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February, 2020


Superintendent’s message

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for the excellent start of the second semester.  It was very impressive how both staff and students immediately returned to the classroom with a laser-like focus.

As has been mentioned previously, TUSD is experiencing declining enrollment.  So that you can fully understand the impact of declining enrollment, I want to share specifics with you.  The district’s attendance peaked in the 2006-07 school year with 16,656 students.  Since that peak, our enrollment has dropped to 14,532 students in the current school year.  The drop of 2,124 students from our peak enrollment is a decline of 12.7%.  The annual decline for each of the past five years is 246 students.  The revenue associated with this enrollment decline using the current Local Control Funding Formula is a reduction in income of approximately $2,346,642 a year based on the average of 246 students.  The total revenue loss for the 2,124 students is $21,327,636 for the current school year.  The California Department of Education is predicting an additional 4% decline in student enrollment statewide over the next decade.  It is estimated, that nearly 75% of all districts in our state are, or will be, experiencing declining enrollment.  

Based on the decline in student attendance, the district is planning on a 25-30 FTE reduction in certificated staff for the 2020-21 school year.  While this number is substantial, please remember that the district typically has 25 or more teachers retire each year.  It is very likely that after factoring in retirements that few, if any, staff will actually lose his or her position.  While lay-off notices will need to be issued by March 15, the notices will be withdrawn as retirement notices are submitted to Human Resources.  If you are a staff member that intends to retire at the end of this school year, when you are comfortable with your decision, please submit your retirement letter to Human Resources immediately so that lay-off notices can either not be given or withdrawn as quickly as possible.  In my first few years of teaching, I was given a lay-off notice only to have it withdrawn later in the school year, so I understand the emotional distress that a lay-off notice can cause.  TUSD is fortunate to have many outstanding young teachers and we want to keep them all here in Tracy.  If you have a question about the retirement process or concerns regarding your employment in the district, please do not hesitate to contact Human Resources or to reach out to me directly at    

To accommodate for the impact of the declining enrollment, the district is allowing for the first time in several years some movement of students between certain schools.  The intent is to eliminate the need for combo classes if possible and to protect some of single subject positions at our elementary schools.  The number of students involved will generally be quite small.  Dr. Pecot, Director of Student Services, is overseeing the movement of students between school sites.  It is likely that the movement of students will continue for the next several years until our student population levels out.  I could see where one-year students move in certain grades from School A to School B and the following year students in a different grade move from School B to School A.  The district will need to be flexible as it adjusts to the changing demographics of the Tracy community.

Governor Newsom’s proposal for the 2020-21 budget was released on January 10.  The biggest news was the proposed Cost-of-Living (COLA) at 2.29%.  It is less than the original figure of 3% that the district had been advised to use for budgeting purposes.  The difference between the 3% and the 2.29% is a loss of about $1.0 million to the district.  Additional funds were identified to help with the rapidly increasing costs of special education.  How these funds will benefit the district has not yet been determined.  Unfortunately, there was no further relief on pension costs as there had been last year.  There were some new monies to help with teacher recruitment and preparation, which in a time of teacher shortages is appreciated.  The district is anxiously awaiting the May Revise to see if there will be any improvements in the funding levels for school districts.

Thank you again for all that you do for our students.  If I can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Brian Stephens, Ed.D., Superintendent


Planning for next year’s staffing is underway.  We do not have any solid answers at this point regarding impact of enrollment on staffing needs; however, we do know that due to declining enrollment we are projecting some loss to staffing.  This is never an easy situation to be facing.  As we move through the month of February, we will be continuing to work closely with site administration to determine staffing needs.  Once any reductions are determined, the next step in the process is to have the reductions approved by the school board through a Resolution for Reductions in Particular Kinds of Service, or PKS.  These reductions would be taken to the board by the last meeting in February to ensure compliance with the March 15 deadline for preliminary notification of potential layoff.

