Torlakson Announces 2019 U.S. Senate Youth – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 57th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Lauren Kong of Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in the Palos Verdes Unified School District, and Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda of Gonzales (Monterey County), a senior at Gonzales High School in the Gonzales Unified School District, were selected for their outstanding leadership qualities, scholastic achievement, and contributions to their schools and communities.

“These outstanding students are among the best and brightest leaders in their schools and communities and have a heart for public service,” Torlakson said. “They are strong advocates who desire to make our world a better place. I am amazed at all they have done in their young lives and look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in their future. I know they will achieve great things due to their commitment and dedication. They make me optimistic for our future.”

Torlakson also selected two alternates in the event that one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. The first alternate is Channing Lee of Fullerton (Orange County), a senior at Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim. The second alternate is Gabriel Drill of La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), a senior at La Cañada High School in the La Cañada Unified School District.

Source: Torlakson Announces 2019 U.S. Senate Youth – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State launches updated School Dashboard – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A newly revised “report card” on schools, the California School Dashboard, just got a little easier to use, with broader measures of district and school effectiveness, state Department of Education and state Board of Education leaders said on Thursday.

The launching of the second version of the Dashboard, a website found at www.cde.ca.gov, gives parents, students, and educators access to key school and district data in ways more telling than results from a single standardized test, the officials said.

The 2018 Dashboard includes two new metrics for evaluating school and district performance and a new, user-friendly look that makes complex data easier to understand, Scott Roark, a CDE spokesman, noted in a press release.

Source: State launches updated School Dashboard – The Reporter

CDE Tobacco-Use Prevention Programs Are a Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that schools funded by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office have lower rates of tobacco use than other schools, according to a comprehensive study by the University of California, San Diego. The findings were based on two statewide surveys, the 2016 California Student Tobacco Survey and the 2016 California Educator Tobacco Survey.

“This new study proves that our diligent efforts to promote tobacco-free schools are paying off,” said Torlakson. “Thanks to the work the tobacco prevention office has been doing since 1989, students are smoking less, and most public schools have signed up as tobacco-free. We also know that vaping is unsafe and unhealthy, and we need to continue encouraging all schools to include vaping bans in their tobacco-free schools policies.”

The study compared schools funded by the CDE’s TUPE Office with those that are not. It found about 10 percent more teachers in schools funded by the program reported their schools placed high priority on specific tobacco-prevention efforts such as targeting at-risk youth, providing peer-to-peer programs, holding schoolwide activities, and referring tobacco users to cessation services. Students at schools funded by the program were significantly less likely to smoke cigarettes or vape. The study also stressed the need to further strengthen education and prevention efforts regarding certain e-cigarettes products that are currently attracting attention from youth.

Source: CDE Tobacco-Use Prevention Programs Are a Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Celebrate the Reopening of Schools in Butte County – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Superintendent-elect Tony Thurmond praised Butte County school leaders and community members for working selflessly and heroically so that their students could return to school on Monday, December 3, less than a month after the worst fire in California history.

Fourteen schools were damaged or destroyed during the Camp Fire and all 99 schools in Butte County were closed since the fire began, displacing 31,670 students.

“The reopening of schools in Butte County so soon after this terrible tragedy provides a bright ray of hope. It shows the resilience and determination of school leaders and community members, and the generosity and kindness of so many people who gave and continue to give,” said Torlakson.

Source: Celebrate the Reopening of Schools in Butte County – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Funding Will Continue for the Closed Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reminded educators who close schools because of dangerous air quality that they can apply for a waiver to ensure they do not lose funding because of a drop in attendance. He also pledged that they would be assisted by administrators from the California Department of Education.

State law allows schools to continue to receive state funds from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) if they have to close because of a natural disaster such as floods, fires, earthquakes or other extraordinary conditions, such as hazardous air quality.

The California Department of Education does not keep precise numbers of school closings, but schools are closed in 22 counties.

Source: State Funding Will Continue for the Closed Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Addressing Early Learning and Child Care Disparity – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education and the Tribal Child Care Association of California for securing funds to address early learning disparities in tribal populations. Their Project HOPE grant provides the State of California the opportunity to strengthen its partnership with the Tribal Child Care Association of California to engage and continue work with tribes to support early learning and child care.

The association is made up of child care professionals specializing in working with tribal families, children, and communities. It focuses on the needs of tribally regulated child care and education settings both on and off tribal lands. The grant will be funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation via the BUILD Initiative.

“The State of California has never partnered with California tribes at such a deep level to support early learning,” said Torlakson. “The work funded by the Project HOPE grant builds on California’s groundbreaking memorandum of understanding with the Tribal Child Care Association of California, which was signed in November 2017 and formalized the CDE’s partnership with a group of tribal sovereign nations in California.”

