February 2017
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As the calendar flips from January to February, I am reflecting on just how quickly this school year seems to be passing. I find myself increasingly having conversations about registration for the 2017-18 school year and about prom and graduation activities. This Friday marks the mid-way point of the third quarter. With the school year ending before Memorial Day, it’s really just three short months until summer vacation, and in that span we still have a four-day weekend and spring break. School will still end on May 25, and commencement for the Class of 2017 will still take place on May 26.

As we consider all the promises of spring while we continue to wish for more wet weather, we can’t forget the promise of State-mandated testing. Each spring, our juniors take the Smarter Balanced Assessment in English language arts and math. These assessments are computer-adaptive and are much more intelligent than the previous fill-in-the-bubble multiple choice exams we, as parents, took in school. The algorithms behind the test examine each student’s responses to assess his or her level of mastery on each skill or standard. When a student has demonstrated proficiency or it is clear that he or she won’t, the test moves on to questions about a different standard or skill.  This 21st-century technology tests not just content knowledge but critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well. Last April, our current seniors took the Smarter Balanced Assessment as part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) program. You can learn more about the Smarter Balanced assessment by visiting their website, and more information about CAASPP can be found on the California Department of Education’s website. I am pleased to inform you that our scores continue the trend of previous assessments. Santa Ynez High continues to outscore most non-charter public high schools in Santa Barbara County in English and mathematics—the two subjects tested by Smarter Balanced. 75% of the juniors tested last year met or exceeded the standard in English language arts. 55% of last year’s juniors met or exceeded the standard in mathematics. These numbers represent a staggering 5% year-over-year growth from the 2014-15 school year. In comparison, the Santa Barbara County average was 44% and 33% respectively. The statewide average was 49% in English and 37% in math. If you would like to take a deeper look at the results, visit the CAASPP results website. We are gearing up for this year’s juniors to take the Smarter Balanced and help us continue to prove that Santa Ynez High School provides the highest quality education available anywhere by beating last year’s junior’s stellar results.

This year, as California continues its transition to California’s new academic content standards, we will also be administering a field test of the coming California Science Test which will eventually be used to assess student mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards. The field test can be described as a “test of the test.” Its purpose is to test the technology and psychometrics of selected questions. No individual student results will be reported. In the future the results of this test will be included in California’s new school accountability model, so it will be important for students to do their best.

Please remember that  there will be no school on Friday, February 17 and Monday, February 20 in recognition of the Presidents’ holidays. Note also that Monday, February 27 is a Flex Day for teachers’ professional development; students will be dismissed at 12:40 PM. Looking ahead, we have another Flex Day scheduled for March 13. If you have elementary or middle school children attending public school in the Valley, they will also have early dismissals that day.

Mark Swanitz

Principal

Class of '85
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