In August, the state released the second round of scores from new online assessments aligned with California’s English and math standards. Once again, Orange County students outperformed state and regional averages — and posted across-the-board gains at every grade level tested.
Our county’s early trajectory on these assessments is highly encouraging, yet the Orange County Department of Education has its sights set on a much higher goal. Our vision is that "Orange County students will lead the nation in college and career readiness and success."
This ambitious vision was first outlined in 2014 in a plan that included a set of eight strategic priorities for OCDE, along with goals and key performance indicators for each. The plan has since been refreshed for 2016, reflecting the latest educational developments and metrics.
What hasn’t changed is our commitment to the original priorities: College and Career Readiness and Success; 21st-Century Competencies and Academic Standards; Local Control and Accountability Plans; Technology in Support of Teaching and Learning; Communication and Collaboration; Special Populations; Business Services, Legal Services, Legislative Advocacy and Other Key Services; and The Whole Child.
Each of these areas is tied to concrete goals and measureable objectives designed to ensure we’re doing everything possible to equip Orange County students to thrive in college, in their careers and in life. We do not perform this critical work alone, but our staff plays a vital role in collaboration with educators, parents, students and our communities.
Like other county offices of education in California, OCDE exists to support school districts by offering programs and services that would be burdensome — and, in some instances, cost-prohibitive — to manage at the local level.
Examples include year-round professional development for teachers, technology support in and out of the classroom, legal services, immersive science education through our award-winning Inside the Outdoors program and fiscal support. In fact, our Business Services staff works with all Orange County districts to ensure their budgets support local and state goals, and they even process payroll for nearly 100,000 educators and staff.
Of course OCDE also operates its own instructional programs. Our Alternative Education program, commonly known as ACCESS, serves approximately 17,000 students annually, including home-schooled students, working teens, homeless children and other students who benefit from a non-traditional learning environment. Similarly, our Special Education division provides enhanced learning opportunities for students with significant needs.
OCDE’s services are too numerous to list in a few paragraphs, but each exists to support children, educators and families throughout Orange County. And each is working every day to fulfill the audacious vision that our students will one day lead the nation in college and career readiness and success.
Al Mijares, Ph.D.
Orange County Superintendent of Schools