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ELR Illustrative Example: My Name, My Identity

English Learner Roadmap Illustrative Example: Santa Clara County Office of Education's My Name, My Identity.

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Illustrative Example Overview

The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is located in the Silicon Valley, a diverse community where more than 60 languages are spoken in Santa Clara County’s public schools. The SCCOE, in partnership with the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE), demonstrated its commitment to embracing the diversity of the Silicon Valley with the “My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self” initiative. This initiative recognizes the importance of correctly pronouncing students’ names in order to make students feel valued, included, and respected at school. The “My Name, My Identity” initiative asks teachers to sign a pledge committing to pronouncing students’ names correctly in order to affirm their identities at school and welcome them to the learning community. The SCCOE provides resources to interested schools and districts and encourages districts to engage families and communities with the initiative. As of 2018, 17 districts and charter schools in Santa Clara County have adopted a board resolution in support of the “My Name, My Identity” initiative.

The SCCOE leadership believes that correct pronunciation of names can have a deep impact on school culture and student achievement. Jon R. Gundry, the former County Superintendent of Schools for Santa Clara County, stated that “Honoring our students’ personal history and cultural identity is at the very heart of our efforts to close the achievement gap in Santa Clara County. To raise student achievement for all students, we must build relationships that start with the proper pronunciation of ours students’ names.” The SCCOE believes that the “My Name, My Identity” initiative can address a variety of district goals, including “eliminating the achievement gap, building positive school climate, cultivating global competence, or advocating parent engagement” (Wan, Yee, “My Name, My Identity: Building a Culture of Respect”).

Principles, Elements, and Priorities Addressed

Principle One: Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools

Pre-schools and schools are responsive to different English learner (EL) strengths, needs, and identities and support the socio-emotional health and development of English learners. Programs value and build upon the cultural and linguistic assets students bring to their education in safe and affirming school climates. Educators value and build strong family, community, and school partnerships.

Element 1A: Language and Culture as Assets

The languages and cultures English learners bring to their education are assets for their own learning, and are important contributions to learning communities. These assets are valued and built upon in culturally responsive curriculum and instruction and in programs that support, wherever possible, the development of proficiency in multiple languages.

Element 1C: School Climate

School climates and campuses are affirming, inclusive, and safe.

Element 1D: Family and School Partnerships

Schools value and build strong family and school partnerships.

Principle Three: System Conditions that Support Effectiveness

Each level of the school system (state, county, district, school, pre-school) has leaders and educators who are knowledgeable of and responsive to the strengths and needs of English learners and their communities and who utilize valid assessment and other data systems that inform instruction and continuous improvement. Each level of the school system provides resources and tiered support to ensure strong programs and build the capacity of teachers and staff to leverage the strengths and meet the needs of English learners.

Element 3A: Leadership

Leaders establish clear goals and commitments to EL access, growth toward English proficiency, and academic engagement and achievement; and maintain a systemic focus—beyond compliance via the EL Master Plan and English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC) and District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) regulations—on continuous improvement and progress toward these goals.

Local Control and Accountability (LCAP) Priority One: Basic (Conditions of Learning)
  • Rate of teacher misassignment as relates to equity, professional learning, resource alignment, and teachers.
  • Student access to standards-aligned instructional materials as relates to curriculum, instruction, and resource alignment.
  • Facilities in good repair as relates to culture and climate and resource alignment.
LCAP Priority Two: State Standards (Conditions of Learning)
  • Implementation of academic content and performance standards adopted by the state board for all pupils, including English learners as relates to assessment, curriculum, equity, instruction, and professional learning.
LCAP Priority Three: Parental Involvement (Engagement)
  • Efforts to seek parent input in decision making and promotion of parent participation in programs for unduplicated pupils and special need subgroups as relates to culture and climate, equity, and family and community.
LCAP Priority Four: Pupil Achievement (Pupil Outcomes)
  • Performance on standardized tests, score on Academic Performance Index, share of pupils that are college and career ready, share of English learners that become English proficient, English learner reclassification rate, share of pupils that pass Advanced Placement exams with three or higher and share of pupils determined prepared for college by the Early Assessment Program as relates to assessment, curriculum, equity, and instruction.
LCAP Priority Five: Pupil Engagement (Engagement)
  • School attendance rates, chronic absenteeism rates, middle school dropout rates, high school dropout rates, and high school graduations rates as relates to culture and climate, equity, and family and community.
LCAP Priority Six: School Climate (Engagement)
  • Pupil suspension rates, pupil expulsion rates, and other local measures including surveys of pupils, parents, and teachers on the sense of safety and school connectedness as relates to culture and climate, equity, and family and community.
LCAP Priority Seven: Course Access (Conditions of Learning)
  • Pupil enrollment in a broad course of study that includes all of the subject areas described in Education Code (EC) section 51210 and subdivisions (a) to (i), inclusive, of EC section 51220, as applicable, as relates to curriculum, equity, and professional learning.

Evidence of Effectiveness

The Characteristics of Examples Web Page includes information on the criteria used to evaluate illustrative example submissions.

Standard 1 (supported by an existing research basis)

The “My Name, My Identity” initiative is rooted in research by William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell (2011). This research indicates that when teachers learn the correct pronunciation of students’ names it creates trust and acceptance. In her article “My Name, My Identity: Building a Culture of Respect,” Yee Wan, the Director of Multilingual Education Services for the SCCOE, writes, “This trust and acceptance creates a psychologically safe atmosphere in the classroom, which provides the security students need to experience the intellectual discomfort of learning new ideas. Students will also feel a sense of belonging and being valued, which will enable them to take risks during the learning process.”

Standard 2 (local metrics of system implementation and adult learning outcomes)

The SCCOE leadership encouraged schools and districts to adopt a resolution supporting the “My Name, My Identity” initiative. The SCCOE provides resources to interested schools and districts to support the implementation of the initiative

Standard 2a (local metrics of student learning supports and processes)

The Santa Clara County Office of Education interviewed stakeholders regarding the impact of the initiative. Some of the responses to the initiative are available in the resource “My Name, My Identity: Building a Culture of Respect,” article linked below. Districts and schools have set up online communities for parents and students to share their name stories; incorporated “Names, Languages, and Cultures” into their parent engagement and literacy activities; provided leadership opportunities for parents by challenging them to secure pledges from the community; integrated the “My Name, My Identity” initiative; and hosted celebrations for the pledges made.

Standard 3 (student learning outcomes)

Data is anecdotal and has not gone through the formal research process at this time.


"My Name, My Identity" Web Site External link opens in new window or tab.
In Web site, created by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, provides more information about the “My Name, My Identity” initiative including a link to take the pledge and other resources.

"My Name, My Identity: Building a Culture of Respect" Article External link opens in new window or tab.
This article provides an overview of the “My Name, My Identity” initiative, the implementation in Santa Clara County, ideas for schools and districts, and stakeholders’ responses to the initiative.

Milpitas Unified School District Strategies Menu
This resource provides a menu of “My Name, My Identity” strategies to build positive school climate, advocate parent engagement, and cultivate global competence.

"My Name, My Identity" Media Coverage External link opens in new window or tab.
This resource provides links to articles about the “My Name, My Identity” initiative.

Questions:   Language Policy and Leadership Office | | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
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