2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named five extraordinary educators as the 2019 California Teachers of the Year.

Torlakson, who began his career as a science teacher and coach, said he is pleased to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have made a great impact in their schools and communities.

“These five remarkable teachers deserve thanks and admiration for their deep commitment, hard work, and creativity,” he said. “They make profound differences in their students’ lives and provide students the tools they need to succeed. They’re an inspiration and an example of the exceptional work going on in California schools.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards (Table 1), a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards (Table 2), a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

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

Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.

Source: CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 12 California public schools that have been chosen as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards.

“Congratulations to all the schools on this list that are helping students achieve their dreams and to the leaders dedicated to and invested in finding ways to close the achievement gap,” Torlakson said. “The teachers, parents, administrators, and community members at these schools are outstanding examples of innovative things happening in California education.”

The award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. In its 36-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,800 schools.

Source: 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Applauds Dual Language Signing – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked Gov. Brown for signing legislation to promote Dual Language Immersion programs in California. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, authored the bill.

Assembly Bill 2514 creates 10 grants of $300,000 that will be available to districts to start Dual Language Immersion programs.

Money will still have to be allocated by the Department of Finance, but Torlakson said he would strongly advocate for the funding.

“This is a great first step in creating a program that will support the expansion of Dual Language Immersion programs,” he said. “Students and their families want the chance to learn more than one language.”

Torlakson said the legislation advances the goals of his initiative, Global California 2030, to vastly increase the number of students who are fluent in two languages.

“Numerous studies show that fluency in another language boosts students’ mental flexibility and enhances their ability to learn all subjects. This legislation could open the door by giving more students the opportunity to become fluent in a world language by making it easier for districts to launch Dual Language Immersion programs, allowing students to start learning a world language in kindergarten.”

Source: Torlakson Applauds Dual Language Signing – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Record Number of Biliteracy Seals Awarded – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that a record 55,000 State Seals of Biliteracy, which signify fluency in another language, were awarded in 2017–2018. That means more graduating high school seniors than ever before can read, write, and speak at least two languages.

The soaring number of biliteracy seals represent progress in Torlakson’s Global California 2030 initiative, which seeks to rapidly expand the teaching and learning of world languages, in part by increasing the number of biliteracy seals awarded and by expanding the number of dual language immersion programs.

“I’m thrilled that so many of our students are learning a second language that will improve their cognitive abilities, better prepare them for the global economy, and broaden their horizons and understanding of other cultures and nations,” Torlakson said. “This is a great start in meeting the goals of Global California 2030.”

Source: Record Number of Biliteracy Seals Awarded – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Math & Science Teachers Receive Honors – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who are among the 104 educators nationwide recently announced by the White House as recipients of the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He also announced six outstanding teachers as the 2018 California state finalists.

The California mathematics winner is Gabriela Cárdenas, a first and second grade dual language teacher at the UCLA Lab School, the laboratory for the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies in Los Angeles. The California science winner is Nancy Wright, who teaches grades three through six at Lorin Eden Elementary School and serves as the Science Teacher on Special Assignment for Hayward Unified School District in Hayward, leading the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for her district.

“I applaud these teachers who play an essential role in shaping and inspiring our students in the areas of mathematics and science—which is so critical especially in California, where technology reigns, “said Torlakson, a former science teacher. “Their students are our future scientists, engineers, and inventors who can make a huge impact in our country.”

Source: CA Math & Science Teachers Receive Honors – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson marked Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month today by reminding students, teachers, and staff at C.K. McClatchy High School to recognize the risk factors of suicide so they can help identify students who might be in crisis and need assistance.

Students from the C.K. McClatchy National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Campus Club and the California Department of Education (CDE) conducted the event to focus on student suicide risks.

“The suicide of a student is a terrible tragedy that devastates a family, a school, and an entire community. We must do everything we can to prevent suicide,” said Torlakson. “Every suicide threat made by a student should be taken seriously.”

Torlakson said peer-to-peer assistance programs, school mental health professionals, and trained school and district staff can reassure and support a student who might be struggling with depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, or bullying.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics stated that nearly one in five high school students in California experienced suicidal ideation.

