1 First Place winner of the California School Public Relations Association, 2003 Communications Contest. Award of Excellence winner for the 2002 National School Public Relations Association s Publications Media Contest. Four-color, 40 page annual report, 8.5" x 11" (folded) for the Middle School Office. Design by Steven Swift.
2 A day at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found. Anne Lindbergh ( ) Making Waves and Getting Results FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS, our staff, students, parents and other community members have worked hard to change business as usual in our middle schools. It s been an incredible time of growth and reform. As you will see in this report, the hard work is paying off. By a number of measures, our middle schools are showing academic gains. Our schools started this effort based on the simple premise that we needed higher standards, to make sure students would gain the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in our complex world. The people of the Long Beach Unified School District have held fast to those high standards, finding innovative ways to help students meet them. We call this report Turning the Tide because after several years of refining the way we teach and test students, we re more confident than ever that our middle schools are heading in the right direction. In fact, our most recent test scores represent nothing short of a breakthrough. Appropriately, Turning the Tide also suggests the job is not complete, and schools must continue the process of change that led to these initial improvements. We cannot reflect on our progress without thanking our Superintendent, Carl A. Cohn, for Chris Steinhauser and Dorothy Harper his nationally recognized leadership over the past decade. He is retiring this year, and he will be greatly missed. We hope you will take time to read the in-depth profile of Dr. Cohn in the Reflections portion of this report. Special thanks also go to the people at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation for their ongoing determination and generosity in support of middle school reform. We dedicate this report to everyone in our school communities whose daily efforts make positive, lasting differences in the lives of our students. Christopher J. Steinhauser Deputy Superintendent Dorothy T. Harper Assistant Superintendent, Middle & K-8 Schools
3 High Standards: Looking Below the Surface 2 Pg.26 The Evolution of Reform 4 Teachers and Administrators As Learners 8 High Standards in Language Arts 10 High Standards in Math 12 High Standards in History 14 High Standards in Science 16 Student Checkpoints 18 Parents, Community and Business 20 Demographics 22 Results 24 In his final year as Superintendent, Carl A. Cohn discusses progress, hope and the difficult work ahead. On the Horizon 39 How to Reach Us Superintendent Carl A. Cohn Principal Linda Moore Mom and Daughter: Linda and Jo Vonna Teachers Ken Zavala And Barbara Hansen-Rust
4 THROUGHOUT THE NATION, policy makers and educators talk frequently about higher standards for students. In the Long Beach Unified School District, this idea holds special meaning. For more than six years, we ve worked hard to raise standards in dress, behavior and achievement. In our middle schools, we ve especially focused on achievement by starting with the simple idea of academic standards. Academic standards are written statements of what students should know and be able to do as a result of their schooling. Every day, our schools use standards that explain to students, parents and teachers what is expected in each subject and grade level. The standards-based approach is popular now, and almost every state in the nation has academic standards. Long before the idea caught on nationwide, our school district began creating its first English, math, history and science standards in Teachers and school administrators worked with business people, parents and university experts to refine the new standards, which covered the most important knowledge students would need to succeed in high school, college and beyond. From time to time, we ve updated the standards to reflect new requirements. Adopting high standards is just the beginning. Helping students reach these standards requires hard work by everyone involved. At the heart of this work is the belief that all children will learn and succeed when given the right support. By helping teachers know whether students are learning what they should, standards allow for continual improvement of teaching and testing. In a standards-based classroom, students go beyond rote memorization. They re excited and involved. They think and reason more deeply, so they can succeed in a more complex world. They know what their assignments are, why they are doing them, and how to show they ve met the standards. Rather than relying solely on textbooks, students use a wide variety of written materials, computer equipment and software.
