March 2017 Message

posted Sep 13, 2017, 5:57 PM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Sep 13, 2017, 5:57 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Happy March, Walnut Acres Parents!

This newsletter is unusual in that it largely offers you information from our district, our state, and our City of Walnut Creek. So you won’t hear much of my voice in this message, but everything below relates to Walnut Acres in a way that will matter to you!

So here’s the scoop from our larger communities that directly impacts Walnut Acres…

From Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD)

MDUSD is requesting information from you to improve programs. They want to know what parents think of their home school (that’s Walnut Acres) by 3/30/17.

Your participation is voluntary but very important.  The information will help guide district efforts to promote safety, enhance learning, and improve student achievement.  Results will also help inform MDUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP.)  This is an anonymous survey designed so that no one can be identified from the data.  The questions apply to this school only.  The results will be used for school site and MDUSD program planning. 

Instructions for accessing the survey are below. Please fill out just one survey about the school using your oldest child as a reference.

Access the login page for the survey using the following URL:

Use the following school code and click the Take Survey button:

School Code (case sensitive):  HD47NF

If you have questions about this survey, please contact Jennifer Sachs, Executive Director of Instructional Support, at (925) 682-8000 x 4016.

From the California Dept. of Education

California is field-testing a new website designed to help communities across the state access important information about K–12 districts and schools. Called the California School Dashboard, the site features easy-to-read reports on multiple measures of school success, including test scores, graduation rates, English learner progress and suspension rates. The Dashboard is part of California's new school accountability system based on 2013's Local Control Funding Formula. It is the next step in a series of major shifts in public education that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing, and placed the focus on equity for all students. To learn more about California's accountability and continuous improvement efforts, visit the CDE Dashboard Web page after 3/15/17.

Why a new system and new tool?

The Dashboard will be a key part of California's commitment to transparency and continuous improvement. California's future success depends on tapping into the potential of all students,  ensuring that they graduate ready for college, careers and life. For schools to reach this goal, teachers, parents and the community need clear and useful measures of progress. As an accountability tool, the Dashboard will help the state identify schools (including charter schools) and districts needing targeted assistance.

What’s different?

In the past, accountability systems for districts and schools relied solely on test scores. But one test taken on one particular day doesn't provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed.

Think of it this way: You can’t drive a car by only watching the speedometer. You also keep your eye on the road, check the mirrors, monitor the gas tank and pay attention if the engine light comes on. Similarly, the Dashboard provides information on different aspects of student performance, which will give a more complete picture of a school’s progress. The Dashboard also reports on growth to show a school’s trajectory over time.

What’s next?

The Dashboard is deliberately designed to be a work in progress: Metrics and reports will be added over time. During the field testing phase, the state will gather feedback to make additional modifications. The Dashboard is part of an ongoing conversation with our community on both how we're doing and how we can do better. Send your questions to the  Academic Accountability Team at or call 916-319-0863. 

From the City of Walnut Creek…

Alex Wong, associate civil engineer for Walnut Creek, informs us that the City’s contractor, Vanguard Construction, has started the 2017 Concrete Project.  The project includes upgrades to over 120 curb ramps in eastern Walnut Creek, including the work in front of Foothill Middle School and Walnut Acres Elementary School.  The City’s webpage will soon have a link with additional information on the project:

The concrete work in front of Foothill Middle School is scheduled for Spring Break, 3/31 to 4/7, weather permitting.  The restriping work to remark the street and add a buffered bike lane will be performed as part of the 2017 Slurry Seal project scheduled for summer 2017.

The concrete bulb-out and street work on Wiget Lane at the Blackstone Dr. and Cedro Ln.intersections affecting Walnut Acres is scheduled to start on 6/12/17.

If you have questions, contact Alex Wong at (phone) 925/943-5899x2239, (fax) 925/256-3550 or

From me…

Just a few comments from me as I close out this message. If you are wondering why the district doesn’t use our just-completed survey results, it’s because they want to be able to compare responses from across elementary schools on the same survey. And if the dashboard information was confusing, you are welcome at the next PFC meeting on 3/21 at 7:00 p.m. I will share what I know about the new CA Dashboard at the meeting.   

I leave you with three more heartfelt notes of appreciation. I want to thank all of you who took the time to complete our Walnut Acres survey! After we complete the student surveys, we will analyze the student, parent, and teacher results and use the data to plan the next steps of our development as a rigorous, engaging 21st century learning community. You’ll see the results of the survey on our website as well. I’ll let you know when those results are available online.

To all community members who participated in the recent on-line auction: Thank you for your support! Your generosity helps us to develop and maintain valuable programs and procedures that promote deeper educational personalization and more rigorous student engagement, through the personnel that you sponsor and the materials you purchase.

And to the Walnut Acres Children’s Center Board of Directors: We are grateful for your generous donation to our teachers! With the grade level funds you provided we have purchased a variety of items. These include 400 books and phonic games in kindergarten; wobble chairs and shelving/workspace furniture in 1st grade; rockers, yoga balls, wobble stools and math games in 2nd grade; and 64 books along with a new Reading Workshop Fantasy Unit in 5th grade. At this time 3rd and 4th grade teachers along with SDC teachers are still deciding how to expend funds. As one teacher shared when grade levels were comparing purchases, “We’ve had so much fun!” The staff is grateful for the donations offered directly to each grade level.   

Thanks to all stakeholders for being active members of our learning community! As religious leader Russell Ballard succinctly concluded, “Great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands anxiously engaged in a good cause.” I can think of no greater cause than that of helping to prepare children for their future!

Hope you get to enjoy a little more family time during these longer days.


Colleen Dowd, Principal