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Watch the video from San Bernardino

Superintendent Ted Alejandre's 2017 State of Education Address - Boundless Potential

The wide geographical expanses, diverse terrain and rich cultural history of San Bernardino County are well documented.

Since its founding, people have flocked here, charmed by the boundless potential of the area’s abundant resources and opportunities.

The same holds true for San Bernardino County public schools.

Each school, in every district, is unique in its characteristics and significant for its accomplishments.

And all are united in their commitment to see that each and every student has unlimited access to opportunities and resources to reach their boundless potential.

Our districts, schools and staff are focused on transforming the student experience; expanding the impact we can make in the lives of our students by ensuring equity; creating opportunities to meet the needs of all students; engaging our communities and our partners to work collectively with us to build strong schools and resilient communities; and empowering innovation with inspiring educational practices to prepare our students well for the workforce of tomorrow.

We’ve been very fortunate in this county to have tremendous support for our public schools.

We know, in order to build a better future for our children in these uncertain times, our partnerships, and our resolve, must be boundless in reach and stronger than ever.

Across San Bernardino County, our compassion and commitment for every child is unshakable.

We share a collective sense of responsibility for our youth and through our Countywide Vision and Collective Impact efforts, we have committed to work with all sectors of our community so that all students are prepared for success—Cradle to Career.

We must begin in the early years to create a strong foundation with the goal of creating systemic change so no child or parent ever feels marginalized;

With the firm belief that early literacy skills lay the foundation for a child’s success from cradle to career, County Schools, County Preschool Services, Children’s Fund and First 5 San Bernardino began Footsteps2Brilliance last April as part of our Countywide Vision2Read campaign to increase literacy rates among children and families.

This early learning mobile technology platform provides free access to early literacy activities to all families with children ages birth through pre-K who reside in San Bernardino County.

Research shows the greatest disparity of knowledge among children is the vocabulary gap.

Children from low-income families hear 30 million fewer words before the age of four than their more affluent peers. This is compounded by the fact that 61 percent of low-income children have no books in their homes.

The partnering agencies came together this past January to pilot Footsteps2Brilliance with a cohort of 1,500 preschool students.

We expanded the program in the spring and challenged all families in the county with birth through pre-K children to read 3 million words by this September.

As of September 1, preschoolers had read 13.5 million words and more than 49,000 books.

Let’s take a look at Footsteps2Brilliance in action.


Through collaboration, community-school partnerships enhance delivery of educational services.

Another model program is the Ontario-Montclair School District Promise Scholars initiative, which earned a Golden Bell award from the California School Boards Association.

Promise Scholars believes that fulfilling the prosperity of the community requires a shift toward a college-going culture with all stakeholders aligning messages, activities and resources to unlock the potential of all students.

There are 10,000 Promise Scholars across the Ontario-Montclair School District and at Chaffey, Montclair and Ontario high schools. That is projected to grow to 30,000.

This past year, 64 percent of all seniors at Chaffey, Montclair and Ontario high schools completed college financial aid applications, placing those schools far above the national average.

That’s a 40 percent increase over the baseline year of 2012.

For all of our students to experience this success, we are engaging youth and families in the educational process more than ever.

Our San Bernardino Countywide Student Advisory Panel has gained a reputation as a model framework for early leadership and student voice.

The program rose from our Strategic Plan, and over the past three academic years, students have met through a series of Student Advisory Panel meetings that give them an opportunity to engage in the process of their own educations and share their voice on school and community issues.

As participants, students collaborate, discuss and address concerns in key areas of the Countywide Vision's Community Vital Signs Transformation Plan, which includes: the economy, education, safety, and health and wellness.

In doing so, students hone in on problem-solving, teamwork, communication and leadership skills.

Students then present on their work to community leaders and elected officials who can influence change and bring awareness to issues in board rooms and legislative chambers across the state.

We want our students to know that what they care about matters.

And more than that, supporting what they care about can impact change.

We invited three of our Student Advisory Panel members to share with you their reflection on the program and its benefits.

Allow me to introduce you to the next generation of brilliance…

Student Advisory Panel Video

Let’s give our students another round of applause. They were amazing.