If you are a teacher who will be resigning or retiring at the end of the year, your early notification to Human Resources allows our staff to use that information to potentially avoid sending unnecessary layoff notifications to staff.  This notification must be in writing, as a verbal notification is not an official notification of resignation or retirement. Thank you to those teachers who have already submitted their documentation.
Tammy Jalique, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources


LCAP Engagement
We are happy to announce we are in week 2 of our LCAP survey for students, parents, and staff. The survey is open through February 14th and can be accessed from our district website and at all school site offices for a paper copy, if preferred.
The start of the 2nd semester means that AVID recruitment and interviews have happened and we get ready to welcome to the new crop of AVID elective students onto our high school campuses.  Thanks to the hard work of our high school AVID teams, we were able to interview nearly 130 9th grade applicants.
I have seen a number of teachers across the district WICORizing their lessons and incorporating many different AVID strategies in their classrooms.  Professional learning related to AVID strategies was featured at a number of our schools for the January buy back day.  It is really exciting to see staff filling their toolboxes to increase student learning and engagement.
AVID Shout Outs
Shout out to Williams Middle School for their dedication to promoting College Awareness.  The week of January 13th was College Awareness Week. All AVID students created college project boards that were on display in the multi-purpose room.  College trivia questions were read during the announcements with opportunities to win prizes!  Candy was given to anyone wearing a college shirt on Wednesday. There was also a pennant and door decorating contest.  What an awesome week!
Shout out to Kimball High School AVID for their dedication to community service.  KHS AVID, in collaboration with EA Family Services, chose to complete a schoolwide service learning project by collecting hygiene items that could be wrapped and gifted to youth that are transitioning out of the foster care system.  They collected items for three weeks and then wrapped all the gifts during their AVID classes. They were able to collect enough items to wrap 50 individual 12 inch by 12 inch packages.  They also donated their left over items that couldn’t fit in boxes to EA Family Services to distribute as needed.  Great job KHS AVID!
David Brown, TUSD AVID Coordinator

EL Program Services
ELD Steering Committee Members:  Aine Silva, Alejandra Herrera, Cydney Miller, Denise Sanchez, Erica Rivera, Chris White, Mario Rodriquez, Arghya Chakraverty, Claudia Zuniga, Nancy Bragg, Patti Correia, Kathy Leles, Kelly Patrick, Stacey Arnaudo, Tom Haines, Chris Munger, and Alana Escalante.


photo of people on EL Steering Committee

One of the goals of the TUSD ELD Steering Committee for 2019-2020 is to present to TUSD staff the two strategies highlighted in the CA ELA/ELD Framework.  These strategies include Interactive Read Aloud (K-2) and Text Reconstruction/Deconstruction (3-12).  The members have had an opportunity to share these strategies at North, Freiler, and during the four ELD workshops that have been offered so far.

3 photos of teachers working together


Professional Learning Opportunities
The district wants to provide professional learning opportunities to paraprofessionals to support them in their learning and their work with English learners.  On December 17, 18, and 19, thirty-two district paraprofessionals participated in the 3- Day CA ELD Standards Institute.  They learned about the CA ELD Standards, integrated and designated ELD, and instructional strategies.

groups of teachers working together

Julianna Stocking, Director of Continuous Improvement, State and Federal Programs 

January 24, 2020 Site-Focused Staff Development Buy-back Day
At the Tracy Unified January Staff Development Buy-back Day, teachers attended workshops offered by sites that aligned with school goals. With several workshops focused on writing strategies, AVID strategies and cooperative group structures, teachers learned or deepened their understanding of strategies they can apply in their classrooms. Sites also offered workshops on Responsibility Centered Discipline, Interim assessments and the digital library, and PLCs. The Special Education Department offered three workshops to further support education specialists: Sonday Trainings, CPI Training, and Curriculum Design for new education specialists. Of the 179 teachers who provided feedback more than 92% reported the workshop they attended was relevant to their work and nearly 90% reported that what they attended will have a direct impact on student learning in their classroom. Teachers who attended the Staff development Buy-back day can still complete the feedback survey at Thank you. 
Melissa Beattie, Professional Learning & Curriculum Director

Two Curriculum Saturdays Left!
Curriculum Saturdays have expanded to include all teachers through 12th grade including General Ed teachers, SpEd teachers, and Resource teachers! We have had four sessions, but there are two more. Attendees range from veterans seeking greater clarity around new implementations of integrated teaching and STEM, to those with a single content emphasis, all the way to brand new teachers looking for classroom management and a roadmap through the districts adopted materials and current curriculum. Each session includes some take away instructional routines, a sprinkling of engagement techniques, and lots of time to collaborate using our backward design outline. The next two sessions are on Saturday, February 22, 2020, and on Saturday, March 21, 2020. 
Deborah Coker, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction Specialist TOSA 

