CUSD Meeting Provides Update on Proficiency, Sports, Graduation

The instructional services and school leadership subcommittee discusses the multi-cultural e-resources provided to Clovis Unified School District teachers during its meeting on March 12, 2021. (Anthony De Leon/Clovis Roundup)

The instructional services and school leadership subcommittee, a subcommittee of the Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) Governing Board, met on Friday, March 12, to address a wide array of K-12 updates in the coming months.

As students are still adjusting to the return of in-person classes, the State Board of Education updated its process for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in a Feb. 4 meeting.

The SBAC assesses students’ mastery of the Common Core state standard, while the CAASPP is an assessment for students in math, English language, and science.

During the meeting, Administrator of Assessment and Accountability Robb Christopherson, who was in attendance for the Feb. 4 meeting, said that the state board is applying for numerous federal waivers in regards to testing and federal regulations.

In a typical school year, the federal government requires 95% of overall student participation from every school district. For school districts that fail to meet the federal requirement, the full percentage of students are penalized as a result.

A waiver to bypass the 95% requirement has been filed, which would give CUSD flexibility due to some students still participating in at-home learning.

Secondly, a waiver to extend the ending window of testing to be changed from June 2 to July 30 was filed. The current testing windows are from March 15 to June 2 for secondary students and March 22 to June 2 for elementary students.

According to Christopherson, the extension would affect the CAASPP and the Summative English Language Proficiency Assessments (ELPAC).

The latter test is used to measure English proficiency progress, inform proper educational placements and determine if a student is ready to be reclassified. The testing window for the ELPAC is Feb. 1 to May 3.

Students are currently being tested for the ELPAC through in-person testing, but remote testing has also been given. According to Christopherson, numerous schools within the district opt to bring in remote learning students specifically for testing.

A blanket waiver waiving the requirement for the California Science Test has also been filed. Still, the federal government hasn’t indicated whether they will entertain the canceling of the entire test.

“Our intermediate school… is our first group that has new materials that align to the standard. We don’t have materials yet in high school or our elementary school,” Christopherson said. “So we’re still in the beginning stages of introducing proper science standards. They felt that we would be smart to waive that requirement.”

Finally, the state board feels that they shouldn’t be testing students who haven’t returned to school for at least four weeks. Even with the option of remote testing, the state only wants to test students who have been in school for at least four weeks.

The California Department of Education was authorized to create a blanket waiver and is asking for that waiver to apply to students who are not participating in in-person instruction.

The CUSD faces an issue because although the department of education will submit the waiver by March 17, testing for secondary students will begin on Monday, March 13.

Regarding advanced placement (AP) testing, three options are provided to students for testing. The options are in-person, combined testing between in-person and at-home remotely and mainly at-home remote testing.

The first set of testing will be from May 3-7, 10-12, 14 and 17. The second from May 18-21 and 24-28. And the final set of testing from June 1-4 and 7-11.

All physical fitness testing is postponed at the state and district level until the 2021-2022 school year.

Promoting Cultural Diversity and Equity

Additionally, the CUSD continues to make strides in Cultural Proficiency as the district will be holding upcoming cultural events.

On the heels of the district-wide Black History Month virtual celebration and Asian Student Success Conferences, Coordinator for Community Relations Saul Salinas announced the latest district-wide student-run event.

The latest conference is the Latino Students Success Conference taking place virtually on Monday, March 22.

This effort has been the district’s focus to promote cultural equity throughout the student bodies of the CUSD and the employees and staff members within the district.

Salinas continues to shift the mindset for change inwards as he builds relationships through discussion with the African-American advisory board and improving upon the CUSD’s cultural equity.

“We come from marginalized communities, and you have some experiences that tend to be challenging. You need to build those upright,” Salinas said. “It’s not, ‘Hey, what is Clovis Unified doing?’ Now it’s like, “When are we going to do something.’”

A Latino advisory board was also created, with its current goal being focused on community outreach. And in the fall, the LGBTQ advisory board was established as well.

Salinas says it is a concerted effort for the CUSD to support its employees and staff in safety and equity.

“We’re now in a really good position. Employees are feeling safe, and they’re feeling heard,” Salinas said. “When you feel safe in this community and this district, you’re going to go out and your work is going to be amplified, and that’s what we see now.”

Salinas feels that the only way CUSD students can have supported students is when the district has a supportive staff.

He also addressed a perception that has plagued the CUSD district-wide for years. That although the district is making strides in diversity, the effort is insufficient.

“There is this perception that we’re just trying to put Band-Aids over certain things,” Salinas said. “The goal is that we want [CUSD] to become the model across the nation. We like to win, so why can’t we win at this?”

Return of High School Sports

And as football teams across the CUSD begin to hold scrimmages for the 2021 spring sports season on Friday, an update on testing for student-athletes was discussed by the subcommittee.

As it stands, all but two sports are prepared to take their respective playing fields this spring. The two sports excluded are gymnastics and girls volleyball due to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) regulations and the sports being past the seasonal cut-off.

There has been discussion of allowing each girl’s volleyball team to have one home game each as a send-off for seniors.

According to Associate Superintendent School Leadership Corrine Folmer, “We’re [CUSD] moving full steam ahead.”

Regarding COVID-19 testing, Folmer says that the district has secured the amount of testing needed to protect the student-athletes. And have discussed the plan for handling testing throughout the seasons.

Three sports are required to have daily testing due to the close contact nature and occurring indoors. The sports are basketball, wrestling and volleyball.

All other sports, including football and water polo, will be subject to weekly testing.

Folmer says that the amount of testing procured for the sports will end up near 2,000 total tests.

Due to Fresno County procedures, all positive and negative tests must be reported to the state to track statistics. The tracking is to see how prevalent the virus is amongst the student-athlete population, but the state will not be provided with identifiable student information.

“So, we’re working through getting all of that worked out as efficient as we can be with those things,” Folmer said. “That’s where we are.”

2020-2021 Graduation

Folmer also says that on Monday, she will be in a meeting with three other districts and the county to go over plans for spring graduations.

The goal for the CUSD is to get as close to traditional graduations as possible for the students.

So, safety guidelines and criteria are being established while they wait on the California Department of Public Health for more information.

The next governing board meeting for the CUSD will be held on March 17 at 6 p.m. Those looking to attend will be able to do so in person or virtually.

Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.