WCSD Superintendent Gives 'State of Education' Address - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

WCSD Superintendent Gives 'State of Education' Address

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From the Washoe County School District:

In the 2014 State of Education Address, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees and Superintendent Pedro Martinez updated the community on the achievements of the past year and the challenges that lie ahead for the District.

Speaking to parents, business and community leaders, principals, students, and WCSD leadership at Reno High School, Martinez pointed to the increasing graduation rate and the growing number of students receiving honors and advanced diplomas. He also discussed the narrowing of achievement gaps in graduation rates for specific student populations.

"Our District has accomplished some outstanding goals this year, but we have also confronted some serious challenges," Martinez said. "We are dedicated to helping each of our students graduate from high school ready for college and highly-skilled careers, and after posting our highest graduation rates ever in 2013, we are moving closer to achieving that goal. This is a great opportunity for WCSD to share information with the community, and I look forward to it."

"Our State of Education Address is an important part of keeping the community updated on our progress, and to enlist its help as we work together to achieve our goals," said WCSD Board of Trustees President Barbara Clark. "Our community will depend on these children as they grow up to become educated, productive citizens, and it's our responsibility to ensure that they receive the best education possible. We have a great team in place and we are certainly up to the challenge."

Martinez also discussed the hard work that lies ahead, as the District continues to deal with a lack of sustainable funding sources for capital needs.

"The failure of our School Capital Needs Initiative was a disappointment, but we continue to engage in conversation with our community to find a sustainable source of funding for our schools," Martinez said. "This is such an important issue, and it's one we will have to resolve in order to ensure that our schools continue to provide a safe and effective learning environment for our children."

Martinez acknowledged and thanked the community for its overwhelming response to the tragic incident at Sparks Middle School in October, 2013.

"We have encountered tragedy in the past year, and we are grateful for the outpouring of support and assistance from our community," Martinez said. "Just as the education of our children is a collaborative effort, so too is the collective dedication to safety in our schools."

Martinez also outlined the year ahead for WCSD, beginning with plans for its youngest students as they begin their educational journeys. Teachers will evaluate the skills of kindergarteners through diagnostics, identifying students in need of support to bring them up to par with their classmates. Parent University and the Home Visit Program bring an increased level of support to students, enabling parents to play a more active role in helping their children learn.

"We have to support all students early in their educational careers so that no students—whatever their needs or challenges—will be left behind," said Martinez. "Identifying these students and the challenges they're facing at the very beginning enables us to provide all of the resources necessary to help them succeed as they move forward in their studies."

In middle school, students are provided with support and options in their studies that allow them to pursue specific academic goals and courses of study before graduation and set them up for success in their chosen fields. Martinez reviewed those programs which include: SpringBoard, a pre-Advanced Placement course of study for middle school students; Project Lead the Way, which is designed to support students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs; and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs.

Martinez also offered details about North Star Online School, which is designed for students at any level from kindergarten through 12th grade who are seeking an alternative educational experience with a more flexible schedule. North Star offers a virtual learning experience taught by local teachers, and can accommodate varying interests, activities, and skills outside school.

In high school, Signature Academies feature a variety of study disciplines including medicine, global studies, sustainable resources, the performing arts, media, and many more. WCSD continues to outpace the nation in the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) and Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT), and in their performance on those tests. The District also works with the University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College to pre-approve students for attendance upon their graduation from high school.

One of the District's goals in the coming year is updating the current strategic plan: Envision WCSD 2015— Investing In Our Future. The plan, which was established by the board following extensive research and stakeholder input in 2009, currently sets forth five goals: provide continuous academic success for every student; recruit and support highly effective personnel; engage families and community partners; value and strengthen a positive, self-renewing culture; and align performance management systems.

Martinez outlined other major goals for 2014, including: increasing graduation rates—with an ultimate goal of reaching 80 percent by 2016; enhancing services for English Language Learners and special education students; and bringing all schools in the District to three-star classifications or above under the WCSD Performance Framework.

"These are exciting times in the Washoe County School District," Martinez said. "Our students are
succeeding as never before, and we are committed to continuing that upward trajectory in the coming years in our District. Our dedication to our students is unwavering, and we look forward to more challenges and successes in 2014."

From the Washoe County School District

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