By Richard Bammer
Like so many California school districts in summertime, with their 2017-18 LCAPs and budgets sent to county offices of education, Fairfield-Suisun Unified has posted a relatively light agenda for its Thursday meeting in Fairfield.
Trustees will hear several presentations at the outset, including a report, delivered by students, about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Under the consent calendar, items typically approved in one collective vote, governing board members will OK a $1.13 million contract with the state Department of Education for child development services.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun leaders to consider budget
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders late last week put finishing touches on the final 2017-18 school district budget some Local Control Accountability Plans, which will be approved, perhaps with some minor changes, at the governing board’s June 29 meeting.
In California, annual school district budgets and their accompanying LCAPs, a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, must be submitted to respective county offices of education on or before June 30.
Although they detail spending for all student programs, LCAPs typically lay out in detail funding for programs that help English learners, foster youth and low-income students in efforts to close the “achievement gap,” the difference in standardized test scores between whites and ethnic minorities.
Source: Vacaville Unified school board trustees put final touches on 2017-18 budget
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 Theresa Harrington
Changes are underway to fix flaws in tests designed to help teachers pinpoint student weaknesses before they take Common Core–aligned assessments each spring.
The tests, known as “interim assessments,” are similar to the end-of-the year Smarter Balanced assessments that are used to assess student achievement and progress, as well as that of their schools and districts, in math and English language arts. More than 3 million California students take the Smarter Balanced assessments each year.
Many teachers have given the optional interim tests to their students during the school year to gauge how they are doing, hoping to adjust what or how they teach in advance of the final assessments that are used to fulfill state and federal accountability requirements.
Source: Teacher complaints lead to improvements in state tests | 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 Pat Maio
In less than two months, California will begin giving public school students a pilot version of an online test based on new science standards – one of the first states to do so in the United States.
About 17 states are in various stages of rolling out assessments based on the new Next Generation Science Standards, which emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s. Yet none of those states have progressed as far as California in developing a pilot version based on the standards that California will administer to students in the 5th, 8th and 10th grade.
However, when some districts begin administering the online pilot tests on March 20, California will effectively be in violation of a ruling issued by the U.S. Department of Education two days before President Barack Obama left office. That ruling rejected the state’s request to waive having to administer the outdated paper and pencil California Standards Tests in science, which are based on the old standards introduced in 1998.
Source: California will administer new pilot science test despite U.S. Department of Education ruling | EdSource
By Pat Maio
With two days remaining before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s request to begin administering online tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of a test based on standards established in 1998.
The state’s final administrative appeal following a six-months-long battle over science testing in California was denied Wednesday in a Jan. 18 letter sent by Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst.
Whalen wrote that she made her ruling based on concerns about the lack of transparency of science testing data during California’s transition from online pilot testing to fully operational tests set for the 2018-19 school year.
Source: U.S. Education Department rejects California’s science testing plans | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
After hours of discussion, the State Board of Education on Wednesday settled two much debated issues that will enable state officials to move ahead this year with the state’s new school accountability system.
One decision creates a different way to measure schools’ and student groups’ progress on standardized tests in math and English. The other, more contentious issue will determine which schools and districts will require intervention or technical help because their English learners did poorly on the math and English language arts tests.
In September, the board approved a framework for the new improvement and accountability system that will give a broader view of schools’ and districts’ performance through measures that will include students’ readiness for college and careers, school climate, parent engagement and academic performance. The board set a timeline for refining the metrics over the next year.
Source: State board chooses new way of measuring school progress on tests | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Principal Ed Santopadre’s twice-yearly report about Vacaville High, new school start times and necessary transportation changes, a new high school course about public service and safety, and a large Measure A contract are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified trustees meet tonight in Vacaville.
The longtime leader at the West Monte Vista Avenue campus, Santopadre, in a slide presentation, will review and update the seven-member governing board on myriad aspects of the school, from the mission and Advance Placement test results to standardized test results and graduation/dropout rates to school climate and multimillion-dollar Measure A projects.
More than likely, Chief Academic Officer Mark Frazier will present information about new school start times and necessary transportation changes that will occur in the fall.
Secondary schools, that is, high schools and middle schools, will start no earlier than 8:20 a.m., with elementary school start times beginning no earlier than 8 a.m.
Source: New school start times, safety course for high schoolers on Vacaville Unified agenda
By Louis Freedberg
The U.S. Department of Education has once again rejected California’s bid to begin phasing in tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of current tests based on standards in place since 1998.
In a letter sent Tuesday to state education leaders, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., said that California would have to continue to administer the old tests. She said the pilot tests based on the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by California in 2013 would not “measure the full depth and breadth of the state’s academic content in science.”
It is not clear what will happen after Jan. 20 when President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated, and whether his administration will also insist that California administer the old tests.
Source: Federal government insists again that California administer old science tests | EdSource
by Louis Freedberg
The long-running battle between California and the federal government over the direction of state education policy continues, despite passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that delegates far more decision-making powers to local school districts than its much-maligned predecessor, the No Child Left Behind law.
In an unexpected response two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education rejected California’s application for a federal waiver from having to administer the California Standards Tests in science, a multiple choice test based on outdated science standards adopted nearly two decades ago.
What makes the latest run-in with the administration so head-scratching is that it comes in the waning months of the Obama administration — over a relatively small piece of a student’s standardized testing regimen, at least compared to the Smarter Balanced math and English tests aligned with the Common Core standards.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, as well as the Every Student Succeeds Act replacing it, states are required to administer a science test each year to 5th- and 8th-graders, and once to high school students, and to report the scores on those tests.
Source: Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Dixon Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, will hear a presentation on state standardized test scores, an update on Measure Q on the November ballot, and the Dixon High Farm.