Source: Addressing Early Learning and Child Care Disparity – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Announces Approval of NGSS Materials – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve the first-ever instructional materials which incorporate California’s groundbreaking Next Generation Science Standards for grades K–8. “California is the first state in the nation to adopt a science framework and approve instructional materials based on the Next Generation Science Standards,” Torlakson said. “I am excited about the new standards, which train students to act like scientists by posing questions and developing their own experiments. In addition, they emphasize climate change and environmental literacy, along with engineering and strategies to support girls and young women in science.”This was the largest state adoption for a content area with 34 programs submitted for review. The SBE approved 29 programs. Districts will have many options of curriculum resources to meet the needs of their students. The approval of instructional materials comes after the Science Framework was approved by the SBE in 2016.

Source: Torlakson Announces Approval of NGSS Materials – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Schools Nationally Recognized for Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California schools for receiving national recognition for achievement in 2018. A.J. Cook Elementary School in Garden Grove and Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara are two of up to 100 schools throughout the country being recognized as National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools—formerly known as National Title I Distinguished Schools.

“Congratulations to Principal Sandi Ishii and Principal Kelly Fresch, as well as the entire team of educators, administrators, staff, parents, employees, and of course, students at these schools,” said Torlakson. “They are shining examples of positive changes underway in California’s education system, and what happens when everyone works together to achieve student success.”

A project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators, the ESEA Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. It highlights schools across the country achieving exceptional student performance, as well as those closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Source: CA Schools Nationally Recognized for Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Rodney Okamoto as Director of the Technology Services Division. His division provides the California Department of Education with Information Technology (IT) leadership, technical services, and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enables it to deliver effective education services in California.

Okamoto most recently served as IT Manager II, overseeing the Information Systems and Services Office in the Technology Services Division. During his more than 20 years at the California Department of Education, he has chaired the multi-state Smarter Balanced Technology Workgroup and served as California’s IT Readiness Coordinator. His efforts were a major reason California was recognized for the most successful implementation of computer-based assessments in the country.

“Rodney has demonstrated a wealth of knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills. His team-oriented personality will help the CDE fulfill its mission of providing California students a world-class education in our multicultural, multilingual, and highly connected world,” Torlakson said. “Utilizing technology strengthens education for our students, as well as the educational support happening in our Department and at schools throughout California.”

Source: Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2018 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded learning programs are an important extension of a student’s typical school day. The programs provide additional academic support, cultural enrichment, and social and emotional learning opportunities,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to recognize the talented and dedicated staff who are helping students learn, thrive, and succeed inside and outside the classroom.”

Studies show that expanded learning programs increase student attendance, cut dropout rates, reduce juvenile crime, and boost academic success.

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

Source: Torlakson Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA History-Social Science Frameworks Win Prize – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California History-Social Science Project (University of California, Davis) have won the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Family Teaching Prize for distinguished K–12 history teaching. The two organizations collaborated to create the groundbreaking History­-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which was approved by the State Board of Education in 2016 and published last year.

“California is leading the way in helping our students recognize the diversity of our great state and nation,” Torlakson said. “Thanks to the partnership between the California Department of Education and the California History-Social Science project, California students will learn from the latest research and have a deeper understanding of the important contributions and challenges faced by many individuals and ethnic groups that have sometimes been overlooked. These include every major ethnic group, as well as members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.”

Among other things, this framework adds more detail on Latino history, the Armenian Genocide, the role Filipinos played in World War II, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and African American history—including slave narratives and firsthand accounts of uprisings, and protests during the Civil Rights movement.

Source: CA History-Social Science Frameworks Win Prize – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named five extraordinary educators as the 2019 California Teachers of the Year.

Torlakson, who began his career as a science teacher and coach, said he is pleased to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have made a great impact in their schools and communities.

“These five remarkable teachers deserve thanks and admiration for their deep commitment, hard work, and creativity,” he said. “They make profound differences in their students’ lives and provide students the tools they need to succeed. They’re an inspiration and an example of the exceptional work going on in California schools.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Violence Prevention and Mental Health Grant – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) secured $1 million in grant funding under the federal STOP School Violence Act. The funds will be used to provide violence prevention and mental health training to students and staff in school districts that have been the most affected by violence on their campuses.

The CDE will partner with Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit led by family members who lost loved ones in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to implement the Project Cal-STOP training initiative.

“We are pleased to receive this grant and to partner with Sandy Hook Promise on the joint mission to keep students and schools safe,” said Torlakson.“These funds will allow us to provide the training and support to those districts battling high rates of violence and suspensions. Our goal is to stop acts of violence on campuses and allow schools to be what they should be—safe places for students to learn and thrive.”

