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

2017 CA National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 23 California public schools that have been chosen as 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

“Congratulations to all the schools on this list and to the educators, parents, students, and communities for helping students believe in themselves, set high goals, and realize their potential,” Torlakson said. “You are shining examples of the terrific things happening in California public education, and we must keep our momentum going because the California Way is to move forward and upward.”

The California winners are among 342 schools announced this morning by the U.S. Department of Education. In its 35-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,500 schools.

Source: 2017 CA National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a few weeks’ delay, the 2017 online state standardized test scores are in, and most Vacaville-area school districts posted results that met or exceeded Solano County and state averages but largely remained the same as last year’s, reflecting the latest state averages, several administrators said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Wednesday the results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English and mathematics, noting, in a prepared statement, that they

“remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.”

Source: New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages

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)

High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson strongly encourages sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students to pre-register to vote with the beginning of High School Voter Education Weeks from September 18–29.

“This is a terrific opportunity for educators to talk with high school students about the critical importance of voting, prepare them to participate in elections, and pre-register online,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “Working together, we can educate and encourage our young citizens to register to vote and turn out at the polls to ensure their voices are heard in 2017 and beyond.”

The Legislature in 2014 designated the last two weeks of April and September as High School Voter Education Weeks and authorized schools to designate students as “voter outreach coordinators.” Teachers can help eligible students pre-register or register to vote either on a paper form or online. Voter outreach coordinators can lead registration drives and other school activities aimed at civic participation.

Source: High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, is encouraging school districts and staff to remind families about the importance of daily attendance and help them overcome challenges that can lead to chronic absenteeism.

“Interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism should be supportive and not punitive,” said Torlakson. “There are many students who miss school days due to issues beyond their control at the start of the school year like an illness or transportation problems. It is important to identify and link students and families to appropriate school and community resources when students miss the first days of school.”

As part of California’s efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism, recently enacted legislation expanded the role of attendance supervisors to include tracking student attendance, promoting a culture of attendance, and developing interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism.

For the first time, the California Department of Education (CDE) is collecting chronic absenteeism rates in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). This data is critical in helping school administrators and attendance supervisors identify where chronic absenteeism is concentrated in each school district.

Source: September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Denunciation chorus loud, clear – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

As expected, President Trump’s decision Tuesday to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and his urging of Congress to replace it with legislation, prompted an outcry from several California elected officials and local and national educators — but it also earned applause from immigration reform advocates.

Part of the denunciation chorus, understandably large in California because more than one in four DACA recipients lives in the Golden State, state schools chief Tom Torlakson told California public school students and their families that California will keep protecting and supporting them.

Source: Denunciation chorus loud, clear

State superintendent candidates agree teacher shortage must be top priority | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

At an education conference Thursday, the two announced candidates for state superintendent of public instruction called for more strategies to counter a teacher shortage they said is gripping the state. The comments by Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond indicate the issue will factor heavily in their campaigns to replace retiring State Superintendent Tom Torlakson next year.

“The shortage is a massive crisis that few are talking about,” said Tuck, a former president of the Green Dot charter network in Los Angeles, who is making his second run for the office. Adopting short- and long-term approaches “must be the number one priority in the state,” he said.

Source: State superintendent candidates agree teacher shortage must be top priority | EdSource

Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today toured the Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School in the Robla School District to voice his opposition to proposed federal budget cuts that would harm this program and many others in California and the nation.

President Trump has proposed eliminating all funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers run After School, Summer Learning, and other Expanded Learning programs.

Nationally, his proposed cuts would remove $1.2 billion in funding. In California, the proposed cuts would take away $137 million of the total of $730 million spent on Expanded Learning programs, or about 18 percent of the total budget.

“Today we are shining a light on the wonderful Summer Learning and After School programs that engage, teach, and inspire 860,000 students in California each year,” Torlakson said. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could devastate Summer Learning and After School programs. These proposed cuts are short-sighted, counterproductive, and just wrong. As leaders, we should be searching for ways to help our students thrive, rather than blocking proven paths to success.”

Source: Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Top state ed official extols budget increases for K-12 schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was all smiles when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2017–18 state budget. After all, it increases funding for K-12 public schools, after-school programs, early education and child care, and teacher recruitment and training.

“When we invest more in our students, we help them succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” he said in a press release issued late last month. “This budget continues the strong growth in what I call the ‘California Way,’ where legislators, the governor, education groups, the business community, and others are working closely together to keep improving our education system.”

The Legislature approved the budget June 15, the date required by the state Constitution. Brown’s signature on the state’s key funding document kicked off the new spending plan July 1.

California has the nation’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students at nearly 10,000 public schools.

 

Source: Top state ed official extols budget increases for K-12 schools

State Budget with Increases for Education Funding – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today thanked Governor Brown for signing a 2017–18 state budget that increases funding for kindergarten through twelfth grade public schools, after school programs, early education and child care, and teacher recruitment and training.

“The Legislature and Governor clearly showed their strong and ongoing support of high-quality public education in California,” Torlakson said. “When we invest more in our students, we help them succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.

“This budget continues the strong growth in what I call the ‘California Way,’ where legislators, the Governor, education groups, the business community, and others are working closely together to keep improving our education system.”

The Legislature approved the budget on June 15, the date required by the State Constitution. Governor Brown’s signature on Tuesday means the new state funding plan starts on July 1.

Source: State Budget with Increases for Education Funding – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

New Early Education and Support Division Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Sarah Neville-Morgan as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Early Education and Support Division.

Neville-Morgan will oversee a division that provides leadership and support to the early learning and care community, providers, and contractors statewide, ensuring high-quality early education programs for young children.

Neville-Morgan most recently served as Deputy Director of Program Management at First 5 California, and she worked as a CDE Child Development Consultant from 2011 to 2013.

“I am pleased to have such an experienced and dynamic early education leader back on the CDE team,” Torlakson said. “Sarah brings tremendous knowledge, dedication, and teamwork that will help provide top-quality services for our earliest learners.”

Source: New Early Education and Support Division Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)