5 Here is one of the Earth Science standards that students must understand before graduating from high school: Many processes in nature affect the Earth and the universe. This standard is further divided into more specific goals for different grade levels: Elementary School: Describe the ocean and its effects on humans. Middle School: Identify and illustrate the water cycle, which is driven by the sun. High School: Explain the law of conservation in the context of Earth s subsystems. Academic standards help every school hold the same high expectations for students. Standards represent the best thinking of hundreds of teachers, parents, university experts, business people and others who created them. Linked to state standards, our standards help students to meet California s graduation requirements. Given the right support, all students are expected to reach these high standards, but in different ways and within different lengths of time. Our schools now use standards in English, math, history, science, health and physical education. Teachers also use lessons from these subjects when they teach courses like music, technology and foreign language. Every school keeps a detailed list of Standards in Parent Friendly Language, available upon request in English, Spanish and Khmer (Cambodian). 3
6 The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. Chinese Proverb CHANGE TAKES TIME. Middle school science students know this because they study geological eras that span millions of years. Here are excerpts from a geologic timeline found in a middle school science textbook, followed by modern-day highlights of middle school reform. 544 million to 505 million years ago (Cambrian Period) Invertebrates with shells appear, including mollusks. 4 billion to 544 million years ago (Precambrian Time) Oceans form and cover Earth. Jellyfish-like animals appear. 408 million to 360 million years ago (Devonian Period) The Age of Fishes begins as sharks and fish with scales and bony skeletons become common. Science Standard No. 4 Life Sciences: organisms demonstrate similarities, variations, and the ability to interact with and adapt to changes in their environment. 4
7 1993 Educators look hard at how to improve student achievement in grades six through eight. They recognize that for too long, young adolescents have been allowed to fail, and that too many adults have blamed this failure on the changing physical and emotional state of middle school students, or worse yet, on their families, neighborhoods and cultural backgrounds. Local educators begin developing drafts of standards statements of what all children should know and be able to do by the end of eighth grade in English, math, history and science. A Middle School Advisory Committee brings together central office staff and teachers from each middle school to shape the district s first standards-based reforms. Student uniforms Teachers, parents, business people and university experts review the standards and provide feedback. The school district begins education partnerships with local colleges, universities and key community organizations. The partnerships would lead to Seamless Education, a smoothly linked system aimed at improving student achievement and teacher preparation. The school district becomes the first in the nation to require uniforms in grades K-8 as part of an overall strategy to raise standards in dress, behavior and achievement Teachers receive an orientation and training on the new standards. The school district begins to create support materials, including grade-by-grade objectives for the core, or basic subjects. A resource management guide organizes basic and supplemental materials to help teachers use the standards. California State University Long Beach 5
8 President Bill Clinton 1996 Wider implementation of standards begins in classrooms. The school district commits to bringing 75 percent of eighth graders up to academic standards by The Board of Education creates the Eighth Grade Initiative, requiring eighth graders who receive two or more F s on final report cards to attend the Long Beach Preparatory Academy for an extra year of instruction before high school. The number of students with multiple F s drops from 740 to 439 in one year. President Bill Clinton visits the school district and praises its school uniform policy. English Language Development and health education standards are developed. Long Beach Preparatory Academy The school district increases standards-based training for teachers while creating new teaching and testing materials based on academic standards. This process would be improved and refined until present day. End-of-course exams and standards-based portfolios of student work begin development. The first parent-friendly standards, an annual report on middle school reform, and other communication tools are produced for schools and the community. Physical education standards are developed. Parent participation 1998 The state develops academic standards in basic subjects. The school district links its standards to the state s and provides standards coaches to help teachers plan instruction. Individualized Education Programs for special education students are linked to academic standards. Expanded tutorials and other after-school programs focus on academic interventions, with stronger links between schools and service agencies. Teachers collaborate more to examine student work. History, science and other subjects incorporate more writing assignments and exams into the curriculum. 6
