By John Fensterwald
The State Board of Education, as expected, voted Thursday to move ahead in the spring with the new Smarter Balanced tests on the Common Core State Standards while leaving open, for now, the decision on what to do with the test results.
At the meeting, the organizations representing the state’s school administrators and school boards said they support reporting test scores to parents and schools. But they would like to postpone using results to judge schools and districts. They argued that many districts aren’t far enough along in adopting the new standards to credibly appraise schools’ performance. The Association of California School Administrators said in a statement that each district “is at a different level of implementation.”
via School groups ask to delay API scores | EdSource.
By Susan Winlow
The Fairfield-Suisun Adult School for the second time in four years has received a Golden Bell award from the California School Boards Association.
The award “seeks to reward best practices in education by seeking out sustainable, innovative and exemplary programs that address the changing needs of students,” according to a press release issued by the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
It received the award specifically for its Kindergarten Readiness Roundup, which has taken place for the past two years. Pre-kindergarten children and parents take part in a round of activities that provide information to parents about the readiness of their children for kindergarten. The event also allows district staff to identify children who might need extra help when they begin school.
via Adult school receives award for student readiness program Daily Republic.
By Susan Winlow
Superintendent Kris Corey said Thursday night that there is a huge need in the Fairfield-Suisun School District’s libraries.
Her comment came on the heels of a presentation on the state of the district’s libraries by Amanda Carter, coordinator of instructional media center and libraries, during the regularly scheduled board meeting.
Accompanied by a handful of teacher librarians, they touched on several topics brought to light in an annual assessment and report, particularly the dearth of elementary school librarians who were eliminated during the economic downturn, leaving about 11,000 young students with no librarians.
via District, staff rue lack of librarians in schools Daily Republic.
Vacaville Reporter Posted:
The First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission amended their Tobacco Education, Prevention, and Investment Policy to include additional tobacco and nicotine products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) at its Oct. 17 meeting.
The policy change is a direct response to the recent uptick in e-cigarette usage and accidental child poisonings caused by tobacco and/or nicotine products in Solano County.
“We were made aware of the hazards of e-cigarettes and recognized the need to amend existing policy,” said Patrick Duterte, Former Health and Social Services Director and First 5 Commissioner in a press release. “The revised policy now includes e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco and nicotine products, intended to prevent child exposure and accidental poisonings.”
via First 5 Solano commission amends tobacco policy to include e-cigarettes – The Reporter.
Budget and expense reports are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified staff and program managers update the Measure V Citizen’s Oversight Committee tonight in Vacaville.
They will tell the seven-member committee that the measure’s fund balance is $1.4 million.
Since passed by voters in 2001, the $101.3 million bond measure has paid for a variety of modernization projects at the district’s 16 campuses, among them upgrades to Wood and Vacaville high schools, Vaca Pena and Jepson middle schools and more than a half-dozen elementaries.
via Budget updates on Measure V Citizen’s Oversight Committee agenda in Vacaville – The Reporter.
By Arun Ramanathan
Arun RamanathanA couple of years ago, I began getting calls from my daughter’s school asking me to pick her up from the office. She would tell her teacher that she had a tummy ache, get sent to the office and ask the school secretary to call her daddy to come pick her up before she threw up.
When the call came, I was usually in the middle of some “important” meeting. But I would jump in my car and drive over to the school as quickly as I could. Over the years I have learned that hell hath no fury like a school secretary whose office has been just been puked on.
When I picked her up, my daughter would grimace and groan like she’d just eaten a rotten egg. But by mid-afternoon the tummy aches would miraculously disappear. So when the next call from the office came, I asked the secretary to give her a glass of water and send her back to class.
via Accountability plans should start with focus on Common Core | EdSource.
By John Glidden
Richard Porter says he hasn’t changed his mind: He wants to keep teaching.
Porter, who received the second most votes for the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education during the Nov. 4 election, said that the recent updated election results posted Friday by the Solano County Registrar of Voters have not changed his mind.
“I’ve been having discussions about my options,” Porter said by phone Monday. “But I don’t think (my decision) will change.
via Trustee-elect Porter wants to keep teaching – Vallejo Times Herald.
Times-Herald staff report Posted:
Incumbent Steve Messina lost his seat on the Benicia Unified School Board to challenger Diane Ferrucci in the recent election.
A week after election day, all precincts and vote-by-mail ballots have been counted for the three seats on the school board. Provisional ballots have not been completed as of Tuesday.
Incumbents Peter Morgan and Rose Switzer were reelected to the board, while Messina was unseated with about 21 percent of the votes.
Messina was first elected into the school board in 2009, but is no stranger to public office. He served on the Benicia City Council for a decade, including eight years as mayor from 1999 to 2007.
via Challenger takes seat on Benicia school board – The Reporter.
By Richard Bammer
Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders will hold two board meetings, the first one for new board members followed by a regular board session, when they meet Thursday in Fairfield.
The new board member meeting will be at 4 p.m., and Chris L. Wilson, newly elected trustee for Area No. 4, likely will be on hand.
The governing board then will go into closed session at 5 p.m., and reconvene in open session at 6, when trustees, among other things, will consider for approval the district’s new mission and vision statements. Superintendent Kris Corey will lead the discussion.
via New mission, vision statements on Fairfield-Suisun Unified School Distrcit agenda – The Reporter.
By Tim Roe
The coach who never was a teacher may have been the best teacher ever.
Solano County officials and coaches were still reeling on Tuesday, three days after the death of longtime Dixon High School basketball coach George Skezas. He was 71.
“He believed in what he did, and he believed in kids,” said Brian Dolan, the superintendent of Dixon Unified School District, who was principal of Dixon High when Skezas was the assistant principal.
via Longtime area high school basketball coach George Skezas dies – The Reporter.
