By Morgan S. Polikoff
There is increasing momentum behind the idea that curriculum materials, including textbooks, represent a powerful lever for education reform. As funders are lining up and state leaders are increasing their policy attention on curriculum materials, this report discusses the very real challenges of this effort. The report draws on my experience over the last several years collecting and analyzing textbook adoption data, as well qualitative interviews of school district leaders and teachers. It identifies challenges in three main areas: collecting and analyzing textbook adoption data; encouraging districts to make different adoption decisions; and encouraging teachers to make different use decisions. The report concludes with specific recommendations, which are aimed primarily at state policymakers who seek to use curriculum materials as a policy reform.
Source: The Challenges of Curriculum Materials as a Reform Lever – Education Next : Education Next
By Daily Republic Staff
Community members are invited to sound off at the Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board meeting Thursday when trustees review proposed instructional materials.
The estimated cost for the new materials is estimated at $821,000. Lottery and Local Educational Agency Grants will be used. The new books’ topics include Photoshop, auto repair, mathematics and athletic training. The proposed materials have been on view at the Suisun City Library. The list was publicized through social media and the district website.
Board members will open the meeting at 5 p.m. followed by closed session. The meeting is at 2490 Hilborn Road.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board to review new books
By Joel Rosenbaum
Educators from around Northern California including a group of about a dozen teachers and administrators from the Vacaville Unified School District participated in a daylong workshop that taught them the benefits of incorporating character into their daily curriculum.
“We are teaching them how to weave character development, compassion and interpersonal skills into their daily practice in the classroom and throughout the campus,” said Houston Kraft a trainer with Character Strong an organization that leads workshops around the country that “Help educators infuse character and social-emotional learning into the daily fabric of any classroom or campus,” according to their website. Visit www.characterstrong.com.
Source: Vacaville teachers join with others for Character Strong workshop
By Richard Bammer
Several updates — on the 2017-18 budget, a business program pilot and the Solano County Sheriff’s Department — are on the agenda when Solano Community College leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Robert V. Diamond, vice president of finance and administration, will update the governing board about the status of the Solano Community College District budget.
However, the agenda neither included any supporting documents about the 2017-18 budget nor any information about revenues, expenses and funding balances projected for the two outlying years. There was no explanation in the agenda documents.
Lucky Lofton, the school’s executive bonds manager, will update trustees about the Measure Q Small, Local, and Diverse Business Program, including the starting of a two-year pilot program. Its purpose is to establish equity, inclusion and outreach guidelines and promote diversity by offering contracts to small businesses and those owned by ethnic minorities, women and disabled veterans in Solano County and the city of Winters. (Measure Q was the $348 million bond passed by Solano County voters in 2012 to upgrade SCC campuses.)
Source: Business pilot program up for discussion by SCC board
By Carolyn Jones
Days after Congress passed a budget that mostly preserves funding for science education, President Donald Trump released a new budget proposal for 2019 that would eliminate many of those same programs.
Trump’s budget proposal, released on Monday, was drawn up before Congress passed its two-year deal last week. Although Congress already approved a budget, Trump’s proposal can offer funding priorities within approved budget caps, and it lays out his overall vision for the country. It calls for a $26 billion increase in defense spending next year, but $5 billion in cuts to non-defense programs, including a 10.5 percent cut to the Department of Education.
Source: Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
Nine new or restructured Benicia High School course outlines are up for review at Thursday’s school board meeting.
“The course outline of record plays a critical educational role,” Dr. Leslie Beatson, assistant superintendent of educational services, wrote in the agenda. “It is the primary vehicle for course planning. When a course is revised or updated, it is the course outline that records the changes. As such, it forms the basis for a contract among the student, instructor, and institution identifying the expectations which will serve as the basis of the student’s grade and giving the fundamental required components of the course which the student is guaranteed to receive from the instructor and institution.”
The first course up for approval is advanced welding, a full-year course for sophomores through seniors which serves as the next step for students currently taking automotive, welding/fabrication or construction, all courses which were implemented this year.