9 Gen. Colin Powell 1999 The nation s first single-gender middle school opens as the Jefferson Leadership Academies. The new Colin L. Powell Academy for Success opens to students in grades K-8. Long Beach becomes one of a few school districts with an assessment plan that goes beyond statemandated tests. Drafts of grading criteria are developed. Top administration reorganizes to support lower performing schools. Jefferson Leadership Academies Middle schools launch a literacy initiative. Districtwide enrollment has skyrocketed by 20,000 students in one decade, topping 90,000. More than 70 percent of local voters approve $295 million in bonds to build new schools and fix old ones Washington Middle School becomes the Washington Intensive Learning Center, with a longer school day and year. Hill Classical Middle School is launched to prepare students for rigorous Wilson Classical High School nearby. State test data show improvement in eighth grade reading and math, and the best middle school attendance rate in two decades. Rogers and Hughes schools become the first middle schools in the district to win the National Blue Ribbon Award, the country s highest honor National honors for public schools. California State University Long Beach offers a teaching credential in reading Schools show significant academic improvement. They fall short of their goal to bring 75 percent of all students up to academic standards. But 91 percent of middle and K-8 schools meet or exceed annual academic growth targets set by the state. California State University Long Beach offers a credential program for aspiring school administrators. Principals receive more training on supervising literacy instruction. The school district wins two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association for its teacher training efforts, including its support for new teachers. USA Today deems Long Beach the nation s most diverse city. Washington Intensive Learning Center 7
10 AS STUDENTS ACHIEVE the physical, earth, life and investigation standards, they learn about things like the design of an atom, how stars and solar systems change over time, and how cells obtain and process energy. They develop lab skills so they can explain, through ample writing, why certain experiments prove a point. Students go beyond learning facts to understand how they connect. They learn how one principle of science applies to many situations. For instance, we know that heat causes objects to expand. This concept helps explain why we build bridges with expansion joints, why we don t overinflate tires before driving across the desert, and why hot air balloons rise. In the old days, science teachers relied primarily on textbooks. Today, academic standards help science teachers know what s important to teach, and the textbook is just one of many resources. In recent years, the standards have led to common, districtwide tests that help teachers and schools compare their progress. The standards really provided the framework for teachers to start talking to each other and to develop a perspective of what s going to make sense for the kids what they need to be ready for next, said Eric Brundin, the school district s science curriculum leader. We re not writing every quiz and test for teachers, but we do need a few checkpoints to get teachers talking, so they can share their best ideas, Brundin said. Everyone in every profession has to be accountable. Teachers have a responsibility for building a broad foundation that lets kids go where their strengths are. I love science. It s one of my favorite subjects. We talk about experiments, and we ask each other questions about how things work. We ll take a guess and then prove whether it s right. My career will probably involve computers and chemical science. You can make stuff to make life better, like medicine, plus it s fun. Joshua Mas, Hill Classical Middle School 16
11 Open-Ended Science Question Students demonstrate their knowledge of science standards by writing responses to periodic, open-ended science questions like this. Change of State A large pot of water is heating on the stove. At sea level, water changes from liquid to gas at 100 degrees C. Time (minutes) Temperature (C) 23º 100º 100º Using the data above, explain the changes that have occurred in energy and molecular motion. Predict what will happen over the next 30 minutes and justify your prediction. There are four different phases of matter. There is solid, liquid, and gas, and then there is plasma. This specific problem or question is based on liquid water converting (by boiling) to gas. Let s imagine I m bringing a pot to the sink and filling it with water. I want hot cocoa, but the microwave isn t working, so I start to heat the water on the stove. I have a thermometer with me to see when the water will boil. It tells me that at first (0 minutes), the water is room temperature: 23 degrees C. Then, 10 minutes later I check it again and the water is 100 degrees C. An explanation for this is that a lot of heat energy was added from the stove flame making the water molecules move faster and faster. There was lots of kinetic energy in the molecules. This caused the water to evaporate faster, even before boiling, as some molecules jumped off into the air. After 15 minutes the temperature is still 100 degrees C and the water is boiling. I start to observe that the water level is going down. So by boiling the water, its physical characteristics are completely changed. All the heat energy being added is making the fastest molecules (the hottest ones) leave the liquid and turn into gas. Since the hottest molecules leave, the temperature doesn t go up. Thirty minutes go by because I got distracted and my water is all done boiling. It s a good thing I started with a large pot of water, because there is only a little bit of liquid water left. I am able to have my cocoa now, but I don t like it too hot, so I m going to leave it for a while to slow its molecules (cool off). So now my explanation is done and my cocoa is delicious. This eighth grader s response was graded as a six on a scale of six. The answer completes all parts asked in the question, and it connects scientific concepts with reality.