STEM Support 
We are currently half way into our first year of PK-5 STEM implementation at nine K-5, K-8 schools. As part of implementation, we are pleased to support a variety of site-specific professional learning opportunities. We have collaborated with teachers on creating learning experiences that are student-centered, inquiry-driven, and content integrated through the 5E lesson planning process. Through this process, we have seen students engaged in rich academic conversation about the phenomenon they are investigating, exploring, and reading about to help prepare them to be successful in their STEM design challenges. As we collaborate with teachers it is exciting to see how actively, engaged students are in the learning process and reflecting all of their new and existing knowledge into their sense-making notebooks. We look forward to continuing to support teachers in understanding their STEM units, key strategies of 5E planning, sense-making notebooks, and Science talks as well as the importance of integration to build learning experiences that promote student inquiry in gaining 21st century skills. If you have any questions or would like support with STEM units or integrating curriculum, please contact Jennifer Kassel at or ext. 1556 and/or Del Pabalan at or ext. 1558.
Jennifer Kassel and Del Pabalan, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist TOSAs

6-12 English Language Arts - Collaborating for Student Success
TUSD’s 6-12 English Language Arts (ELA) teachers have been actively working together to ensure our students receive rigorous and relevant curriculum. 9-12th grade teachers participated in their third two-day series of Backward Planning Sessions in January, facilitated by Tera Gall from the International Center for Leadership in Education and TUSD’s ELA Curriculum Specialist, Heather Reyburn. Teachers reflected together on how the Rigorous Curriculum Design (RCD) units and StudySync adopted materials are supporting priority standards and student needs, and recommended enhancements for our ELA RCD revision teams. In addition, TUSD’s English Core Content Committee has been busy mapping out our 6-12 novel usage, and participating teachers are now identifying novel adoption candidates that could better meet our instructional and student needs. TUSD also has new committees that will be meeting to identify a viable and guaranteed curriculum for our Expository Reading and Writing Courses (ERWC) based on Cal State University’s newly released 3.0 modules.  ERWC is a college-preparatory English curriculum that teaches reading, writing, and analytical thinking strategies to help students be academically literate and ready for college. If you have any questions or would like support with the ELA RCD units or StudySync curriculum, please contact Heather Reyburn at or ext. 1566. 
Heather Reyburn, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist TOSA

Computational Thinking
Last May, Coding Committee posed two questions: 
    Where do the domains of Computation Thinking live in your classroom routines?     
    Where is there room to grow their use?
This year, Coding Committee continues to explore the domains of Computational Thinking through unplugged and plugged classroom routines, while connecting to the elements of Rigor-Relevance.

chart of computational thinking

Unplugged and plugged classroom routines like the Poor Cartographer allow students to use patterns and logic to develop algorithms, while engaging in academic discussion as they share strategies and make learning Connections.

learning chart for math

Coding Committee would like to re-pose the two questions while also extending an invitation to join us in our learning process. If you would like to join Coding Committee or would like more information about the classroom routines above, please reach out to Dr. Sheila Harrison, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services or myself.
Richard Newton, Coordinator of Mathematics

PK-6 Math Updates
It is hard to believe that just about 5 years ago, on a sultry summer day, a room full of k- 8th grade teachers sat down to design a mathematics curriculum that was truly aligned to the standards. It has been quite the journey with each year bringing deeper understandings, stronger alignment to the California Content and Practice Standards, and improved student performances. We are in year four of district wide implementation of TUSD’s Rigorous Curriculum Design Units for mathematics and we are now coaching our students to be curious thinkers, flexible problem solvers, and sense makers who not only crunch numbers but also apply mathematics creatively and in multiple ways. 
Some mathematical highlights from the past few months include the following:

