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As the school year comes to a close, we once again find ourselves in a time of both celebration and reflection. Another year has passed, we have celebrated the academic, creative and athletic successes of our students and our graduating seniors are on their way to new adventures.   June is a time for teachers to calculate final grades and for report cards to be sent to families, and at the district office we are poring over data from the year in order to determine the trends and patternsthat point us in the direction of improved outcomes for students.

There is no doubt, the data from the last five years tells us that we are moving in a good direction.  Our students are performing considerably better than state and national averages and TUHSD student achievement increases year after year.  As a district we track many data points.  Here are just a few highlights of our success:

College Enrollment and Completion Rates

This is the first year that we have had college entrance and completion rates available to us as a district. In the coming years, we will continue to work to ensure that more students are prepared for success in post high school education.

  • TUHSD has a far higher percentage of students who enroll in and complete college within six years. In fact,our college completion average is 15.8% than the national average.

Advanced Placement Courses

The research is clear, access to rigorous coursework in high school is one of the best predictors of success in a post high school environment.  The statistics for our Advanced Placement courses are just one way that we assess rigor in our schools.

  • Total number of AP courses taken per school year has increased from 2918 to 3729 over past five years.
  • Percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on the AP exam (generally considered a passing grade) is 21.8% higher than the California average and 24.5% higher than the national average.
  • The percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams has increased over the past several years even with the huge increase in numbers of students taking the courses.


The SAT website defines the test as a, “standardized assessment of the critical reading, mathematical reasoning, and writing skills students have developed over time and that they need to be successful in college”.  Many of our students are also now choosing to take the ACT assessment, which is accepted by almost every college and university.

  • Average SAT scores for all demographic groups have increased over five years
  • Total number of students tested and percentage of students tested has increased over five year term

Graduates Meeting UC/CSU Requirements 2007-2013

The University of California and California State University systems have set minimum entrance requirements for admission.  Our courses are aligned with UC/CSU standards and courses that meet the entrance requirements are noted in our course descriptions.

  • There has been a 7.4% increase in the number of students who graduate with UC/CSU requirements over the past five years. This is well above the state average.

Academic Performance Index Growth Scores

The Academic Performance Index (API) is calculated by the state and incorporates a variety of measures including state assessments.  The new state assessments, which are aligned to common core standards, will be give for the first time in Spring 2015.

  • API grew district wide from 2009-2013.
  • There has been a reduced gap between the achievement of our Hispanic students and non-Hispanic students from 2009-2013.
  • There has been a reduced gap between low income and non-low income students from 2009-2013.
  • All subject areas have shown a positive trend in average growth over the past five years.

These data points are a source of pride for our skilled teachers, staff, administrators and trustees. As a district, we continue to monitor many data points so that we can be sure that our great schools continue to perform well and benefit ALL students. We are committed to ensuring that all students, even the highest achieving, learn and grow during their four years of high school.  Continuous improvement is often difficult to attain in a high achieving system and so we are immensely proud of these accomplishments.  As a community, we have so much to celebrate this June.  Our students are served well by our teachers and schools.

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The curriculum work at TUHSD is focused on answering three very important questions:

  1. What should all students know and be able to do as a result of taking a course or series of courses?
  2. How will we know when students know the information and have mastered these skills?
  3. How will we respond when students don’t learn and how will we respond when they do?

Program Goals are the Answer to Question Number One

For the past several years, teachers and counselors have worked with their colleagues in content area teams to answer question number one through the development of program goals.  Program goals are statements of what students should know and be able to do and they emphasize the knowledge a student would potentially gain from taking a course.  These goals are important because they help us ensure that students are ready for the next course in a sequence and that ultimately, students are ready for post high school education and/or employment.  All departments have either finished or are currently finalizing and agreeing to their program goals.

Examples of program goals:

  • Students will be able to graph and solve a quadratic equation (Algebra I program goal)
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the five components of health related fitness which include flexibility, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance (Physical Education program goal)
  • Students will be able to determine the essential idea of a text and analyze its development (English program goal in the area of reading)

How will program goals be used?

Once program goals are completed, teachers will use them to plan the activities and assignments that they use in their classroom.  Think of it like planning a trip, first we determine where we want to go, and then we plan how to get there.  It is also important that teachers are explicit with students about the program goals.  Students should understand to goal, be able to discuss the goal and be able to monitor progress towards the goal.  In fact, if you dropped into a class, you should be able to ask your student to explain the learning goal for the lesson, how the current activities relate to the goal.

Curriculum work at TUHSD is driven by the strategic plan, which can be found at the following link:

Stay tuned for information about question number two and three in future editions of the Parent Connection!

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