IUSD Highlights Student Centered Learning and Culture of Excellence at First-Ever State of the District

Image of Superintendent Walker at the State of the District

IUSD held its first-ever State of the District, presented by Superintendent Terry L. Walker, on November 2, 2017 in the Performing Arts Center at Portola High School.  Superintendent Walker shared with the audience of teachers, administrators, students, parents, local dignitaries, business leaders and Irvine community members that the key drivers of IUSD’s success are student centered learning and developing a culture of excellence that is committed to continuous improvement. 

“In our vision for the District, whether it’s our Strategic Initiatives, our Continuous Improvement Efforts, our facilities or tech plans, everything is centered around students and our promise to create the highest quality educational experience we can envision,” said Walker.

Throughout the presentation, Superintendent Walker highlighted various topics including, preparing students for college, career and life after high school, funding, staff and partners, teaching and learning, facilities, and technology.  He noted that embedded in each of these areas is a core founding principal that outrageous expectations should be standard, stating, “There should be no ceiling on what we and our students can achieve.”

Proudly speaking about IUSD students, Superintendent Walker not only showcased their many successes but he also spoke about the changing work environment and how IUSD must pivot to prepare students for a world in which “70 percent of the jobs have not been created yet.”  He said that IUSD is preparing students to be game changers and innovators who have the skills and abilities to be resilient, to see the interconnectedness between disciplines, be collaborative, embrace a growth mindset, be intellectual risk takers, critically evaluate content, be effective communicators in our increasingly diverse world, and not only focus on IQ but also EQ – emotional intelligence. 

In addition to being one of the fastest growing and highest performing school districts in the nation, Superintendent Walker also shared the daunting funding challenges facing IUSD, which is one of the lowest funded districts in the nation. 

IUSD per pupil funding is less than the national average by more than $4,300 per student. The impact is that IUSD loses $150 million per year, compared to national unified school districts.  At the state level, IUSD per pupil funding is less than the state average by approximately $1,600 per student. The resulting impact is that IUSD loses $54 million per year, compared to statewide unified school districts.

To meet this challenge head on, Superintendent Walker outlined how the District strategically leverages its limited resources, time and focus to best meet the needs of IUSD students. 

IUSD Staff and Partners
Superintendent Walker attributed the District’s ability to overcome funding challenges and maintain a high level of service and performance to the District’s talented and dedicated teachers, staff and administrators.  He noted that the belief in student centered learning is at the heart of their work each day.  He stated, “We are surrounded by committed, hardworking and bright people who take tremendous ownership and responsibility, which makes a difference in our student’s lives.”  He went on to praise IUSD’s staff for continuously adapting, refining and reflecting on ways to improve.

He gave a special acknowledgement to IUSD partners such as the PTA, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, the City of Irvine, Fivepoint and the Irvine Company, which fill the critical gaps and enhance IUSD programs.    

Teaching and Learning
During this portion of the presentation, Superintendent Walker not only focused on how we teach but also the importance of understanding how students learn.  He discussed the programs IUSD has implemented to better enable teachers and staff to assess student learning.  One of the programs the District has implemented is the Student Shadowing Program, which was designed for staff to walk in the shoes of students for a day to better understand how they learn, engage in the classroom and to understand, from a different perspective, student challenges and needs. 

He also talked about another important collaborative process, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which are teams of teachers who are focused on improving student learning.  PLCs look at evidence of their own effectiveness and how they can collaborate to meet each child at their level.

To view a brief video about PLCs, click here.

When talking about facilities, Superintendent Walker focused on the opportunities IUSD has had over the last five years to build new schools to meet the needs of Irvine’s growing population and to provide upgrades to older schools through Measure E funds, so that all IUSD students have access to the same educational resources and facilities as student in newer schools.  He also cited the Board of Education’s priority – educational equity – to ensure all students have access to science, design and innovation labs, internet connectivity, dedicated music rooms, flexible furniture and more. 

To view a brief video about Measure E Series I projects, click here.   

Equally important as the facilities, Superintendent Walker shared the investments the District has made in critical technological infrastructure for better and faster connectivity and access.  He also discussed the importance devices such as Chromebooks, tablets, robotics, 3D printers and other technology-based learning tools that are helping teachers transform how students learn.  Over the last five years, IUSD has increased the number of Chromebooks from 7,500 to more than 34,000, enabling many classrooms to have one Chromebook for each student.  This 1:1 model gives students access to individualized curriculum, learning activities, and online resources, which are personalized to meet each student’s individual needs. 

To view a brief video about technology integration in IUSD, click here.

Superintendent Walker concluded the presentation by showcasing the many awards and accolades the District and students have received, as evidence that the focus on student centered learning and a culture of excellence are key drivers in IUSD's success as one of the highest performing school districts in the nation. 

His final comments were to students, parents, teachers, staff and partners, providing a vision as we move forward together.  “As I look to the future…I have no doubt that students will continue to set the bar and pace for the nation and state, you will continue to be a huge part of our success, and IUSD will continue to fulfill its promise of educational excellence and to continue our unprecedented success.”

For more information about the State of the District, including a full audio recording of the event, videos, a photo gallery and the PowerPoint presentation, visit iusd.org/stateofthedistrict.  To watch a video highlight of the State of the District, visit https://iusd.tv/media/t/0_m9sl6l9i