Palo Alto Unified School District

Palo Alto Unified School District

The district focuses on promoting creativity, collaboration and critical thinking through standards-aligned instruction, and increasing student achievement through differentiating instruction.

State: California Number of Students: 12,485
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 8.1%
Grade Level: K-Adult English Language Learners: 10.3%

School Context

Student Achievement: PAUSD aims to improve scores of students in grades 3-8 for ELA and Math CSTs.

Engaging, Standards-Aligned Instruction: Standards-aligned instruction is important to PAUSD. The district focuses onpromoting creativity, collaboration and critical thinking through standards-aligned instruction.

Differentiated Instruction: The district is focused on increasing student achievement through differentiating instruction,providing small group opportunities and incorporating in-person coaching and co-teaching in the classroom.

Strong Staff: The district aims to identify teachers’ needs and provide job-embedded PD that is aligned with their needs as wellas the district’s strategic plan. PAUSD also values the sharing of best practices across schools.

Financial Responsibility: PAUSD is focused on ensuring that budget management is aligned to the strategic plan. This includesproviding the appropriate technology training necessary to keep teachers consistently adopting and using new technologyplatforms.

Community Communication: PAUSD has a very involved community and keeps frequent and transparent communication,including ensuring that the website provides meaningful information and frequent updates. PAUSD is focused on maintainingand improving school culture, including positive learning environments, consistent routines for students and support for studentswho need it.

State of Technology

Tools For Schools: Each teacher is issued a Mac laptop by the district uponhiring. The schools in PAUSD have devices including tablets, laptops andChromebooks, which are mostly stored in carts and shared amongst staffthrough a signout system. Some classroom have enough devices for a classof 30 students. Some schools have classrooms where there are 4, 6 or moreiPads and/or laptops. Elementary schools have varied hardware includingMacbooks, iPads and Chromebooks. PAUSD also supports BYOD, allowingstudents to use their own laptops, tablets and eReaders in school. The districtis also taking the first steps to explore a 1:1 rollout program in the nearfuture.

Unique PD: PAUSD has designed their own system for PD for technology.The system includes small group workshops, blended learning “certification,”and an annual conference where teachers share how they are incorporatingtechnology into their classrooms. PAUSD also hosted a Google EducatorsConference in summer 2014. The Gunn High School Campus was selectedbecause of its robust wireless system, which was able to accommodate2,000 devices at once. The conference has plans to return next summer.Every summer there are two events: PowerUp Technology and NexTech,which include multiple technology workshops. Teachers can get credit forattending these workshops, and there is a focus on teachers who are new totechnology.

Inspiring Learning Spaces: Palo Alto High School (locally referred to as Paly)recently opened their $12M Media Arts Center. The building is two stories andis full of media, production, and technology tools that serve all subject areas.Gunn High School opened its Innovation Lab last year, which is outfittedwith cutting edge furniture including node chairs (that roll), tables (withwhite boards), and walls covered with “idea paint” (which looks like a whiteboard). Barron Park Elementary school recently opened their Maker Studio,which houses equipment that supports the “learning by doing” philosophy.The Maker Studio has a 3-D printer, Google Glass, a green screen for moviemaking and Lego Mindstorm robotics.


1:1: The district is investigating what it would take to move to a 1:1 computing environment.

*Content From 2015

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