State ESSA Plan Approved – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

California State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.

“Given the differences between federal and state law, the plan approved by Secretary DeVos today represents the best possible outcome of our discussions with U.S. Department of Education staff,” Kirst said. “California is a national leader in supporting students with extra needs, providing local control over spending, encouraging community participation in schools, and releasing critical information on measures that indicate student success. Our ESSA plan allows that work to continue.”

Torlakson agreed: “California has the most ambitious plan in the nation to give additional resources to students with the greatest needs as we prepare all students for college and 21st century careers. The ESSA plan approved today will support those efforts.”

Signed by President Obama in 2015, ESSA requires every state that receives federal money for low-income students and English learners to submit and receive approval of a plan for managing and using the funds.

Source: State ESSA Plan Approved – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2018 CA Distinguished Schools Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

I am pleased to announce the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program. This is one of the many ways that the California Department of Education (CDE) and I celebrate outstanding educational programs and practices through our California School Recognition Program which honors exemplary students, teachers, classified employees, and schools for advancing excellence in education. After a three-year break, the California Distinguished Schools Program is back and replaces the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program.

Sponsored by California Casualty, the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes California elementary schools that have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students. By using California’s multiple measures accountability system, the CDE has identified eligible schools based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). You can access the California School Dashboard Report on the CDE’s California School Dashboard Web page at https://www.caschooldashboard.org.

Source: 2018 CA Distinguished Schools Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

Solano County Office of Education board holds special meeting – Times Herald

By Richard Bammer

Solano County Office of Education leaders, when they meet tonight in Fairfield, will face a relatively light agenda, followed by a special meeting and a closed hearing.

Nicola Parr, director of student and program support, will update the seven-member board on the SCOE’s Local Control Accountability Plan, a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula. LCAPs are annual documents that guide virtually all of a school district’s spending, especially for English learners, low-income students and foster youth.

Parr will note the stakeholders “engagement process,” to include the frequency of meetings with parents, students, staff and foster youth advocates.

Additionally, she will note a pending Career Technical Education advisory meeting, to include a guest speaker who will offer an update on the economic climate for the North Bay; input from local businesses about the skills they want in graduates, among other things.

Source: Solano County Office of Education board holds special meeting

Employee contracts on Travis Unified School District agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Routine approval of new employee contracts and three reports — the California School Dashboard, Federal Impact Aid, and projected enrollment — are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

The five-member governing board is expected to OK a teachers wage-and-benefits pact for the 2017-18 year, retroactive to Jan. 1.

District officials and negotiators for the 285-member Travis Unified Teachers Association huddled periodically for more than eight months before agreeing, last month, to a 3.25 percent wage hike and $100 per month in health benefits, or about 3.75 percent overall salary increase. Additionally, workday hours were established for district psychologists program specialists, and nurses. The agreement will add $1.2 million to the district’s expenses during the contract year, according to agenda documents.

Source: Employee contracts on Travis Unified School District agenda

School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

New research shows that California’s overhaul of public education finance and accountability is narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students and helping parents learn about school progress.

The Learning Policy Institute on Friday released “Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform External link opens in new window or tab.,” a study by researcher Sean Tanner and U.C. Berkeley professor Rucker Johnson.

The authors examined the impact of the landmark Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which gave school districts greater control over the use of state funds in exchange for greater accountability and parent engagement at the local level. LCFF, which was approved in 2013, also increased funding to districts that serve students needing extra support.The authors found that LCFF “led to significant increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among children from low-income families.” Students in the highest poverty districts showed greater academic gain, the authors reported. The study also found that LCFF funding was used to improve classroom learning by lowering student-to-teacher ratios and helping districts recruit and train new teachers.

“Money targeted to students’ needs can make a significant difference in outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “Money matters.”

Source: School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

​Contrary to critics, parents tell pollster they find California’s school dashboard useful | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Nearly 4 in 10 parents say they’re familiar with or know a lot about the California School Dashboard, which grades schools and school districts using multicolored metrics, and those who have visited the website generally like what they’ve seen and found it useful.

That’s an unexpected finding of a poll released Friday of 2,500 registered voters in California, including 595 parents, and runs counter to sharp criticisms of the website by civil rights and student advocacy groups.

