Outstanding Achievement in Learning Award – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education)

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the Collaborative Mentoring Program at Kastner Intermediate School in Fresno as the recipient of the 2015 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL).

“I commend Kastner Intermediate School for implementing this innovative, inspiring partnership that benefits both special education students and general education students,” Torlakson said. “This program reminds us of how important it is important to value the abilities of all our students and provide them with the support that allows them to achieve optimal success.”

The announcement was made at today’s meeting of the California Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE) held in Sacramento.

“It is an honor and pleasure to announce this year’s GOAL winner,” said Commissioner and Chair of the GOAL award committee Nancy Portillo. “Their creative and inspirational peer mentoring model is truly an inclusive program that provides opportunities for students to learn and grow together.”

via Outstanding Achievement in Learning Award – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).

Fairfield, Vallejo educators bring home top awards – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

A Fairfield High School history teacher and a classified employee from Lincoln Elementary School in Vallejo took home top honors Wednesday at Solano County’s Educator of the Year award ceremony.

Both Jeanine Cortes, an office manager whose father and son went to Lincoln, and Shari Patterson were emotional as their names were called during the ceremony at the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center. Both won among a pool of district winners and will move on to the state contest.

This is the second year in a row that the Fairfield-Suisun School District has taken home top educator honors. Last year’s Teacher of the Year was Michelle Labelle-Fisch from K.I. Jones Elementary School, who went on to become a state semifinalist.

via Fairfield, Vallejo educators bring home top awards Daily Republic.

Special Rose Garden tribute at Fairview Elementary – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

You cannot keep a bright outlook on life while wearing ill-fitting shoes. They hurt your feet.

Rose Kennedy knew this when she visited Fairview Elementary School in December 2012, when she first learned that many of the low-income children at the First Street campus in Fairfield were coming to class in hand-me-down shoes, most them too small or too big, literally rubbing their wearers the wrong way, and often over socks with holes.

And some of those children, most receiving free or reduced-cost school meals under federal guidelines, had far more serious problems, too, among them being homeless or as members of families facing home foreclosure. For them, comfortable shoes were, understandably, not a priority.

via Late NorthBay Healthcare employee remembered at Fairview Elementary with ‘special rose garden’.

State vaccination bill passes Senate committee | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

The issue of mandatory vaccinations roiled a legislative hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday for the third time this month, and for the third time, state Senate committee members approved the proposed state law that would restrict exemptions to required school vaccinations.

Senate Bill 277, which would remove the “personal belief exemption” that allows parents to opt out of school vaccination laws, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 5-1 on Tuesday and moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill previously passed the Senate Health and the Senate Education committees.

via State vaccination bill passes Senate committee | EdSource#.VUEMCWctHGg#.VUEMCWctHGg.

State data shows more Vallejo students graduated – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

While the Benicia Unified School District remained stable, the Vallejo City Unified School District saw a higher graduation rate — and a lower dropout rate — in the 2013-2014 school year, according to data released by the California Department of Education on Tuesday.

American Canyon High School, however, saw a slight dip.

The Vallejo school district had a 72 percent graduation rate and a 21.2 dropout rate last year, which was an improvement from the 65 percent graduation and 27.6 dropout rates in the 2013 cohort. However, the district’s graduation rate is still lower than the national rate at 80.8 percent.

The increase in graduation is reflective of the statewide trend. The 2014 state data showed an 0.4 of a percentage point increase from the year before.

via State data shows more Vallejo students graduated.

High school grad rates a mixed bag for area districts, schools – The Reporter

Not necessarily reflecting statewide trends, Vacaville-area school districts and schools this year appear to be reporting a mixed bag of data about their cohort graduation rate, meaning those students who started high school in 2010-11 and picked up their diplomas in 2014.

The news comes as Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, reported on Tuesday that California’s cohort graduation rate climbed for the fifth year in a row in 2014, to a record high. The biggest jump occurred among English learners.

In Vacaville Unified, the graduation rate was 83.1 percent, down by more than a percentage point from the previous year for which state data is available.

By school, the numbers were 99 percent at Buckingham Charter High (about the same as in 2012-13); 91.8 percent at Vacaville High (up slightly from the previous year); and 88.3 percent at Will C. Wood, down by more than 2 percentage points from the previous year.

via High school grad rates a mixed bag for area districts, schools.

Callison Elementary School secretary vies for top award – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Just when a lot of people are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, Vivian Howell prepares “to take care of the substitutes (teachers)” who will be arriving at any moment.

Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m., the Callison Elementary School secretary gets to work. “I get their substitute packets ready,” she said. “(Room) keys, the absence list, their name tag …”

And so it goes in that early hour, without complaint, as it has for the past 25 years for the longtime secretary at the Vanden Road campus.

via Callison Elementary School secretary vies for top school-support employee award in Solano.

Could Common Core Help Grow Arts Education in Schools? | MindShift

Arts programs have long suffered cuts as schools adjust to meeting the growing demands of academic performance and standardized tests. Students are rarely tested on the arts, and arts knowledge is challenging to measure, so it becomes an easy target when schools are pressed for money and results. So how does one justify arts spending when test scores are at stake?

