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the next step in strategic planning: a balanced scorecard

On June 29, the Pleasanton Weekly published my letter to the editor in response to the June 21 article about the last school board meeting that occurred before summer recess. Here’s what I said:

Dear Editor,

The article on the June 19 school board meeting omitted a key fact about the new strategic plan for PUSD — it is an unfinished draft. Still to come is the most important part, a scorecard with measurable indicators of progress toward strategic goals.

Standardized tests cannot be the only indicators that students are learning what they will need to make the world a better place. […] District leaders should push themselves to focus on measuring what matters, and not just on what is easy to test. […]

Now is the time for taxpayers to weigh in on the scorecard being developed. What indicators do you want district leaders and board members to monitor? […]

Let me brainstorm some answers to the question I asked others:

bold goal 1: eliminate racial, socio-economic, and gender predictability in achievement


  1. less than 10 percent difference between native speakers of English and ELL learners who are proficient in language arts by 5th grade
  2. percentage of ELL learners who remain classified as ELL for more than 3 years (should be under 20% for students of all native languages)
  3. less than 5 percent difference between percentage of 5th grade boys and 5th grade girls identified as eligible for enrollment in sequence 2 math in 6th grade
  4. less than 5 percent difference between percentage of 9th-12th grade students of Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian ethnic identities who choose to participate in music courses, band or orchestra activities
  5. less than 5 percent difference between percentage of 9th-12th grade students from families with incomes under 50K and over 100K who participate in intramural or varsity sports
  6. less than 5 percent difference between percentages of graduates with Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian ethnic identities who complete three years of a foreign language with grades of B or higher
  7. less than 5 percent difference between the percentage of Asian Hispanic, and Caucasian graduates who complete one or more AP course
  8. percentage of graduates who meet or exceed the standards for admission to a UC or CSU school (should be over 80% in all racial, socio-economic, and gender groups)
  9. percentage of 12th graders who submit college applications (should be over 95% in all race, socio-econonmic, and gender groups)

bold goal 2: optimize student learning by using innovative technologies


  1. percentage of teachers who have had training within the last 2 years and can skillfully use a laptop and projector in their classroom to support student learning
  2. percentage of 5th grade students using software to practice math skills (broken out by software program)
  3. percentage of 5th grade students who can use Wikipedia responsibly
  4. percentage of students entering 6th grade students eligible for the option to participate in a laptop program
  5. percentage of 6th graders who choose to participate in a laptop program
  6. percentage of 8th grade students skilled in using presentation software to create and organize visual aids in a persuasive speech
  7. percentage of 9th grade students with access to audio-visual computer programs that support the learning of French, Spanish, German, and Chinese

On July 6, the Weekly published an editorial expressing a favorable view of the district’s strategic plan. While I agree with their overall enthusiasm, I think there’s still much to do to ensure that support for implementing the strategic plan is strong across all principals, teachers, students, parents, and community members. Figuring out which indicators are most important, and then paying attention to them over time, is the key to making the plan useful.

What do you think? What should be on the balanced scorecard?


A strategic plan for Pleasanton’s schools

So much happens in our school district while school is out! The last day of school was June 8, but the school board had its final meeting before summer break on June 19.

The June agenda (PDF) was chock-a-block full, with approval of the budget, renewal of contracts for key district leaders, and the approval of the proposed strategic plan all up for discussion. Due to a technical glitch, the board meeting was not televised live, but a web archive of the meeting is now available.

On June 21, a newspaper article about key decisions made at the meeting was published in the Pleasanton Weekly. The article focused on the budget approvals and contract renewals, mentioning the strategic plan only in passing.

The district updated its website with a page about the strategic plan recently. It includes a lofty vision and mission, as well as eight bold goals in four areas: curriculum and instruction; personal growth; fiscal stewardship; and learning environment.

So, here’s some optional summer homework for Pleasanton residents: Read the strategic plan for yourself. Then, tell me what do you think. Has the superintendent laid out a clear vision for the district’s future? Are the bold goals achievable? Are there any big goals missing from the strategic plan?