SAN YSIDRO — Teachers within the San Ysidro School District recently completed a week-long professional development seminar aimed at updating them on the expected student achievement levels in English language arts and mathematics at specific points throughout the year.

The Summer Institute, developed by the District, prepares teachers for the 2016-17 school year as the District continues its commitment to refine its educational opportunities, curriculum and instructional practices to bolster student success.

“We began the program in order to help our teachers develop a larger teaching-method toolbox and to provide our students with better learning opportunities,” SYSD Superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca said. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that we continually work towards closing the achievement gap for our students.”

The training program, which aligns with the new California standards, guided teachers on implementing a uniform curriculum plan for each grade level across the District and helped them identify ways to administer those strategies into their own classrooms.

“The entire purpose of what we are doing is to make sure that our teachers get the best research-based practices so that they can move an entire grade level,” Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Tony Hua said. “It’s a way for teachers to build that common language so that they can better plan and collaborate to have that deeper level of learning and teaching that we want for our kids.”

The uniformity in the curriculum across the District is also expected to help students who move schools to stay on track. As part of a broader effort to ensure curriculum is standardized Districtwide, as well as aligned to the rigorous state standards, the District over the last year has also embarked on an extensive instructional design process, gaining input from educators at every level.

“Teachers will be on the same page, which is great because there is a lot of student mobility within the District,” Willow Elementary sixth-grade teacher Beatriz Bautista said. “So now, with all of the teachers of a grade level following similar curriculum plans, students will be familiar with what’s going on in the classroom no matter where they go.”

The goal is also to ensure teachers know what is expected of them, and of their students.

“The program is making teachers accountable for what they’re teaching and makes sure that they’re teaching the right standards for our kids to achieve new levels of success,” seminar instructor Adriana Aguilar said. “That’s the goal — to elevate our students to new heights.”

Teacher preparation and updated programs are crucial in crafting proper learning communities.

“Effective teaching happens through thoughtful and careful planning and we are determined to continue providing our teachers with all of the needed resources to effectively do their jobs,” SYSD Board President Marcos A. Diaz said. “We know that the quality of teaching is the foundation for a solid education, and there is no question that our children are getting the best because of our dedicated and passionate teachers.