Lindsay, CA: Too good to be true?

This month I took a trip to the Central Valley to visit the schools in Lindsay, CA. You may know it as the poster child for a personalized learning district. 100 percent are free and reduced lunch; 97 percent speak Spanish at home; 44 percent of the learners live in families where the parents did not graduate from high school and 15 percent of the learners are considered homeless.  It’s undergone a dramatic transformation in the last ten years.  82 percent graduate from high school; the number of kids who go to 4 year colleges has doubled since 2010 to 41 percent; and they’ve had a 35 percent increase in students with disabilities graduate from high school.  As I listened to the current Superintendent tell us about why he cares and what he hopes for all of his graduates, I admit, I nearly teared up. He wanted the struggling learner and the high achiever to be able to realize their dreams.  He wanted to make sure that kid knew what they wanted to do after they graduated from HS and had a plan to go to college.  They showed us the attendance, suspension and graduation rates having dramatic increases.  Was this district too good to be true?

We started in the high school and went to a K8.  The best part of these visits are always the students. We had a fabulous tour guide named Vivian at the high school and a girl named Lucero at the K8.  I must admit, I didn’t see any incredible instruction or engagement in the classrooms but the campuses were well designed and the students were very articulate.  One thing that Lindsay has done really well with their students: self-management.  When you work on a personalized learning platform like Empower and every competency is captured since you are in K, you can check off a lot of boxes!  What the kids knew how to do were set goals and achieve them. They may not be as successful at rigorous and engaging instruction at Lindsay but they have certainly changed the paradigm for what these kids are expected to do at school.  The contrast was Harmony Academy just down the way in Porterville…