This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
San Mateo County, CA June 8, 2010 Election
Smart Voter

Closing the Achievement Gap

By Anne Campbell

Candidate for Superintendent of School District; County of San Mateo

This information is provided by the candidate
As County Superintendent I will make closing the Achievement Gap a top priority. All of our children and young people should have the opportunities and support needed to be successful in school. The San Mateo County Office of Education can provide vital support to schools as they focus on closing the Achievement Gap though insuring all teachers are highly qualified, are provided with ongoing professional development, and are given access to accurate and timely data to help guide instruction.
San Mateo County is a county of paradoxes. While home to some of the highest performing, most well-funded school districts in California, we also have some of the most abysmally funded and lowest performing schools in the State.

Does San Mateo County have an achievement gap? Let's look at the data. District APIs within our county range from a high of 987 to a low of 627. Many San Mateo County school districts have schools in Program Improvement, with that number growing every year. The 2009 STAR data reveal that our African American and Latino students score substantially below other students in the County and, on some measures, are performing at a lower level than their counterparts statewide.

Yes, we do have an achievement gap, and we need to tackle it head-on. The achievement gap's impact on the lives of our students and their families is long-term and unacceptable. San Mateo County must vigorously work to ensure that all students, no matter their socio-economic status, first language, or ethnicity, receive the teaching and support they need to succeed academically.

The San Mateo County Office of Education can serve as a vital link for local school districts by serving as a resource for research-based best practices, by providing high quality professional development, and by helping schools and districts use data in powerful ways to inform instruction.

First and foremost, we must focus on what research tells us: The teacher is the single most important variable to a student's academic success. Our children and young people must have effective teachers, especially in schools where the achievement gap is the most profound. This will require working together with our teachers and their professional associations to develop ways to gauge teacher effectiveness based upon student learning. This will involve creating data systems to help teachers measure student growth on an ongoing basis so instruction can be adjusted to fit student needs. We also must be willing to step up to the plate and pay teachers the salaries that reflect the importance of their work. Those who teach our students with the greatest needs are often paid far less than their counterparts in other districts. We need to find a way to fix this so that our students who need the most help have access to excellent teachers who are paid accordingly.

Next, we must be sure that our teachers are provided with ongoing professional development to help them address the needs of all San Mateo County students. As we confront our achievement gap, we need to work together with our teachers to be sure instruction meets all our students' learning needs. How effective are our programs when viewed through a lens of equity and cultural relevancy? Are we incorporating the most up-to-date research on how to work with our students for whom English is not their first language? Are our teachers aware of the current research on the brain and how it learns so they can craft instruction accordingly?

The County Office of Education can play a vital role in helping answer these questions by providing high quality professional development to help equip our school principals and teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to close the achievement gap. In this era of budget cuts, local districts too often are forced to reduce professional development to balance their budgets. The County Office can do what local districts cannot by providing a centralized hub for professional learning and by pooling resources to bring the very best in professional development to San Mateo County.

Finally, our teachers need accurate and timely data to help guide instruction. We need much more than STAR results once a year if we are to close the achievement gap. We need up-to-date data on student learning. This means not only summative evaluations (such as the STAR exam), but also formative assessments to track student progress so teachers can make timely adjustments to improve student achievement. This requires both the development of assessment protocols as well as a way to house and access data on student progress while the academic year proceeds. It also requires skillful professional development so teachers can transform data analysis into changes in instructional practice. The County Office can help local districts accomplish this by working together to develop formative assessments and to explore viable data-housing options so teachers can track student progress on an ongoing basis.

As County Superintendent I will make closing the achievement gap a top priority. All of our children and young people should have the opportunities and support needed to be successful in school.

Next Page: Position Paper 2

Candidate Page || Feedback to Candidate || This Contest
June 2010 Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter

ca/sm Created from information supplied by the candidate: April 28, 2010 14:19
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.