Source: Torlakson Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Adopts First-Ever Computer Science Standards – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved California’s first-ever computer science standards—learning expectations that will help each student reach their creative potential in our digitally connected world.

“As a forward-leaning state and home to Silicon Valley, California’s new standards will not only enable students to understand how their digital world works but will encourage critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology,” said State Board Member Trish Williams, who serves as the Board’s computer science liaison.

Developed by educators, the standards are designed to help students move from passive users of technology to creators and innovators who interact with computers. Beyond simply learning to code, the standards push students to communicate as scientists and find creative solutions to difficult problems.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the standards would help improve computer science education in California.

Source: CA Adopts First-Ever Computer Science Standards – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State schools chief forms team to update charter school law – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

It’s 26 years old and needs a tune-up. Perhaps even an overhaul.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has created a panel to review the 1992 law governing California charter schools.

In a recent press release, the schools chief noted by name members of the Action Team on Charter Schools to provide recommendations of needed changes to his successor, the governor, the state Board of Education, and state Legislature. Both Torlakson and Gov. Jerry Brown term out at the end of the year.

The California Charter School Act has had few changes and little top-to-bottom review since it was enacted, Torlakson noted in the prepared statement.

Source: State schools chief forms team to update charter school law

Torlakson Creates Action Team on Charter Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that he is creating an Action Team on Charter Schools to review laws governing California’s charter schools, and provide recommendations about any needed changes to the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Governor, State Board of Education, and State Legislature.

The guiding law for charter schools—the California Charter School Act—was enacted 26 years ago but has had few changes and little comprehensive review since then. In the meantime, California’s population and student population have increased significantly, our demographics have shifted, and our education system has been transformed with the introduction of new academic standards and new systems for funding and evaluating schools, Torlakson said.

“In the past few years, we have updated virtually our entire K–12 education system. Now it’s time to look at the key laws governing charter schools, which have not been significantly changed in 26 years, to see how they can be modernized to better meet the needs of all public school students, including those who attend charter schools,” said Superintendent Torlakson.

Source: Torlakson Creates Action Team on Charter Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged educators, parents, school board members, community leaders and all residents to voice their support for state legislation that will improve mental health services for students.

Torlakson is putting a major focus on mental health awareness and treatment, suicide prevention, and school safety as the Legislature reconvenes August 6 for the final weeks of the 2017–18 session.

“Students need to have good mental health to succeed in the classroom and in life. Schools can help by creating a caring and supportive environment and by working to help identify mental health problems early so students can receive the treatment they need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and served as a track and cross country coach.

Source: Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Reports 2017 High School Grad Rates – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced California’s high school graduation rates today under a new methodology that was adopted in response to a federal audit.

As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation.

Using this new methodology, which reduces the number of students counted as graduates, 82.7 percent of California students who started high school as ninth graders in 2013–14 graduated on-time four years later in 2017. Under the old methodology, the statewide graduation rate was 83.8 percent in 2016.

Overall, the number of graduates increased from 2016 by over 900 for a total of 408,124 students. In addition, the number of students who dropped out in 2017 decreased by over 2,200 compared to last year.

Source: Torlakson Reports 2017 High School Grad Rates – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Winner of Special Ed Learning Award Congratulated – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson today congratulated the La Sierra High School Adult Transition Program in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District on winning the 2018 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL) award, which recognizes outstanding programs in special education.

La Sierra High School Adult Transition Program is located on the California State Fullerton Campus and provides community, vocational, and social opportunities to students ages eighteen to twenty-two with moderate to severe support needs.

“This program is a great example of how to prepare students to become self-reliant and self-sufficient,” Torlakson said. “Providing students with career training that can lead to a job, exposing them to real world social activities, and teaching them how to live independently will enable these students to become productive, contributing, and thriving young adults.”

La Sierra High School Adult Transition Program started in 2009 with one teacher serving 12 students at a single location and is now districtwide with over 100 students enrolled. The program’s innovative practices are based on a planning structure that exposes students to a vast array of vocational, social/recreational, and independent living experiences.

Source: Winner of Special Ed Learning Award Congratulated – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Receives Suicide Prevention Award – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today received a career recognition award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, while calling for increased awareness and funding for mental health and suicide prevention.

Recent suicides by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, combined with data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealing a significant increase in suicide rates have put a spotlight on this problem.

