WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to use a specialized assessment tool to help teachers better focus their math lessons where students need it.
The tool, called the MAP Accelerator, was developed by Mountain View-based Khan Academy, a nonprofit that claims to have the mission of “providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” The organization offers help with a variety of subjects, including math, sciences and the humanities and personalized SAT practice.
PVUSD is one of five school districts in the U.S. to use the system.
Under the program, students in third through eighth grade at 17 schools will be evaluated three times a year, with the results being used to customize their lessons.
About 5,000 PVUSD students will use the assessment tool, which is available in English and Spanish.
“This partnership is an exciting opportunity to provide access to authentic personalized learning for our students and support their academic performance in mathematics,” said PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez.
Other districts using the assessment tool include Madera and Glendale unified school districts in California, Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky and Clark County School District in Nevada. More than 180,000 students are participating.
Khan Academy founder Sal Khan said in a video announcement that he wants to see the tool used by students worldwide.
Participating PVUSD schools in the pilot are: Alianza Charter, Ann Soldo, Aptos Junior, Bradley, Calabasas, E.A. Hall, Freedom, Hall District, Lakeview, Landmark, Mar Vista, Mintie White, Ohlone, Rio Del Mar, Rolling Hills, Valencia and Watsonville Charter School of the Arts.
The item passed 6-0. Trustee Georgia Acosta was absent.
In other action, the trustees approved for another year the contract of Superintendent Rodriguez, who started with the district in 2016.
The approval did not come with a salary increase. Rodriguez makes $222,832 per year. Her contract includes a $600-per-month stipend for the use of her vehicle.
Under her tenure, the district has seen its ninth- and 10th-grade students improve their English and math scores. Third- through sixth-graders showed growth in English tests, while fourth- through sixth-graders showed improvement in math scores.
Rodriguez also championed the district’s use of a reading teaching tool called Systemic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Site Words, a program better known as SIPPS. District officials say the tool has helped bolster reading comprehension for students.
The trustees were unanimous in their praise for Rodriguez.
“I think this district is going in the right direction,” said Trustee Jennifer Schacher. “There is a lot of improvements that have been made over the years and I like that.”
Trustee Jennifer Holm said she appreciates Rodriguez’s student-centered approach to her job.
“Students are always at the center of the discussion,” Holm said. “Even when we might have slightly different perspectives on things, I am always crystal clear that that is your commitment.”
The trustees approved the contract 6-0. Acosta was absent.