On the first day of school, I stopped by Mrs. Saunders’ art class at Laurel Elementary to wish everyone a happy new year. Standing at the front of the room in a navy suit, I heard something unexpected: “Did you just come from church?” That thoughtful and laugh-provoking question was from Martin, a second grader, who minutes later asked if my jacket was from Macy’s, happily put the jacket on, and took a photo with me.
That moment showed me who Martin is: curious, courageous, and wanting to connect with others. Martin – and every one of our students – deserves opportunities to accelerate their learning and feel like they belong. Simply put, PSD exists for our students. We're about helping kids and young people pursue their dreams and experience strong outcomes.
At a time when school districts across the nation are still reporting one or two years of pandemic-related learning loss, PSD data tell a more positive story. Our students once again performed significantly better than their peers statewide on standardized testing, according to spring 2023 assessment data released Aug. 17 by the Colorado Department of Education. PSD students had double-digit leads in meeting or exceeding expectations in all subjects and grade levels compared to state averages on 2023 Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests, as well as PSAT and SAT exams. An encouraging sign coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the district is seeing CMAS achievement return to, approach, or exceed pre-pandemic levels, in particular on CMAS English Language Arts tests.
It takes our entire community, through a focused effort, to make sure that every student achieves at their highest level. Launched last month, the PSD Strategic Plan is that focused effort. It's the roadmap that will improve student outcomes.
Our district priorities are Literacy, Mental Health and Belonging, and Graduate with Options. This fall, our youngest learners will experience our new elementary literacy curriculum materials. We welcome families to see how reading, writing, and analyzing texts opens their child’s world view, challenges their assumptions, and helps them engage in rich discussions with teachers and classmates. That is Literacy, which goes far beyond learning to read: it’s about reading to learn.
This fall, we also welcomed our first set of interns who will support our students as part of the launch of a federally funded partnership bringing up to 45 interns and fellows over the next five years from the Colorado State University School of Social Work master's program into schools. This is Mental Health and Belonging coming to life in new and innovative ways in PSD. In addition, please visit our revamped Mental & Behavioral Health web section to see the many new materials available in our schools to address mental health and belonging. My sincere hope is that these materials will help students, parents, guardians, and staff ask students how they’re doing, listen to their answers, and connect them with resources that can help them if they are struggling.
Graduate with Options was on full display at the recent launch of C.A.M.P.U.S., or Collaboration Among Many Promotes Universal Success. This partnership between PSD Transition Pathways and the CSU Department of Occupational Therapy is an extension of the Cooper Home program and Community Connections, giving students with different abilities an opportunity to learn on Colorado State University’s campus as they investigate employment opportunities and engage in college activities, clubs and events.
As I’m out visiting with colleagues and students in schools and attending events in the community, I see our priorities in action now and am excited for them to root down in our system even more deeply over time. PSD is a strong school district, and the Strategic Plan is our commitment to being even stronger for our students. I encourage you to learn more at strategicplan.psdschools.org, a website that we will update with information about our progress on the plan.
Thank you for your support of PSD and continued partnership.