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)
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
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)
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
The State School Attendance Review Board (SARB), an advisory panel to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), has developed a sample policy on attendance supervision that is consistent with state laws that became effective on January 1, 2017.
With the passage of Assembly Bill 2815 in 2016, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy. These changes are designed to help promote a culture of attendance and improve local systems to track student attendance by grade level and subgroup.
The new laws directly relate to the priorities districts must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP). Addressing chronic absence is included as a State Priority in the Pupil Engagement section of the LCAP template.
Source: Sample Policy & Administrative Regulation – School Attendance Review Boards (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today toured the Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School in the Robla School District to voice his opposition to proposed federal budget cuts that would harm this program and many others in California and the nation.
President Trump has proposed eliminating all funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers run After School, Summer Learning, and other Expanded Learning programs.
Nationally, his proposed cuts would remove $1.2 billion in funding. In California, the proposed cuts would take away $137 million of the total of $730 million spent on Expanded Learning programs, or about 18 percent of the total budget.
“Today we are shining a light on the wonderful Summer Learning and After School programs that engage, teach, and inspire 860,000 students in California each year,” Torlakson said. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could devastate Summer Learning and After School programs. These proposed cuts are short-sighted, counterproductive, and just wrong. As leaders, we should be searching for ways to help our students thrive, rather than blocking proven paths to success.”
Source: Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was all smiles when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2017–18 state budget. After all, it increases funding for K-12 public schools, after-school programs, early education and child care, and teacher recruitment and training.
“When we invest more in our students, we help them succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” he said in a press release issued late last month. “This budget continues the strong growth in what I call the ‘California Way,’ where legislators, the governor, education groups, the business community, and others are working closely together to keep improving our education system.”
The Legislature approved the budget June 15, the date required by the state Constitution. Brown’s signature on the state’s key funding document kicked off the new spending plan July 1.
California has the nation’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students at nearly 10,000 public schools.
Source: Top state ed official extols budget increases for K-12 schools
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today thanked Governor Brown for signing a 2017–18 state budget that increases funding for kindergarten through twelfth grade public schools, after school programs, early education and child care, and teacher recruitment and training.
“The Legislature and Governor clearly showed their strong and ongoing support of high-quality public education in California,” Torlakson said. “When we invest more in our students, we help them succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.
“This budget continues the strong growth in what I call the ‘California Way,’ where legislators, the Governor, education groups, the business community, and others are working closely together to keep improving our education system.”
The Legislature approved the budget on June 15, the date required by the State Constitution. Governor Brown’s signature on Tuesday means the new state funding plan starts on July 1.
Source: State Budget with Increases for Education Funding – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Sarah Neville-Morgan as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Early Education and Support Division.
Neville-Morgan will oversee a division that provides leadership and support to the early learning and care community, providers, and contractors statewide, ensuring high-quality early education programs for young children.
Neville-Morgan most recently served as Deputy Director of Program Management at First 5 California, and she worked as a CDE Child Development Consultant from 2011 to 2013.
“I am pleased to have such an experienced and dynamic early education leader back on the CDE team,” Torlakson said. “Sarah brings tremendous knowledge, dedication, and teamwork that will help provide top-quality services for our earliest learners.”
Source: New Early Education and Support Division Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
State schools chief Tom Torlakson on Thursday met with the top-ranking education official in Mexico to promote closer ties and friendship between California and America’s southern border neighbor, to expand teacher exchange programs, and to help serve California students if their parents are deported to Mexico.
He conferred with Mexico’s Secretary of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer as well as other government officials and discussed ways California could work more closely with Mexico, Robert Oakes, a spokesman for the California Department of Education, wrote in a press release.
“The national political atmosphere at this time makes it especially important to reiterate the bonds of friendship between California and Mexico,” Torlakson, a former high school science teacher and coach, said in the prepared statement.
As State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he leads the nation’s largest public education system, with more than 6.2 million students at 10,000 schools in some 1,000 school districts. About 54 percent of California students are Latino, and nearly 1.4 million are English learners.
Source: Torlakson visits Mexico to boost cooperation with educators
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the release of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) first mobile application that offers detailed information about California’s 10,000 public schools.
The CA Schools mobile app, developed in-house by the CDE and available for iOS and Android systems, lets users locate nearby schools based on their current location and provides a wealth of details, including contacts and directions, demographics, test scores, and a school’s California School Dashboard profile page.
“Never before have we put so much school information literally in the hands of our students, parents, and community members and made the information so accessible and user-friendly,” Torlakson said. “Home buyers can check out schools in their prospective neighborhoods. Parents heading to a child’s away game can map directions to the host school. There are all kinds of potential uses.”
Source: Torlakson Announces CA Schools Mobile App Release – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders heard the first draft of the charter school’s suicide-prevention policy, which, in accordance with state law, must be adopted by July 1.
In a board of directors meeting Monday, Pat Broughton, the education services director, introduced the three-page policy and the accompanying two-page administrative regulation.
Such policies, under Assembly Bill 2246 enacted last yearare required by every California school district, and, as an independent TK-8 charter school, — a school largely governed by its own board of directors and the California Department of Education — Kairos is, essentially, its own school district.
Authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, the bill requires school districts to adopt formal suicide-prevention, intervention and follow-up plans for all middle and high school students, including provisions that specifically address the needs of “high-risk groups.”
Source: Kairos directors hear draft of suicide-prevention policy
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that nearly 500,000 California students took California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests on Tuesday May 9, the highest number of students testing simultaneously during the 2017 spring testing season.
“We are in the third year of administering these state-of-the-art assessments, and the capacity of our system and our schools to efficiently administer these tests increases every year,” Torlakson said. “Our students and families are the ultimate winners here. The information from these tests will help our schools refine their teaching, improve learning, and better prepare our students for success.”
The CAASPP assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics are given each spring to students in grades three through eight and grade eleven. More than two-thirds of the 3.3 million eligible California students have begun testing. As of Wednesday, May 10, more than 2.7 million students statewide have started a summative assessment in English language arts/literacy or mathematics. Participation peaked on May 9 with 495,463 students testing at one time.
Source: Torlakson Announces Peak of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Katy St. Clair
The California Department of Education is recognizing Benicia High School for its “Exemplary Program in Arts Education.”
Benicia High had previously been selected as a “Gold Ribbon School” by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson for representing “best practices” in education.
The Public Safety Academy in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District also received the “Exemplary” honor for its “Career Technical Education.”
Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said that both schools served their community with “model practices” and support their students with “state-of-the-art programs.”
Source: Benicia High School honored for exemplary arts education