  • Classroom visitations and demonstrations have continued with an emphasis on student discourse, visual representations, and relational understandings. Routines for reasoning are extremely powerful when protocols are in place and students are prompted with low-floor/high ceiling scaffolded activities that ensure all students have access to understanding concepts and are grounded in conceptualizing their reasoning. In the past, I have modeled in classrooms, and led PD sessions around routines like Number Talks, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Complete the Set, Numberless Word Problems, Benchmark Math or Clothesline Math, and Word of the Day. This year, more and more teachers are picking up the cheat sheets and either dipping their toes into these instructional routines while others are jumping into the deep end with success. These routines combined with Talk Moves are truly “bullet proof”.  Most recently, I collaborated with teachers in pre-school through eighth grade students at North, Poet Christian, Jacobson, Freiler, Central, and Villalovoz through demo lessons, co-planning, and reflective dialogues. 
  • Math Revisions are currently ongoing. Classroom teachers that have served as revision members and participated in focus groups are working to ensure that all of our units are as robust as possible with helpful notes from experience, visual representations, powerful lessons that build on prior knowledge and coherence with other grade levels. Between the adopted materials, Teaching Student Centered Mathematics, the Framework, and teacher created materials- our work aligns strongly with state expectations and SBAC. Our core documents, the Rigorous Curriculum Design Process, and the dedication of our unit authors and classroom practitioners have grounded this entire venture.
  • Printed Math Assessments arrive. The last shipments of printed Math Assessments were delivered over the last week and a half. We are pleased to announce that the practice of printing the common pre and post math assessments will continue next year. 
  • FUN! Fluency Using Numbers Workshop Days are taking place at Central, North, Poet Christian, and Villalovoz Schools for first, second, and third grade teachers. Our TUSD math fluency program has now been shared with every elementary school in Tracy. Yes! The combination of O’Connel’s, Mastering Basic Math Fact philosophy and our program tenets are making math not only productive, but entertaining, flexible, and creative. Each fact set is introduced with a literature book and an activity to conceptualize the fact set. The sequence of fact sets, begins with foundation facts which will allow anyone to “get to” any other fact. The activities are engaging, conceptual, and based on what we know about how students learn. They are made for groups, partners, and even some that are independent.
    Deborah Coker, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction Specialist TOSA 

Tracy High School to Offer New Courses 2020-2021/2022
Beginning in the 2020-2021/2022 school years, Tracy High School will be offering two new courses titled Emergency Response – Introduction to Fire Service, and Emergency Response – Capstone Fire Service, pending student enrollment. Coursework for both new courses will prepare students for a number of careers in the Fire Service field. Both class offerings establish alignment with Career Technical Education Emergency Response standards and provide the foundation for further professional education and training at a postsecondary level, leading to certification and employment. By mastering these standards, students will gain critical knowledge and skills through classroom and job-site experiences, simulations, and other learning modalities. Careers in this field include those in fire services, wildland services, emergency medical services and emergency response and management. The first course is offered to Juniors and the second course will be offered to Seniors upon completion of the first course. Recently the Lathrop Fire Department came to Tracy High School to promote the new courses and generate interest. The two pictures below are of fire department and district staff on the day they visited Tracy High School.
Sheila Harrison, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent of Educational Services

Firetruck and firefighters at Tracy HIgh

California Dashboard Results Are In!
The California Dashboard contains reports that display the performance of local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and student groups on a set of state and local measures to assist in identifying strengths, challenges, and areas in need of improvement. For state measures, performance is based on 2 factors: current year results and whether results improved from the previous year.

State measures include chronic absenteeism, graduation rate, suspension rate, and academic (which includes performance in English language arts/literacy and mathematics). Future state measures will include performance on the California Science Test.

Performance on state measures, using comparable statewide data, is represented by one of five colors. The performance level (color) is not included when there are fewer than 30 students in any year. This is represented using a grey color dial with the words 'No Performance Color'.

graph of color chart

In comparison from last year, TUSD has made progress in 3 areas: Chronic Absenteeism, Suspension Rate and ELA. TUSD remained the same in Math and College and Career Readiness.  TUSD dropped one color band in Graduation Rate. English Leaner Progress was not given a color as progress was measured using a different method. Below is a snapshot of TUSD’s 2019 results and a table comparing 2018 to 2019.

color chart of measures


chart comparing indicators for 2018 and 2019

To view individual site results or for more information regarding the California Dashboard, please visit
Tania, Salinas, Director of Assessment and Accountability

