Vista Unified Named XQ Super School
Vista Unified Named One of Ten National Winners in the XQ Super School Competition on September 14, 2016.
In September 2015, Laurene Powell Jobs focused her decades of expertise in the Education sector and significant resources on a new initiative sponsored by the Emerson Collective. The XQ Super School Project was designed as an open call to all American high schools – public, charter, magnet, private – to reimagine the American high school experience. Nationally, seven hundred applications entered the XQ grant competition to win $10 million dollars and the opportunity to realize the design that would reimagine the high school experience for the 21st century. Last month, Vista High School, Vista Unified School District in Vista, California and its application partner Digital Promise were notified that its application was among 50 finalists. Today, Vista High School was announced as a winner of the competition along with nine other schools.
The role of national leader is not new to the Vista Unified School District which has been highlighted by Digital Promise and the League of Innovative Schools for school leadership, innovative approaches to learning, and positive results. Last September, just as the XQ competition was ramping up, Vista High School was one of five VUSD schools to accept the Personal Learning Challenge to make personal learning a reality in their schools. Vista Superintendent Devin Vodicka announced the results of the first year of the Challenge at the ASU-GSV Summit held in San Diego in April 2016. Vista High School, led by Principal Anthony Barela, was the first VUSD high school to accept the challenge. Forming a Personal Learning Academy as a school-within-a-school, Principal Barela and select staff were able to incubate and test the personal learning approach. First year results showed a 99% reduction in disciplinary incidents, 50% reduction in absences, 62% of students increased their GPA by 1.0 or more, 27% reduction in D grades, and 33% reduction in F grades. These outstanding results were similarly mirrored at select VUSD middle and elementary schools.
Vista USD offers a robust Innovation Department headed by Assistant Superintendent Matt Doyle which spearheads a number of initiatives including the Personal Learning Challenge now embraced by 15 district schools. The winning of the XQ Super School Project enables the re-imagination of Vista High School within a school district that is in the process of reimagining itself in a variety of ways to become a futuristic learning ecosystem. In partnership with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), VUSD is working with 22 countries to infuse Creativity and Critical Thinking into the learning experience so that students develop this flexible mindset so necessary for success in the world of work today. This work is resetting the bar for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that serves as the international benchmark for educational programs. In partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, San Diego Workforce Partnership and the Vista Chamber of Commerce, VUSD is embarking on a Talent Cities approach designed to promote the supply of lifelong learners and career ready talent in San Diego County. Working alongside the Partnership for Children and the Education Synergy Alliance, VUSD is in planning stages to implement a P3 bridge that begins with pre-natal care and offers Vista families the services and interventions their students need to be ready to learn today, tomorrow and lifelong.
Re-Imagining High School
The re-imagination of an American high school within a district prepared to embrace and support change is a powerful example of the future of education. Dr. Vodicka speaking at the Digital Promise Innovation Alley at Qualcomm headquarters this past Spring said, “We are the model.” It is a role that VUSD takes seriously and with this latest honor, the winning of the XQ grant competition, one that VUSD plans to fulfill robustly.