Congratulations Teachers of the Year

Congratulations to our Mt Diablo Teachers of the Year nominees and finalists!

Our students are so fortunate to benefit from your passion, expertise & mentorship. Read more about them here.


Literacy Initiatives

I’m very excited about the progress Bel Air Elementary is making in early literacy, as part of the Early Literacy Support Block Grant - which includes 70 schools from districts across the state. They are training all teachers on the Science of Reading, and purchasing materials accordingly. 

The state leaders of this grant ask every school to use an assessment tool called DIBELS to monitor and benchmark literacy growth in early grades. Bel Air started with a paper/pencil version of DIBELS, and will now be piloting a digital version this spring:  Based on over 30 years of research, mCLASS® is the gold-standard K–6 assessment and intervention suite for early literacy that helps every child learn to read confidently.

In Spanish:  

The development of mCLASS Lectura also involved a team of nationally recognized experts representing a range of regions (Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean), along with focus groups featuring classroom teachers, special education teachers, specialists, and administrators

“It's incredibly important we attend to the Spanish language alongside English in assessment practices, to make sure we're not underestimating the ability of a really significant percentage of our nation’s school population.” –Dr. Lillian Durán, Co-developer of mCLASS Lectura, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Education, University of Oregon

Other districts such as San Ramon use mCLASS for their tiered intervention plan to help students learn to read.

What do we mean by Science of Reading? Here’s an excellent Science of Reading handbook that is useful for teachers and parents.

Feb 22nd School Board Mtg Notes

The last board meeting lasted until 11:30pm, chock full of important information and discussions. I would like to highlight two of the topics here:


After listening to everyone at the Town Hall at Pine Hollow the night before, this was the board’s chance to discuss with the superintendent about priorities and next steps to face racism and bullying in our schools. I am thankful we are shining a light on this difficult topic, to thereby be better able to address it. Thank you to all who participated.

I think Board President Nzewi’s comments were especially insightful, starting from her personal story as a black parent in our district and moving into her recommended action steps. Listen to her comments at 3:13.00


Given all my excitement about our district focus on how to effectively teach reading, I felt blindsided by a proposal that came to that board meeting: to provide iReady assessment & lessons districtwide. 

Essentially I expected that our district would learn from the literacy initiative at Bel Air, listen to our dyslexia task force (made up of parents, teachers and admins with this speciality), and then expand those best practices districtwide in terms of both professional development and validated materials that align with the Science of Reading. 

Instead, this proposal came to the board as information, to spend $600,000 on iReady assessments and lessons in reading and math districtwide and to limit other programs that address areas built into iReady. 

--> Watch my comments & the ensuing discussion in the board meeting here: starting at 4:28:00

My feeling is that we should make data driven decisions, especially for something we are going to require in classrooms districtwide. Instead of making a quick decision to revert back to funding iReady districtwide, let’s spend 1 year collecting the right data. 

Let’s pay for those schools that love iReady to keep doing iReady. But at the same time let’s let Bel Air fully pilot mCLASS without double burdening their students to do iReady at the same time. And let’s offer to other schools the opportunity to pilot mCLASS in English and Spanish, including their highly regarded and validated dyslexia screener.

Then at the end of the school year, we’ll have real data to look at and use to decide which tool is really the best choice for MDUSD.  

Similarly, I'd like to see us make real data driven pilot comparisons for math, vs other assessment and lesson options such as

  • Khan Academy: (As a parent, I found Khan Academy to be a great way for my kids to drive their own learning, where both I and their teachers could also easily see a dashboard of their progress through each topic of each grade level on any given day.) 
  • I know that some of our schools have also had great success with Math Bridges, which has a family component in English and Spanish for every lesson, as well as targeted intervention for struggling students. 

If you have experience to share on this topic, please reach out to me. I'd love to hear what's working in your classroom.

Coming up

The next school board meeting is this Wednesday, March 8, 2023. The agenda includes a report on home to school transportation and the second interim financial report. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at 

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  • Cherise Khaund
    published this page in Blog 2023-03-06 20:30:19 -0800