Summer School Programs for 2020
This summer TUSD will be offering several programs throughout the district. High School Credit Recovery Summer School is in the month of June and will be focusing on credit recovery for students who need to repeat failed courses to meet graduation requirements. The program offers multiple sections in Algebra, Biology, English, and other courses offered through Cyber High, online software facilitated by TUSD teachers. Adult School will also offer credit recovery sections for students who need to repeat courses and for non-walking graduation seniors who can earn their diploma upon completion of their course work. All 3 High Schools will host a Bridge Program for incoming 9th grade students. TUSD Summer Bridge is a 2 week program, in June intended to provide a positive transition to high school for incoming 9th graders. Students will engage in the transition to high school culture, AVID study skills, and hands-on project based learning. TUSD will host a 2 week kinder bridge program for students entering kindergarten to encourage a positive transition into kindergarten. K-12 Extended School Year Program is in the month of June for students with a disability who require continued services identified, stated, and recommended in an IEP. New this year, TUSD will be offering a Summer English Learner Academy. This program will serve identified students in grades 7-12 who are new to the US and or migrant who need additional English Development opportunities.  We are looking forward to providing these additional opportunities for learning this summer.
Tania, Salinas, Director of Assessment and Accountability

Summative ELPAC Window Opens February 3, 2020
As part of California’s ongoing mission to equip all students with 21st century skills, the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) will be transitioning into a computer-based assessment. The new computer-based ELPAC, which will be administered to students identified as English Learners in kindergarten through grade twelve, will allow for more dynamic item types, foster educators’ use of technology in the classroom throughout the year, provide students with access to new technology with enhanced accessibility resources, and allow for a faster delivery of test scores. Like the assessments that comprise the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the ELPAC will be administered online. Students in grades three through twelve will receive all ELPAC domains online. Students in kindergarten through grade two will receive the Writing domain as a paper-pencil test and all other ELPAC domains online. The testing window opens February 3rd and runs through May 22nd .  Thank you to our Site EL Coordinators for organizing the testing process for our students.
Tania, Salinas, Director of Assessment and Accountability

STEM Updates
PreK-5 Standards and Curriculum Design Teams are more than 75% done with the first draft of Units A, B, C and D. In May, they’ll begin revising and refining, based on the feedback received from K-5 teachers. Please keep sending your ideas for improvements. Use TUSD’s STEM website at and click on Contact or use this link:

Grades 6-12 STEM planning committee’s proposed plan for expanding STEM in 6-12 was approved by the grant’s Leadership Council. STEM curriculum development will include at least two integrated units in grade 6; two integrated units for grade 7 and 8 math and grade 7 and 8 science; two integrated units for Algebra I, II, and Geometry, and two integrated units for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Development will begin this spring and summer, with implementation coming to Monte Vista Middle School, Tracy High School, and West High School in Fall, 2020-2021. Comparison sites (Jacobson, Freiler, Williams, and Kimball) will join the study in 2022-2023.)

Stay tuned for opportunities to help shape this important work. Emails will be sent to teachers at all sites with 6-12 classrooms, even comparison sites, to join in the development work taking place in June, 2020.  

Follow STEM progress on 
Facebook: PreK12STEM
Twitter: @PreK12STEM
Instagram: @PreK12STEM
Debra Schneider, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Media Services and Curriculum

Instructional Materials for Science and STEM
Science standards are the basis for TUSD’s STEM units, so the Science Instructional Materials (IM) Adoption is an essential part of STEM in TUSD. 
The 6-8 Science IM Adoptions Pilots have begun piloting the three programs under consideration. They expect to complete piloting in Fall, 2020 and have a recommendation to the Board of Education for 6-8 science materials early in Spring, 2021.
Debra Schneider, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Media Services and Curriculum

9-12 Science Teachers Needed for Adoption Committee 
TUSD is recruiting 9-12 Science Instructional Materials (IM) Adoptions Pilots. Pilot teachers will attend a 3-day training on the CA NGSS TIME (Toolkit for Instructional Materials Evaluation) in May to do the paper screening of their top two choices. Then piloting will begin in Fall, 2020 with an expected recommendation to the Board of Education for 9-12 Science materials early in Spring, 2021. 
Debra Schneider, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Media Services and Curriculum

K-5 Science Teachers Needed for Adoption Committee
Starting in Spring, 2020, the K-5 Science Iinstructional Materials (IM) Adoption Pilots will be recruited. They will engage in TIME Pre-Screening in April in Sacramento, narrowing their options to the top two programs in their evaluation. Then Pilot Teachers will have 3 days of training in CA NGSS TIME to do paper screening in August. The Pilot will take place in Fall, 2020 with an expected recommendation to the Board of Education for K-5 Science materials early in Spring, 2021. If you are interested in piloting, use these links to sign up.  
Debra Schneider, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Media Services and Curriculum