A signature element of California’s move toward greater engagement, transparency and accountability is the new California School Dashboard, which includes multiple measurements in key areas to provide a better understanding of how local schools and districts are progressing.

The dashboard is aligned with state academic standards, but goes way beyond test scores or a single number for ranking school performance.

It includes state and local performance indicators aligned with Local Control and Accountability Plan priority areas and emphasizes performance, growth and continuous improvement.

San Bernardino County school districts and government agencies will be well equipped to use data for decision-making, reporting and story-telling with our San Bernardino Countywide Education Data Platform.

We are working with BrightBytes, a leading learning analytics organization that uses complex analysis and educational research to drive evidence-based decisions and improved student outcomes.

The Open Data Platform looks to be a robust network of resources that optimizes ESRI ArcGIS geodata, state and local indicators, and an interactive Cradle to Career roadmap focused on college and career readiness.

The secure side of the platform includes an Early Warning System that provides educators with insights to identify early on students at risk of dropping out and students on course to be college ready.

While an interactive Cradle to Career Roadmap will include metrics and best practices for milestones along the roadmap.

This work is moving forward with 7 pilot districts indicating interest in the first phase.

Let’s take a look at a preview of the San Bernardino Countywide Open Data Platform and hear from two of our participating district superintendents.

Open Data Platform Video

We ultimately see the data platform as a key resource to inform decisions, identify priorities and align resources across all segments of our community.

Creating a just and equitable society where all children—regardless of ethnicity, income or zip code—can pursue and reach their boundless potential is not only our priority, it is our obligation.

Anything less fuels inequality and undermines equal opportunity for the majority of students in San Bernardino County public schools.

Research from the Century Foundation indicates that low income children rarely escape poverty without a college degree.

School communities across San Bernardino County are showing that the intergenerational passing of social disadvantage is not inevitable, nor does it have to determine an individual’s destiny.

I am pleased to share model programs that are breaking this cycle.

Our countywide Homeless Education and Foster Youth Programs are changing the course of students’ lives.

Through the generous support of the countywide Gangs and Drugs Task Force, as well as Southern California Gas Co., 23 homeless education students received more than $23,000 in scholarships to pursue their higher education goals.

Another great partnership is with the Give Something Back Foundation, which is helping to fund scholarships for Foster Youth.

Only half of the foster youth who are high school seniors graduate each year, and only about 3 percent earn college degrees.

Thanks to a $1 million gift from the Give Something Back Foundation and founder Robert Carr, we are working to improve those numbers.

The foundation has partnered with Cal State, San Bernardino and County Schools to identify a cohort of 30 foster youth ninth-graders to employ strategies to help them achieve in school and also provide the life skills needed to become more self-sufficient.

When these cohorts of foster youth students graduate from high school, they will be ready and able to attend Cal State San Bernardino on a full-ride scholarship – with the guarantee they will leave college after four years, debt-free.

In line with our African American Task Force initiative to see that ALL students achieve and reach their boundless potential, the triumphs of San Bernardino and Riverside County African American graduates were honored and celebrated at the Inland Empire Black Graduation Scholarship Recognition ceremony.

The recognition ceremony first started in 2011 with 50 students and 4 scholarships awarded.

This past year’s ceremony had 480 students with 43 students awarded scholarships.

The celebration at Cal State San Bernardino is another example of broad sectors of the Inland Empire community working together to ensure that more and more students complete high school and are guided toward boundless higher education opportunities.

AVID in San Bernardino County is a formula for success.

Short for Advancement Via Individual Determination, we’ve more than doubled the number of graduates in AVID classes in the past eight years – from 1,200 in 2009 to a record 2,600 senior graduates from 46 County high schools this past spring.

Those are amazing figures.

A fact you may not be aware of is that San Bernardino County is part of the greatest AVID region in the world.

No other state – no other country in the world – has as large a concentration of AVID students.

And AVID students graduate from high school. Every. Single. One.

96 percent of AVID graduates meet the A-G requirements and 87 percent are accepted into one or more four-year colleges.

Each AVID student has a unique story.

One commonality is that 85 percent are the first in their families to attend college.

Abigail Morales, a 2017 AVID graduate who began classes at UC Davis this fall said joining AVID was the best choice she made in high school.

