Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 32 schools were newly designated as Model Continuation High Schools for 2018. These schools are recognized for creating innovative programs that focus on academics and social and emotional learning and helping students who have faced many challenges, including chronic absenteeism and truancy, get back on the path to realizing their full academic potential.

“These model continuation high schools provide a space where students can feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence and receive strong educational support,” said Torlakson. ”Creating an academically challenging yet encouraging school climate can help turn an at-risk student on the verge of dropping out into a high school graduate prepared for a future career or college.”

Source: Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Education and Marijuana – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) is offering resources aimed at preventing those under 21 from using marijuana, something even more important now that Proposition 64 has taken effect.

Proposition 64, besides legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, creates a tax on cannabis for wholesalers, retailers, and purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Eventually, some of these tax funds will be directed by the CDE to promote health, education, and drug prevention.

“This is an excellent time to remind parents, students, educators, administrators, and the public about the detrimental effects of marijuana, especially to the developing brains of children,” Torlakson said. “In this new environment we need to be even more vigilant in making certain school-aged children understand the importance of making healthy decisions. We are committed to making sure that new resources will effectively support schools, families, and communities in this charge.”

Source: Education and Marijuana – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

CDE says most schools must test their drinking water – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water, an order that will affect all schools in Vacaville, Dixon and Fairfield.

The requirement comes several months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide, beginning Jan. 1, to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019.

It also comes nearly four years after national headline-making news of lead contamination in drinking water in Flint, Mich., when the city switched its main water source from Detroit to the Flint River to save the city money. However, officials there did not properly treat the water coming from the Flint River, which leached lead from the city’s aging pipes into the drinking supply.

Source: California Department of Education says most schools must test their drinking water

Classified School Employees of the Year Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

I am pleased to invite each County Office of Education (COE) to participate in the 2018 Classified School Employees of the Year (CSEY) Program. Presented by California Casualty, the Classified School Employees Association, and the California Department of Education (CDE), the CSEY Program highlights the contributions of classified school employees who support the education of California’s public school students in preschool through grade twelve.

The program’s goals are to identify six exemplary classified school employees throughout California for the CSEY award. The 2018 CSEY Program will identify and honor classified employees working in the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation.

Source: Classified School Employees of the Year Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Praises Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on Governor Brown’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year:

“Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides a big boost to our public school students. The proposal shows how far we have come as a state in the past seven years in increasing investments in education so our students can continue to succeed in college and the 21st Century economy.

The proposal adds $3.8 billion to the annual Proposition 98 guarantee for public education, which will raise per-pupil spending 66 percent above 2011-12 levels and bring total Proposition 98 funding from $47.3 billion in 2011-12 to $78.3 billion. The proposed budget will provide $11,614 per pupil in the next fiscal year, compared with $7,008 in 2011-12.

The budget also maintains Governor Brown’s commitment to fully funding the Local Control Funding Formula. The formula is California’s ambitious, ground-breaking plan to help all students, while giving extra resources to those with the greatest needs, students from low-income families, English learners, and foster youth.

Source: Torlakson Praises Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

California National Title I Distinguished Schools – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated two California schools for receiving national recognition for achievement in 2017. Ulloa Elementary School in San Francisco and Alvarado Elementary School in Signal Hill are two of up to 100 schools being recognized as National Title I Distinguished Schools.

“Congratulations to Principal Carol Fong and Principal Lucy Salazar, as well as all the teachers, administrators, staff, school board members, parents, classified employees, and students for these schools,” said Torlakson. “They are all examples of aiming high, achieving goals, and continuing to move forward and upward—the California Way.”

A project of the National Title I Association, the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying Title I schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. Beginning in 1996, the program has highlighted hundreds of schools with exceptional student performance, as well as schools closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Source: California National Title I Distinguished Schools – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action” | EdSource

By Michael Kirst and Tom Torlakson

This week the state is launching an online report card that identifies district and school performance in an effort to better help all young Californians succeed.

While user-friendly design improvements are in the works, the fall 2017 California School Dashboard upgrades the state’s antiquated Academic Performance Index, which was based exclusively on standardized tests. To better identify students who are succeeding and those who need help, the Dashboard includes five additional measures: graduation and suspension rates, college and career readiness, English learner progress and chronic absenteeism. In turn, schools and districts can use this information to better refine their strategies to support and accelerate learning.

Source: California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action” | EdSource

Torlakson Meets with Mexican Education Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson continued his efforts today to increase cooperation with Mexico to better serve California students who end up attending school on both sides of the border. He met with leaders of Baja California’s education system, including Miguel Ángel Mendoza González, the Secretary of Education for the State of Baja California, and visited schools in Tijuana.

Officials from both nations are exploring practical ways to better serve these shared students by making it easier to share student records, encouraging more teachers in both nations to be trained in bilingual teaching, and expanding teacher exchanges between Mexico and California to promote bilingual education.

“It is so important at this time to let the people of Baja California and Mexico know that we are extending the hand of friendship,” said Torlakson. “By working together, we can improve the education of students who formerly attended schools in California and may eventually return to California. We can also help meet the needs of Mexican born children attending school in California,” he said. “We are a strong team together! Somos un equipo fuerte!”

Source: Torlakson Meets with Mexican Education Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Meals – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that more than 800,000 California students are now eligible to receive free and reduced priced meals from the state school lunch program through a more streamlined and automated state-level Direct Certification process.

Local education agencies (LEAs) can now use Medi-Cal data included on the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) direct certification reports to certify eligible students. The data exchange between the state departments and the LEAs takes place securely without disclosing a student’s Medicaid status, health information, or specific income data.