Ascend Learning charter schools is betting on the arts to tap into the benefits of arts in learning, according to The Hechinger Report. Students are surrounded by art and the schools replicate a museum-like environment. While the demands of academic performance has had its role in cuts to the arts, educators are hoping that Common Core standards will bring back attention to the importance of the arts, as Sara Neufeld reports for The Hechinger Report:

via Could Common Core Help Grow Arts Education in Schools? | MindShift.

Project-based learning on the rise under the Common Core | EdSource

By Katherine Ellison and Louis Freedberg

The young-adult novel “Hatchet” – about a boy who learns to live in the wild after surviving a plane crash – has been a staple of elementary-school English classes for years. But this year Sara Siebert taught it with a twist.

She assigned her fifth-graders at the Santiago Elementary School in the Santa Ana Unified School District to build rafts out of popsicle sticks, string, duct tape and glue to recreate part of the book in which the boy uses his only tool – a hatchet his mother gave him before his departure – to build a raft.In the process, the students not only gained new appreciation for the novel but drew on their math skills to measure and design their materials, and deepened their knowledge of science by learning about buoyancy and solubility.

via Project-based learning on the rise under the Common Core | EdSource#.VT-0OGctHGg#.VT-0OGctHGg.

Vallejo school board to decide whether to support flood control district’s rate restructure – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo school board will decide Tuesday morning — during a special meeting — whether to support the Vallejo Sanitation & Flood Control District’s proposed restructuring of the storm water service rate.

Currently, each land parcel in the city of Vallejo is taxed by the flood control district at the same rate — $1.97 per month — whether it is residential, or a 400,000 square feet piece of commercial land.

If the rate restructuring is approved, rates would vary according to parcel size. Many residential properties would remain at the current rate, while units in multi-unit buildings would begin to pay only $1.04 per month.

Commercial rates would increase according to parcel size because they usually have more pavement and development, which generates more runoff and pollutants that flow into the drain system, according to flood control district literature.

via Vallejo school board to decide whether to support flood control district’s rate restructure.

Federal government urges K-12 schools to comply with Title IX | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

The U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance on Friday reminding K-12 school districts that, like colleges and universities, they also must have systems in place to address sexual harassment and ensure equal opportunities for male and female athletes.

Such systems are required under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The guidance comes against a backdrop of national concern about sexual assaults on college campuses. The Department has published a list of about 100 colleges it is investigating regarding how they have handled such complaints.

The federal guidance reiterates that school districts must designate a Title IX coordinator to inform students about their rights and instruct administrators about their responsibilities under the law. Key areas of compliance include ensuring equitable athletic opportunities for girls and boys, providing educational opportunities for pregnant and parenting teenagers, and addressing sex-based harassment.

via Federal government urges K-12 schools to comply with Title IX | EdSource#.VT51cWctHGg#.VT51cWctHGg.

Young girls learn that science is fun at Benicia event – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Natalie Kidder and Fary Koh say they believe the whole world would be better off with more women in the sciences, so they produce events like Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Day for girls in Benicia on Saturday.

The two women, who come at the issue from slightly different perspectives, teamed up for these events which give girls in grades 2 to 6 hands-on experience in several disciplines. Legos, which feature prominently in Koh’s Benicia business, BrickSpace, are used to teach engineering, for instance. Strawberries, meanwhile, were reduced to their basic DNA during another workshop elsewhere in the facility.

via Young girls learn that science is fun at Benicia event.

Vacaville, Vanden high school robotics squads score big at world championships – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Robotics squads from Vacaville and Vanden high schools on Saturday reached the upper echelons of the world robotics championships as the Davis High School team took top honors under the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Vacaville’s Phil Jenschke, adviser to the RoboDogs, said the team reached the 33rd spot in their 75-team division, the Carson, but their scores prompted higher-ranked teams to select them for the fourth-seed alliance. They managed to reach the semifinals, placing them among the upper ranks of the 600 teams, national and international, that flocked to the domed stadium for several days of what organizers call “varsity sports for the mind.”

via Vacaville, Vanden high school robotics squads score big at world championships.

US Dept of Ed Pushes for More High-Quality Preschools – Education News

By Grace Smith

This year, Congress is seeking to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and as a part of that goal create equity of opportunity, starting with the country’s youngest children. A document published by the US Department of Education this month, entitled A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, spells out the issues at hand that must be addressed in order to offer quality early childhood education to families in every geographic area, of every race, and of every socioeconomic level.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan begins the outline of how this will be done:

“I believe that every single child deserves the opportunity for a strong start in life through high-quality preschool, and expanding those opportunities must be part of ESEA [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act].”

If school readiness gaps between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers is not closed, the country will be unable to ensure that all children graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, careers, and life, says the Department.

via US Dept of Ed Pushes for More High-Quality Preschools.