12 No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main John Donne, 17th Century British poet IF NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, neither are middle schools. They rely on parents, community members, local businesses, colleges and universities to help give children their best chance at success. Parent involvement can be a challenge when children reach middle school. Students still need guidance, but they re also striving for independence. School life becomes complicated with more teachers and more demanding homework. But studies show that students perform better when parents stay involved. Our schools work diligently to keep parents involved and informed. Many parents take advantage of PTA and PTO activities. Many serve on school or district committees. Others take English, computer literacy and parenting classes at our schools. Still others serve as representatives from their schools, joining regular parent forums with the superintendent of schools and other administrators. Helping students succeed requires regular and clear communication from school to home and back again. Through newsletters, school accountability report cards, student agendas (planners), and reports like this one, schools work to keep parents informed. Many of these materials have been created and refined in recent years to explain the importance of high expectations, and how to recognize whether students are reaching academic standards. Today, schools also use home visits, parent coffee hours and events like Open House and parent conferences to explain how academic standards are helping children learn at higher levels. Other community members play increasingly important roles in local Steven Chesser, a senior manager with The Boeing Company, visits Newcomb Academy. He was one of 260 community leaders to serve as Principal for a Day in October middle schools. Hundreds of volunteers donate their time, and dozens of business partners donate goods and services. Each year, business and community leaders become Principal for a Day to learn more about schools and how they can support them. Non-profit groups help provide meaningful afterschool activities, and local colleges and universities continue their nearly decade-long work with our schools to improve curriculum and teacher preparedness (See Teachers and Administrators as Learners, pg. 8). 20
13 More than 700 businesses, community organizations and agencies have formed active educational partnerships with schools in the Long Beach Unified School District, a record level of involvement. During a recent visit to Long Beach, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised Seamless Education partnerships between the school district and higher education. The seamlessness of your system is something we really must applaud, and America can learn from that, Secretary Paige said. Here, all the entities, all the diverse groups, are putting their shoulders together and heading in the right direction. At the Annual Parent Institute, middle school parents learn tips on how to help their children succeed. 21
14 Here is not merely a nation, but a nation of nations. Walt Whitman ONCE KNOWN AS IOWA BY THE SEA for its large population of migratory Midwesterners, Long Beach officially became the most diverse large city in the nation, according to a USA Today analysis of Census 2000 data. There is nearly an 80 percent likelihood that any two residents in Long Beach, chosen at random, will be of different races or ethnicities. This dramatic shift in population is reflected at schools in Long Beach and surrounding communities. Our middle school students come from a wide variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and they speak more than 40 different languages. Each year, hundreds more students enter the school system, and record-breaking enrollment is projected to continue in the coming years. The school district s philosophy is that diversity is an asset and every child can learn and grow when given the right support. We are committed to giving all children the support they need to meet high standards. The following charts show some of the demographic changes and trends seen during the past six years. Our student population remains among the most diverse in the nation. The percentage of Hispanic students has increased steadily. Percent of Students Enrolled In Grades American Indian or Alaska Native Asian Pacific Islander Filipino Hispanic African American White 22
15 Language remains a challenge. About 30 percent of middle school students speak a language other than English as their primary language. This percentage has not changed since Most of these students speak Spanish, many speak Khmer (Cambodian), and the rest speak one of 40 other languages % do not speak English as their first language. Poverty remains a challenge. Nearly 74 percent of the students in our middle schools receive free and reduced-price lunches. 69.6% 73.7% Record-breaking middle school enrollment continues year after year. There is no letup in sight. 17,353 17,906 Enrollment In Grades ,736 19,386 20,461 21,
16 Linda Moore and company enjoy the marina near Rogers Middle School. From left: Moore, student body president Portia Simms, school secretary Jody Raef, teachers Patricia Strait and Timothy Ching, students Rodolfo Trigueros and Jesus Nava, and parent Jacqueline Taucher. Principal Linda Moore Linda Moore retired last summer after 38 years in the Long Beach Unified School District. She worked as a middle and high school teacher, department chair, activities specialist, assistant principal and principal for both Franklin and Rogers middle schools. She served in the school district s central office as a principal on special assignment and, in that capacity, helped to lay the groundwork for standards-based middle school reform a decade ago. Five years into her final job as principal at Rogers, the school won the 2000 National Blue Ribbon School award, the highest honor for excellence bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education. Consistently rated as a top principal by