Source: Violence Prevention and Mental Health Grant – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards (Table 1), a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards (Table 2), a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

This is the fourth 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, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.

Source: CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 12 California public schools that have been chosen as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards.

“Congratulations to all the schools on this list that are helping students achieve their dreams and to the leaders dedicated to and invested in finding ways to close the achievement gap,” Torlakson said. “The teachers, parents, administrators, and community members at these schools are outstanding examples of innovative things happening in California education.”

The award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. In its 36-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,800 schools.

Source: 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Applauds Dual Language Signing – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked Gov. Brown for signing legislation to promote Dual Language Immersion programs in California. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, authored the bill.

Assembly Bill 2514 creates 10 grants of $300,000 that will be available to districts to start Dual Language Immersion programs.

Money will still have to be allocated by the Department of Finance, but Torlakson said he would strongly advocate for the funding.

“This is a great first step in creating a program that will support the expansion of Dual Language Immersion programs,” he said. “Students and their families want the chance to learn more than one language.”

Torlakson said the legislation advances the goals of his initiative, Global California 2030, to vastly increase the number of students who are fluent in two languages.

“Numerous studies show that fluency in another language boosts students’ mental flexibility and enhances their ability to learn all subjects. This legislation could open the door by giving more students the opportunity to become fluent in a world language by making it easier for districts to launch Dual Language Immersion programs, allowing students to start learning a world language in kindergarten.”

Source: Torlakson Applauds Dual Language Signing – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Record Number of Biliteracy Seals Awarded – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that a record 55,000 State Seals of Biliteracy, which signify fluency in another language, were awarded in 2017–2018. That means more graduating high school seniors than ever before can read, write, and speak at least two languages.

The soaring number of biliteracy seals represent progress in Torlakson’s Global California 2030 initiative, which seeks to rapidly expand the teaching and learning of world languages, in part by increasing the number of biliteracy seals awarded and by expanding the number of dual language immersion programs.

“I’m thrilled that so many of our students are learning a second language that will improve their cognitive abilities, better prepare them for the global economy, and broaden their horizons and understanding of other cultures and nations,” Torlakson said. “This is a great start in meeting the goals of Global California 2030.”

Source: Record Number of Biliteracy Seals Awarded – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Math & Science Teachers Receive Honors – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who are among the 104 educators nationwide recently announced by the White House as recipients of the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He also announced six outstanding teachers as the 2018 California state finalists.

The California mathematics winner is Gabriela Cárdenas, a first and second grade dual language teacher at the UCLA Lab School, the laboratory for the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies in Los Angeles. The California science winner is Nancy Wright, who teaches grades three through six at Lorin Eden Elementary School and serves as the Science Teacher on Special Assignment for Hayward Unified School District in Hayward, leading the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for her district.

“I applaud these teachers who play an essential role in shaping and inspiring our students in the areas of mathematics and science—which is so critical especially in California, where technology reigns, “said Torlakson, a former science teacher. “Their students are our future scientists, engineers, and inventors who can make a huge impact in our country.”

Source: CA Math & Science Teachers Receive Honors – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson marked Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month today by reminding students, teachers, and staff at C.K. McClatchy High School to recognize the risk factors of suicide so they can help identify students who might be in crisis and need assistance.

Students from the C.K. McClatchy National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Campus Club and the California Department of Education (CDE) conducted the event to focus on student suicide risks.

“The suicide of a student is a terrible tragedy that devastates a family, a school, and an entire community. We must do everything we can to prevent suicide,” said Torlakson. “Every suicide threat made by a student should be taken seriously.”

Torlakson said peer-to-peer assistance programs, school mental health professionals, and trained school and district staff can reassure and support a student who might be struggling with depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, or bullying.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics stated that nearly one in five high school students in California experienced suicidal ideation.

Source: Torlakson Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

High School Voter Education Weeks for 2018 – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

As we approach the upcoming November 6 statewide general election, it is important to ensure that our students are learning to become active and engaged participants in our democracy. It is never too early to motivate our students to get involved. That’s why we strongly encourage your school to observe High School Voter Education Weeks on September 17–28 to put our students on the path to a lifetime of civic engagement and voting. With online pre-registration available for sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, it’s now easier than ever to get students prepared to cast their own ballots. Once pre-registered, they will automatically become active voters on their eighteenth birthday.

California Education Code designates the last two weeks of September as High School Voter Education Weeks and authorizes schools to designate students as “voter outreach coordinators.” With county elections officials as partners, we provide resources to make it easy for schools to participate. 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 for 2018 – Letters (CA Dept of Education)