Vacaville trustees get an earful about what to do with Sierra Vista School – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The re-opening of Sierra Vista Elementary will not happen overnight, but already its eventual fate in the coming nine to 16 months prompted on Thursday a lively discussion among Vacaville Unified trustees, administrators and several passionate district parents.

Near the end of a 2 1/2-hour governing board workshop in the Educational Services Center, Superintendent Ken Jacopetti said that he welcomed the public comments as he suggested the district’s “next steps” for the Bel Air Drive campus. Among them were 1) conducting a community survey; and 2) allowing for additional airing of public sentiment about the school’s re-opening and what would be housed there under two options proposed by district staff — and possibly other options suggested by the public during the workshop.

His comments — and the workshop — came as the district and board members essentially marked the beginning of Phase 1 projects under Measure A, the $194 million school bond measure passed by a solid majority of Vacaville voters in November.

via Vacaville trustees get an earful about what to do with Sierra Vista School.

Dont Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching | Edutopia

By Johanna Rauhala

Ice crystallized on the windshield, then a tire burst on the way to school, making you late. By the time you arrived, the computer (with the video clip and presentation cued up) froze. Minutes later, Jason pulled the fire alarm while you tried to catch up on parent emails. During lunch duty, an honor student was punched in the nose. Your nose is stuffy while you explain to the principal right before an IEP meeting why your plans havent been submitted yet. The day trudges along. . . At last, the final bell rings, and in your first quiet moment of the day, thoughts of leaving the teaching profession suddenly seem, well, right.

Its that moment when you want to say, “I quit!”

We dont talk about those feelings because were supposed to be like those heroic teacher-as-savior figures that permeate popular narratives about our work. And yet. . .

via Dont Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching | Edutopia.

Start Strong: 5/13 Webinar on Attendance in the Early Years – Attendance Works

Did you know that chronic absence affects one in 10 children in kindergarten and first grade nationwide? And that early childhood education can lay a foundation for better attendance in the years ahead?

Start Strong, a free webinar from the Attendance Awareness Campaign at 2 p.m. ET on May 13, will explore early absenteeism and offer strategies for helping our youngest learners build the essential skill of showing up on time every day.

We know that children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later grades.

Early childhood programs, schools and community partners can give young children a strong start. Speakers from Attendance Works and local communities will tell how they are using data, reaching out to families to offer support in overcoming common health challenges and developmental delays, and educating parents about the benefits of engaging programs and instruction in the early grades.

via Start Strong: 5/13 Webinar on Attendance in the Early Years – Attendance Works Attendance Works.

Family Night connects Vallejo schools with parents – Times Herald

By Dianne de Guzman

Instead of kids sitting at desks in the classrooms of Federal Terrace Elementary School, parents were there learning a thing or two on Tuesday night.

The event is called Spring Family Night and parents were invited into classrooms to take part in three different workshops addressing different areas of family life.

This spring, schools offered workshops on nutrition, financial education and technology. This is all done as part of Vallejo City Unified School District’s full-service community school program, that works on helping students improve academically by offering services for families.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Ramona Bishop said that by having parents attend workshops, such as nutrition education, the classes help the whole family — not to mention the student.

“Years ago, we started our full-service community schools and this is just part of what the program does,” Bishop said. “(Spring Family Night) allows our families to learn things that they need to keep those students healthy.”

via Family Night connects Vallejo schools with parents.

Sierra Vista re-opening options on the VUSD agenda tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Discussion about Measure A projects continues in earnest tonight, when Vacaville Unified trustees meet in a special governing board workshop.

Dan Banowetz, director of facilities, who earlier this year informed the governing board about the measure’s Phase 1 projects, will go into considerable detail about two options for re-opening Sierra Vista Elementary, at 301 Bel Air Drive.

Built in 1979, the school — with 21 permanent classrooms, seven portables and a capacity for nearly 600 students — was closed in 2011 as the district faced declining enrollments. It currently houses the district’s Independent Study program.

Depending on the option, the upgrades and projected student capacity — which will include, among other things, modernization of existing facilities, expanded parking, new science classrooms and a new multipurpose room with a stage and kitchen — may cost an estimated $1.7 million to $15 million.

via Sierra Vista re-opening options on the VUSD agenda tonight.

Vaca, Vanden robotics teams ready for world championships – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Adult leaders of the Vacaville and Vanden high school robotics teams on Wednesday surveyed their temporary universe, the cavernous Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, preparing for today’s first qualifying matches of the high school robotics world championship.

“We’re watching practice matches — our robot’s on the field,” said Phil Jenschke, adviser to the RoboDogs, the name of the Vacaville High School award-winning robotics team.

He said Dome crews had removed the field’s artificial turf to reveal a giant concrete pad, where, through Saturday, eight subdivisions of some 70 teams each, from throughout the United States and several from overseas, will vie for top honors and chances for sizable amounts of scholarship money.

“We’re in the Carson subdivision,” said an enthused Jenschke, who, with 17 students and seven adults, is making his second trip in as many years to St. Louis by virtue of qualifying at recent regional robotics competitions.

via Vaca, Vanden robotics teams ready for world championships.