The Coronado High School Annual Report was an area of focus at the Coronado Unified School District school board meeting on Thursday, November 16th. College and career readiness indicators are on the rise with a marked increase in the number of students taking advantage of internships, dual enrollment and opportunities like the State Seal of Biliteracy and the State Seal of Civic Engagement, according to CHS Principal Karin Mellina.
The number of students completing A-G requirements for admissions to University of California and California State Universities has also increased incrementally, she said.
“Our primary focus for our students is to prepare them for college and career readiness, whether that is in college, or that is out in the work force, in the military, whatever that might be,” said Mellina.
While high school enrollment is down–with 998 students attending CHS compared to 1053 in 2021-2022–the average GPA is strong, coming in at 3.48. When it comes to standardized testing such as the CAASSP test, students have made strong gains in English Language Arts with 86.3% meeting benchmarks. Math scores, on the other hand, are at 52.2%, reflecting a nationwide decline of math scores on standardized testing.
Although Mellina noted that CHS scores are in fact much higher than the state average, which sits at 34%, she said it’s important for CHS to make important changes to improve math scores. This includes bringing back a Foundations of Integrated Math class at the high school level as well and more math support classes which will build confidence and improve grades.
“I know the 52% doesn’t look so great, and we are definitely doing our work and honestly we’ll get there,” she said.
A big cause for celebration is the dramatic drop in the number of students getting Ds and Fs. The D and F list shrank from 199 students in the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year to only 42 in term 2 of 2022-2023. She says she attributes the decline to the “amazing work” the teachers and counselors are doing to help the kids.
“If you walk into that school at 7:30 in the morning in the math department, everyone’s doors are open and the teachers are in their with kids,” she said. “I also attribute this to the counselors who are meeting with students with Ds and Fs, putting a plan in place and working with the students and the parents to get their grades up.”
Mellina also reviewed PSAT and SAT data and AP testing, while acknowledging that many colleges are looking at other things such as internships and work experience.
CHS currently offers internship opportunities with the Coronado Historical Association, Coronado Eagle Newspaper, Emerald Keepers, P.A.W.S., SAFE Harbor, IQ Podcasts, Coronado Beach Company, Surf’s Up Studios and CMS Robotics. The number of students taking advantage of internship opportunities has increased from 10 students in 2021-2022 to 58 students in 2022-2023.
“I can’t stress enough how important internships are and how much colleges love seeing this on our students’ resumes,” said Mellina. “Colleges are looking at things like civic engagement, they are looking at internships, they are looking at work experience, they are looking at the person as a whole.”
When it comes to the 4×4, Mellina said that the district is always looking for ways to improve the schedule and course offerings. She noted a decline in the number of kids taking an “off roll” this year, as well as the start of new classes including Engineering, Design and Development and American Sign Language 2. Administrators have also submitted and obtained approval for 17 additional courses that meet A-G requirements.
In addition, administrators are looking at potentially adding an A/B schedule for year-long classes like ASB and band.
Meanwhile, counselors are hard at work, planning college fairs and informational sessions where students can effectively engage with the college admissions people who will be reviewing their applications.
Other Board Business
In other board business, the board approved the retirement notice stipend, a practice which has been in place since 2018. The stipend essentially rewards employees with a one-time stipend of $2,000 who let the district know early—by February 2nd— if they are planning on retiring at the end of that school year. This helps the district make staffing decisions, post positions early, and recruit better candidates, according to Donna Tripi, Director of Human Resources at CUSD.
Jennifer Landry, President of the Association of Coronado Teachers, shared that students and teacher are hard at work on fall projects, including a project on Edgar Allen Poe and a pumpkin decorating contest based on fictional characters. She shared some recent teacher concerns, including the lack of communication about projects that negatively affect teaching and learning. She mentioned hours-long jackhammering at the pool during school hours, with no notification. Finally, she shared that teachers are still frustrated with the high turnover of instructional aids.
Shannon Coulter from the San Diego County Office of Education shared updates on four DoDEA grants, including Project SAIL, which is the newest grant. The overall goal is to increase science achievement, STEM, elective, CTE participation and a new Robotics class.
Another grant, Project E3 (Engage, Explore, Excel) is dedicated to academic achievement in K-5 math literacy, as well as professional learning for math and STEM in grades 6-12. The third grant, the World Language grant, is marked by the establishment of FLEX program reaching 1200 CUSD students, whereby students gain access to Spanish from an elementary school level. In addition, 51 seniors have achieved the State Seal of Biliteracy, which is a college and career indictor. The STEM Read 1 grant, which is ending, helped create a robotics team at the middle school and a STEM classroom.
Also in reports, Wyatt Riebe, ASB President, shared information about his work with the Wyland Center for Learning at the Coronado Village Elementary School, focusing on ocean conservation. He said it was “a really cool experience,” and something he wished he could have participated in as a fourth or fifth grader. All school sites celebrated Veterans Day, and some middle schoolers enjoyed a week at sixth grade camp. Finally, at CHS, he shared that juniors and seniors are working on the “Every Fifteen Minutes” project which brings awareness to drunk driving deaths.
Jennifer Landry, ACT President returned to make a public comment, criticizing a proposed study on merit-based pay for teachers when their students’ test scores go up.
“This idea is not a sound educational practice,” said Landry. “It makes it seem as if people who chose this profession are in it for the money. I’m here to say that money puts a roof over a heads, gas in our cars and food on our table, but it’s not the reason that we are going to do our jobs better.”
Landry asked if the board was trying to foster an environment where a lower-performing student is passed around, or an environment when teachers feel defeated when they know a student isn’t focused on a test because something that happened at home.
“Merit-based pay in education is not healthy for students or teachers, please reconsider,” she said.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 14th at 4pm.