Sunday, September 13, 2009


The first staff meeting was kicked off with Tracie Noriega and Cheri Benafield discussing the use of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz as a means of developing a good working relationship between all staff members. The Four Agreements are:

Don't Take Anything Personally
Don't Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best
Be Impeccable With Your Word

The Ball Foundation has adopted New Haven Unified School District as a partner to support the development of high-performing schools. The Alvarado Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), formerly Instructional Support Team, met with the Ball/Targeted Leadership on a day long workshop. Those leaders returned to Alvarado to provide coaching for the teachers on collaboration and the use of data to target specific goals for student learning. There will be continued trainings throughout the year.

On Sept. 15, 2009 the Academic Performance Index (API) for the California Standardized Test were release by the Department of Education. Alvarado was again in the "800 Club" with a score of 826. This was a 12 point gain from the previous year. Schools must be in the 800 digits to avoid being a state "program improvement" site. The federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report was release also with Alvarado meeting the goals for English & Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The Socioeconimically Disadvantage group is the only group that did not meet the goal in ELA. The AYP is tied into federal funding since Alvarado is a full Title I school.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Staff photos or memories 2008-2009

Tracie Noriega Principal
Cheri Benafield Assistant Principal
Click on the photo to enlarge.

2005-2009 Digitalized Data

By 1991 the district had installed a computerized library system and the office staff and principals had computers. Teachers did not have computers. There were a few Apple IIgs computers in the library and the staff room. The Commodore Pets were removed in 1990. A couple of years later the district installed a Macintosh lab, Macs in the media center, and computers in the classroom. In 2006 the Superintendent, Dr. Jaurequi's, goal was to expand from the instructional mode using technology to the data driven informational mode. In April of 2006 Chris Hobbs joined New Haven as the Executive Director of Technology replacing Rick Soper. With NCLB in place the district needed a method of tracking test scores. Hopefully this would help teachers consistently move test scores up. Thus began a series (3) of yearly student tests called NWEA.

Northwest Evaluation Assessment
(NWEA) is a computerized assessment developed by a non-profit company to help teachers determine what content standards students have mastered, what ones they have partially mastered, and those that need to be retaught. The questions correlate to the CST, California Standardized Tests. This testing is done in all the computer labs three times a year.

Alvarado was fortunate to have technicians Tony Hampton at the district office, Dennis Arafiles on the network, and Max Lomax at Alvarado. Max covered more than one school. New Haven was lucky to have such great technicians. Max was always willing to do whatever he had to do to make everything work. Technology is a great tool, but districts need very efficient and competent technicians to make sure it works all the time, everytime. In a time of budget deficits it is always tempting to cut technicians. NO! NO! NO!

To interpret testing information DataDirector was acquired. This program helps make sense of a huge range of data to provide longitudinal tracking and reporting of student assessment data, student demographic data, and program/event attendance, as well as professional development activities, paraprofessional activities, student grades and teacher data.

Zangle is a student information system. This system can be customized to fit district needs. As of this year New Haven does not have a totally computerized grading system, but with Zangle this will be coming soon. It's possible teachers could even post their grades from home on the web.

1991-2010 Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

This logo reflects the diversity of the New Haven Unified School District. The California School Boards Association in a search for New Haven's new superintendent wrote this in September of 2008. "Diversity is reflected in the district’s ethnic breakdown: approximately 30 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Asian, 18 percent Filipino, 15 percent Caucasian and 12 percent African American." Alvarado fits only partially into that mold.

When the first settlers founded Union City there were Caucasian, Chinese, Japanese, those of Spanish and Mexican descent, and Filipinos. Before World War II Alvarado and Decoto only had a population of 2000 each. After World War II more Filipinos, some who had been relocated in Guam, took the opportunity to come to America. The population boomed. However, in the last 20 years there has not been an ethnic majority population at Alvarado. However, the richness of our population is not truly explained in statistics.

Alvarado has been fortunate to have students from India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, China, Japan, Sweden, Russia, France, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Nigeria, and many more. Alvarado has students with many different religious backgrounds and cultures. Some students are recent immigrants and some are second generation Americans. Some speak no English when they come. No matter what the background of the student, the goal is always to close the achievement gap and to help each student to become academically successful.

With this in mind Alvarado has always welcomed teachers who's background reflects the student cultures. Alvarado has Filipino, East Indian, Mexican, Afghan, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, African American, Korean, Italian, and Caucasian teachers. Alvarado also tries to provide translators for parents in as many languages as possible.

2007-2009 Introduction to Autism

In September of 2007 Alvarado began the first of the autistic classes. We had two full time autistic teachers, Mani Allen and Danielle Cruz. These were fully trained special education teachers. We also began getting students who were at the higher end of the autistic spectrum. Those students were called inclusion students because they were mainstreamed or included into regular classes. Some of these had already been mainstreamed previously at other schools and fit well into the regular classes. The inclusion students had a variety of learning styles much the same as the rest of the students. Most of the time they did not need an aide. Usually if there were more than one inclusion student in a class then an aide was assigned to the class.

The Alvarado prep teachers, music, PE, media/library, and science had for the first time autistic students from Ms. Allen's and Mrs. Cruz's classes. Students came with about 1 aide for every 2 students and were integrated into one standard class. All these students were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. The prep teachers knew they needed some autism training. However, when school started there was no autism training for the staff and little training throughout the school year. We had a series of three different inclusion specialists assigned to monitor these students, but due to all the changes it was often difficult for them to find the time to meet with teachers.

In the past those students at the lower end of the autistic spectrum were sent to non-public school placement for which the district payed the cost. In a February 9th, 2008 Board of Education meeting, the Director of Special Education, Carol Rohde, identified $200,000 of savings by not having students in non-public school placements. By adding a behaviorist and an occupational therapist the district would improve in-house placements for these students. Chief Business Officer, Carol Gregorich, reported that by 2008-2009 such changes would make a $1.5 million reduction in costs to the district and improvement in services to these students. However, at this board meeting there was no mention of exactly how in-house classes improved services to these students.

Staff photos or memories

Tracie Noriega Principal
Cheri Benafield Assistant Principal
Click on photo to enlarge.