New research shows that California’s overhaul of public education finance and accountability is narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students and helping parents learn about school progress.
The Learning Policy Institute on Friday released “Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform External link opens in new window or tab.,” a study by researcher Sean Tanner and U.C. Berkeley professor Rucker Johnson.
The authors examined the impact of the landmark Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which gave school districts greater control over the use of state funds in exchange for greater accountability and parent engagement at the local level. LCFF, which was approved in 2013, also increased funding to districts that serve students needing extra support.The authors found that LCFF “led to significant increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among children from low-income families.” Students in the highest poverty districts showed greater academic gain, the authors reported. The study also found that LCFF funding was used to improve classroom learning by lowering student-to-teacher ratios and helping districts recruit and train new teachers.
“Money targeted to students’ needs can make a significant difference in outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “Money matters.”
Source: School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
During a presentation earlier this month on how to choose the roughly 300 lowest-performing schools that must get intensive help under federal law, a number struck some members of the State Board of Education like a brick from the sky: 3,003.
That’s the total number of schools in the state — not 300 but nine or 10 times that many — that staff estimate would require at least some form of help based on the school selection criteria that the board was considering.
That massive number is slightly under half of all schools in California receiving federal aid for low-income schools. It underscored the challenge, if not a larger threat, that the Every Student Succeeds Act could pose for the state board by diverting attention and resources from the different strategy of reform that the board is putting into place. That number is why the board called a time out and stripped any reference to the method it will use to select schools needing help — a key element of the state plan for complying with the law — from the revision it sent to the U.S. Department of Education last week.
Source: Federal, state visions for improving schools collide in California | EdSource
By Vernon M. Billy and Ryan J. Smith
California has always been a state of dreamers and idealists. That’s part of our legacy and a reason for our success. Yet, as our state’s long trail of innovators have shown us, success takes more than ideas — it also requires careful implementation. California’s school funding model is based on a powerful idea: improve outcomes by directing more resources to high-need students and use a multiple-measure accountability system that supports local decision-making. Unfortunately, the reality of the system doesn’t match the vision.
This week, the State Board of Education will hear feedback about the California School Dashboard — an online tool that shows how schools and districts are performing. The state says it’s “the next step in a series of major shifts in California K-12 schools, changes that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and placed the focus on equity for all students.”
Source: State must improve the California School Dashboard, not move the goalposts | EdSource
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 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
By Andrew Ujifusa
We’ve written a lot about states’ long term goals in their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some of those goals deal with students’ successful transition from K-12 schools to higher education. But the extent to which states are aligning those two systems varies, at least as far as their ESSA plans go.
That’s one general conclusion reached in an analysis of ESSA plans released Wednesday by the Education Strategy Group, a consulting firm that works on college- and career-readiness with state education departments, districts, and education-oriented groups.
The group’s report found that 41 states addressed college- and career-readiness in some fashion in their proposed ESSA accountability systems. However, just 17 states “directly linked their long-term K-12 goals in ESSA to the state’s higher education attainment goals.”
Source: Do State ESSA Plans Have Strong Connections to Higher Education? – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Louis Freedberg
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom got a major boost in his bid for governor next year when he received the endorsement of the California Teachers Association over the weekend, as did Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In addition to Newsom and Thurmond, the CTA also endorsed incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is running for re-election after being appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma for State Treasurer and state Senator Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, for lieutenant governor.
The CTA’s State Council of Education, the top governing body of the 325,000-member organization, made the endorsements at their meeting in Los Angeles.
Source: California teachers union endorses Newsom for governor, Thurmond for state superintendent | EdSource
The State Board of Education today approved a plan for using federal assistance that upholds California’s commitment to the ground-breaking educational reforms of the Local Control Funding Formula.
Every state that receives federal funding to support low-income students and English language learners is required to submit an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Several states submitted their plans earlier this year, while California and more than 30 other states will be submitting their plans on September 18.
The plan—essentially a grant application—allows each state to make a case for how it will utilize and manage federal dollars.California’s ESSA plan meets federal requirements while ensuring the state retains maximum flexibility to continue its shift away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that allows local school districts to better meet local needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.
“With the ESSA plan, we believe we have achieved the right balance between meeting federal requirements and focusing on our state priorities that will help prepare all students for college and careers,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford University professor emeritus. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education as our application moves through their process.”