teachers, Moore was widely respected for her ability to find resources, motivate staff and improve instruction. Just before she retired, Moore reflected on what it takes to create meaningful change in today s middle schools. A CUSTOMIZED CLOCK ON THE WALL of Linda Moore s office provides a clue about her approach to helping kids learn. At first glance, the clock looks normal enough, with two hands and the usual numerals arranged in a circle. The numerals, however, span beyond 12 and extend to 15, giving Moore an extra three hours for everyone else s 12. Middle school principals are accustomed to early mornings and late nights, and Moore is no exception. Be nice to Linda, said Jody Raef, the school s secretary. She was here until 9 o clock last night. Commitment. Perseverance. Focus. These words, printed on inspirational posters in Moore s office, take on special meaning when she starts talking about student achievement. The key is to track student performance constantly and make sure lessons and assignments are leading to the end goal of learning. Her approach is easier said than done, sometimes leading to more questions than answers. Along the way, Moore has learned some lessons of her own. Planning time is crucial for teachers. At first, teachers were reluctant to spend time planning together. Now, they beg for more, Moore said. Teachers need paid, professional time to work 32
17 together on structuring and coordinating curriculum, instruction and assessment, and then they need to revisit their work. When Moore first became principal at Rogers in 1995, she and educators at other local middle schools were just beginning to answer the question, What are standards? Since then, districtwide standards, combined with more recently developed state standards, have helped teachers prioritize what is important for students to learn. What do students really need to know about the U.S. Presidency? Do you need to memorize all the presidents and vice presidents of the United States in order? No. First, we determine what the essential knowledge is. The whole standards-based movement is good for kids and teachers, Moore said. It tells kids what they have to do to be successful and to compete in this world, and it tells teachers whether they re successful, too. It s no longer, I taught it; who cares if you got it. Now it s, I m teaching it, and everybody can get it just not everyone at the same time. We don t learn at the same rate. Do all babies start walking at the same time or eating solid food at the same time? The next logical question is, what level of student achievement is good enough and what does that look like? Teachers, schools and state legislators are still answering that question. If we can stick with consistent assessment over time, we ll be able to report our success better in terms of meeting standards for all students. The same goes for the state s API (Academic Performance Index). Don t keep changing it. Decide what it s going to be, and stick with it, Moore said. The whole process of reform was somewhat delayed, for good reason, because we didn t have all the right assessments in place. But now we re moving at a good pace. We re getting there, with end-of-course exams in math and history, open-ended math questions, writing exams and other tests. Motivating and supporting teachers amid this ever-evolving environment requires finesse, and again, focus. I don t hesitate to speak my mind, but I try to do it in a gentle, constructive way. I try to figure out every person s strengths, Moore said. Her early experiences with reforms, when she held a variety of administrative jobs, helped her sharpen her ability to work with others. It was a time that required teamwork and innovation, and she is grateful that her own supervisors allowed her the freedom to try new ideas. I ve learned that everybody has a contribution to make. The most important thing is to know where you re going, to stay focused on that destination, and figure out a way to get everyone to be part of the journey. You have to figure out how to get everyone in this boat, rowing the same way. The hard work paid off at Rogers. It s no coincidence that a school so diligent about standards-based instruction was deemed worthy of a National Blue Ribbon. The whole standards-based movement forced us to say all students are expected to achieve at a certain level. That s what Blue Ribbon schools are supposed to do, Moore said. As with any success, Moore s is sometimes subject to scrutiny by other educators. Some skeptics point out that only about half of the students at Rogers accept free and reduced-price lunches, compared to nearly double that at some Long Beach schools. Rogers has hundreds fewer students than most urban middle schools, and at the end of the school day, most Rogers students go home to computers, ample reading material and supportive, English-speaking parents. Other schools don t have it so easy. The reality, however, is that plenty of students at Rogers face the same challenges as their counterparts at other nearby middle schools. I think that many of the things we do here at Rogers can work elsewhere, Moore said. In fact, if I were a few years younger, I d say give some of us an under-performing school and watch us. Moore hopes her successor at Rogers can take the school to higher levels of excellence, just as she and her staff have. The clock on the wall reads 14:55. As good as we are, we re still not there. The most important thing is to know where you re going, to stay focused on that destination, and figure out a way to get everyone to be part of the journey. You have to figure out how to get everyone in this boat, rowing the same way. 33
18 Board of Education Bobbie Smith, President Karin Polacheck, Vice President Edward M. Eveland, Member Suja Lowenthal, Member Mary Stanton, Member Erwin Saenz Student Member Carl A. Cohn Superintendent Funding The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation Special Thanks Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific Working Together to Raise Standards in Dress, Behavior and Achievement