Dear Berkeley Unified School District Families,
Welcome to the 2015-16 school year! I look forward to another engaging and enriching year of teaching and learning in all of our schools, and continuing our work of providing an excellent education to every student.

In support of our efforts to communicate often and work closely with you this year, below is some information that I hope you will find useful.

2015-16 Parent Student Handbook
Every year we update a  Parent Student Handbook   with information about Berkeley Unified School District programs and policies, as well as contact information for school and district offices. The Parent Student Handbook is available on the district website, now with an easy-to-search table of contents.

Every Day Counts!
Students who arrive to school on time and well rested will experience greater success in school. Please help us set the expectation that school attendance matters every day. Per California Education Code, students should be in school every day unless they are ill. There are very few allowable exceptions.

State Testing
Shortly before school ended this past spring, students in grades 3-8 and 11 took the 2015 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the new computer-based tests for English language arts/literacy and mathematics that replaced the former paper-based tests for these subjects.

Like class assignments and report cards, this new test is one way to provide you and your child's teachers with information about your child's work toward the high goals set for students. There is still much work to be done, both locally and at the state level, to ensure these tests are a meaningful snapshot of student progress. We have not yet received the individual student score reports from the state, but we do expect them in the next several weeks. Results will be sent to families by mail.

Family Engagement
I encourage you to reach out to your child(ren)'s teachers, counselors, and staff, all of whom share the goal of helping your child succeed. We have specialized staff at every school who can help you access the resources available to you and your family. Family engagement staff in our elementary schools, and counselors in the middle and high schools are a great resource!

Raising inquisitive, creative, smart, healthy children requires a team effort, and as your Superintendent, I am committed to partnering with you, our staff and our community to support the success of every student in our schools.

Here's to a great year!
Donald Evans, Ed.D.
Expanded Access to School Board Meetings

We've expanded a few online tools to increase community access and facilitate the work of the School Board. Now you can follow the initiatives and issues that interest you the most, when and where it's the most convenient for you!

Online Agendas
The new online board agendas and public meeting materials are easy to read and scan, and provide improved access to the related board documents. 

Live Streaming Online
School Board meetings are now streamed online, and also continue to be shown on B-TV Cable Channel 33. All televised board meetings are archived as part of the process.

Summer Coding for Students 
Students present final coding projects to teachers, families, and community partners at the end of camp.

This summer an inspired group of UC Berkeley alumni and current students found a new way of giving back; They invited 14 underserved youth from Berkeley High School and Berkeley Technology Academy to spend five weeks over the summer learning to code for free. 

With their computer science expertise in hand, and belief in the power of coding to open opportunities and unleash the innate creativity of our youth, Cal Alumni Jae, Chen-Chen, Jessica and Wonjun set out to use crowd-funding and a grant from the Berkeley Public Schools Fund to finance the summer camp program. Students gathered daily for the five week session at the Berkeley Adult School, where they learned to code and design their own web-based product. The program included time for instruction, product development, free lunch, as well as exciting visits to partnering tech companies. (The students even made a visit to Google Headquarters!) 

Here's how one of the founders of the Camp Sudo team summed up the lucky group of BHS and BTA students:

"They are 14 incredibly intelligent, driven and passionate students, who absorbed every line of code we taught, taking the creativity of coding to a whole new level. As individuals, they had simply been waiting for the opportunity to build something awesome -- and when it came, weren't afraid to go for it."

Teachers Talk August! 
Dedication and delight percolated throughout an amazing summer gathering of over 60 teachers from every K-12 school in the Berkeley public schools!

Excited about using technology to enhance instruction, teachers came back to school during their summer vacation to share effective instructional technology tools, techniques and teaching tips. 

Over the past six months, Tech Teacher Leaders from each school were supported to attend regional workshops on instructional technology, and then gathered in August to share what they had learned with each other, and with others from their school sites. With the help of the Strategic Impact Grant from the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, teachers, librarians, and other educators worked with the district's "Digitech Team" to expand the instructional tech capacity in every school. Stay tuned for updates!