Board Approves History Social Science Materials – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve instructional materials for grades K–8 that teach California’s groundbreaking History/Social-Science Curriculum Framework.

“I am proud California continues to lead the nation by teaching history-social science that is inclusive and recognizes the diversity of our great state and nation,” he said. “Students will benefit enormously.”

Torlakson said the instructional materials will give students a broader, deeper, and more accurate understanding of history and the social sciences, provide them with current research, and equip them with the critical thinking and research skills to make up their own minds about controversial issues.

“They update the teaching and learning of history and social science and convey important new information about the challenges and contributions made by individuals and ethnic groups, members of the LGBT communities, and people with disabilities,” he said. “They recognize some individuals and groups who may not have been fully included in the past.”

Source: Board Approves History Social Science Materials – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson assails DOE changes to federal sex harassment, assault guidelines – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson assailed U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for repealing guidance letters under Title IX that made it easier to protect the rights of victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

“Victims of sexual assault and harassment must know that they will have a fair chance at justice when they come forward with serious accusations,” he said in a press released issued Monday. “California has changed our laws to make our system more just and to make certain victims are heard. The actions by the federal government take us backward.”

As state schools chief, Torlakson, who is also a University of California regent and a California State University trustee, vowed to fight for the rights of victims while protecting the rights of the accused.

Source: Torlakson assails DOE changes to federal sex harassment, assault guidelines

Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2017 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded Learning programs can play a critical role in motivating and engaging students and helping them succeed inside and outside the classroom,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to thank the dedicated staff members who work each day to teach, challenge, and encourage students to achieve their full potential.”

The awards ceremony is part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of after school programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.

Improving and expanding after school and other learning programs outside regular school hours has been a top priority for Torlakson since he entered public service. Torlakson has fought for adequate funding of these programs and created the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division. Torlakson has vigorously opposed President Trump’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Expanded Learning, calling it “counterproductive and short-sighted.” The President proposed eliminating all federal funding for Expanded Learning programs, which would take away $127 million or about 18 percent of the total amount California spends on Expanded Learning.

Source: Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

California teachers union endorses Newsom for governor, Thurmond for state superintendent | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom got a major boost in his bid for governor next year when he received the endorsement of the California Teachers Association over the weekend, as did Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In addition to Newsom and Thurmond, the CTA also endorsed incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is running for re-election after being appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma for State Treasurer and state Senator Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, for lieutenant governor.

The CTA’s State Council of Education, the top governing body of the 325,000-member organization, made the endorsements at their meeting in Los Angeles.

Source: California teachers union endorses Newsom for governor, Thurmond for state superintendent | EdSource

New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Barbara Murchison as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Professional Learning Support Division.

Murchison will oversee the division’s efforts to support educators throughout their professional career, from recruitment to leadership opportunities. This division works in collaboration across the Department and the state, helping educators implement the California Standards and curriculum frameworks.

It administers several professional learning programs for educators at all levels and in all content areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, history-social science, literacy, and arts, with the goal of ensuring equitable learning opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students, including English learners.

Murchison most recently served as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Lead, where she helped create a plan that meets federal requirements while shifting away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that helps local school districts better meet their own needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.

Source: New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Funding Relief for Schools Closed Due to Wildfires – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today directed the California Department of Education to work with all schools and school districts forced to close as a result of massive wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties so that they may qualify for relief from the loss of state Average Daily Attendance (ADA) student funding.

“Safety for students and school staff is a top priority of the California Department of Education. Any schools forced to close as a result of the fires may be able to recoup these important ADA funds,” Torlakson said. “My staff will help affected school administrators through the process of applying for waivers due to school closures. Schools should not suffer financially or in any other way for putting safety first in any kind of emergency.”

One out-of-control blaze in and around northern Santa Rosa called the Tubbs Fire had burned at least 20,000 acres by Monday morning. Numerous homes and business were destroyed, a mobile home park burned, and some wineries were enveloped in flames. Public schools closed Monday in several cities including Napa, Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

Source: Funding Relief for Schools Closed Due to Wildfires – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

There are two sides to every story, and the adage applies to recently released CAASPP scores given last spring to California public school students in grades three through eight and 11.

