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June 2019

Greeting Families and Community Members,
 
Our District's mission is to provide every student with a safe, equitable, restorative culture and community, the opportunity to realize their full potential, access to an excellent 21st century education, and the skills and knowledge to pursue lifelong learning. While all school districts face many challenges, we wanted to devote this month's article to some of our successes which demonstrate our progress towards achieving our mission. District wide, John Swett’s Graduation rate performance was 90.3%which is at the "green level" on the California School Dashboard. This is almost 7% higher than the State average. 
 
Our District also experienced significant progress for our English Learners. While we do not yet have "year-over-year" data on this, the  English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) Results indicate that 39.6% of our students were identified as "Well Developed" in terms of English Language skills, and 36.5% were identified with skills as "Moderately Developed". The overall state average for English Learners in these two categories is 65.2% while our overall average is 76.1%. We are 10% over the state average for our English Learners. Furthermore, only 7.7% of our English Learners are in the "beginning" stage, which is less than half of the state average. These are good results, overall. We have also seen growth for Latino students on the English Language Arts assessments. In Mathematics, English Learners improved by 4.7 points (not percentage points) from the standard and our Reclassified English learners increased by 10.1 points. 
 
The John Swett Unified School District has taken significant steps towards addressing/reducing chronic absenteeism through participation in the Attendance Works program, partnering with the program leadership, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the other members of the county consortium.  This work has resulted in the District's recognition by the State as a Model SARB District. Our Coordinator of Safety, Security, and Attendance, John Angell, works tirelessly with students and families to provide supports so that students come to school on time and ready to learn. 
 
The Career Technical Education program at John Swett High School continues to serve as a marque/exemplary program that supports college and career readiness, highlighted by the collaborative partnership of the District, the Careers Academy Advisory with the support of Phillips 66, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education's Regional Occupation Program (ROP). Our data indicates that 70% of our students are on a Career Pathway at John Swett High School. Our shops are the best in the County and our Career Academy teachers are amazing and experts in their field.
 
We have been working hard to improve the culture and climate at each of our schools and have been actively seeking ways to improve student conduct. In turn, this has brought about reductions in our suspensions and expulsions. During the 2016-17 school year,  our suspension rate was over three times the County average at 13.2%. The data was even more pronounced for African American students with a suspension rate of 27.7%. However, the 2017-18 data indicates that the overall suspension rate was 5.3%, a drop of 7.9%. The results are even more encouraging for our African American Student subgroup. The 2017-18 data indicates that the suspension rate for our African American students was 13.3%, a decline of 14.4%. Another area of significant progress is the reduction in the percentage of students who were suspended more than once. During the 2016-17 school year the overall "multiple suspension" rate was 30.6%. During the 2017-18 school year this dropped to 17.2%. Again, the reductions in multiple suspensions for our African American students were also down. During 2016-17, the percentage of African American students with multiple suspensions was 35.2%. During 2017-18, this figure dropped to 15%. While we still have work to do, this drastic reduction is attributed to the work we are doing to create a positive climate and culture at each of our school campuses and to better focus on the social-emotional needs of our students. Finally, while we are still collecting raw data, the trend towards reduced suspension for the 2018-19 school year is continuing. So far, we have had approximately one-half the number of suspensions as compared to the 2017-2018 school year. 
 
At our high school, we are analyzing our student transcripts for A-G college eligibility, as this has been a major area of focus for us this year. Year-over-year data are as follows:
2015-16 -- 19% A-G college eligible
2016-17 -- 21% A-G college eligible
2017-18 -- 28% A-G college eligible
2018-19 (projected) -- 44% A-G college eligible
 
In addition, we have looked at local area CAASPP (state testing scores) in the region to compare how John Swett High is doing relative to local peers. In looking at other West Contra Costa & Vallejo Schools, John Swett ranked #2 in English Language Arts and #1 in Math. In fact, JSHS outperformed schools that have lower rates of socioeconomically-disadvantaged students such as Jesse Bethel, El Cerrito, and Hercules (math scores).
 
We have had significant success at our elementary school implementing the Leader In Me program which is designed to help students internalize learning habits that will carry them through school and beyond. Teachers, staff, and parents report that the climate at school has greatly improved and that students are engaged and focused on learning. Finally, we will be welcoming a new principal to Carquinez Middle School. Mr. Steve Peters, former principal from John Swett High School, will be re-joining our administrative team. Mr. Peters is excited to be back and is already delving into the work at Carquinez. I am always available by cell phone at (925) 639-7408 if you have any questions or concerns. Please reach out and have a great summer.

 

Charles Miller, Ed. D.
Superintendent
John Swett Unified School District
Office: 510-245-4300 x2105
Cell: 925-639-7408