By Lauren Camera
Ahead of the U.S. Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind waiver guidance, expected this week, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Democrats who represent majority-minority districts are urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan to ensure the academic achievement of all students.
In a letter sent to Duncan Monday, Miller and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, asked the department to guarantee that states seeking a renewal of their waivers remain accountable for the achievement of all students, including minority students, students with disabilities, low-income students, and English language learners.
via Democrats Call on Ed. Department to Ensure Equity in NCLB Waiver Guidance – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
Schools across the country are focused on improving standardized test scores as a measure of student achievement and school success. But when it comes to measuring what factors best predict high school graduation and college enrollment, other factors stand out: grades and attendance. Looking Forward to College and High School, a new study by the University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research (CCSR), found that grades and attendance also matter more than race, poverty or other demographic characteristics.
“Test scores are very good at predicting future test scores but not as strongly predictive of other outcomes we care about, like whether students will struggle or succeed in high school coursework or graduate from college,” said UChicago CCSR Lewis-Sebring Director Elaine Allensworth, the lead author of the report, said in a statement.
via In Middle School, Grades and Attendances Matter « Attendance Works Attendance Works.
By Susan Winlow
Board members will hear an annual assessment and report regarding the condition and use of school libraries when the Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board meets at 6 p.m. in open session on Thursday.
Staff reports state that the evaluations occur in the following areas: accessing and staffing, total number of books in the collection, number of books per student, amount of funding, and special programs that encourage reading and library use.
via Schools library assessment shows areas of concern Daily Republic.
By Lauren Camera
An update to the Child Care Development Block Grant program could be on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of next week, if Congress holds to schedule.
The Senate will begin the process of taking up the measure on Thursday with final passage expected early next week, according to a Senate aide.
The measure, which has not been updated since 1996, would require states to conduct comprehensive background checks on child-care providers, something only about a dozen states call for now. It would also give parents more information about available child-care options, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allow parents to choose a program that best suits their family’s needs.
via Child Care Block Grant Slated for Senate Passage – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Richard Bammer
During a governing board meeting in the Educational Services Center, the teachers, three from high schools and one from a middle school, made their remarks as they updated trustees on the district’s current teaching practices, including those prescribed and influenced by Common Core State Standards.
Using a computer-aided slide show, Ali Eeds, a 10th-grade world history teacher at Vacaville High, said that, under Common Core — which emphasizes deep exploration of key concepts in all subjects and writing — history students must be prepared to do several things:
via Vacaville Unified School District leaders hear update on district’s history standards – The Reporter.
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified students continue to slightly lag behind state averages in physical fitness, data from a Department of Education report indicate.
While the report, released Thursday, notes that California students are becoming more fit in six tested areas, local students are generally not matching or exceeding statewide averages in the tests that measure aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper body strength, and flexibility.
via CDE report: Vaca students lag slightly behind state physical fitness averages – The Reporter.
By Richard Bammer
In no-surprise unanimous votes, Vacaville Unified trustees on Thursday approved two sizable contracts, one to pay for computers, the other for a special education study.
Meeting in the Educational Services Center, the seven-member governing board gave the go-ahead to buy 1,100 refurbished Google Chromebooks for $367,000 from Chicago-based Computer Dealers Inc. Common Core money, provided by the state, will be used to purchase the technology, at $334 per computer.
Trustees then authorized a $28,000 contract for a special education study from Total School Solutions, a Fairfield firm that serves the interests of school districts and students, in areas ranging from budget and finance to operations and technology.
via Vacaville school leaders OK pair of purchase contracts – The Reporter.
Letter to the Editor
I am attending the Fairfield-Suisun Adult School because after having a baby at a young age, it was extremely hard to care for my baby and not fall behind in school.
When I did not graduate because I was 42 credits behind, I went looking for alternative ways to get a high school diploma. When I found the adult school, it was a great way to get a diploma quickly at no cost. They have a graduation ceremony just like a high school. Although I missed out on a lot of the normal high school experiences, I won’t miss out on getting a diploma like everyone else.
via Adult school helps to get ahead Daily Republic.
Four years ago, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for the damage I had done to students who came into my room loving (or at least liking) school and left diminished in some ways. Those kids who loved math until my long-winded lectures about process left them confused and bitter. Those kids that loved to read until my strict book report guidelines and reading logs devoured their curiosity for great stories.
I had to take responsibility for what I had done. There was no one else to blame. Just as important, I had to make sure that my future students would leave our classroom still loving school, with passionate curiosity, not afraid to try something new.
How do we make children hate school so much? I now teach 5th grade, and by the time they reach me, certain subjects have already landed on their top 10 list of most dreadful things to do. Math tends to top the chart, but social studies usually is close behind, and some even hate reading (but may read many books outside of school). Most students confess a love of recess, art, music, and sometimes even science. PE is always a crowd favorite as well. But math and social studies, yikes.
via How One Teacher Changed for the Good of Her Students | MindShift.
By Louis Freedberg
One immediate consequence of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s rebuff of challenger Marshall Tuck is to ensure the continuance of the cohesion in state education policy that has been forged since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to Sacramento four years ago.
“Who is in charge?” is a question that hovered for decades over what State Board of Education President Michael Kirst has described as an inherently “fractured and fractious” education governing structure. But the last several years have demonstrated that, under the right conditions, dysfunction is not necessarily a constant condition of California politics.
Torlakson’s victory guarantees that there will be continuity on the key reforms underway in California schools, most notably the Common Core State Standards, the new Smarter Balanced assessments to be administered to 3 million California children in the spring, and the dramatic revision of school funding, including targeting funds at low-income students, English learners and foster children.
via Torlakson victory ensures continuity in reforms | EdSource.