For the past two years, Superintendent Tom Torlakson and local educators generally have framed the results in, understandably, more positive-sounding ways, stressing that certain percentages of students “met” or “exceeded” state standards on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, an all-computerized test begun three years ago as the then-relatively new California State Standards began to take effect.

In brief, the tests gauge, at every grade level, whether students are able to understand what they read, write clearly, think critically, solve complex math problems, and explain their reasoning, as they prepare themselves for college, the job market, or the military — all of which increasingly demand technology literacy.

Source: Richard Bammer: The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story

2017 CA National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 23 California public schools that have been chosen as 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

“Congratulations to all the schools on this list and to the educators, parents, students, and communities for helping students believe in themselves, set high goals, and realize their potential,” Torlakson said. “You are shining examples of the terrific things happening in California public education, and we must keep our momentum going because the California Way is to move forward and upward.”

The California winners are among 342 schools announced this morning by the U.S. Department of Education. In its 35-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,500 schools.

Source: 2017 CA National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a few weeks’ delay, the 2017 online state standardized test scores are in, and most Vacaville-area school districts posted results that met or exceeded Solano County and state averages but largely remained the same as last year’s, reflecting the latest state averages, several administrators said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Wednesday the results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English and mathematics, noting, in a prepared statement, that they

“remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.”

Source: New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages

2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2017 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English language arts and mathematics remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson said he was pleased that students maintained the progress they have made since the initial year of testing and urged students, teachers, and parents to continue to aim high.

“I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much more work to do. We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “It’s important to remember that these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests. We are asking more of our students, but for a good reason—so they are better prepared for the world of college and careers.”

Source: 2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson strongly encourages sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students to pre-register to vote with the beginning of High School Voter Education Weeks from September 18–29.

“This is a terrific opportunity for educators to talk with high school students about the critical importance of voting, prepare them to participate in elections, and pre-register online,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “Working together, we can educate and encourage our young citizens to register to vote and turn out at the polls to ensure their voices are heard in 2017 and beyond.”

The Legislature in 2014 designated the last two weeks of April and September as High School Voter Education Weeks and authorized schools to designate students as “voter outreach coordinators.” Teachers can help eligible students pre-register or register to vote either on a paper form or online. Voter outreach coordinators can lead registration drives and other school activities aimed at civic participation.

Source: High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Study puts Fairfield-Suisun USD in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

A comparison of the Fairfield-Suisun School District with a dozen other nearby, similar districts found Fairfield-Suisun in the middle of categories that include salaries, revenues and employee benefits.

Fairfield-Suisun was the largest of the 13 districts that included the Vacaville, Travis and Dixon school districts as well as Berkeley and Napa Valley.

The study used California Department of Education data from 2015-16.

Source: Study puts Fairfield-Suisun School District in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits

State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education today approved a plan for using federal assistance that upholds California’s commitment to the ground-breaking educational reforms of the Local Control Funding Formula.

Every state that receives federal funding to support low-income students and English language learners is required to submit an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Several states submitted their plans earlier this year, while California and more than 30 other states will be submitting their plans on September 18.

The plan—essentially a grant application—allows each state to make a case for how it will utilize and manage federal dollars.California’s ESSA plan meets federal requirements while ensuring the state retains maximum flexibility to continue its shift away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that allows local school districts to better meet local needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.

“With the ESSA plan, we believe we have achieved the right balance between meeting federal requirements and focusing on our state priorities that will help prepare all students for college and careers,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford University professor emeritus. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education as our application moves through their process.”

Source: State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

The Fairfield-Suisun School District’s status as a “destination district” for teachers will help deal with special education issues the California Department of Education identified, the special education director for Fairfield-Suisun says.

“Fairfield does a terrific job of making this a destination district for teachers,” Tom Anderson said.

Teachers get wonderful curriculum and professional development support at schools and from the district office, he said at a school board meeting Wednesday to discuss two state reports about special education in the district.

Source: Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools

FSUSD Trustees to meet for study session about state reports – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District will take part in a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday about California Department of Education reviews of special education in the district.