“Suicide is reaching epidemic proportions in our nation, our state, and our schools, making it even more important to focus on suicide prevention and expanding mental health services,” Torlakson said. “A suicide is a terrible, preventable loss that creates a tragedy for a family, a school, and an entire community.”

Torlakson praised schools for the work underway to prevent suicide, while asking all educators and members of the school community to be on the lookout for students showing signs of risk, and to assist them in seeking treatment. “This is no time for silence. If you notice someone suffering or in need, please speak out and help point them toward assistance,” he said.

Source: Torlakson Receives Suicide Prevention Award – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CDE launches program to expand learning of foreign languages – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Research indicates the learning of a foreign language results in a myriad of lifelong benefits.

With that in mind, state education leaders have decided to launch an ambitious program to increase, in the coming decade, K-12 students’ proficiency in two or more languages.

 State schools chief Tom Torlakson made the announcement last week at a Southern California elementary school.

In a press release, he said “Global California 2030” would greatly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.

The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st-century economy, “broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic,” Torlakson spokesman Bill Ainsworth wrote in the prepared statement.

Source: CDE launches program to expand learning of foreign languages

Torlakson Launches Global CA 2030 Initiative – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced “Global California 2030,” a bold initiative to vastly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.

The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st century economy, broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic.

“The mission of Global California 2030 is to equip our students with the world language skills to succeed in the global economy and to fully engage with the diverse mixture of cultures and languages found in California and throughout the world,” Torlakson said. “We are setting high goals and dreaming big to help our students and our state.”

Source: Torlakson Launches Global CA 2030 Initiative – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Public Comment Open for Health Education Framework – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the public comment period is now open for the Health Education Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. It presents an approach to health education that focuses on students learning skills and practicing behaviors that will lead to a lifetime of good health.

“Students who are healthy do better in school, attend more days of classes and are ready to learn,” said Torlakson. “This new framework is another example of how California is leading the way for comprehensive health education for all students.”

The framework provides guidance on a wide range of health education topics, including nutrition, physical activity, community health, drug use, depression, obesity, relationships, and the impact of the environment on health. It also gives students the tools to reduce risky behaviors. The new health education framework is the first based on the groundbreaking Health Education Content Standards for California Public School, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (PDF), which addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of health.

Source: Public Comment Open for Health Education Framework – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2018 Classified School Employees Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students.

“In light of recent events, school climate and a nurturing environment for students are more important than ever. These outstanding employees play critical roles in creating that environment,” Torlakson said. “They are dedicated and strive for excellence. It’s the same whether they’re serving healthy meals, driving the school bus, keeping a campus safe, or checking transcripts to make sure students are on pace to graduate. I applaud their fantastic work in helping students realize their full potential.”

The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.

The 2018 Classified School Employees of the Year, who will be honored by Torlakson at a luncheon in Sacramento on May 24, are: (Information contained in the following biographical sketches was excerpted from their nomination forms.)

Source: 2018 Classified School Employees Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

SBE Adopts Revised Every Student Succeeds Act Plan – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education today unanimously approved revisions to California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, a document that outlines the use and management of $2.4 billion in federal assistance to the state’s neediest students. California’s revised plan now moves on to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.

Every state that receives funding under ESSA is required to submit a plan to the federal government that meets federal statutory requirements.

California’s ESSA plan has been in development for more than two years with input from thousands of Californians. The revised plan affirms California’s commitment to the state’s broad overhaul of school funding and accountability ushered in by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides an extra $10.1 billion annually to districts that serve low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. LCFF also gives local communities the authority to decide for themselves how best to allocate funding to address local needs.

“Because California is on the right track, it was important to work with the federal government to develop an ESSA plan that complements our state system but doesn’t drive it,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor emeritus. “I am pleased that we have achieved that balance.”

Source: SBE Adopts Revised Every Student Succeeds Act Plan – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson supports proposed law to boost school climates, create safe environments – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced his support for proposed legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe public school campuses and increase engagement with parents and local communities.

Torlakson on Tuesday appeared at a Sacramento news conference with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill.

“Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments,” he said in a press release. “Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers.

Source: Torlakson supports proposed law to boost school climates, create safe environments