“Despite different backgrounds, we all have similar goals and share the same ambition about getting a higher education,” said Morales.

Without AVID, my dreams would not be possible.”

To express the boundless dreams of our students, please welcome the Arroyo Valley High School Dance Company performing, “Touch the Sky.”

Arroyo Valley High School Dance Company Video

That was so inspiring. Let’s give our students another round of applause.

By unleashing innovation and inspiring educational practices, we are creating opportunities and possibilities in and beyond the classroom.

This past spring, I was fortunate to attend a meeting at Fox Studios with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National AVID Center.

At the table were CEOs and leaders from some of America’s largest companies, such as Nike, JP Morgan Chase and others.

What do top business leaders from some of the largest corporations in America tell us about the skills they look for in potential employees?

Soft Skills!

Skills such as: verbal communication; organization; time management; flexibility and adaptability; creative thinking; teamwork; and strong interpersonal skills.

We took their input to task and immediately began to plan for the first ever countywide Soft Skills Bootcamp for San Bernardino County students.

Nearly 200 high school students gained advice about effective communication, worked as team players, learned about ethical decision-making and took part in mock interviews – all essential skills that will help them transition from the classroom to college and their careers.

Take a look at the tremendous energy and enthusiasm of the students that participated and the business partners who provided us with valuable input on the skills sought by employers.

Soft Skills Boot Camp Video

In education and industry, we also recognize the need to build critical pathways for students, with job progression at both professional and technical levels, creating sustainable wages for a healthy workforce and economy.

Best practices in our county—including Regional Occupational Programs, Career Technical Education, Linked Learning, Regional Hub of Excellence, Alliance for Education and Growing Inland Achievement Initiative—are providing students with opportunities to integrate rigorous academics with technical training in the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Cybersecurity careers represent some of the fastest job growth areas in our economy, which is why we are very excited about the up and coming CyberSB program that looks to create a pipeline of students who will have industry-recognized credentials and degrees for the high demand, high growth cybersecurity industry.

With more that 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. unfilled, we are looking to put San Bernardino County on the map as a center for innovative learning, training and leadership in the Cybersecurity field.

Cal State San Bernardino boasts one of top cybersecurity programs in the country with—get this—100 percent of its graduates gaining employment – many in jobs paying $90,000 a year or more.

CyberSB is more than a school or ROP program – it’s a hub for learning and innovation, in the recently named San Bernardino County Board of Education Dorothy Inghram Learning Center in San Bernardino.

The program will combine career technical education with rigorous academics in four pathways: Threat Intelligence, Programming and Coding, Network Systems and Drone Technology.

What an ideal opportunity for our students, and to propel forward our region’s economy.

Technology and non-traditional subjects and learning environments are part of new educational approaches.

For example, the maker movement is creating opportunities for students to learn how the concepts and theories of STEM subjects can be applied in the real world

Makerspace areas in classrooms combine the spirit of arts and crafts with science, technology, engineering and math in a collaborative environment where students explore, learn, share and address challenges together with industry partners.

At Bing Wong Elementary in San Bernardino City Unified, the iSTEAM Lab makerspace is focused on innovation, imagination and inspiration as the first stage in a K-12 Linked Learning Manufacturing Career Pathway.

San Bernardino is one of eight districts, along with Colton, Chaffey, Chino Valley, Fontana, Rialto, Upland and Yucaipa-Calimesa, in our San Bernardino County Linked Learning Regional Hub of Excellence offering career pathways with real world experience and training in high-tech fields using 21st century skills and tools to students.

Expanding Learning programs provide similar boundary-breaking learning environments for students.

California ranks first in the U.S. with its network of after school programs and I am pleased to say that 263 schools in San Bernardino County have Expanded Learning.

It used to be the thought that these programs were just to keep students occupied after school and during the summer, but we know how valuable they’ve become for a student’s academic and social success.

They are all part of a high-quality learning program that engages students beyond the traditional school schedule with a variety of activities, including science, geography, art, music, exercise and nutrition.

Following our successful first-ever countywide symposium on Expanded Learning last school year, the state is using our example as the model for its inaugural symposium in October.

Redlands Unified School District has the Expanded Learning program at 10 school sites.