The first review analyzed individual educational plans of special education students and interventions taken before a student is recommended for special education assessment, according to a school district staff report.

The second review studied “disproportionality” of students who qualify for special education and steps the district needs to implement to reduce disproportionality, the staff report said.

Source: Trustees to meet for study session about state reports on special education in Fairfield-Suisun School District

September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, is encouraging school districts and staff to remind families about the importance of daily attendance and help them overcome challenges that can lead to chronic absenteeism.

“Interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism should be supportive and not punitive,” said Torlakson. “There are many students who miss school days due to issues beyond their control at the start of the school year like an illness or transportation problems. It is important to identify and link students and families to appropriate school and community resources when students miss the first days of school.”

As part of California’s efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism, recently enacted legislation expanded the role of attendance supervisors to include tracking student attendance, promoting a culture of attendance, and developing interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism.

For the first time, the California Department of Education (CDE) is collecting chronic absenteeism rates in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). This data is critical in helping school administrators and attendance supervisors identify where chronic absenteeism is concentrated in each school district.

Source: September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Revised meal payment policy on Dixon USD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

An explanation about a delayed release for the latest state standardized test scores and a revised food services meal payment policy are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight in Dixon.

Mike Walbridge, assistant superintendent for educational services, will explain the reason for the delay, which the state Department of Education has chalked up to an unspecified “data problem.” The 2017 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Progress, or CAASPP, measures student skills in English and math for students in grades three through eight and 11th grades.

The five-member governing board will consider the new meal payment policy, as presented by Melissa Mercado, the chief business official.

In brief, the policy will require cafeteria workers and district staff to increase their efforts to inform parents or guardians of their student’s delinquent meal account. Once a limit of $50 is reached, the student will no longer be able to charge meals, and, after all efforts to collect the debts are made, district officials may prohibit seniors from participating in senior activities, including graduation, or possibly delay the sending of a student’s report card.

Source: Revised meal payment policy on Dixon Unified School District agenda

California delays release of Smarter Balanced scores | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The California Department of Education has postponed the release of statewide results of the Smarter Balanced assessments in math and reading, which were to be published on Tuesday.

The department announced the delay Friday, citing a “recently identified data issue.” It offered no more details and did not set a new date for the release. The department had said the results would be released in September, then earlier this month pushed the date up to Aug. 29. Last year, the department released the scores on Aug. 24. In 2015, the first year of the full test, scores were released on Sept. 9.

School districts have had access to their own results for several weeks. And many parents already have received a report on their children’s individual scores, with a comparison with last year’s results.

Source: California delays release of Smarter Balanced scores | EdSource

Vacaville school district ranked in detailed income-expense comparative analysis – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders late last week were nowhere near a school cafeteria but they heard plenty of information from representatives of an advocacy educational resources firm that provided food for thought as the district’s new academic year begins Thursday.

Two employees from the Sacramento-based School Services of California Inc., which offers business, financial, management and support for the state’s 1,000 school districts, laid out the numbers during Thursdays’s governing board meeting, an comparative analysis of district income and expenses side-by-side with a dozen primarily other Bay Area districts for the 2015-16 year (the most recent for which their specific data was available).

School district officials had requested the analysis, Sheila Vickers, a company vice president, told trustees. The analysis and comparisons cast an eye on districts with similar average daily attendance and percentages of “unduplicated” students, that is, English learners, low-income and foster youth.

Source: Vacaville school district ranked in detailed income-expense comparative analysis

State superintendent candidates agree teacher shortage must be top priority | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

At an education conference Thursday, the two announced candidates for state superintendent of public instruction called for more strategies to counter a teacher shortage they said is gripping the state. The comments by Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond indicate the issue will factor heavily in their campaigns to replace retiring State Superintendent Tom Torlakson next year.

“The shortage is a massive crisis that few are talking about,” said Tuck, a former president of the Green Dot charter network in Los Angeles, who is making his second run for the office. Adopting short- and long-term approaches “must be the number one priority in the state,” he said.

Source: State superintendent candidates agree teacher shortage must be top priority | EdSource