Source: School board to vote on new, realigned BHS course outlines at Thursday’s meeting
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)
By David Steiner
An education system without an effective instructional core is like a car without a working engine: It can’t fulfill its function. No matter how much energy and money we spend working on systemic issues – school choice, funding, assessments, accountability, and the like – not one of these policies educates children. That is done only through curriculum and teachers: the material we teach and how effectively we teach it.
Education reformers have grasped the importance of one-half of this core: teacher quality. Indeed, one of the most contentious education reforms of the last decade was the effort, spearheaded in the federal Race to the Top initiative, to create accountability around teachers’ performance. More recently, federal initiatives and major foundations have begun to focus on the caliber of teacher preparation, with states such as Delaware and Louisiana taking the lead in evaluating the quality of schools of education. At the same time, we have seen the multiplication of clinical residency programs across the country, a strategy based on the medical model of training doctors.
Source: Choosing a Curriculum: A Critical Act – Education Next : Education Next
By Richard Bammer
Despite recent bad news that several Solano County unified school districts have some of the lowest average-daily-attendance funding in California, Vacaville’s can still lay claim to some decidedly positive news.
Science kits in elementary classrooms, Chromebooks for every student across 16 district campuses, Measure A projects, PE teachers at every elementary school, and increased pay for employees were among the highlights cited by Superintendent Jane Shamieh during her 2015-16 annual report when she updated trustees and the public during last week’s governing board meeting.
Stepping down from the dais in the Educational Services Center and standing behind a lectern to face trustees, she moved quickly during her slide presentation, recalling last year’s major board actions and initiatives for students and employees, something of an A-to-Z snapshot of the district.
Source: Vacaville Unified supe offers A-to-Z district snapshot
By Ryan McCarthy
Proposed textbooks that recognize people have different sexual orientations and that discuss same-sex relationships won approval Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees after comments that included a letter from six mothers and grandmothers in Fairfield questioning the books.
“Children, of course, should be taught to always be kind to others who are ‘different’ sexually,” the letter states. “But they should also be taught it is wrong to act out sexually as they do.”
The Positive Prevention Plus textbook was on display at the school district offices and had generated a single comment before the letter from the women, along with separate correspondence from a former school board member.
Source: Sex-ed textbooks get OK after letter from 6 women questioning curriculum
By Ryan McCarthy
Placing proposed textbooks, including Positive Prevention Plus for sex education classes, at the Suisun City Library would expand the opportunity for the public to review the books, Fairfield-Suisun School District Trustee Chris Wilson said Thursday.
He said having the books at the library will allow review after 5 p.m., when the school district offices in Fairfield close and textbooks on display in the lobby are not available.
“We’ll see what we can do,” Superintendent Kris Corey told Wilson.
Source: Place proposed textbooks at library, trustee suggests
By Ryan McCarthy
Positive Prevention Plus – sexual health education curriculum for middle and high school students that reflects the California Healthy Youth Act to affirmatively recognize people have different sexual orientations and discuss same-sex relationships – goes before Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees Thursday.
The sexual health instruction is among new instructional materials for spring 2017 that go before the school board as an information item.
Action by trustees on the curriculum would follow Oct. 5, when public viewing ends for textbooks recommended for adoption.
Source: Sexual health education curriculum goes before Fairfield-Suisun school board
By Jace Harr
The price of a college education has skyrocketed in recent decades, but it’s not only tuition that contributes to student loan debt. Textbook prices have increased more than 1000% since the 1970s, according to a recent NBC documentary.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that between January 1977 and June 2015, the price of textbooks increased 1041%, which is three times the rate of inflation in the same period. A student at a public college is estimated to need $1,225 for textbooks this year.
Mark Perry, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan who has tracked textbook prices for years, said:
- College textbook prices are increasing way more than parents’ ability to pay for them.
via Textbook Prices Have Risen 1000% Since 1977.
By Todd Finley
Teaching is not natural.
The public believes, incorrectly, that classroom instruction is as natural as showing your child how fish or helping a nephew play Ms. Pac-Man. But those comparisons don’t take into account the profoundly specialized discourse of K-12 instruction.
Answering a learners question with a question, creating a holistic rubric, or take a deep breath facilitating a high-level discussion of new content on the Thursday before prom with 35 diverse students two of whom present ADHD behaviors while an administrator evaluates you . . . all of this requires a ridiculous constellation of specialized, unnatural skills.
That alien skill set means that even the most brilliant teachers cannot just wing it. They have to plan.
via Planning the Best Curriculum Unit Ever | Edutopia.
By Michael B. Horn
As Course Access programs, in which students have access to publicly funded courses of their choice across a range of providers held accountable for results, proliferate across the country, gauging the success of these statewide programs will be difficult because of how districts are likely to respond, as I wrote a few weeks back.
Few entities like to lose money even if it means their students will be better served, just as few companies like to lose money when customers choose another option in search of a better fit.
But Course Access presents a number of opportunities for districts, if they leverage it appropriately.
First, given the wide variety of students schools serve, it is challenging, if not impossible, for most school districts to provide access to all of the courses and academic content necessary to meet each student’s needs, interests, and abilities. The story is bleaker than many realize. Across the country, less than two-thirds of high schools–63%–offer physics. Only about half of high schools offer calculus. Among high schools that serve large percentages of African-American and Latino students, one in four don’t offer Algebra II, and one in three don’t offer chemistry.
via Five Reasons Districts Should Love Course Access – Education Next : Education Next.
By Richard Bammer
In the coming weeks, Vacaville Unified leaders will consider several proposed changes to course offerings and graduation requirements at the city’s charter high school, Buckingham, leading to a revised charter for the Bella Vista Road campus.
At a governing board meeting Thursday, school Principal Jeff Erickson, in a computer-aided slide presentation, outlined not only the costs of the changes, which include grading practices and course requirements, but also the reasoning behind them.
Among the proposed changes for the 2014-15 year are the addition of a biotechnology science course, the start-up costs of which would be an estimated $40,000 in the first year for equipment and supplies and $6,000 the following year.
via VUSD leaders hear proposed major course changes at Buckingham – The Reporter.
By Peter Schrag
Listening to the people at the State Department of Education who are charged with California’s transition to the new Common Core K-12 learning standards, as I did (twice) earlier this month, you’d have to conclude that it’s all going pretty well.
Everything’s on schedule, local districts are moving ahead to “varying degrees” to get ready, teachers are champing at the bit to be liberated from the chains of rote learning and fill-in-the-bubble multiple-choice tests, and there’ll be materials to support the new focus on analytical skills, critical thinking, problem solving and essay writing.
By spring 2015, the state officials say, the kids will be ready – many of them anyway – for the “Smarter Balanced” computer-based test assessments that will measure how well they’re doing. (Yes, Virginia, “smarter balanced” is a test, not a shoe or a brand of margarine.) Anyway, they say, local districts will have a lot of flexibility on when to get on board.
via Uncertainty and unknowns beneath the gloss of Common Core – by Peter Schrag.
With California set to bring its public school curriculum, instruction and state assessment system into alignment with the new Common Core State Standards in just under a year and a half, the local and state educational worlds are buzzing with what this means for students, teachers, schools, parents and the overall community.
California is one of 47 states to formally adopt the CCSS for mathematics and English language arts. The state’s existing STAR Program assessments are set to sunset on July 1, 2014 and the CCSS will be assessed through the Smarter Balanced Assessments.
via Dixon Unified prepares for new Common Core standards
SCOE’s Speaker Series presents Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, on January 9, 2013. Dr. Jacobs is an author and internationally recognized education leader known for her work in curriculum mapping, curriculum integration, and developing 21st century approaches to teaching and learning. She has served as an education consultant to thousands of schools and works with schools and districts on issues and practices pertaining to: curriculum reform, instructional strategies to encourage critical thinking, and strategic planning. Registration ends tomorrow, December 21.
via SCOE’s Speaker Series presents Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, on January 9, 2013. Dr. J….
The state’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a revision of a controversial K-12 environmental curriculum on plastic bags Friday.
California Watch reported last year that whole sections of an 11th-grade teachers’ edition guide for a new curriculum had been lifted almost verbatim from comments and suggestions submitted by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical and plastics industry trade group.
That investigation spurred politicians and state regulators to demand an examination into how the controversial text was compiled and changed, and whether industry bias was present.
via New environmental curriculum corrects plastic bag information.