Superintendent Marcus Johnson, who coached four Sanger Unified School District schools to National Blue Ribbon School status*—and gave the keynote address at the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools ceremony—recently hosted Michael K. Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) on a visit to his district. Johnson describes the visit on the USDE homeroom blog.
Yudin was visiting Sanger to see first-hand how a district makes “dramatic and meaningful improvements” in student outcomes. In 2004, Sanger, a rural district in California’s agricultural Central Valley, was one of the first in California identified for Program Improvement, specifically for its failure to meet the learning needs of English Language Learners, children of poverty, and special needs students. “We ranked in the bottom 10% in California in terms of student achievement,” Johnson notes. He and his colleagues effected a powerful turnaround: Recently EdTust West found that Sanger has made the third highest overall achievement gains for California districts with high minority, ELL, and socio-economically disadvantaged student populations.
Through visits to four Sanger district schools, Assistant Secretary Yudin learned about the district’s embrace of Professional Learning Communities, beginning in 2005, and the use of support systems (Responsive to Intervention and Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems) in all general education classes.
*Fairmont Elementary School, 2007; John S. Wash Elementary School, 2009; Centerville Elementary School 2010; Sanger Academy Charter School, 2011.