The poll was conducted last month by the USC Rossier School of Education and Policy Analysis for California Education, or PACE, a university-affiliated research nonprofit organization. Participants reflect a geographical cross-section of Californians by party affiliation but not ethnicity. Because of lower voter registration, Hispanics, who make up about 40 percent of the population, were 24 percent of the respondents. (Go here for detailed results for all voters; go here for results of the parent subset.)

Source: ​Contrary to critics, parents tell pollster they find California’s school dashboard useful | EdSource

State must improve the California School Dashboard, not move the goalposts | EdSource

By Vernon M. Billy and Ryan J. Smith

California has always been a state of dreamers and idealists. That’s part of our legacy and a reason for our success. Yet, as our state’s long trail of innovators have shown us, success takes more than ideas — it also requires careful implementation. California’s school funding model is based on a powerful idea: improve outcomes by directing more resources to high-need students and use a multiple-measure accountability system that supports local decision-making. Unfortunately, the reality of the system doesn’t match the vision.

This week, the State Board of Education will hear feedback about the California School Dashboard — an online tool that shows how schools and districts are performing. The state says it’s “the next step in a series of major shifts in California K-12 schools, changes that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and placed the focus on equity for all students.”

Source: State must improve the California School Dashboard, not move the goalposts | EdSource

California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action” | EdSource

By Michael Kirst and Tom Torlakson

This week the state is launching an online report card that identifies district and school performance in an effort to better help all young Californians succeed.

While user-friendly design improvements are in the works, the fall 2017 California School Dashboard upgrades the state’s antiquated Academic Performance Index, which was based exclusively on standardized tests. To better identify students who are succeeding and those who need help, the Dashboard includes five additional measures: graduation and suspension rates, college and career readiness, English learner progress and chronic absenteeism. In turn, schools and districts can use this information to better refine their strategies to support and accelerate learning.

Source: California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action” | EdSource

Vacaville Unified official: New school accountability system gets mixed marks – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The newly released state public school and district accountability system, which uses multiple measures of school progress and performance, gets a mixed reaction from Vacaville Unified’s chief academic officer.

“Overall, I like the concept and the idea of looking at multiple sources of data; I think that’s really good,” Mark Frazier said of the California School Dashboard, launched last month by the state Department of Education.

“But one of the things that is disappointing is, that some of the data they’re using (suspension rate, English learner progress and graduation rate) is not as up-to-date as it could be,” he added. “That data is so old it’s hard to interpret.”

Source: Vacaville Unified official: New school accountability system gets mixed marks

CA School Dashboard Debuts – Year 2017 – CA Dept of Education

The State Board of Education (SBE) and the California Department of Education (CDE) today unveiled the California School Dashboard, a new Web site that provides parents, educators, and the public with important information they can use to evaluate schools and school districts in an easy-to-understand report card format.

The California School Dashboard is a critical piece of California’s new school accountability and continuous improvement system. The state’s former accountability system—the Academic Performance Index (API)—relied exclusively on standardized tests and gave schools a single score. That system was suspended three years ago.

“The California School Dashboard provides local communities with meaningful and relevant information on how well schools and districts are doing,” said State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst. “It will help in local decision-making by highlighting both the progress of schools and student groups, shining a light on disparities and helping stakeholders pinpoint where resources should be directed.

Source: CA School Dashboard Debuts – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State’s new schools report card has more, less information for parents – Times Herald

By  Sharon Noguchi

Four years after dumping its single-number rating of every public school, California on Wednesday rolled out a new education report card with bold color charts and minute detail on select metrics for each school district.

The California School Dashboard — which went live Wednesday after a nearly two-hour hiccup — offers a more rounded view of public schools, including charter schools, with reports on suspension and graduation rates, English-learner progress, and English and math test scores for grades 3 through 8.

The colorful matrix replaces the instantly understandable Academic Performance Index, the three-digit figure that represented the official grade of each school and made school-to-school comparisons simple. The API, whose annual release was much anticipated, was loved by high-scoring schools in affluent areas and reviled by educators serving poor kids as unfair and incomplete.