February 11, 2019
The state of Escondido Union School District is strong.
That was the confident message delivered Feb. 11 by Superintendent Dr. Luis Rankins-Ibarra in his third State of the District address at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (CCAE).
Speaking to a crowd of nearly 200, Dr. Rankins-Ibarra explained how a foundation of teacher professional development, student supports, community partnerships, and modernized school facilities are yielding real results in student achievement.
Before Dr. Rankins-Ibarra dived into the district update, guests were treated to a performance from Rose Elementary’s Ignite dance troupe, as well as a welcome from Deputy Superintendent Leila Sackfield, who thanked event sponsors CCAE, Chamber of Commerce of Escondido, Law Offices of Artiano Schinoff, Law Offices of Fagen, Friedman, & Fullfrost, Law Offices of Hatch & Cesario, and Mission Federal Credit Union.
Dr. Rankins-Ibarra was joined by Board of Education President Joe Muga to present the EUSD Public Champion Award to the Escondido Council PTA.
“They are not just about fundraising to bring much needed funds to their respective schools,” Dr. Rankins-Ibarra said. “They are about empowerment, advocacy, and engagement in their child’s education.”
“We have a clear vision in mind of what is possible, and that is that we will actualize the unlimited potential of every learner,” Dr. Rankins-Ibarra said. That means that every individual in our organization is valued, cared for, and challenged to be their very best. It is about the power of what is truly possible. We are committed to universal student achievement. … All means all.”
EUSD is making great progress toward that vision. Four years of student testing data tell some of the story. Collected under the statewide school accountability system, the data show that EUSD student achievement continues to improve in both English language arts and mathematics. The gap between the percentage of students who are proficient or advanced in these areas versus those who are not is shrinking at a rate faster than the statewide average.
The new California School Dashboard that ranks schools and school districts on a color spectrum, with red being the lowest and blue being the highest ranking, assigned EUSD a yellow ranking, compared to the state’s overall orange ranking. EUSD was not among the 21 of 42 San Diego County school districts that received a red ranking and were flagged for technical assistance.
For Dr. Rankins-Ibarra, this is even more impressive given the many challenges facing EUSD students.
“Imagine taking the assessments when English is your second language, or you are distracted because you know your parents are worried about having enough money to pay rent this month, or you are in the foster care system,” he said. “Despite these challenges, our district is moving the bar. That is a true testament to our hard-working teachers, staff, administrators, parents, community partners, and our students who learn to persevere.”
Investing in teachers is the first of three main contributors cited by the superintendent that are fueling EUSD’s positive results. The expectation that district teachers execute a more rigorous curriculum requires teacher training and professional development to implement that curriculum. EUSD is providing this teacher support and is investing in special intervention teachers at every school to provide additional support to students through small group intervention classes.
Support for students is a second critical contributor to EUSD’s progress. Now in its second year, the district’s one-to-one iPad initiative has provided all EUSD students in Grades 3 to 6 an iPad that enables student communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Next year, the program expands to add Grades 2 and 7.
The district has also redesigned its Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE) to expand access to advanced math and enrichment to all students, including through a new Summer GATE Academy.
The third contributor to EUSD’s success continues to be strong community partnerships. Dr. Rankins-Ibarra mentioned several partners that provide valuable learning opportunities to EUSD students and that improve school safety: the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, the San Diego Zoo, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, Friends of Daley Ranch, California State University San Marcos, Tre-o-bytes, the California Center for the Arts, the Escondido Police Department, the Escondido Leaders Collaborative, the Escondido Charitable Foundation, and the Escondido Education Foundation. He also highlighted new partnerships with Monart School of the Arts, San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra, SunSafety for Schools, and The Escondido Creek Conservancy.
“It’s partnerships like these that make a difference,” Dr. Rankins-Ibarra said. “What we, as a district, are discovering as we partner with many of you, is that we all want the same things, to serve the students of this community. When we work together, much is possible.”
The support of the community is also manifested through Proposition E facilities improvements. Since voters approved the $182 million bond in November 2014, a two-story math and science building has been built at Mission Middle School, and Central Elementary has two new playgrounds and new kindergarten and preschool classrooms. Further improvements are on track at Orange Glen Elementary, Mission Middle, and Del Dios Academy of Arts & Sciences. Much of our work has been underground and not very visible to the public eye. In addition, much of the work has been underground, including providing vital electrical and network infrastructure upgrades.
The State of the District closed with Dr. Rankins-Ibarra discussing a special panel of students discussing their high-quality work at Conway Elementary, an EUSD specialty school that follows the EL Education model.
In conclusion, Dr. Rankins-Ibarra coupled his optimism with caution. “We are pleased with our progress, but we still not satisfied with where we are. … There is so much more to a district than a color or a number. … Our students are ready to tackle the world. And that is happening all across the district.
“It is time to change the narrative in our conversations and start talking about what is really happening in your local schools. The state of the district is strong!”