LUSD chief speaks at nat'l conference

By Nancy Gutierrez

Lindsay Unified School District's notoriety for efficient programs and achievements in education do not just occur on the local level.

LUSD Superintendent Janet Kliegl attended the fifth annual Leadership in Education Conference, a national conference held in Chicago and attended by large districts from New York, California, Texas and Florida. Kliegl was not attending the conference as a participant but as a speaker representing a district that has excelled in aligning district standards with state standards.

Kliegl spoke along with Ruth McKenna a former chief deputy superintendent of public instruction for California, who is a representative for WestEd, an educational research company that serves the Western United States. WestEd has helped LUSD and other districts in California align their standards and assessments to state standards and assessments.

"They felt we were ahead of others they have been working with and invited us to come and speak with Ruth about how we put it into action and in student friendly language," Kliegl said.

One of the changes LUSD made was to the grade reporting system. To align standards and help parents and students understand what standards are being covered at what time, new report cards were designed that give grades to each standard covered in a single trimester. Kliegl said students do not just get a grade in English, they receive a grade for an area of English that was covered such as composition.

In order to report grades this way, teachers teaching the same core classes must be on the same teaching schedule. Before the conference Kliegl said she would be talking about what went in to the process.

"We'll talk about how we wrote the standards in student friendly language," Kliegl said. "And also how to get principals on board. We had to train principals and talk about what it is we're doing so they understand the importance."

Teachers also learned how to create benchmark tests for schools and how to make state standards understandable for students. Kliegl said the benefit of having teachers create assessments for students in what is being tested is what is being taught. Prior to working with WestEd, the district office would create assessments for subject areas.

"Writing a good test is not easy," Kliegl said. "Sometimes a test will measure something that is not important or was not taught. A good question gets at the heart of what a child should know."

After the benchmark tests are taken they are entered into a computer program and tracked as they progress through the school year. If students are not passing the tests, they are retaught.

"This is where edusoft comes in," She said. "We can quickly assess where the child is and what we need to do to reteach."

Edusoft is the computer software that is used to track a student's progress and helps create tests. Students can receive one-on-one training during and after school on the area that is giving them trouble.

The conference ended Oct. 8. Kliegl said she expected anywhere from 300-1000 participants to attend.

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