San Diego Unified still needs a way to evaluate whether programs have worked, according to an internal report on instruction slated to go to the school board Tuesday.

Employees noticed the same problem earlier this year, in a similar report. The school district has introduced more innovative programs this year, such as a program to boost attendance and a mentoring program that is being expanded with stimulus money, but there is no systematic way to measure whether each program met its stated goals, the report found.

But fixing that could be a problem: “There are staffing resource needs in the area of Research and Evaluation associated with the development and consistent implementation of this process that would need to be addressed before undertaking a project of this magnitude,” the report says. Translation: It would take more people to do that than San Diego Unified now has.

This finding was especially interesting to me after writing about the extinct High School Readiness Program, which suffered a lot of logistical problems and hasn’t had a clear verdict of whether it worked. Another example might be the City Heights Educational Collaborative, which is an outside effort that didn’t set clear goals.

The report also notes problems and progress in several other key areas:

  • San Diego Unified is auditing its list of courses to find extinct classes and smooth out discrepancies between classes. The idea is to make sure that classes are equally difficult across the district. The school board balked at some of those classes earlier this year.
  • A new project called Schools Making a Difference is trying to find things that have helped schools succeed in San Diego Unified. A report on its findings is supposed to go to the school board by December. Nice idea — I nominate the Webster Way.
  • The school district is still falling short when it comes to tailoring classes for children with different learning styles, but help is on the way, with trainings for teachers and principals planned.

San Diego Unified trustees will review the report Tuesday. You can read it for yourself here.


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