Our vision is clear in the new year

Our vision is clear in the new year

From the Desk of the Superintendent

Originally published in the San Francisco Examiner.

Every new year brings a chance to reflect, consider where we’ve been and where we want to go. Fortunately, at SFUSD we’re clear about where we’re headed: we’re redefining school for the 21st century for each and every child.

This year marks a half-way point to Vision 2025, an ambitious plan launched five years ago that serves as the compass for our district -– we use it to set our course and to check if we’re headed in the right direction.

We are urgently working to create a public school system where each and every student will graduate from high school ready for college and career and equipped with the skills, capacities and dispositions outlined in our graduate profile. We want every student who attends SFUSD schools to discover their spark, along with a strong sense of self and purpose.

SF Public Schools in 2025

By the year 2025, we want all students to have their own personalized learning and development pathways. We’re getting there by equipping our schools with technologies that support blended learning and personalization, enabling students to learn more by using the methods that best suit them.

The school day is even starting to look different—we’re keeping learning standards constant while we explore new ways to use space and time.

We are embracing new ways for students to demonstrate mastery while motivating and inspiring ever-greater levels of learning. Students are performing meaningful real-life tasks at all levels of the curriculum. They are becoming globally aware, multilingual and culturally competent, and fluent in a range of second languages, including computer science.

Of course, in order to achieve our vision, we need to continuously attract and grow top talent to fuel our students’ success and to contribute to our culture of boundless aspiration, innovation and collaboration.

Since we embarked on this course, we’ve made a lot of progress.

Real-life tasks and learning

Thousands of high school students are enrolled in a career academy, which means they are completing a focused course of study in a specialization of their choice and learning from professionals in their area of interest through work-based learning opportunities.

Makerspaces and flexible classrooms are popping up throughout our schools. These are collaborative classrooms for learning, exploring and, well, making. Students use high-tech tools like 3D printers as well as low-tech tools like cardboard to think critically, solve problems and collaborate.

Blended learning and personalization

An increasing number of students are equipped with technologies that support blended learning and increase personalization. We have gone from only having a few computer labs or mobile carts at each school to having dozens of schools where every child uses a designated computer throughout the day. All schools have devices to facilitate more engaged and personalized learning. Just as essential, our teachers are participating in training and support to ensure devices are well utilized for learning.

What’s next

Already many of our students are learning in the interdisciplinary project-based ways that make lessons come to life. Earlier this year I visited Roosevelt Middle School, one of several middle schools where students are learning through creative interdisciplinary projects that are more relevant to future career skills. They also have access to more course options in arts, science, engineering, languages, health and technology as a result of a new way of organizing the school day time.

Change isn’t easy, and five years isn’t very long. Our success depends on everyone working together toward our collective vision. Teachers and parents are being called upon to embrace new approaches to teaching and learning. Community members are being asked to contribute by enrolling their children and sharing their resources.

We would not be able to transform our current school system to one our students deserve if not for the critical resources of San Francisco voters. And, just as important, we’re able to prototype and scale innovation much faster with investments from generous individuals, businesses and foundations.

So, in addition to being excited to keep up our momentum, I am also incredibly grateful for the support we’ve had to get to where we are today. Let’s keep making our vision a reality.

Learn more about Vision 2025 here.