Can educators, business leaders bolster state’s workforce? – The Reporter

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.

 

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 Approves California School Dashboard – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

State ed board OKs new school accountability system – The Reporter

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

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

State board approves science framework, first in nation | EdSource

By Pat Maio

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a new science framework that makes California the first state in the nation to produce a framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 grades.

“This has been a long time in coming. It is really an exemplar for the nation,” said Ilene Straus, vice president of the board.

The framework, which represents a major overhaul of how science is taught to the state’s 6.2 million K-12 students, is essentially a blueprint for creating a curriculum based on the new standards that can be implemented in the classroom. The standards, more commonly known as NGSS, emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s.

Source: State board approves science framework, first in nation | EdSource

Finally, districts’ accountability plans may be easier to read and use | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

For three years, school districts have been writing an annual budget and accountability plan using a state-dictated form that has irritated just about everyone writing and reading it. Next week, the State Board of Education is expected to approve a new version that promises to be simpler, better organized and easier to follow.

The revised Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP (see draft template starting page 7), has gotten generally positive reviews, with some reservations, from school officials and advocates for high-needs students who disagree over how much information should be in the document but credit state board staff for trying to strike a balance.

“We are not completely satisfied, but we will support the revised LCAP,” said Martha Alvarez, legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators, which had recommended changes through months of hearings and drafts. Districts’ LCAPs had mushroomed to dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of pages over the past three years. It’s unclear, she said, despite improved readability, whether LCAPs will become shorter or longer under the new template. “At this point, districts need time – a number of years without further changes – to work with it,” she said.

Source: Finally, districts’ accountability plans may be easier to read and use | EdSource

State board poised to take new direction in school accountability | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

After months of drafting, revising and debating how best to measure and improve schools, the State Board of Education this week will adopt key elements of a new and distinct school accountability system.

The series of votes on Thursday will meet the Legislature’s Oct. 1 deadline and will mark 2½ years since the state board suspended its simpler predecessor, the Academic Performance Index. The board expects to change components of the system in coming years.

The new system shifts from a one-dimensional school rating under the API and the federal No Child Left Behind Act, based on test scores, toward a broader picture of what constitutes a quality education. It combines measures of underlying conditions, ­such as teacher qualifications and student suspension rates, and academic outcomes, including gauges of college and career readiness and standardized test scores.

Source: State board poised to take new direction in school accountability | EdSource

Top state education officials detail objections to federal regulations | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

California’s top two education officials on Monday spelled out their complaints with proposed federal regulations that they said would conflict with and undermine the state’s new plan to help schools improve and hold them accountable for student achievement.

In a 10-page letter, State Board of Education President Michael Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson stated that the draft rules for the new federal education act, unless changed, “will derail the significant progress being made in our state towards creating a single, aligned system” that would meet both federal and state requirements. Without more flexibility than the rules allow, the state won’t be able to effectively shift from a school improvement system defined by standardized tests results to one that evaluates a broad range of factors, like school climate, that affect student achievement, they said.

The letter was one of a flurry of comments on the final day of a 60-day comment period for the federal regulations proposed under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Although Kirst and Torklanson said they were writing on behalf of the state’s 6.2 million students, 14 California education advocacy groups also submitted a letter Monday that supported some of the provisions that Kirst and Torlakson criticized. They also blamed the state, not the new federal law or regulations, for not yet developing a unified accountability system.

Source: Top state education officials detail objections to federal regulations | EdSource

As deadline looms, California struggles to finalize new school accountability system | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg

California is on the verge of finalizing what leading educators believe is the most ambitious attempt in the nation to use multiple dimensions to measure how well – or poorly – a school or district is doing, rather than focusing primarily on test scores.

“All across the country people are paying attention to what California is doing,” Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, said at a recent California School Boards Association conference.

The deadline for approving the plan is barely two months away, as required by a state law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which reformed both the way schools are funded and how progress will be measured.

The state’s goal has been to come up with a system that will require schools and districts to measure how they are doing on eight “priority areas“ ranging from test scores to less definable measures such as school climate.

Source: As deadline looms, California struggles to finalize new school accountability system | EdSource

State board backs plans for California’s first college and career readiness indicator | EdSource

By  Fermin Leal

Despite concerns, the State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a preliminary version of California’s first College and Career Readiness Indicator, a tool aimed at measuring how schools prepare students for postsecondary opportunities.

The metric would evaluate high schools and districts by their students’ Advanced Placement test scores, the number of students concurrently enrolled in community colleges, how many successfully completed a career technical education pathway, how many completed courses required for UC and CSU admission, and other measures.

The College and Career Indicator is part of the state’s overall effort to create a new school accountability system to meet new federal and state guidelines.

Source: State board backs plans for California’s first college and career readiness indicator | EdSource

How to decipher the state’s proposed school and district report cards | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Some states assign a single number or letter grade to rate a school. Some parents prefer that too. But California education leaders are proposing a very different system with a brightly colored report card as a way of explaining the achievement of every school and district. At its meeting Wednesday morning, the State Board of Education will look at the latest draft and discuss how to proceed with it. (You can watch the webcast, starting at 8:30 am, here.)

