highlights from the school year, which included achievement data and spotlights on special AVID events from the year. Learn more by viewing the presentation

May 4: Student Equity Councils

The Student Equity Councils were initiated as part of our work to address the Grand Jury report about hate speech in San Mateo County Schools. The 2021-2022 school year was the inaugural year for the teams in which each of our comprehensive schools launched student equity teams. The students were recruited to be representative of the student population and to ensure that the teams could provide insight into the perspectives of all parts of the student body. The teams were trained by Restorative Equity Partnership (REP) to support the students in developing skills in addressing school climate issues, specifically related to hate speech on campus. The students were trained over the course of the year through four all-day training sessions.

The topics included for the trainings were:

  • Building relationships in affinity and across difference to lead change toward positive school climate and equity
  • Advocating for fair treatment and opportunities for others
  • Engaging in courageous conversations about hate, racism, and systemic inequities
  • Understanding privilege and mitigating personal bias
  • Setting conditions for safe/brave space where both healing and interruption can occur;
  • Pushing to include diverse affirming traditions and cultural lived experiences within the school community.

This school year (2022-2023), each of our comprehensive schools as well as Middle College and Peninsula launched a student equity council. The second year was focused on both sustaining the student equity teams and onboard new students to the team. This was completed through coaching as well as a two-day training for new student members. Learn more by reading the report or viewing the presentation.

April 20: District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) Presentation 

DELAC is our District’s English Learner Advisory Committee. Our District’s DELAC is made up of parents of students of limited English proficiency Our DELAC committee is supported by Dr. Shoman, our district Family Engagement Coordinator, Elsa Pulido, and our site Family Engagement Coordinators. All sites have been represented this year with the exception of Peninsula and we had both Spanish and Chinese-speaking parents. The committee met once a month in person at the District Office.

In its annual report to the Board, the DELAC shared commendations and made recommendations for improvement to the District in the areas of communication; student focused supports including academic and social- emotional supports and family focused supports. Learn more by reading the report in English or Spanish; viewing the presentation in English or Spanish; and watching the recording

April 6, 2023: Empowerment Through Action

The Empowerment Through Action (ETA) Program at Hillsdale High School acts as an MTSS Tier 2 support for two hundred of Hillsdale’s historically underserved students. The program consists of empowerment-affinity groups, a Community Resource Center, enrichment activities, job and career training, parent education, and the Peace Pantry, which supports families with food scarcity.

The mission of the Empowerment Through Action Program, launched in September 2019, is to close the achievement gap and foster belonging for our students through a series of empowering actions to enhance achievement in the following areas: social and emotional growth, academic growth, development of self-confidence and inner capital, social connection, and job and internship placement. Empowerment Through Action unifies and coordinates all these efforts/services with a focus on supporting the 10% of our student population that has traditionally struggled to succeed in school: low-socioeconomic and students of color. Hillsdale High educators shared a presentation on the successes of the program and how the community can continue to support their efforts to support student achievement. Learn more by visiting the ETA Website

March 23, 2023: Overview of Panorama Student Survey Administrations

The San Mateo Union High School District administers surveys (in English and Spanish) annually to all students, staff and families using the survey platform, Panorama. The purpose of these surveys is to garner feedback about key issues related to district/school culture and climate and to assess, among our students, key social-emotional health metrics. Administrators from Mills and Burlingame High Schools reported on survey response rates; and broad findings from the survey results including noteworthy positive feedback and areas for improvement. Learn more about our Panorama survey results by viewing the presentation shared by staff with the Board on March 23.   

March 9, 2023: Classified Professional Learning

On January 30 and 31, SMUHSD classified staff attended professional development at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center facilitated by the World Trust organization. The intended purpose of the two-day event was to train all staff in hopes of ensuring that structural racism will not be prevalent in the district’s policies, practices, and procedures and to promote and work toward the vision that all students and staff will coexist and function in a safe, inclusive, and equitable environment. World Trust provided pre-reading that included a look back at governmental acts and laws that created injustices, both intentionally or unintentionally.

The first day of professional development began with a screening and discussion of the film “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity.” The afternoon included a discussion of the roots of social justice: framing and analysis of systems and structures. 

Day two included a conversation on addressing unconscious bias and strategic questioning: a  strategy for learning and change. To learn more read the presentation staff shared with the Board on Classified Professional Learning. 

February 23, 2023: Certificated Professional Learning 

On January 30 and 31, SMUHSD certificated staff engaged in in-person professional development after two years of Zoom or hybrid professional learning events. On January 30 all teachers and site administrators gathered at Capuchino High School, and on January 31, they gathered for  professional learning with their school site teams.

The goal of the professional learning event was to continue our Antiracist School and Community Transformation Journey by re-engaging with our “why” as educators, and reimagine what it means to provide all students with equitable access to quality education.

