Gilroy Today 2011 12 Winter - Page 43

The Gilroy Unified School District’s mission is a multifaceted one. Academic success is clearly the District’s top priority. The goal is for all students to leave our high schools with the skills needed to be successful at the college level, even if they choose not to go to college. At the same time, we are dedicated to the education of the whole child, which includes preparing students to be productive citizens, encouraging the development of good character, fostering strong communication skills, providing opportunities to work effectively in groups, and requiring community service. Here are some answers to the questions I am often asked about how we are accomplishing our goals. The academic success of the District as a whole was recently confirmed in a report from the state. In the world of school districts, a score of 800 or higher on the state’s Academic Program Index (API) is a sign the school district or individual school is performing well. Gilroy Unified broke the 800 API mark as an entire district for the first time and 8 schools individually exceeded this target. Most of the schools in the district made significant progress in improving their API scores, some scoring 50 or more points higher than a year ago. In addition, the college going rate has increased, the drop out rate has steadily decreased, and the percent of students passing the California High School Exit Exam has increased. Please see charts on pages 44-45. This excellent progress is the result of carefully designed plans for improving student achievement and the hard work of our dedicated district staff. The following elements were put in place and have contributed to academic success last year and will be used to make further improvements this year: • Focus on standards based instruction using adopted textbooks and materials • Frequent assessments to determine if students have mastered the standards • Modification of instruction to address the needs of students based on these assessments • Interventions during and after school to help students master the concepts being taught • Strong teacher collaboration and dialogue about how to improve instruction • Specialized instruction for English Language Learner students to help them learn English as quickly as possible, while learning the subjects taught • Infusion of technology into the instructional program It is our hope that every student will find additional interests to pursue as they are mastering the required academic skills. There are opportunities in athletics, career technical educational classes, student leadership, visual and performing arts, and so much more. Some examples of these outstanding programs are: a district-wide Run For Fitness; after school sports at the middle schools; athletic programs at the high schools; violin and performing arts programs at Antonio del Bono; dual immersion programs at Rod Kelley, Las Animas, South Valley Middle School, and Gilroy High School; Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs at Rucker and Brownell; Missoula theater program at El Roble and Glen View; and band and choir programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels. One additional goal of the district is to prepare students for the world of work after high school. Christopher High School and Gilroy High School offer a wide range of career technical education (CTE) programs including; advanced photography; ag biology; autos, advanced autos, and small engines; bio technology & biomedicine; culinary arts; dance; digital animation, digital design, & advanced digital design; fashion design; horticulture; law enforcement; marketing; sports medicine; veterinary science; woodshop, woodworking & advanced woodshop; and welding. Students who participate in these programs obtain skills that will allow them to move directly on to careers in these fields or to enroll in programs at the college level. Schools tend to be the heart and soul of a community and that is so true in Gilroy. Our schools are performing very well and continue to draw families to our City. We are still growing as a district both in size and performance. Our goal is to be among the best in Santa Clara County. W I N T E R 2 0 1 1 G I L R O Y T O D A Y 43