October 2010

October 2010 Family of Schools Newsletter

A Message from the Director

The beginning of any school year is always a time of reflection, preparation and hope. This year was no different. As I visited various campuses on the first day of school, I was reminded of the time and hard work that goes into the preparation for opening day. Parents packing lunches, buying school supplies and holding great expectations for their children's academic success. Teachers setting up classrooms, preparing lesson plans and looking forward to meeting the young people whose lives they will impact over the next 180 days. Students reminded of the successes and failures of the previous year, anxiously excited about the new challenges ahead, and looking forward to meeting new friends and seeing old ones.

Almost one month later, everyone has settled in to the routines and rituals that go with "Back to School." Bells are ringing, schoolyards are buzzing, homework and reading assignments are in full swing. Consequently, I would encourage each of us to regularly reflect on the goals we set at the start of the year. Too often, the present realities of what we are doing cause us to lose sight of the reasons we are doing them. We must work hard each day to keep our "eyes on the prize," and not forget that every school year is a marathon—not a sprint.

Like many of you, I am extremely hopeful when I consider what we have accomplished and look forward to achieving this year in the LMU Family of Schools. As a result, I have made it a priority to spend more time at the schools; visiting classes, attending programs, supporting events. I implore you to do the same. I am convinced that every opportunity we take to spend time in the spaces of student learning, is an opportunity to be reminded why we work so hard to make not only the first day, but each day of the school year special, memorable and productive.

School Data Overview

In this era of high-stakes testing and accountability, a school's academic performance is measured by its Academic Performance Index (API) and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). As a whole, the LMU Family of Schools showed gains and increased their collective API 17 points in the 2009-2010 academic year, compared to a 16 point increase across Los Angeles Unified School District. Almost all of the elementary schools scored at or above 800, and Kentwood scored the highest of the elementary schools, with an API of 870. Orville Wright Middle School increased by 16 points, reaching 755 API; Westchester High School showed gains in API for a third year a row increasing the school API to 649.

The API for a school is a collective measure of testing success. However, AYP is a measure of the success of the various subgroups based on race and ethnicity, socio-economic level, students with disabilities, and English language learners. Kentwood and Paseo Del Rey Elementary Schools and Orville Wright Middle School each successfully met their targets for subgroup growth, whereas other schools fell short of their targets for select subgroup growth.

Another key aspect of the API is the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Both the student participation and passage rate are significant elements that impact a High Schools API. Last year Westchester High School increased in both of these CAHSEE indicators.

The last three years of the Family of Schools partnership has seen tremendous growth in the academic achievement and student performance. FOS school faculty and staff have displayed an ongoing commitment to provide quality instructional programs for our students and continue making the changes that improve the culture and climate of our schools. Congratulations to all.

This information has been collected from California's Department of Education website: http://www.cde.ca.gov

Greek Week Service Overview

The LMU Greek organizations spend a week every year exhibiting the best of Greek life at a university: academics, sister/brother-hood, fun, and service. This year, Greek Week elected to support the LMU Family of Schools as a way promote service among their members and to make LMU a better neighbor in this community.

Over 400 Greek organization students engaged with the LMU Family of Schools at the end of September to make their neighborhood schools a better place for learning. Activities to introduce LMU students to the schools and to service included a literacy event with elementary students and a clean-up of the five elementary campuses. Principal Karen Long from Westport Heights Elementary showed her appreciation: "A special thank you for including Westport Heights in Greek Week!" Because of the hard work of the Greeks during the clean-up, the school garden is now ready to be planted.

Additional events included a carnival on LMU's campus hosted by the Greeks for over 120 fourth graders and a supply drive for the middle school and high school. Chris Anaya, the chair of Greek Week, stated: "The Greeks are very excited this year to be working collectively for the children in our own sphere of influence. We consider it a privilege to reach out [to them]." Greek Week ended with a Lip Sync competition, and Paseo Del Rey Principal Jennifer Sullivan spent her Saturday night judging the different teams that competed. Sullivan stated: "I never knew LMU had such great school spirit. This [Greek Week] is a great opportunity to promote college awareness, motivating the students to want to try their best and be successful."

Tech PD Program

"There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if the teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails." ~ Nancy Kassebaum, U.S. Senator

Over the past two years, the LMU Family of Schools has collaborated with the LMU Information Technology Services department to provide over 250 = computers, monitors and document readers to the Westchester area schools. It continues to be our desire to equip teachers to authentically use and integrate this technology into their everyday instruction.

This year, we are introducing two new professional development opportunities that will tremendously support student achievement. The first of these opportunities is the iPEP-iPad Exploration Project. Specifically designed for LMU Faculty, teachers from Westchester High School were invited to apply. Mr. Alan Brown, a math teacher, and Pete Accardi, a technology coordinator, were selected to participate in the project. iPEP participants have each received an Apple iPad and will participate in a six-month research project that will review, experiment and share potential uses of the iPad and similar technology in K-12 and higher education.

At "Back to School Night," Paseo Del Rey celebrated the grand opening of its computer lab. This lab has the capacity to provide teachers an opportunity to conduct computer-based instruction with over 30 students at a time. With the support of a cadre of parents, the lab was refurbished and donated computers were installed, loaded with software and connected to a local network.

On October 26, the LMU's ITS department will kick-off a Tech PD series with the faculty at Paseo Del Rey. This series is designed to enhance the instructional technology skills for teachers. The three week pilot program will hopefully be expanded to other schools within the LMU Family of Schools. The Tech PD will provide teachers with insight into some very practical strategies for effective and efficient use of technology in the classroom. Moreover, teachers will learn about the various ways to use Google tools, set up basic websites, use technology to improve the home-school connection and increase overall technological literacy at the school site.

With more tech training to come, these two tremendously exciting opportunities could not have been made possible without the innovative support of the LMU Information Technology Services department. The LMU Family of Schools office is convinced that technology support for teachers is a critical component to increasing student achievement. Consequently, we anticipate being able to provide more opportunities for teacher education and professional development to each of our schools in the upcoming months.