Final tally shows few opt-outs from Common Core-aligned tests in California | EdSource

By Sarah Tully

Just over 20,000 California students opted out of last year’s Smarter Balanced assessments – far fewer than in other states, where resistance to the Common Core has been greater, a final tally from the state shows.

In December, the California Department of Education issued a final list of opt-outs in each school district. It indicates that a mere .61 percent of the 3.3 million students who took the Common Core-aligned tests in math and English language arts last spring opted out.

Only 39 districts out of all 1,022 districts statewide had more than 100 students opt out of English testing. For math, only 37 districts reported more than 100 opt-outs.

Statewide, the highest number of opt-outs was in the 11th grade – 8,526 students, or 1.8 percent of the total number of high school juniors, from the math test, and 8,318 students, or 1.7 percent, from the English test. Opt-opt rates were under .5 percent in all other grades.

via Final tally shows few opt-outs from Common Core-aligned tests in California | EdSource.

Students Eligible for Free School Meals – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reported a 32 percent increase in the number of students automatically approved to receive free meals in California schools as a result of collaborative efforts among three state agencies, two legislators and food policy advocates.

In December 2015, the last month complete data are available, the 32 percent increase meant that 326,029 additional students were automatically approved for free school meals in Californias school nutrition programs. That brings the total number of automatically eligible students in the state to 1.3 million.

Students are enrolled in the free meals program each month through a federally mandated “direct certification” process that grants automatic eligibility to students in families already participating in the CalFresh and California Work Opportunity or Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) benefit programs without the families having to complete any additional meal applications. Direct certification relieves school districts and low-income families from another administrative burden and helps ensure the most vulnerable children have access to nutritious meals during the school day.

via Students Eligible for Free School Meals – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education).

Solano student teachers sought for scholarships – Times Herald

By Matthew Adkins

A Solano County organization is seeking eligible student teachers to apply for spring scholarships.

The C. Shirley Michel Scholarship Fund, overseen by Solano County Retired Teachers Association, Division #24, will award thousands of dollars to postgraduate students in Solano County who are actively working toward earning California teaching credentials.

The scholarship application deadline is March 31, 2016.

In 2015, the organization awarded eight students $2,500 scholarships.

Eligible students in 2016 must have a Bachelor’s degree and be studying at an accredited university.

via Solano student teachers sought for scholarships.

Notre Dame, Jepson students are top word masters at citywide spelling bee – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A Notre Dame School sixth-grader and a Willis Jepson Middle School eighth-grader, who is a familiar name in local spelling circles, proved to be naturals with letters and words, besting their respective fields Wednesday to capture top honors at the end of the Grace B. Powell Citywide Spelling Bee in Vacaville.

Speaking confidently but quietly after 28 rounds, spelling his final words — “tangible,” “rabbi” and “uncanny” — Ellison Domingo, 11, claimed the first-place plaque and $150 for winning the elementary division of the 42nd annual bee, sponsored by the Vacaville Rotary Club and again held in Brenden Theatres.

via Notre Dame, Jepson students are top word masters at citywide spelling bee.

Matching Edtech Products With Neurological Learning Goals | Edutopia

By Judy Willis MD

The word edtech refers to educational technology that includes online learning activities through games, websites, computer-assisted instruction, and other virtual resources. If youre looking for edtech to meet specific goals or carefully evaluating products for use at your school, here are some suggestions to guide your decisions.

This post can help you make a list of what you want from edtech digital tools that will best suit your goals and that are most consistent with neuroscience research correlations about how the brain most successfully processes information.

via Matching Edtech Products With Neurological Learning Goals | Edutopia.

With state test suspended, Vacaville Unified seeks former students eligible for diplomas – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified administrators are seeking some 150 former district high school students who attended between 2003 and 2015 and met all graduation requirements except for passing the California High School Exit Exam, or CAHSEE, and, thus, did not receive a diploma.

Those students are now eligible to pick up their diploma — a key to personal job advancement or college entrance — at their former respective high schools, Mark Frazier, the district’s chief academic officer, said Wednesday.

“The schools are ready for them,” he said, referring to Vacaville, Will C. Wood and Country high schools. Students who attended the district’s Adult School program also are eligible if they were affected by the circumstances, he added.

via With state test suspended, Vacaville Unified seeks former students eligible for diplomas.

Fairfield-Suisun school leaders to hold study session today about facilities master plan – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A school district facilities master plan is on the agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet today for a special study session.

