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Turlock Unified School District: Growing the next generation of leaders

From transitional kindergarten to a focus on science, local students have more options for success

Turlock Unified School District: Growing the next generation of leaders

Transitional kindergarten students recite the days of the week while dancing to the Macarena at Dennis Earl Elementary in October.

POSTED February 26, 2013 5:25 p.m.

There is no question that education is the foundation for a successful and well-balanced life.  Over the years the Turlock Unified School District has continued to raise the bar in educational progress through the expansion of programs a focus on each student's success. The result: higher test scores and lower drop-out rates.

TUSD has implemented a number of programs over the past several years in an effort to close the achievement gap, increase rigor, and hold all students accountable for learning.

Turlock's youngest students were given the gift of time this school year by getting a head start on their education before they reach kindergarten.  2012 was the first year of a two-year transitional kindergarten program created by the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010.

The Turlock Unified School District enacted TK at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year at Wakefield, Dennis Earl, and Medeiros elementary school sites. 

“Turlock Unified currently has 74 students enrolled in the four TK classrooms located at our district’s sites,” said Interim Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Salles Trevethan.  “TK teachers are extremely positive about the new grade of TK, and they report that their students are receiving the time and instruction needed to prepare them academically and socially for kindergarten and beyond.”

A district committee made up of current TK and kindergarten teachers will work this spring to refine the TK program and plan for the expansion to other sites.

“The collaboration, research, and dedication of these teachers have been an essential element in the success of TK in Turlock,” said Trevethan.

Likewise, TUSD’s newly implemented “Set for Success Program” was enacted this year in an effort to build a strong foundation for school readiness and school success for children ages 3-6 and their families.  The program focuses on literacy, language development, community outreach, and parent education. 

New to TUSD next fall will be the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program elective for 7th graders at Turlock Junior High School.

“STEM will provide students with increase rigor, real-world applications and competition,” said Trevethan.  “This includes having students to think critically, solve complex problems, and be on the forefront of science and technology for the present and future.”

In addition, new Advanced Placement courses were implemented for the present school year and will be offered for the 2013-14 at both high school sites.

“TUSD continues to raise the bar by providing students with extended opportunities to prepare for college expectations and preparedness,” said Trevethan.  “Collectively, it’s an exciting opportunity to be a student at TUSD because of all the student centered programs and opportunities provided on our campuses, coupled with caring, qualified staff.”

TUSD has not only seen changes in programs implemented at school sites, the district saw a continued growth in state test scores over the last three years.

The district recorded an 8-point gain in its Academic Performance Index, or API, going from a score of 772 in 2011, to 780 in 2012.  TUSD is 20 points away from API target of 800.

Over the last four years the District and all subgroups have shown a steady growth. The 2009-10 school year showed the most growth with a double digit increase district wide and in every subgroup.  The 2011-12 school year showed double digit growth in the White, Hispanic, English Learner, and Special Ed subgroups.

“Their improvement is truly remarkable,” stated TUSD Superintendent Sonny DaMarto.  “I am confidents that the district will reach the 800 target by next year.  We’re trying to narrow the gap, and it’s really paid off.”

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