Photo: BUSD
Photo: BUSD

By Deirdre Nurre

A second special joint meeting between the Berkeley School Board and the Berkeley City Council will be held tonight at 6 p.m. in the council chambers. They’ll discuss the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth. The Berkeley Alliance developed the 2020 Vision, as a “citywide movement to ensure academic success and well-being for all of Berkeley’s children and youth, by closing the achievement and health gaps in Berkeley’s public schools”.

The document at issue tonight shows the first phase of initiatives proposed for July 1-December 31, 2010, and a preview of future phases.

The report is lengthy and difficult to summarize in a blog post. One piece of it details four “pilot projects” in this initial phase of 2020 Vision. The pilot projects are:

1. Summer Opportunities

Goal: Develop high-quality cross-jurisdictional summer programs that offer academic support opportunities for targeted youth. In 2010, we will:

  • Create a Summer Bridge program for 50 targeted 8th graders and their families to enter Berkeley High School successfully.
  • Create a Summer Bridge program for at least 20 targeted, entering Kindergarteners and their families to enter school successfully.
  • Create a piloted summer program for selected 4th- and 5th-grade students and their families within community-based programs and Berkeley’s Excellent Academic Road to Success (BEARS), within BUSD.

2.  Early Childhood Development Initiatives

Goal: Align resources and efforts to move toward high-quality universal preschool for all of Berkeley’s children. In 2010, we will:

  • Adopt a standardized, streamlined, updated Kindergarten-readiness assessment.
  • Train and support BUSD and the City of Berkeley’s early childhood staff jointly to integrate aligned strategies (such as “Tools of the Mind”) into preschool and pre-K support services.
  • Develop an alternative program for students who qualify to enter kindergarten but need additional time and support to be successful.

3. After School Initiatives

Goal: Develop a high-quality cross-jurisdictional out of school time system of programs that offers youth development opportunities for youth who do not currently access quality out-of-school time activities. In 2010, we will:

  • Partner with Heart-to-Heart (City of Berkeley Public Health initiative) to build on strength of neighborhood-based, collaborative system of community health.
  • Develop a neighborhood-based after school program targeting 30 middle school students who live in South Berkeley and are not currently accessing existing after school programs.
  • Reach out to community-based after school programs for meaningful partnerships around 2020 Vision.
  • Streamline and standardize tutoring and mentoring programs with consistent training and support.

4.  Tiered Student Support Systems

Goal: Design a comprehensive, tiered student support system that infuses the best practices of the Universal Learning Support System (ULSS) model with the Response to Intervention (RTI) model. In 2010, we will:

  • Invest in the Universal Learning Support Services model.
  • Move to a standard Response to Intervention (RTI) system of student support.
  • Strengthen student support through investment in English Language Development.
  • Strengthen student support systems by implementing best practices in discipline and positive behavior systems.
  • Better monitor student progress and identify appropriate academic and behavioral interventions for support.

My own concerns about the 2020 Vision haven’t changed with the new report. I don’t see how the Vision’s success can be measured unless BUSD tracks a specific cohort of students over time. I’m also concerned that to really narrow the achievement gap, huge investments must be made in early childhood education. Where is California’s “First Five” in all of this?

Photo BUSD

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