Source: State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
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 Colin Miner
President Trump is ordering Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review what the administration says is “overreach” by previous administrations that have issued “mandates that take away autonomy and limit the options available to educators, administrators, and parents.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked the education department since his days on the campaign trail, saying its role in education needs to be diminished and the department downsized.
“This executive order makes certain that local leaders will be making the decisions about what happens in the classroom,” said Rob Goad, a senior official at the department.
Source: Federal Role In K-12 Education Being Reviewed Under Trump Order – White House, US Patch
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Tuesday announced that 275 middle schools and high schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.
Among the award winners is Buckingham Charter Magnet High School of the Vacaville Unified School District. The list also includes Armijo High School, Green Valley Middle School and the Public Safety Academy of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. Benicia High School and Benicia Middle School are also honored.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said in a press release. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”
Source: Buckingham honored among Gold Ribbon Schools
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 Carolyn Jones
Thorough, comprehensive teacher training and textbooks that appeal to a diverse array of students will be key to successfully implementing California’s new science standards, according to guidelines released by the standards’ creators.
“Implementation is complex. There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Vanessa Wolbrink, program associate at Achieve, the education nonprofit that helped craft the new Next Generation Science Standards. “We hope this will help.”
The new standards, adopted by California in 2013, focus on hands-on science projects, critical thinking over rote memorization, and crossover between scientific disciplines. They also include curriculum for all grade levels, which will be a major shift for some elementary schools that have not in the past emphasized science instruction.
Source: Guidelines designed to help districts implement new science standards | EdSource
The State Board of Education (SBE) and the California Department of Education (CDE) today unveiled the California School Dashboard, a new Web site that provides parents, educators, and the public with important information they can use to evaluate schools and school districts in an easy-to-understand report card format.
The California School Dashboard is a critical piece of California’s new school accountability and continuous improvement system. The state’s former accountability system—the Academic Performance Index (API)—relied exclusively on standardized tests and gave schools a single score. That system was suspended three years ago.
“The California School Dashboard provides local communities with meaningful and relevant information on how well schools and districts are doing,” said State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst. “It will help in local decision-making by highlighting both the progress of schools and student groups, shining a light on disparities and helping stakeholders pinpoint where resources should be directed.
Source: CA School Dashboard Debuts – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Prominent educators and equally prominent members of business communities, it seems, are finally beginning to talk about preparing students for the 21st-century workplace, as local school district trustee have for many years.
On Wednesday, a Jelly Belly vice president spoke to some 40 AVID students at Armijo High in Fairfield, telling them what employers are looking for in a prospective employee.
On Friday, a revived K-12-community college committee met for the first time in Sacramento about how the two educational sectors can work together to help more Californians find success in the job market and strengthen the state’s workforce.
John Jamison, vice president of retail operations at Jelly Belly, the giant candymaker in Fairfield, generally spoke in broad terms about what employers seek in young people entering the labor force.
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
The State Board of Education (SBE) today took the final steps in approving a landmark Accountability and Improvement System that will provide a wealth of new information to help parents, educators, and the public evaluate schools and districts, identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide targeted assistance.
Today’s actions pave the way for the system, called the California School Dashboard, to be unveiled to the public in late February or March. Next year several changes will be made to strengthen and improve the Dashboard for the 2017-18 school year when it will be fully operational.
“This completes the final pieces of a groundbreaking system to help the public better understand what is going on in our schools,” said California State Board of Education President Mike Kirst. “I look forward to the launch of the California School Dashboard later this year, but this is just the beginning. We plan to make significant improvements in future years.”
Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked the California Department of Education (CDE) staff and educators throughout the state for their creativity and hard work in producing the California School Dashboard, which was years in the making.
Source: State Board Approves California School Dashboard – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
The state’s new “report card” on schools will give parents another way to evaluate their child’s learning environment.
The State Board of Education formally approved what it is calling “a landmark accountability and improvement system” that will provide lots of new information to help parents, educators, and the public evaluate schools and districts, identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide targeted assistance.
Approved Wednesday in Sacramento, the action by the board paves the way for the California School Dashboard, years in the making, to be made public in late February or March. Next year, several changes will be made to strengthen and improve the Dashboard for the 2017-18 school year, when it will go into full effect, Peter Tira, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, noted in a press release.
Source: State ed board OKs new school accountability system
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