Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 2:55 pm | Fair 70º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara School District Raising the Bar, Closing the Gap for Students

As the new year looms, Superintendent Dave Cash discusses efforts to implement more technology and the state's new Common Core Standards

Santa Barbara Unified School District teachers will be integrating more technology in the classroom and the Common Core Standards this year, Superintendent Dave Cash said at a back-to-school press conference Tuesday.

Assistant Superintendent Ben Drati
Assistant Superintendent Ben Drati (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

“For us, it’s a simultaneous act of raising the ceiling and raising the floor,” he said.

Teachers need to deliver lessons in multiple ways since students learn at different rates, Cash said, so they will work together to modify instruction based on student feedback and performance. Special-education directors are working with general education teachers to better include those students in the classroom, too.

Between the proposed parcel tax Measures A and B on the Nov. 6 ballot and new programs and standards being implemented in the schools, Cash said the district is depending on its strong partners — students, parents and the community.

Student feedback will help mold Santa Barbara Junior High School’s restorative discipline model and the new technology curriculum.

About 200 classrooms now have technology packages installed — flat-screen televisions linked to a teacher’s iPad instead of projectors and screens — and the district promoted Dos Pueblos High School teacher and technology strategist Todd Ryckman to be director of technology starting in the fall.

“Technology is not a toolbox of tools, but the environment in which our students in the 21st century learn,” Cash said, adding that eventually, he wants a tablet or other mobile computing device in the hand of every child to use at school and take home. He said it’s the great equalizer, since it’s dependent only on a student’s curiosity and inquisitive nature.

Ryckman, whose AVID students had their own iPads to use at home and in class, says technology needs to be owned by students for it to be most effective.

Cash said there’s a big gap between the haves and have-nots in the community, but the district will partner with the community to help students get their hands on them.

Already, Computers for Families helps put laptops in the hands of low-income families and students, and community donors have helped buy 150 iPads for the district in the past year.

Implementing the state’s new Common Core Standards will be a game-changer for closing the achievement gap and catering to every type of learner, according to Cash. He said the current standards focus on memorizing a set of facts and skills for each grade level, while the new guidelines focus on critical thinking and real-world application after K-12 education.

Cash offered a world history question as an example: Right now, students would be asked the cause of World War I, with four answers to choose from and bubble in. In the Common Core, students not only will be asked to choose one of those answers, but to justify their answer and why they didn’t pick the other three.

Assistant Superintendent Emilio Handall
Assistant Superintendent Emilio Handall (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

New Assistant Superintendents Emilio Handall and Ben Drati said the rigor of learning standards has increased so much that classroom instruction will be going through big changes. It’s much more powerful to have teachers working in teams

“I think we’re up for the challenge,” Handall said.

“That’s what’s exciting about this,” Cash said. “Mostly everyone became a teacher to engage in the kind of instruction this provides.”

According to administrators, changing the climate at schools will help with the achievement gap as well. Cash said that if students feel confident, safe and have good relationships with their teachers, anything can happen in the classroom.

From a financial perspective, the 2012-13 year is relatively stable. The Board of Education approved deep cuts and a seven-day staff furlough that results in a 175-day school years for students, albeit reluctantly.

Five fewer instructional days will no doubt have an impact — students will learn less, Cash said. If Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative fails in November, more cuts will be made to the K-12 budget, though the district’s adopted budget already plans for those cuts. 

Enrollment — and therefore per-student funding — is up, thanks in part by the new grade added this year. Transitional kindergarten is fully funded and gives children the opportunity to go through kindergarten twice, said Meg Jette, assistant superintendent of business services.

Incoming Washington Elementary School Principal Anne Hubbard noted that it will also help provide pre-kindergarten education for children who would usually not get it.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >