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 Theresa Harrington
To help California’s more than 1.4 million English learners navigate through the public school system, the State Board of Education has approved an “English Learner Roadmap.”
The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly two decades to serve the one in four public school students throughout the state who are classified as English learners. It is expected to help schools in the more than 1,000 districts statewide to meet updated state and federal education requirements and laws.
Approved last week, the Roadmap aims to help English learner students and their parents know what courses, programs and services are available to them. It was created partially in response to the passage of Proposition 58 last year, which eliminated some legal barriers to bilingual education. Prop. 58 paves the way for all students to “receive the highest quality education, master the English language, and access high-quality and innovative language programs,” according to a news release.
Source: State Board of Education approves English Learner Roadmap | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
After much talk and testimony at a nine-hour meeting, the State Board of Education made modest changes last week to its draft of the state plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Board members are confident the plan will soon be ready to pass along to the federal government for approval. Members of a coalition of two dozen civil rights and student advocacy organizations said the changes will do little to improve a plan that’s still vague and weak.
“After months of feedback and engagement, the current plan still doesn’t address the core issues that we know are absolutely essential to support high-need students,” Samantha Tran, senior director of education programming for the nonprofit Children Now, wrote in an email. “The state seems to be abdicating an essential civil rights role, and it’s disheartening.”
Source: State board, advocacy groups fundamentally disagree over plan for complying with federal education law | EdSource
By Ashley Hopkinson
In the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, the new California state budget includes $5 million to address a shortfall of bilingual teachers, a shortage a new study concludes will continue following the passage of Proposition 58 and the expected growth of bilingual programs.
The new state law, in effect on July 1, lifted an almost 20-year ban on bilingual education and gives districts more flexibility to offer bilingual classes to all students. Under the old law English learners had to be taught in English, unless a parent signed a waiver to enroll their child in bilingual or dual language programs — classrooms where students are taught in English and another language such as Mandarin or Spanish. The goal is learning to read, write and speak in both languages.
The change came about because of Proposition 58, which voters approved last year by a vote of 73.5 percent to 26.5 percent. It implements the California Multilingual Education Act of 2016 and allows public schools to teach English learners and all students through multiple programs.
Source: New funds available to train bilingual teachers in California | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Dixon Unified leaders, when they meet Thursday, will consider the annual District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) report, approve new courses at C.A. Jacobs Intermediate School, discuss a teacher survey on elementary school reconfiguration, and likely approve the Measure Q Citizen Oversight Committee membership roll.
Mike Walbridge, assistant superintendent of educational services, will present the DELAC report.
Every California public school district, grades K-12, is required to form a DELAC if it has 51 or more English-learner students. The committee is comprised of school staff, parents of English-learner students, other parents and community members who are interested in English-learner programs. The committee advises the district’s governing board (in person, by letters or reports, or through an administrator, on programs and services for English learners).
In the agenda documents, Walbridge noted that an unspecified number of parent members will offer a brief “needs assessment as part of the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) stakeholder engagement process.”
Source: English-learner report, student achievement plan on Dixon Unified agenda
By John Fensterwald
Four years after its passage, the Local Control Funding Formula has narrowed and, by some measures, reversed the funding gap between the lowest- and highest-poverty districts in California.
But an infusion of funding hasn’t translated yet into improved opportunities for low-income students and English learners – and may not achieve that goal without tighter disclosure rules and more innovative approaches to distributing districts’ resources, a student advocacy organization said in a report published Thursday.
“We need more clarity on where money is going. Without transparency, community stakeholders, policymakers and the broader public are left to wonder whether this massive public experiment and investment is paying off,” said the Education Trust–West in “The Steep Road to Resource Equity in California Education.”
Source: Local control formula closing funding gap but not equity gap, report says | EdSource
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
By Richard Bammer
For many California’s high school students, dreams of attending college are being nurtured by a state grant.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday announced that nearly 1,000 school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools, will receive about $100 million in grants to help students prepare to attend college.
The grants, which are available through the 2018–19 fiscal year, come from a $200 million College Readiness Block Grant program administered by the California Department of Education. The expenditure also was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.
The goal is to increase the number of students who enroll in college and complete a degree program in four years, with a special emphasis on helping English learners, low-income students, and foster youth.
Source: State department of education releases $100M in college-readiness grants
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
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today honored Latino Heritage Month with a celebration at the California Department of Education (CDE) headquarters building.Torlakson recognized the many contributions of Latinos to California’s economy, society, government, entertainment, business, culture, and public education system and stated he is “Latino de Corazon”—Latino at heart. California has nearly 15 million Latinos in the state population.
Of the more than 6.2 million students in California public schools, 53 percent are Latinos and 1.4 million are English Learners.
“This is a terrific day to recognize the outstanding accomplishments that Latinos have achieved, and continue to achieve, throughout every part of California life. Latinos have added so much to the rich cultural diversity that makes California such a great and dynamic place to live,” Torlakson said.
Source: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Honors Latino Heritage Month
By Richard Bammer
In a wide-ranging review of recent state standards test results, a Travis Unified official noted it was unfair to compare the Fairfield district’s comparatively laudable scores with numbers from other districts with higher percentages of English learners, poor students and foster youth.
During the district’s once-monthly governing board meeting Tuesday, Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for educational services, noted Travis’s demographic count — 2,900 students tested in grades three to eight and 11 — included 32 percent of “unduplicated” students, whereas neighboring Vacaville Unified’s percentage of English learners, poor students and foster youth who were tested was greater than 40 percent.
She appeared to suggest such differences may affect test scores, as can parent education level, including whether or not a father or mother, or both, graduated from college or earned a post-graduate degree.
Source: Unfair to compare district test scores to other district’s – The Reporter
By Theresa Harrington
When Pedro Martinez arrived at La Joya Middle School in Visalia, Liz Serrato knew she had to reach him.
“I want to challenge you,” she told him when he said he preferred learning with other Spanish-speaking students. She urged him to take up the trumpet, which helped him meet new classmates.
Martinez came from Michoacán, Mexico – the same part of Mexico where Serrato spent her childhood. Feeling a connection to him because of their shared Mexican heritage, Serrato knew all too well what he and other English learners face. She was 15 when she came to the United States.
Now she’s on a mission to help spread her methods for teaching English learners and closely monitoring their progress throughout the Visalia Unified School District.
Source: Former English learner spearheads new system for tracking students | EdSource
By Elizabeth Warnmont
The Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) received new state funding for a full-day preschool at Mary Farmar Elementary School beginning with the 2015-2016 school year and will continue to offer subsidized full day, morning and afternoon preschool and a school age (transitional Kindergarten through fifth grade) program at Robert Semple School, as well as school age programs at Joe Henderson, Matthew Turner and Mary Farmar elementary schools.
The BUSD adult education department also received funding this year from the Solano Adult Education Block Grant Consortia and will continue to offer GED, basic education and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, in partnership with the Benicia Public Library.
The adult ed program hosted three family literacy “reading nights” at Mary Farmar and Robert Semple schools and the library this year, hosting over 150 participants at each session. The family literacy events, designed to bridge the school/home connection, are free to all residents through the Solano Adult Education program, in partnership with the BUSD.
Source: BUSD adds preschool, family literacy programs
By John Fensterwald
The State Board of Education on Wednesday is planning to choose a handful of statewide metrics to measure student performance as part of its creation of a new school accountability system.
The board will approve the new system in September and begin using it in the fall of 2017. It will replace the Academic Performance Index, the single-number score, based solely on standardized test scores, that the board suspended two years ago. The board is also designing the new system to satisfy federal accountability requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
State board staff are recommending that the board initially choose five metrics to identify which schools and districts need assistance and which demand more intensive intervention.
Source: State board to choose school improvement metrics | EdSource
By Daily Republic Staff
The Spanish-English Dual Immersion Program at B. Gale Wilson will host parent informational sessions in February.
This is a program for kindergartners through eighth-graders where children are taught in both English and Spanish and leave the program as bilingual, biliterate young adults. The program includes lessons in math, science and social studies.
via Parent info sessions set for B. Gale Wilson bilingual immersion program.
By Delia Pompa
The Every Student Succeeds Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law last month, includes important policies that recognize the needs and diversity of English learners in an effort to close the ongoing achievement gap between them and other students. The bill, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also crucially maintains accountability for improving academic achievement of English learners – a hallmark of the last reauthorization, known as the No Child Left Behind Act.
Given the new law’s overall thrust of reducing federal authority in education, however, ensuring that the needs of English learners are met will be complicated by the fact that education agencies in 50 states and the District of Columbia will be interpreting the new mandates and perhaps implementing them differently.
The law has many strengths with respect to the nation’s approximately 5 million English learners in K-12 classrooms. The most far-reaching change requires that states include English language proficiency in their accountability frameworks under Title I, the provision that governs accountability for all low-income students.
via New education law puts more pressure on states to serve English learners | EdSource.
By Theresa Harrington
The State Board of Education is set to adopt a new set of instructional materials and textbooks for kindergarten through 8th grade on Wednesday that incorporates what education officials describe as a pathbreaking approach to more effectively teaching English learners.
In January 2014, the state board adopted a set of recommended textbooks for math aligned with the Common Core, but it has taken nearly two additional years to come up with its list of Common Core-aligned recommended textbooks and other instructional materials in English language arts. This is in part because it has integrated English language development – which teaches English learners to speak and read English – into the English Language Arts framework that was adopted last year.
via California prepares to adopt materials for new English learner approach | EdSource.
By Corey Mitchell
The U.S. Education Department is developing a tool kit specifically for educators who work with immigrant English-learners who are new to the country, said Libia Gil, the head of the U.S. Department of Educations office of English-language acquisition.
The upcoming how-to guide will mark the latest federal effort to provide an equitable education for ELLs, the largest-growing segment of the United States public school population. The document could be released as early as December, Gil said.
via Ed. Department Project to Focus on Newly Arrived English-Language Learners – Learning the Language – Education Week.
By Richard Bammer
When they meet tonight, Vacaville Unified leaders face a busy agenda, from learning results of a public opinion survey of district facility needs to authorizing nearly $140,000 for computer upgrades, among several other things.
Trustees meet at 7 p.m. in the Educational Services Center, 401 Nut Tree Road, Vacaville.
Trustees will hold a public hearing, then likely pass several resolutions to approve two pieces of land for street widenings and one easement of nearly 31,000 square feet to the city for a water detention basin on parts of property at the Elementary School No. 2 site in the Rice-McMurtry area.
via Number of issues top Vacaville agenda – The Reporter.
Brianna Boyd, Editor
Cameras flashed and proud families, teachers, principals and peers applauded Wednesday as 71 Dixon Unified students were recognized for accomplishing a significant feat in their education. These students, who range from third grade to high school, all attend Dixon’s elementary, middle and high schools, and have been reclassified from English language learners to English language proficient. They can now participate and perform successfully in all academic subjects in school without English language development support.
via Timeline Photos – The Dixon Tribune | Facebook.