The board is facing a September deadline to adopt a new school and district improvement and accountability system, which will take effect in 2017-18. In place of the now suspended Academic Performance Index, which assigned a three-digit number to a school based on standardized test scores, the state will take a more comprehensive look at school life and academic progress. The change will parallel the shift in Washington from the No Child Left Behind Act to broader measures required under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Source: How to decipher the state’s proposed school and district report cards | EdSource

New framework for teaching K-12 science moves closer to approval | EdSource

By Pat Maio

A framework for new science assessments for California’s 6.2 million public school students moved closer to completion last week, as a state advisory panel approved sending the latest draft to the State Board of Education for approval.

At the same time, the panel, known as the Instructional Quality Commission, approved the draft for a final 60-day public comment period.

The framework would implement the “Next Generation Science Standards” – a major overhaul of the nation’s approach toward teaching science in K-12 grades. The standards, more commonly called NGSS, emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s.

Approving the framework is a key step in the multi-layered and multi-year process the state has initiated to introduce the standards in every school district in the state. While the NGSS standards create common practices for teaching science, the framework consists of several chapters detailing what is to be taught at specific grade levels: pre-1st grade, 1st and 2nd grades, 3rd through 5th, 6th through 8th, and the high school grades.

Source: New framework for teaching K-12 science moves closer to approval | EdSource

Brown urged to ‘reaffirm the vision’ of funding law | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

A team of researchers found that, two years into the state’s new school financing law, “nagging concerns” are tempering the enthusiasm that school districts and county offices of education have for the Local Control Funding Formula.

In their final report, due out in several weeks, they will urge Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education to “reaffirm the vision” of the new funding law – shifting decisions to the local level, closer to the classroom – or risk losing the opportunity “if we don’t get it right.”

via Brown urged to ‘reaffirm the vision’ of funding law | EdSource.

California prepares to adopt materials for new English learner approach | 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.

Statement on Test Scores by CA State Board President (CA Dept of Education)

Test results released Wednesday by the California Department of Education set a new baseline for academic performance of students, schools and districts. The tests set standards at readiness for college unlike the old, multiple-choice tests they replaced. Results, in combination with new online instructional resources and local accountability tools, give parents, educators and stakeholders much more actionable data than ever before.

The results show that 53 percent of California’s students meet or nearly meet the English Language Arts achievement standards, and 48 percent meet or nearly meet the mathematics achievement standards. One of 10 students exceeds the standards for both subjects. At every grade level, English Language Arts results are stronger for girls than for boys. The results for math show much less gender disparity. Results for students from traditionally disadvantaged groups show significant achievement gaps.

These new tests aligned with the Common Core Standards ask a lot more of students than the old, multiple-choice exams. The new tests use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about individual student performance. Along with reading to follow a story, students are asked to cite evidence and draw logical conclusions. They are using math to solve real-world problems.

via SBE News Release for September 10, 2015 – State Board of Education (CA Dept of Education).

State delays releasing Common Core-aligned test scores until September | EdSource

By Sarah Tully

As educators eagerly await the results of the new standardized assessments aligned with the Common Core standards that more than 3 million students took in the spring, state officials now say they plan to release the scores in early September, later than originally projected.

Parents can expect to start receiving their children’s scores about the same time.

As early as last month at the State Board of Education’s most recent meeting, California Department of Education officials anticipated that results of the Smarter Balanced Assessments would be released to the public sometime in August.

Officials say that because this is the first time results on the new assessments will be released, they want to take extra care to make sure everything is accurate and complete before the official release in September. A date has yet to be announced.

via State delays releasing Common Core-aligned test scores until September | EdSource.

State board gets extra year to create measures of school progress | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The Legislature has given the State Board of Education an extra year to complete the next phase of a new school accountability system required by the state’s 2-year-old funding law.

The state board had requested more time, which legislators included in Assembly Bill 104 (section 22), the catch-all “trailer bill” that enacts the state budget details into law. The trailer bill also is a way to expedite non-controversial issues that need quick action.

For months, the board has been struggling with an Oct. 1 deadline for adopting a set of “evaluation rubrics,” a set of uniform student and school performance standards. The Legislature mandated that the state board establish the standards and ultimately hold districts accountable for meeting them.

via State board gets extra year to create measures of school progress | EdSource.

Dixon middle school earns Gold Ribbon honor – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

C.A. Jacobs Intermediate School in Dixon, on Tuesday was among nearly 200 California middle schools that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson honored under the state’s new Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program, which is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program.

Two other Solano County public schools, also deemed Title 1, or low-income, were cited. They were the Mare Island Technology Middle School and MIT Academy High, both in Vallejo City Unified and the latter among 180 high schools designation for the honor. All were recognized as Title I Academic Achieving Schools, too.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” Torlakson said in a press release. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right — embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”

via Dixon middle school earns Gold Ribbon honor.

Local educators hail state ed board’s decision to suspend API for one year – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville-area educators on Thursday hailed state education leaders’ decision to suspend for one year the Academic Performance Index (API), the so-called “report card on schools,” as Sacramento officials develop a broader measurement system rather than a single, test-based metric.

The decision, which the state Board of Education unanimously made Wednesday, came as California school district academic officers, tech-support employees and teachers are still struggling, in some cases, to get used to new technology and the all-computerized tests ushered in with the Common Core State Standards within the last year.

“There’s been a major learning curve with all the new technology, and it’s radically different from what we’ve done before,” said Moira McSweeney, president of the 680-member Vacaville Teachers Association, “It’s something the California Teachers Association has been working on. We are in support of it.”

via Local educators hail state ed board’s decision to suspend API for one year.