2007 parade art at Portola Elementary.

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Portola shines with improved test scores

By Beth Winegarner, The Examiner

Although San Mateo County students scored well on California’s standardized tests, few can boast the high scores of Portola Elementary School in the San Bruno Park School District.

Nearly all of the Portola fourth-graders scored at proficient or advanced levels on California’s 2007 Standardized Testing and Reporting test.

Portola is not only the school with the most improved scores, but it tied with North Hillsborough School as the school with the most fourth-graders passing the English and math portions of the exam — 95 percent and 94 percent, respectively. read full article >

Portola Elementary is indeed a California Distinguished School. With a commanding view of San Francisco Bay, this recently renovated school contains exemplary examples of learning at its finest. The team was able to validate every aspect of their application. Students are learning, teachers are teaching, and parents are thrilled with the level of success their students are having. Especially impressive is the API growth shown at Portola School. From 723 four years ago to its current score of 802, this indicates how well the school has addressed student learning needs. This has been accomplished through rigorous and regular assessment devices, collaborative planning, fidelity to the Open Court reading program, and close cooperation with the parent community. Evidence exists that this is a true partnership amongst all stakeholders. Teachers, staff and parents have dedicated themselves to providing students with academic challenge, providing them with a safe environment and a close knit supportive culture. According to one of the students interviewed, "Portola School is really cool". Teachers extend themselves to students during lunch time and after school, tutoring students who need extra help in any curriculum area. The small size of the school lends itself to a real family-like environment. Every group interviewed commented on this feeling of family that exists at Portola. Visitors to the school report that they are able to," listen to the discourse amoung well-behaved, well mannered young people". According to another parent, "We are small but mighty". Another person said, "Its is a joy to come to this school. There is an esprit de corps existing in the school like none I've ever experienced.


Portola Celebrates Playpump project

Portola Elementary School's fourth grade class began the school year with a celebration of their efforts that provided a water pump for a South African community in need. The students were treated to a video "Thank You" note from a group of South African children who had benefited from their charitable efforts.

Teacher Julie Calleja said the students were inspired to spread awareness of places that don't have clean water readily available.

"Our goal is to eliminate this water problem in the world for good," Calleja said. Last May, the students, in conjunction with a non-profit organization and schools from Iowa and Connecticut, participated in a program in which they sold water to benefit a South African village with a pipe that would distill water for them to consume.

The children designed labels for the water and collaborated on a book that further details the tribulations of the issue. Their efforts raised over $6,300, enough to meet their goal.

In addition, some students had a new awareness of the nuts and bolts of the process at hand.

"Once you spin on it, it goes deep under the ground more than regular wells do, and it brings out the fresh water from under the soil and filters it," said one student of the water pump.

Most of the students said the project opened their eyes to issues they were not aware of.

"Some people in the world don't have water and we helped those people, and gave them fresh drinking water," said one student.

Calleja said the class will continue to participate in charitable endeavors.

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21st Century Skills

Below is a link is to a blog created by Parkside Assistant Principal, Dan Lyttle and El Crystal Principal, Skip Johnson. Use this link to give them feedback on what technologies and what 21st Century Skills you believe students should have access to and be learning. The blog is not part of the district but a project of “Leading Edge Certification"