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Celebrating district achievement at year’s end

by Jim Elsasser, EdD, Superintendent of Claremont Unified School District

It is an exciting time to be part of the Claremont Unified School District! Although we are coming to the end of the 2014 calendar year, CUSD is in the middle of another very exciting and productive school year. In looking back over the first four months of this school year, I would like to highlight a few of the accomplishments that have supported CUSD’s longstanding tradition of excellence in academics, the arts, athletics and extracurricular and co-curricular activities. 

Students participating in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Claremont High School continue to demonstrate exceptional results. The IB worldwide pass rates, based on the May 2014 exams, were recently released and reveal that 79.3 percent of students worldwide passed IB exams with a score of 4 or higher.  The pass rate for Claremont High School IB students was 86.9 percent. Since the inception of the IB program at Claremont High School, our students have continually surpassed the worldwide pass rate. 

Claremont High School boys’ water polo finished first in the Palomares League with an undefeated record and, for the first time in 47 years, brought home a CIF championship. Congratulations to Coach Kristin McKown, her coaching staff and the entire team for an outstanding season!

Congratulations are also extended to San Antonio High School for being named a 2014 Model Continuation High School! The Model Continuation High School Recognition Program identifies and recognizes outstanding programs and creates a resource list of quality programs for school visitations. These schools provide comprehensive services to at-risk youth through the use of exemplary instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, and guidance and counseling services.

The Education Trust-West released a report identifying top-performing districts serving California’s English Learners. The report included an analysis of data from 276 unified school districts based on their performance on four indicators. The report identified districts rising to the top on each metric, as well as 11 districts that realized exceptional performance on three of the four indicators. Out of the 276 districts studied, Claremont is one of only 11 districts to be recognized for having met three of the four metrics. 

Claremont Unified School District is one of 10 districts that comprise the East San Gabriel Valley Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA). For the past 40 years, districts in the SELPA have been utilizing the educational services of the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide services to students with moderate to severe disabilities. 

With the desire to provide students with better educational opportunities, the SELPA and district directors identified specialized programs for the moderate to severe disability populations that would be supported locally by each of the 10 districts. CUSD became the provider district for students with moderate and severe medically fragile needs within the SELPA, and is proud to be able to provide meaningful opportunities and quality programs that meet the unique needs of every student. 

Professional development continues to be an area of focus for this year. In August, a student-free day was provided in order to bring all district staff together to receive training on our transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Additional trainings have been held throughout the year, which have included developing new units of study that align with the CCSS. 

Teachers have been working diligently to prepare students to be globally competitive by focusing on 21st century skills, including an emphasis on creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Over 2,000 iPads have been deployed this year, supporting 21st century learning and the district’s technology vision. This was possible, in part, by the support of the Claremont Educational Foundation and individual Parent Faculty Associations. 

I count it a privilege to serve the students, staff, parents and community partners of the Claremont Unified School District. On behalf of the board of education, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year, and thank you for your continued support of CUSD.