The gathering by the seven trustees is prompted by two governing board goals, according to agenda documents: 1) to maintain and develop technologically progressive schools; and 2) to create safe, inclusive, and welcoming environments at the sprawling district’s campuses, some two dozen spread across the Fairfield and Suisun communities.

Over recent months, if not years, more than 55 meetings among stakeholders — local business firms, parents, agents from both cities, the Solano County Office of Education, district administrators and teachers, among them — have been held. During that time, while the district has worked with the architectural design firm LPA Inc. a facilities master plan has emerged.

via Fairfield-Suisun school leaders to hold study session today about facilities master plan.

Vacaville Bulldogs’ biggest fan Herman Marfil’s legacy remembered – The Reporter

By Dom Pruett

He sported an American flag bandana, a silver mustache, and spectacles.

And his heart bled Vacaville High School Bulldogs’ black and orange.

His famous saying — “Who ya rootin’ for?” — uplifted the crowds of hundreds that filled Tom Zunino Stadium every autumn for almost 60 years. He transformed into Zorro atop his beloved Harley Davidson once a year for Fiesta Days to celebrate his Spanish ancestry. He was a husband, father, and friend. He was a fixture in the city of Vacaville for almost his entire life.

via Vacaville Bulldogs’ biggest fan Herman Marfil’s legacy remembered.

CC Sabathia brightens up Vallejo kids day with annual free baseball camp – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

Saturday’s weather featured a lot of clouds and rain, but thanks to CC Sabathia, a couple hundred kids in Vallejo spent the morning with smiles that could brighten up a New York skyline.

The Vallejo High graduate, New York Yankee and 2007 Cy Young Award winner was on hand for the CC Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation Baseball ProCamp that was free for boys and girls that were in grades one through eight.

via CC Sabathia brightens up Vallejo kids day with annual free baseball camp.

Lowering The Bar For The New GED Test : NPR

By Anna Kamenetz

Tens of thousands of GED test takers who barely missed the cut may soon receive a diploma, after the company that oversees the test said this week its lowering the minimum passing score.

Since the new GED was unveiled two years ago this month, complaints have been rising. Students and teachers dont like that the high school equivalency test is now a for-profit venture, that it is more expensive than before and that it is solely computer-administered.

Most of all, they said, its harder. So much harder, in fact, that pass rates reportedly plummeted in many states.

via Lowering The Bar For The New GED Test : NPR Ed : NPR.

Posted in GED

$1.5 billion helping career pathways take off in California’s high schools | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

Tenth-grader Ryan Streckfus glanced over the gauges on the control panel as he carefully lifted the steering wheel, hoping to keep his aircraft from stalling in the sky over the Long Beach harbor.

“Heading is now 150. Elevation is climbing back up to 3,000 feet. I’m back in control,” he said, from a flight simulator inside the aviation career pathway at Canyon High School in Anaheim where he’s training to become a pilot.

The program, the only one of its kind in the state, is part of a career technical education boom across California. As record numbers of high school students are applying to state colleges and universities, more are also receiving hands-on training in high-demand technical careers even before they earn their diplomas. The students, many beginning in the 9th grade, are in career pathways learning job skills alongside professionals in fields including aviation, health care, civil engineering, fashion design, tourism and new media.

via $1.5 billion helping career pathways take off in California’s high schools | EdSource.

Ballot measure seeks to level the funding playing field for Solano youth – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Former Solano County Children’s Network executive director Kim Thomas said if she hadn’t had access to subsidized child care as a young, single mother, her life, and those of her children, would have turned out quite differently, and she’s working with others on a plan to bring such services to Solano County.

The effort — Solano Fund for Children — AKA Yes On Kids — envisions a ¼-cent sales tax to create a fund to pay for programs for Solano County’s children and youth who are getting short shrift from a system stacked against them, she said.

via Ballot measure seeks to level the funding playing field for Solano youth.

A first-ever Tech Day – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The step-by-step march toward embracing 21st-century technology continued Tuesday at Fairmont Charter School in Vacaville, where teachers and students kicked off their first-ever Tech Day.

Each room was largely a sea of dark navy blue, as in students sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Got Tech? We Do!!”

Every Tuesday, teachers at the K-6 elementary — where there is one-to-one with electronic devices, meaning each of 545 students has access to either a laptop or tablet computer — will schedule at least 30 minutes for each boy and girl to “do something fun,” said Carolyn Thomas, the digital education specialist at the Marshall Road campus.

via A first-ever Tech Day.

Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Program – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged eligible organizations—schools, camps, nonprofits, Indian tribal governments, and government offices among them—to apply to become Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors and ensure underprivileged children have access to nutritious meals once school is out. Applications are due before June 1, 2016.

“Summer for our students should be a time of discovery, fun, and making memories,” Torlakson said. “For many California children from low-income families, however, summer can represent just the opposite with limited opportunities for educational enrichment, a lack of safe places for social activities, or a time without healthy meals to eat.”

Good summer nutrition plays an important role in addressing childhood obesity as well as combatting the “summer slide,” a learning loss that many children experience during the summer months.

via Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Program – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education).

Program plans special field trip for Solano third-graders – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Solano Resource Conservation District’s Watershed Explorers program plans to take 2,200 third-graders from every city in Solano County on an all-day field trip to a local open space within the next couple of months.

The program is adding sites at Glen Cove Marina/Benicia State Park, Valley Glen Pond in Dixon and Sandy Beach Park in Rio Vista to existing sites at Rockville Park in Fairfield and Lagoon Lake/Peña Adobe in Vacaville, according to a district press release.

via Program plans special field trip for Solano third-graders.

Poster contest asks Solano children to ‘think outside the car’ – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Children who attend elementary and middle schools in Solano County are being asked to “think outside the car” and design a poster to encourage their classmates to walk, bike or ride a scooter to school instead of getting to school by car.

The poster contest is sponsored by the Solano Safe Routes to School program and is open to children from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade within the county.

via Poster contest asks Solano children to ‘think outside the car’.

State to reimburse costs related to Common Core tests | EdSource

By Theresa Harrington

School districts in California may get a new influx of money to reimburse as much as $600 million in estimated costs related to the administration of mandated tests, based on a state commission’s decision Friday.

The Commission on State Mandates found that required Internet access, training and technology necessary to administer new computer­-based tests under the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, program, are reimbursable state mandates. This is because districts were required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars beginning in 2013­-14 on upgrading technology and related costs to comply with the state’s mandate to administer the tests.

“Today’s decision recognizes the constitutional obligation of the state to ensure that the state provides school districts and county offices of education with resources necessary to implement new state programs,” said Chris Ungar, president of the California School Boards Association and a San Luis Coastal Unified district trustee, in a prepared statement.

via State to reimburse costs related to Common Core tests | EdSource.

Campus Star reaches out to student creativity again – The Reporter

By Matt Miller

Campus Star season will approach quickly and that means The Reporter is already making plans for the annual publication that highlights the work of area students.

Coordinator Shauna Manina will send out the entry packets soon so teachers can give the students plenty of time to devise their best stories, photographs, advertisements and games. We’re targeting a deadline date in late March for submitted content. That way we can have plenty of time to judge the entrants and declare the content winners in each age division at a ceremony in late April.

Students have the opportunity to put their own touch on advertising design for print and online, and do so for real companies. Those companies are handed the top designs to study themselves and then choose which one they want representing them in the advertising that appears in the Campus Star publication.

via Matt Miller: Campus Star reaches out to student creativity again.

Safe Routes to School ‘Think Outside the Car’ poster entries now accepted – The Reporter

Solano County elementary and middle school students are being asked to “think outside the car” and design a poster to encourage their classmates to walk, bike or ride a scooter to school instead of getting to school by car. The poster should show proper use of traffic safety laws, such as wearing a bike helmet, crossing the street in a crosswalk, or riding a bike with the flow of traffic.

The poster contest is sponsored by the Solano Safe Routes to School program and is open to Solano County students from transitional kindergarten to 8th grade. The First Place winner will receive a bike and bike helmet and the Runner Up winner will receive a $100 gift certificate.

Prizes will be awarded in each of the following grade categories: TK-2nd, 3rd-5th and 6th-8th.

via Safe Routes to School ‘Think Outside the Car’ poster entries now accepted.

Feeding the Teachers Brain: Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators | Edutopia

By Dr. Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers

Teaching is a cognitively complex profession. In the course of a single school day, an educator must make hundreds of decisions and respond quickly to the myriad unexpected turns that life in the classroom may take. You have a high-energy job, so its essential to prime your brain and body with the right fuel.

But in the busy life of a teacher, who has time to think about healthy eating, much less sorting through the sometimes-conflicting claims about the nutritional value of various food choices? Unfortunately, the less we think about what we eat, the worse our diets may be — especially if we default to snacking on so-called convenience foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats and low in nutrient-dense ingredients that sustain energy levels.

via Feeding the Teachers Brain: Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators | Edutopia.