This Direct Certification process eliminates the need for families to fill out applications, reduces the administrative tasks of verifying and processing those applications, and identifies eligible students in a more expedient timeline.

Source: CA Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Meals – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Districts to use automated process to certify free lunch-eligible students – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

California families with public school students will no longer be saddled with filling out applications to make sure the children are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches.

Instead, local school districts will use Medi-Cal data as a way to certify eligibility, state schools chief Tom Torlakson noted in a press release issued just before the Thanksgiving holiday break.

The automated process, which affects more than 800,000 K-12 students and began after July 1, includes information from California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) in order to streamline the process through “direct certification,” Cynthia Butler, a spokeswoman for Torlakson, wrote in the prepared statement.

Source: Districts to use automated process to certify free lunch-eligible students

Torlakson Appoints New FASD Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Leisa Maestretti as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Fiscal and Administrative Services Division (FASD).

Maestretti’s duties include managing the CDE’s Fiscal Systems Analysis, Child Development and Child Nutrition, Budget Management, and Accounting Offices, as well as overseeing fiscal systems and processes, including the Department’s upcoming transition to the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal).

“Maestretti’s extensive background in fiscal administration and accounting will help support the CDE’s mission of overseeing the state’s diverse public school system,” said Torlakson. “Her leadership and management skills will help ensure that the CDE’s financial systems run smoothly, incorporate the latest technology, and maintain our transparency.”

Source: Torlakson Appoints New FASD Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Board Approves History Social Science Materials – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

Torlakson assails DOE changes to federal sex harassment, assault guidelines – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson assailed U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for repealing guidance letters under Title IX that made it easier to protect the rights of victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

“Victims of sexual assault and harassment must know that they will have a fair chance at justice when they come forward with serious accusations,” he said in a press released issued Monday. “California has changed our laws to make our system more just and to make certain victims are heard. The actions by the federal government take us backward.”

As state schools chief, Torlakson, who is also a University of California regent and a California State University trustee, vowed to fight for the rights of victims while protecting the rights of the accused.

Source: Torlakson assails DOE changes to federal sex harassment, assault guidelines

Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2017 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded Learning programs can play a critical role in motivating and engaging students and helping them succeed inside and outside the classroom,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to thank the dedicated staff members who work each day to teach, challenge, and encourage students to achieve their full potential.”

The awards ceremony is part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of after school programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.

Improving and expanding after school and other learning programs outside regular school hours has been a top priority for Torlakson since he entered public service. Torlakson has fought for adequate funding of these programs and created the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division. Torlakson has vigorously opposed President Trump’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Expanded Learning, calling it “counterproductive and short-sighted.” The President proposed eliminating all federal funding for Expanded Learning programs, which would take away $127 million or about 18 percent of the total amount California spends on Expanded Learning.

Source: Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Barbara Murchison as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Professional Learning Support Division.

Murchison will oversee the division’s efforts to support educators throughout their professional career, from recruitment to leadership opportunities. This division works in collaboration across the Department and the state, helping educators implement the California Standards and curriculum frameworks.

It administers several professional learning programs for educators at all levels and in all content areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, history-social science, literacy, and arts, with the goal of ensuring equitable learning opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students, including English learners.

Murchison most recently served as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Lead, where she helped create a plan that meets federal requirements while shifting away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that helps local school districts better meet their own needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.

Source: New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Funding Relief for Schools Closed Due to Wildfires – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today directed the California Department of Education to work with all schools and school districts forced to close as a result of massive wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties so that they may qualify for relief from the loss of state Average Daily Attendance (ADA) student funding.

“Safety for students and school staff is a top priority of the California Department of Education. Any schools forced to close as a result of the fires may be able to recoup these important ADA funds,” Torlakson said. “My staff will help affected school administrators through the process of applying for waivers due to school closures. Schools should not suffer financially or in any other way for putting safety first in any kind of emergency.”

One out-of-control blaze in and around northern Santa Rosa called the Tubbs Fire had burned at least 20,000 acres by Monday morning. Numerous homes and business were destroyed, a mobile home park burned, and some wineries were enveloped in flames. Public schools closed Monday in several cities including Napa, Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

Source: Funding Relief for Schools Closed Due to Wildfires – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

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

The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

There are two sides to every story, and the adage applies to recently released CAASPP scores given last spring to California public school students in grades three through eight and 11.

For the past two years, Superintendent Tom Torlakson and local educators generally have framed the results in, understandably, more positive-sounding ways, stressing that certain percentages of students “met” or “exceeded” state standards on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, an all-computerized test begun three years ago as the then-relatively new California State Standards began to take effect.

In brief, the tests gauge, at every grade level, whether students 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 job market, or the military — all of which increasingly demand technology literacy.

Source: Richard Bammer: The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story

VUSD leaders convene attendance workshop today – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who declared September as Attendance Awareness Month in an effort, in part, to stem chronic absenteeism, wants school district leaders, staff and teachers to remind families about the importance of being in class each day.

Vacaville Unified trustees, who this morning will convene a special governing board workshop, are expected to hear the message that, in one way or another, links chronic absenteeism to high dropout rates, poor literacy skills and behavior problems, among other things, and key preventive measures that parents should begin taking as early as kindergarten.

In an annual district report, Kimberly Forrest, assistant superintendent for student services, and Ramiro Barron, interim director of student attendance and welfare, will lead the discussion and offer a data-filled slide presentation, of outcomes and procedures related to student attendance, suspensions and expulsions — and offer solutions — during the gathering in the Educational Services Center.

Source: VUSD leaders convene attendance workshop today