We visited Franklin Elementary to take a look.

Expanding Learning Video

Whether the focus is on core curriculum, STEM and STEAM principles, increasing physical activity or providing healthy food choices for the students, all are yielding boundless learning opportunities for our students, their families and our communities, and help to create a positive culture in the school environment.

We are seeing incredible positive social, emotional and academic outcomes among the students at our nearly 380 schools in 28 districts participating in PBIS.

Through the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports framework, school staff can adopt evidence-based behavioral interventions and support systems – one student and one family at a time.

More than 80 schools in the West End/East Valley Region recently received statewide awards for their PBIS programs, while more than 70 schools and preschools in the High Desert Region earned statewide honors, including our county’s first two platinum award winners at Helendale and Phelan Elementary in Snowline Joint Unified.

The impact PBIS has made on creating positive cultures, and helping reduce suspension and expulsion rates at our schools is significant.

Since 2011-12, we have seen a 71 percent decrease in the number of total suspensions in our county and a 63 percent decrease in total expulsions.

These strategies that keep students engaged in school are contributing to increases in graduation rates.

Our countywide graduation rate continues its upward climb with 82.6 percent of students from the class of 2015-16

According to data from the California Department of Education, nearly 38 percent of seniors in the class of 2016 in San Bernardino County met A-G requirements for entrance into either the University of California or California State University systems.

Chaffey Jt. Union HS District is one of the largest comprehensive high school districts in the state and a model for A-G completion—55.5 percent of students completing A-G in comparison to 45.4 percent in the state and 37.6 percent in the county.

For 2017, the district is continuing the momentum with 60 percent of graduates having completed the coursework to attend a CSU or UC campus.

Upon graduation, Chaffey students have the option to attend six local colleges and universities that have forged guaranteed admission partnerships with the district.

In 2016-17, the district was awarded six of the county’s ten Gold Ribbon School Awards.

Moving forward, Chaffey is one of two county districts, along with Mountain View, in the Khan Academy partnership to pilot programs that will further support students with rigorous curriculum.

The Khan Academy partnership is a new regional partnership for San Bernardino County Schools, along with the county education offices in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, as well as Long Beach Unified School District,

The Khan Academy features online instructional resources aligned with K-12 content standards and will provide students across Southern California access to free online tutoring resources to help them better prepare for college.

This will be a great tool that teachers and their students can use to strengthen learning in classrooms.

Moreover, we expect it to have a profound impact on tutoring access for English learners and socioeconomically disadvantage students

Here’s a short video that provides an introduction to the Khan Academy partnership. 

Khan Academy Partnership Video

I am excited to partner with Dr. Judy White on the roll out and implementation of this program in our schools and districts, along with our colleagues across the southland.

We are transforming the student experience in our County Schools alternative education programs so that the students served have the same opportunities for success.

We started with a vision of recognizing 10 grads at our first-year Student Services Graduation, but that number more than tripled to 36.

We hoped to double that number of grads in our second year, not expecting we would remarkably grow to an inspiring total of 138 students receiving their high school diplomas.

Many were the first generation in their families to graduate from high school, including Victor Ramirez-Diaz, who completed his education at David Stine Chaffey West County Community School and received ACSA’s Every Student Succeeding scholarship award for 2017.

Victor has goals of becoming a lawyer.

He says he wants his teachers to see him be successful, which is why he gets up every day to go to school and do his best.

Student Services Graduation Video

We want every student in San Bernardino County to realize and actualize their unique, boundless potential;

To be transformed by life-long learning;

To unite their promise with endless possibilities;

To experience innovation and turn discoveries into solutions for the common good;

To be engaged and productive citizens with a voice for positive change.

We want all students to be inspired by great teachers;

And supported and valued unconditionally by their families and communities;

California’s future success depends on tapping into the potential of all students, no matter their background, ethnicity or gender, so they graduate ready for post-secondary options, professional opportunities and life.

Please welcome the Ikettes and Ike Singers from Eisenhower High School in Rialto Unified.

Ikettes and Ike Singers, Eisenhower High School Video

There are no limits to what we can accomplish together.

Let’s give the Ike Singers and all of the students who participated today a big round of applause.

Thank you for being here and for what you do to transform lives through education.