New Testing Procedure for all Denair Students Will Drive Personalized Instruction in 4 Key Areas

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Testing procedures and analysis is about to go to a whole different level in the Denair Unified School District.

The goal, school trustees were told Thursday night, is to better understand student performance in order to create customized plans to address specific academic weaknesses. Parents soon will be receiving reports that chart their children’s progress in four performance areas and include recommendations to help them improve.

“This assessment allows us to target specific skills that can be improved throughout the school year,” explained David Naranjo, the district’s senior director of student support services. “We can target the specific intervention by setting goals with students.”

The testing program is part of the NWEA system, an international organization recognized for its student assessment systems. NWEA’s results provide the national averages to which Denair students from kindergarten through 11th grade were compared.

The tests themselves cover four core subjects – math, reading, language usage and science. Each child is expected to complete them, including students in special education programs as well as those for whom English is a second language (starting this year, exams also will be given in Spanish). The tests are taken at the district’s various computer labs; each subject takes about 50 minutes to complete.

The tests will be given three times a year, Naranjo explained, so performance can be measured and interventions introduced as necessary. The first tests were given in May. Those results were shared Thursday night.

High school principal Kara Backman said the initial analysis shows that Denair students “are generally strong in language use” across the district, but are “average” to “low average” in other subject areas. Continue reading “New Testing Procedure for all Denair Students Will Drive Personalized Instruction in 4 Key Areas” »

DECA Recognized for Efforts to Implement Behavior Program

 

Submitted by Denair Elementary Charter Academy

Denair Elementary Charter Academy has received recognition for its implementation of a national program that supports proper behavior by students on campus.

Known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, the program offers a range of “evidence-based interventions to achieve academically and behaviorally important outcomes for all students.”

According to the PBIS website, “the important supportive relationship between positive school- and classroom- wide culture and individual student success is emphasized.”

DECA’s staff began staff training in 2015-16 for the tier 1 PBIS guidelines, which were implemented last school year. There was training last year for the second level of the PBIS program, which will begin when classes resume this week. And training will occur this year for the tier 3 guidelines to be implemented next fall.

DECA is among hundreds of schools in California that follow the PBIS standards. In recognition, the campus received a bronze medal for 2016-17 from the California PBIS Coalition.

Denair High Graduates Make Lasting Impression on Younger Students at DECA

The Denair High School Class of 2017 provided real-life inspiration to their much younger peers Thursday morning, donning their purple and white caps and gowns and marching through the Denair Elementary Charter Academy campus.

It was the first step in a daylong series of events, including a mid-morning graduation practice walkthrough, leading up to Friday night’s commencement ceremony. Graduation begins at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium.

Thursday’s first-ever Grad Walk was the brainchild of high school Principal Kara Backman and Amanda Silva, the district’s assistant director of special education. It was patterned after similar events discussed at a No Excuses University conference in January, Silva said.

NEU is an educational model built around the belief that every child has a right to be prepared for college, starting at the elementary level. Denair schools have embraced that philosophy and are working toward NEU certification.

Beneath their robes Thursday morning, Class of 2017 students wore T-shirts from their colleges of choice. Backman said 47 of the 70 graduates plan to attend a college or trade school of some kind.

The march to DECA campus was intended to be a vivid reminder of the educational journey the elementary students have just begun. Continue reading “Denair High Graduates Make Lasting Impression on Younger Students at DECA” »

Denair Unified Campuses to Host Open Houses on Thursday

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Thursday is Open House night across the Denair Unified School District — a chance for parents and community members to discover first-hand all the educational achievement occurring in Denair classrooms.

Here is the schedule:

Denair Elementary Charter Academy: 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event begins with a book fair, where parents can buy books for their sons and daughters. The Open House begins at 6 p.m.

Denair Middle School: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Teachers will be on hand to talk about what’s going on in their classrooms.

Denair High School: 6 to 9 p.m. Open House will be the first hour, followed by the annual awards ceremony starting at 7 p.m. in the Coyote Center. Dozens of students will be recognized for their academic performance and earning scholarships.

Denair Charter Academy: 6 to 7 p.m. Open House for the independent study program.

Beard Takes Over as Denair Elementary Principal; LaFountain Temporarily Moves to Middle School Campus

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Kelly Beard, who began this school year as the first-time principal at Denair Middle School, will finish out the year as principal at Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

Beard spent 13 years as a first-grade teacher on the elementary campus before moving into an administrative role last summer. She replaces Lucy Zamora, who resigned to care for a family member facing a health crisis.

Beard’s appointment is permanent, Denair Unified Superintendent Aaron Rosander said Friday afternoon after a joint meeting with the staffs from the elementary and middle schools.

“We wish Ms. Zamora the very best as she navigates the challenges ahead,” Rosander said.

Brian LaFountain, the principal at Denair Charter Academy, will temporarily fill Beard’s position at the middle school for the final month of classes. Recruitment to hire a full-time principal already has begun, Rosander said. He hopes to have a new leader hired by early June.

“DMS is sure to be in good administrative hands for the remainder of the school year,” Rosander said. “Mr. LaFountain will return to DCA for the 2017/18 school year.”

Beard takes over a DECA campus that, along with the independent study program at DCA, has fueled the district’s enrollment growth the past two years. Part of the appeal to parents at DECA has been the addition of a dual immersion language program in which students are taught in English and Spanish. Each year, another grade level is added. The first students will be in second grade next fall.

The charter school also features traditional classes for kindergartners through fifth-graders. All students are introduced to the concepts promoted by the No Excuses University program, which aims to instill a college-going culture in youngsters.

“Kelly is well-liked and respected, and definitely will be welcomed back,” Rosander said. “All the programs that have been added the past few years will remain.”