District Earns High Marks From State Review

Citing the "silent efficiency" of district staff and teachers, the leader of a review team from Sacramento recently praised the Long Beach Unified School District for its outstanding work. The school district received high marks from the California Department of Education's recently concluded review. A team of 20 experts from Sacramento spent five days reviewing categorically funded programs to verify that the district is implementing those programs in compliance with state and federal guidelines. "When it comes to success, people are always looking for the 'Little District that Could,'" said Jesus Contreras, regional team leader of Categorical Program Monitoring for the California Department of Education. "But after our week in Long Beach, we can tell them we know of a big district that could. "The Long Beach way is showing," he said. As an example, Contreras noted that in the area of English Language programs, LBUSD is the only large district in the first 100 reviews in the state to achieve compliance on all items. Only one other, smaller district matched that achievement. "Support here is very quiet and very efficient in a very focused and targeted manner," Contreras said. "Ultimately, that affects classroom performance positively." Robert Lee, a consultant with the Department of Education, has been participating in reviews of LBUSD for the past 20 years and has seen steady, continuous improvement. "I like coming back to Long Beach," Lee said. "You show districts how to move on to the next level. Every four years I see you moving to a higher level." He has seen this steady trend through two different superintendents. "I was looking for that experience I see elsewhere with a new superintendent, of two steps forward, one step back, but it didn't happen here," Lee said. "Here, when you changed superintendents, I didn't even notice a hiccup." The rigorous state review is conducted every four years. Schools visited were Avalon School, Franklin Middle School and Cabrillo High School. Areas examined in this year's review include English Language Programs, Homeless Education, Improving Teacher Quality, Physical Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities, Tobacco-Use Prevention Education, Uniform Complaint Procedures, Adult Education, Child Development, Title I, Career/Technical Education and other programs.