The January 30 PD day, opened with a welcome message from Randall Booker. This was followed by Joe Truss and Shane Safir providing an overview of our Antiracist School Transformation Journey from 2021-2022, building connections and through lines to our professional learning in 2022-2023. A teacher KIVA panel was hosted by Truss and Safir, with teachers from Mills, Capuchino, Peninsula, and Hillsdale High School, speaking about the ways in which professional learning has impacted their classroom practices. Following the welcome and opening, participants had the option of choosing from twelve, 90 minute workshops connected to our Antiracist School and Community Transformation work. The content in each workshop is connected to our Equity Board Policy and Administrative Regulations

Each site built out an agenda for the January 31 professional development connected to our Antiracist School and Community Transformation Journey to their specific context and student learning needs. Highlights from our site PD included: site-based teacher panels around engaging and creating relationships with students, student work analysis through the lens of Antiracist teaching and Ethnic Studies tenets, student presentations and student panels, deeper learning on Restorative Justice Practices, aligning graduate profiles to antiracist practices. Additionally, several of our sites took this opportunity to begin their WASC (Western Association for Schools and Colleges) self-study process in preparation for next year’s accreditation visits, and thoughtfully incorporated themes from our Antiracist School and Community Transformation work through the process.

February 9, 2023: Instructional Leadership Initiative

At its February 9 meeting, the Board heard an update on the District’s Instructional Leadership Initiative.To support a culture of Instructional Leadership and to ensure an unwavering focus on the classroom instruction, pedagogy and culture within our classrooms, the Instruction Department, which includes the Instructional Leadership Team has initiated a multi-pronged approach to shift toward a culture of Instructional Leadership. 

The first phase began earlier this fall with the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT). This team was created this year (Fall of 2022) to examine the intent and impact of instructional practices across the District and to reimagine these practices when and where they do not match our goals. 

The three goals of this team (below) are aligned to our goal of creating a culture focused on Instructional Leadership. 

1. Provide professional learning during the time set-aside during the District 

professional learning. 

2. Visit classrooms to uncover the amazing work underway across the District. 

3. Create an instructional framework by integrating existing models available and integrating what we learn through our exploration in classrooms in SMUHSD.

The next phase will include all school administrators to visit all schools, or conduct instructional rounds across the District. The purpose of these visits is to develop a baseline of the instructional practices in our District as well as identifying systemic patterns that show up in our classrooms. Learn more by reading the full report and watching the presentation

January 26: 1st Semester Highlights 

At its January 26 meeting, the Board heard a report on 1st Semester Highlights. While the list doesn’t include all District accomplishments since the start of the school year, it does serve as a snapshot of some of the highlights made possible through hard work and collaboration with students, their families, our educators and community partners. Read the full list of accomplishments; view the slide deck or watch the presentation to learn more.  

January 12: Capuchino Pre-IB Math 3 Pilot Course

At the January 12 Board Meeting staff from Capuchino High School shared a Spotlight on Student Learning on the school's Pre-IB Math 3 Pilot Course. During the 2020 - 2021 school year, the math teachers at Capuchino discussed how they could create a more equitable and effective math program for their students upon returning to in-person instruction.

As an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, Capuchino had long discussed the idea of moving toward an integrated math curriculum to be in line with the international norm. At the Board meeting staff shared the rationale for this new math pathway along with a new set of instructional practices.

Learn more by reading the full report and watching the recording of the presentation.

November 17: Instructional Leadership Initiative

At its November 17 meeting, the Board heard a report from Superintendent Booker on an Instructional Leadership Initiative aimed at disrupting predictable student outcomes (as disaggregated by race, gender and/or socio-economic status) in the following (but not limited to) areas:

  • Graduation Rates
  • CAASPP Performance
  • EL Proficiency Progress
  • Discipline
  • UC A-G Eligibility
  • Attendance
  • Panorama Survey Data

By establishing a culture of “Instructional Leaders” among our Principals and Assistant Principals we will prioritize best-practice classroom instruction strategies that specifically target the needs/issues that are driving our predictable student performance outcome trends. The initiative outlines: expectation, time, training and accountability measures to make this possible. Read the full report or watch the presentation to learn more. 

October 13: Student Discipline and Attendance

At its October 13 meeting, staff shared a Spotlight on Student Learning on student discipline and attendance data. The report highlighted successes, areas for growth, surprises and plans for looking ahead including the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had in these areas. Staff also shared information on behavioral supports that aid in student success. Read the full report or watch the presentation

September 29: CAASPP, CAST and Students on Track for Graduation

At their September 29 meeting the Board heard a Spotlight on Student Learning highlighting academic progress on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP test); the California Science Test (CAST); and data around students who are on track for graduation. The report included successes, areas for growth and current strategies to intervene or improve student results. Watch the report