The assistant superintendent of educational services, Mike Walbridge will tell the five-member governing board that, of the 1,700 out of 3,500 students tested last spring in grades three to eight and 11, 32 percent met or exceeded state standards in math and 41 percent did so in English.
Dixon’s scores on the 2016 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Progress (CAASPP) roughly matched those of Solano County as a whole but fell well below the state averages.
Source: Dixon Unified agenda: Updates on state test scores, Measure Q
By Richard Bammer
In an effort to boost college and career prospects for California’s poor children, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday announced it has awarded the Golden State more than $11 million in grants so low-income students can take Advanced Placement tests.
Federal education officials, pointing out the poor have been a historically underserved group, noted that California is one of 41 states and Washington, D.C., to receive a total of $28.4 million to help pay for the taking of AP tests by students from low-income families.
States receiving the next highest grant amounts were Texas ($3.5 million), New York ($2.7 million) and Illinois ($1.8 million).
Mark Frazier, the chief academic officer for Vacaville Unified, said the announcement did not come as a surprise, since the district has applied to set aside some money so poor students can take the AP tests if they wish.
Source: State gets $11M in fed grants to help poor kids take AP tests
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders, when they meet Thursday night, will hear a report on the most recent state standardized test scores, hear an update on the school district’s student nutrition program, and likely approve support for Proposition 51 on the November ballot.
Mark Frazier, chief academic officer, and Kim Forrest, director of instruction, curriculum and assessment, will note results of the 2015-16 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP.
Released to the public Aug. 24, the tests scores indicated that 37 percent of those taking the all-computerized tests last spring — some 6,200 students in grades three to eight and 11 — met or exceeded state standards in mathematics, an increase of 1 percent over last year.
Source: Vacaville Unified School District leaders to hear test score results, nutrition program update
By Richard Bammer
Thousands of Vacaville-area public school students, like their counterparts statewide, showed across-the-board progress in the second year of new state standardized tests, the California Department of Education reported Wednesday morning.
State schools chief Tom Torlakson made the state results known in a 9 a.m. public announcement while visiting a Los Angeles elementary school and in the afternoon at San Leandro High School in the East Bay.
In Vacaville Unified, 37 percent of those taking the all-computerized tests last spring, some 6,200 students grades three to eight and 11, met or exceeded state standards in mathematics, an increase of 1 percent over last year, said Mark Frazier, the district’s chief academic officer.
Source: Area students show progress on state tests
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that California students made significant progress in the second year of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) online tests, with the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards increasing at every grade and in every student group.
Nearly half the students tested met or exceeded standards in English language arts, and nearly four in ten met or exceeded standards in mathematics (see Table 1). These online tests, based on California’s challenging academic standards, ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and on the job.
“The higher test scores show that the dedication, hard work, and patience of California’s teachers, parents, school employees, and administrators are paying off. Together we are making progress towards upgrading our education system to prepare all students for careers and college in the 21st century,” Torlakson said.
Source: Statewide Student Test Results Released – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that students have begun taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the state’s computer-based, online assessments given in grades three through eight and eleven.
“These tests in mathematics and English language arts/literacy are one of the many ways we measure how well students are doing at the challenging job of preparing for college and a career,” Torlakson said. “I encourage all students to take advantage of this opportunity to put their learning and their skills to the test.”
2016 marks the second year more than 3 million California students will take part in CAASPP, which was designed to gauge their progress toward the learning goals set for California students. Districts and schools select their individual testing dates.
The CAASPP asks students to demonstrate the kinds of abilities they will need to do well in college and the 21st century workplace—including analytical writing, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Source: Start of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
A dozen California school districts are joining more than two dozen states and a fast-increasing number of districts that are making the SAT or its rival, the ACT, available to all high school juniors for free in an effort to encourage more students to apply to college.
Beginning this month, the students are taking the new SAT, which debuted last week. The College Board, the nonprofit that developed and administers the test, says the latest version better measures the core skills that students learn in high school, such as citing evidence from lengthy reading passages to back up their answers. The test also aims to reflect what students learn under the Common Core standards. Among the changes, it eliminated the vocabulary quiz of arcane words that students would rarely see outside of SAT prep courses.
Source: Dozen districts offer free SAT to all juniors | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
The new-look SAT, in its biggest redesign in 10 years, debuts Saturday for hundreds of Vacaville-area students and hundreds of thousands more nationwide who will, in most cases, grapple with the hours-long reading, writing and math test that is used for college entrance.
By all accounts, the revamped version seems to be more in line with assessments based on the new Common Core State Standards, with reading portions more focused on current issues rather than passages from classic literature. The math portion, likely more often than not, will be in the form of word problems.
An essay portion — although the results are sought by admissions officers at many colleges, especially elite private schools and some major public universities — is optional. Students who decide not to write an essay would see about 50 minutes shaved off the length of the test.
Source: New-look SAT debuts Saturday
By Sarah Tully
Just over 20,000 California students opted out of last year’s Smarter Balanced assessments – far fewer than in other states, where resistance to the Common Core has been greater, a final tally from the state shows.
In December, the California Department of Education issued a final list of opt-outs in each school district. It indicates that a mere .61 percent of the 3.3 million students who took the Common Core-aligned tests in math and English language arts last spring opted out.
Only 39 districts out of all 1,022 districts statewide had more than 100 students opt out of English testing. For math, only 37 districts reported more than 100 opt-outs.
Statewide, the highest number of opt-outs was in the 11th grade – 8,526 students, or 1.8 percent of the total number of high school juniors, from the math test, and 8,318 students, or 1.7 percent, from the English test. Opt-opt rates were under .5 percent in all other grades.
via Final tally shows few opt-outs from Common Core-aligned tests in California | EdSource.