With a population of around 13,000, Lindsay, California is a small town in Tulare County – one where big, big things are happening.

The Central Valley Community Foundation awarded Lindsey Unified School District (LUSD) an $18,000 grant in 2016 to support their Families Talking Together curriculum. This program encourages effective communication between kids, parents, and teachers—and LUSD has demonstrated through example that this communication is key to student success.


Families Talking Together is one of many innovative strategies employed by LUSD to improve student engagement and outcomes. For years, Lindsay’s schools followed a traditional education system. As a result, the school district struggled with low test scores and literacy rates, and students were unprepared for the challenges that lay ahead of them post-graduation. In addition, the traditional education system lacked a framework for effective communication between teachers and students, so that each student’s individual learning needs were not always addressed.



Looking to change this, Lindsay Unified School District modernized education for the 21st century with their highly revered “performance-based” system of education. A performance-based system (also known as “competency-based”) stresses the importance of each student’s unique, individual learning needs, and ensures students move forward when they have demonstrated competency of curriculum material through performance, rather than through sheer passage of time. This model provides students with an opportunity to work at their own pace, and communicate with their teacher to effectively customize their learning experience based on their needs and strengths.



Lindsay Unified School District’s performance-based education system is setting the gold standard for competency-based models. Other school districts are seeking to replicate and implement LUSD’s model. The model is so respected and sought after, in fact, that Lindsey Unified School District has earned national media attention from outlets such as The Huffington Post, and was named one of 30 “Smart List School Districts Worth Visiting” across the U.S. In addition, LUSD boasts several high-profile partners, among them the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Khan Academy, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Pearson, and Google.


In order to spread the word about their performance-based model, and to answer questions and connect with interested entities, Lindsey Unified School District has set up dates for outside parties to meet with district leaders (as of this writing, the next date is Friday, April 28, 2017). However, if you’re unable to travel to Tulare County to visit Lindsay’s schools, you’re in luck: Lindsey Unified School District published its first book this February, detailing their performance-based model and its benefits. Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning is available on Amazon.com, and describes the process of transitioning from a traditional system to a performance-based system of learning.



To learn more about Lindsay Unified School District and their performance-based model, please visit their website at: www.lindsay.k12.ca.us/menus/home.html, or follow them on Twitter (@lindsay_usd).

The Central Valley Community Foundation is proud to support programs and partners such as Families Talking Together and Lindsay Unified School District. For more information on grants from CVCF, please visit the Grants Overview page on our website.