Vacaville Unified leaders to discuss Measure A contracts – The Reporter

A biennial report about Alamo Elementary, accountability “local indicators,” and several large contracts are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Derek Wickliff, principal of Alamo Elementary, will present the report about the South Orchard Avenue campus. He will touch on a variety of topics. They include the school’s music program; recent past events; data from the California Dashboard, the state’s new schools accountability system, with statistics about suspension rates, English learner progress, and results from the 2017 state standardized tests; and attendance.

A district staff member will present information about local indicators from the Dashboard. They include basic services, the carrying-out of academic standards, parent engagement and school climate.

Through this accountability system, each California school district and charter school is required to provide a “narrative,” complete a rating scale, or use survey results to determine progress.

Source: Vacaville Unified leaders to discuss Measure A contracts

State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Citing methodology flaws, the State Board of Education on Wednesday revised criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard. The unanimous decision will reduce the number of districts and schools rated red, the lowest performing of the five color categories, but board members and state administrators insisted that was not the motivating factor (see previous story).

“It would be worse to do nothing; that would undermine credibility (of the system) and create more volatility” in test score ratings, said board member Ilene Straus, who monitors school improvement and accountability issues for the board.

The fix — which was proposed by a technical group of advisers to the California State Department of Education — was in response to what would otherwise be a big fluctuation in school and district color designations on the “academic” indicator, which includes test scores, on the school dashboard.

Source: State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource

Overview of state standardized tests and PLAs on VUSD Agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

An update on state standardized tests and the use of project labor agreements, or PLAs, on Measure A projects are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified board members meet tonight in Vacaville.

Kelley Birch, director of secondary education, and Ryan Galles, director of elementary education, will lead the presentation, an overview, of the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, including updates and changes for the 2017-18 academic year. The all-computerized tests are given every spring to students in grades three to eight and 11. They are meant to gauge what students know at each grade level under the California State Standards.

Among others things, Birch and Galles will note all the tests included in the CAASSP battery of assessments: Smarter Balanced (for English and mathematics); the California Science Test (for grades five, eight and at least once in high school); and California Alternative Assessments, or Cal Alt (for students with the most severe disabilities).

Source: Vacaville Unified agenda: Overview of state standardized tests and PLAs

BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District outlined positive highlights and areas for improvement when data from the most recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was presented at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.

The SBAC was initiated in 2015 and replaced the previous California Standards Test following the state’s shift to Common Core practices. The statewide assessment is given to all students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in the areas of math and English Language Arts (ELA). According to Dr. Leslie Beatson, BUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services, the test is taken on a computer and quizzes students in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, short answer, constructed response and performance test. The test also utilizes a concept called universal design where accommodations such as enlarged text or Individualized Education Program arrangements for special education students can be built in.

Source: BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results

On Dixon USD agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The 2017 CAASPP results, approval of a temporary roof cover at Old Dixon High, and an update about input from three parent meetings about the possible reconfiguration of district elementary schools are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet Thursday.

Nick Girimonte, newly named assistant superintendent for educational services, will lead the discussion about the district’s 2017 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Program scores.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, based on the California State Standards, which gauge whether students in grades three to eight and 11 are able to understand what they read, write clearly, think critically, solve complex math problems, and explain their reasoning as they prepare themselves for college, the military, and a rapidly changing and increasingly technological job market.

Scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. The state also computes the average scores of all tested students, by grade level, called “mean scale” scores, which reflects the progress of all students rather than only those who changed achievement levels from one year to the next.

Source: On Dixon Unified School District agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration

Latest academic tests underscore California’s education crisis – The Reporter

By Dan Walters

California has spent tens of billions of extra dollars on its K-12 school system in recent years on promises that its abysmal levels of academic achievement – especially those of disadvantaged children – would be improved.

And what have those massive expenditures – a 50 percent increase in per-pupil spending – and a massive reworking of school curriculums accomplished?

Not much, the latest results from annual testing indicate.

Mathematics and English tests based on “Common Core” standards were administered last spring to half of the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students, those in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11.

Source: CALmatters Commentary: Latest academic tests underscore California’s education crisis

Little change in Solano County for English, math state test results – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Forty-three percent of Solano County students met or exceeded standards in English language arts compared to 44 percent in 2016, while 33 percent of students met or exceeded math standards compared to 32 percent in 2016, the county Office of Education reports.

The percentage of students for English language arts and math in performance categories – standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met – was relatively unchanged from 2016, the office said of Smarter Balanced state test results.

Source: Little change in Solano County for English, math state test results

2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2017 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English language arts and mathematics remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.

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

Torlakson said he was pleased that students maintained the progress they have made since the initial year of testing and urged students, teachers, and parents to continue to aim high.

“I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much more work to do. We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “It’s important to remember that these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests. We are asking more of our students, but for a good reason—so they are better prepared for the world of college and careers.”

Source: 2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Expanded rating system helps California parents understand how schools are doing | EdSource

California is the first state in the nation to get enhanced school ratings from GreatSchools, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

The improved ratings now include course access, student progress and equity — which are intended to help parents choose schools, advocate to improve them and support their children’s education.

Those measures are in addition to test scores and other data that was previously included in school profiles on the group’s website.

“We believe schools must serve the needs of every child, in every community, and we know that parents play an enormous role in ensuring this happens,” said Matthew Nelson, president of GreatSchools. “We hope our new rating system and school profiles will further enable parents to be strong advocates for their children — and all children in their communities — to help all kids have a shot at success.”

Source: Expanded rating system helps California parents understand how schools are doing | EdSource

Revised meal payment policy on Dixon USD agenda – The Reporter

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

California delays release of Smarter Balanced scores | EdSource

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

ESSA’s New High School Testing Flexibility: What’s the Catch? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

When the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, one of the things that educators were most excited about was the chance to cut down on the number of tests kids have to take, Specifically, the law allows some districts to offer a nationally recognized college-entrance exam instead of the state test for accountability.

But that flexibility could be more complicated than it appears on paper.

Here’s a case in point: Oklahoma, which hasn’t finalized its ESSA application yet, has already gotten pushback from the feds for the way that it had planned to implement the locally selected high school test option in a draft ESSA plan posted on the state department’s website. In that plan, Oklahoma sought to offer its districts a choice of two nationally recognized tests, the ACT or the SAT. Importantly, the state’s draft plan didn’t endorse one test over the other—both were considered equally okay.

Source: ESSA’s New High School Testing Flexibility: What’s the Catch? – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Fairfield-Suisun leaders to consider budget – The Reporter

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

Vacaville Unified school board trustees put final touches on 2017-18 budget – The Reporter

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

Torlakson Announces Peak of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

Teacher complaints lead to improvements in state tests | EdSource

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

Vacaville Unified official: New school accountability system gets mixed marks – The Reporter

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

California will administer new pilot science test despite U.S. Department of Education ruling | EdSource

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

U.S. Education Department rejects California’s science testing plans | 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

State board chooses new way of measuring school progress on tests | 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