Hard Work by Students and Staff Paying Off in the Classroom

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." While Henry Ford was probably not talking about preparing college and career ready graduates, his words of wisdom speak volumes to anyone associated with Fresno Unified. With eight weeks of the new school year underway, students and staff are building upon recent district success, and with support from the larger community, setting their sights even higher.

In late August Fresno Unified received results from 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized test and for the first time in 15 years, every grade level saw increases in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. This didn't happen by chance. It took hours of professional learning from teachers, a commitment to provide a culture of learning with high expectations and dedication to change conditions in the present. Students also made a considerable effort, focused on being in school ready to learn every day, embracing shifts in state standards and focused on putting their best foot forward.

Fresno Unified has seen a number of positive indicators over the last few months beyond improved test scores. Graduation rates are at their highest in memory at 84%, and fewer students are dropping out, with consistent decreases the last two years. As the district continues to build upon our culture of college going and career preparation, we have seen an increase of high school seniors pursuing post-secondary options, up to 85% currently. District wide, students look differently at what it means to be involved in school -- they're engaging in activities, the arts and athletics, providing another important layer to their learning.

Our Board of Education has invested significantly in Goal 2, ensuring students have an opportunity to experience local and state museums, zoos and many of our nearby natural resources. This year that investment was expanded further to include students in transitional kindergarten through second grade. Investing in our youth in a way that enriches and expands their understanding of our world is key in developing their critical thinking skills and keeping them engaged.

Another way to keep students engaged and focused on academic success is by investing in their learning environment. In preparation for the upcoming bond measure on the November ballot, Measure X, Fresno Unified conducted seven regional informational meetings in August and September, gathering feedback from the community on the district's Facilities Master Plan and potential investment priorities. Thank you to all who attended or shared your thoughts on our online survey. With your input and support, we can keep the positive momentum going as we reach even higher.