Teacher Enhancement for Student Success (TESS) is a five-year project, closely coordinated with the Fresno Urban Systemic Initiative, which provides 120 hours minimum of teacher enhancement for the 2040 K-8 teachers of mathematics and science in the Fresno Unified School District and is supported by a literacy campaign. Fresno is one of the fastest growing cities in California and is known for its cultural and linguistic diversity. The District receives approximately 2,000 new student per year, many of them immigrants. One-half of the students have been identified as living in poverty and 60 percent receive free or reduced lunches. There have been 89 different primary languages or dialects identified with one-third of the students showing Limited English Proficiency. While diversity offers unique opportunities, it also creates challenges for students and teachers. TESS focuses on developing leadership capacity, institutionalizing intensive teacher enhancement strategies, reforming curriculum, strengthening instructional practices, changing the role of the teacher and empowering students and teachers with technological capacity.
The District developed the Professional Development and Technology Center that uses a support team of mentor teachers, Teachers on Special Assignment (TSA), site leaders, and university specialists to train teachers and provide services to the schools. The support team trains teachers in content and exemplary programs, and in working with diverse student populations. The training also focuses on activity-based lessons integrated with real world applications that involve using the relevant technology available today. Principals and administrators receive hands-on training in instructional strategies in mathematics and science. The program focuses on curriculum and instructional materials on the California adoption list with enhancement being done in conjunction with the California Renaissance project (SSI) and teams involving the California Mathematics Project and California Science Project. Schools will be involved as units of enhancement with no school starting mathematics and science at the same time.