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SF public school bosses unveil goals to boost reading, math and trust

San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne speaks during a Listening and Learning Town Hall meeting at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, on Thursday, September 8, 2022. | Chris Victorio for The Standard

Under a new superintendent and school board makeup, San Francisco Unified School District has vowed to chart a new course of action after a bruising pandemic and recall

After months of community engagement, its final plans for doing so are up for review on Tuesday. 

Superintendent Matt Wayne, who started in July, reported back to the board on what he’s heard from community members and the overarching goals. At the same time, the Board of Education approved the final version of its goals and plans after its own community outreach.  

While the school board put together an oversight plan, Wayne’s strategy is meant to put those goals into action. Here’s how they differ:  

Superintendent’s report 

Wayne participated in several town halls, community meetings and school visits. Through this, his takeaways from feedback are that he must rebuild trust in the district and pursue both equity and excellence.  

Specifics on how to do so is to be determined. 

Attendees from the meetings were concerned about: chronic absenteeism, payroll issues impacting morale, staff pay affecting recruitment and retention, the size and structure of the central office, physical safety and two-way communication with the school board. 

Wayne touted work on urgent issues, like the 6% pay raise for educators passed in September and establishing a relationship with the school board at governance training sessions. He also brought forward a consultant to fix payroll problems, reassigned staff to help intervene and established a system to produce immediate checks for missing pay in between pay cycles. 

New Board of Education goals 

Specific goals came from the Board of Education, which was expected to approve them on Tuesday.

The first goal is to increase reading proficiency of third grade students from 52% this October to 70% in five years. The second is to increase math proficiency of eighth grade students from 42% to 65% in the same period.

This is measured through the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, which were just released Monday to show dips in performance from pre-pandemic levels.

And the third and final goal for student outcomes is to increase college and career readiness for high school seniors from 58% in June 2020 to 70% in June 2027. 

Under goals for governance, the superintendent shall not make major decisions without “meaningful consultation” of impacted parents/guardians, students, staff from beginning to end of the changes. Wayne is also not allowed to allocate resources without transparency or impede collaborations with other government agencies and organizations who assist in serving SFUSD students.

Wayne was also part of the school board’s development of what it calls vision, values, goals and guardrails—abbreviated to the highly pronounceable VVGG. The goals are related to the governance training held in the wake of the recall of three board members, marking a shift in the board’s role to serve more as SFUSD’s monitor.

The board took initial goals to its own community meetings and revised them based on feedback. Some thought the goals weren’t ambitious enough, didn’t include enough specifics for groups like special education or improving equity, among other concerns.

What’s next 

From November until the end of the school year, SFUSD plans to finalize the board’s plan to bring in systems that can measure progress. It will also analyze how the budget aligns with district goals, propose how to do so for the 2023-24 school year, and revise its Local Control and Accountability Plan

The city is also helping with a central office analysis that will help inform how to restructure district staff more effectively and determine which positions will need hiring. That will eventually lead to a long sought-after organizational chart posted by the next school year, Wayne told The Standard in September. 

For the 2023-24 school year, the district plans to establish district responsibilities and build cohesion among leadership. It will also implement better organizational systems, academic programs that match the newly established goals, establish data collection and reporting cycles, and make known its strategic priorities. 

The board will present any changes to the goals and guardrails by January.