State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that students have begun taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the state’s computer-based, online assessments given in grades three through eight and eleven.
“These tests in mathematics and English language arts/literacy are one of the many ways we measure how well students are doing at the challenging job of preparing for college and a career,” Torlakson said. “I encourage all students to take advantage of this opportunity to put their learning and their skills to the test.”
2016 marks the second year more than 3 million California students will take part in CAASPP, which was designed to gauge their progress toward the learning goals set for California students. Districts and schools select their individual testing dates.
The CAASPP asks students to demonstrate the kinds of abilities they will need to do well in college and the 21st century workplace—including analytical writing, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Source: Start of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Ryan McCarthy
Donations will pay for student travel, meals and lodging in an April 20-23 trip to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Kentucky that 17 students and four teachers from the Fairfield-Suisun School District plan to attend.
Thirteen students and three teachers from Grange Middle School, along with four students and a teacher from Armijo High School, plan to attend the event in Louisville.
The trip will cost a total of $28,187 – including $2,800 to pay substitute teachers – according to a school district report.
Source: Donations will pay for student trips to Kentucky robotics competition
By Ryan McCarthy
Schools lacking libraries, crowded lunches at Fairfield High and outdated toilets at all schools are among special projects important to Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees, says a report about potential Measure J projects paid for if a bond wins voter approval June 7.
The report on the “prioritization process review” that goes before trustees Thursday includes a prioritized project list.
“The board and the community told us what they wanted,” according to the report, while the “staff determined how those priorities would be made.”
Source: Libraries, lunches, bathrooms among special projects for potential Measure J money
By Claudio Sanchez
Teachers unions are breathing easier after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a deadlocked vote, rejected an effort to restrict public sector unions from collecting fees from nonunion members.
The 4-4 vote, the second such tie since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, lets stand an appeals court decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. As a result, the ability of unions like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers to collect fees from all teachers to subsidize their collective bargaining efforts remains unchanged.
“This case was never about what was best for students,” Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the NEA, said in a teleconference today with reporters. “We’ve used collective bargaining to improve the learning conditions of students, class size, school nurses.”
Source: With Supreme Court Tie, Teachers Unions Dodge A Bullet : NPR Ed : NPR
By Katrina Schwartz
It was lunch time at Marysville School in Southeast Portland when the fire broke out. Teachers quickly herded their students out of the building to the sports field behind the school as the old colonial-style building burned. The fire that traumatized students and staff alike was in 2009, when Lana Penley was in her second year as principal. The 460 students and 50 staff members of the K-8 school relocated to a vacant school building in another part of Portland, displaced from their school site for three years as the district rebuilt the Marysville building.
“We were already a school that struggled, and then adding [the fire] on top of it, we really thought we needed to find a social and emotional curriculum that connects to the heart to overcome our trauma,” Penley explained. When the school reopened, Penley and her staff started using the MindUP curriculum, developed by the Hawn Foundation (founded by the actress Goldie Hawn), to try to address underlying trauma both from the fire and from the daily poverty that many students face.
Source: What Changes When a School Embraces Mindfulness? | MindShift | KQED News
By Jessica Rogness
A rainbow of assorted fabrics lined the wall of shelves in the living room, a quilting machine occupied an adjacent wall and approximately a dozen volunteers were busy Tuesday sorting, trimming and stitching fabric.
The volunteers of the Vacaville Binky Patrol descended upon Carla Murphy’s Vacaville home toting their sewing machines to spend five hours making quilts for children who need comforting.
Genele Rhoads of Vacaville was sewing together fabric scraps of mostly blues, greens and golds into quilt squares.
“I’m a novice quilter, so every time I come, I’m learning something new,” said Rhoads.
Source: Vacaville Binky Patrol stitches together comfort for kids
By Richard Bammer
Ana Farina, a teacher and linguist at Vacaville High School, will be honored as Vacaville Unified’s Teacher of the Year by the Vacaville Masonic Lodge.
She will be recognized for her achievement at a 6:30 p.m. Tuesday dinner at the lodge, 897 Cotting Lane, near Vaca Valley Parkway and Interstate 505, Vacaville. The public is invited, and the cost is $10 per person.
Farina, 34, and a Vacaville resident, has been lauded by district educators as extraordinary and a “powerful, positive presence” at the West Monte Vista Avenue campus.
A psychology teacher who earned a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco, she joined the VHS staff three years ago after a successful and storied early career in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, where she received the same honor at age 25.
Source: Masons to fete Vacaville school district Teacher of the Year
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today the designation of 37 Model Continuation High Schools for 2016. These schools are being recognized for their innovative teaching approaches that enable students with diverse needs to complete their high school education.
“I commend these schools for their exceptional work in keeping our students on the path to career and college readiness,” Torlakson said. “Thanks to the guidance and support offered, our students leave with a high-quality education and the self-confidence required to build a better future.”
Continuation high schools meet the needs of students aged 16 years or older who have not graduated from high school, are at risk of not graduating, and are not exempt from compulsory school attendance. The minimum attendance is 15 hours per week or 180 minutes daily.
Students benefit from the supplemental programs and services offered, such as independent study courses, career counseling, job placement, apprenticeships, and concurrent enrollment in community college.
Source: 2016 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Applications are being accepted for a major scholarship for a Dixon High School graduate to attend the University of California, it has been announced.
Administered by the Solano Community Foundation, the David Robben Memorial Scholarship is worth about $80,000, paid out over four years, at $20,000 each year. It is intended to cover tuition and all required fees, books, supplies, and some incidentals. A modest contribution toward room and board may also be included.
In its second year, the scholarship was established to provide financial support to students who achieve academic excellence but might not otherwise be able to earn a college degree without the support.
Last year’s recipient was Alejandro Sanchez, who is currently taking pre-med courses at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Source: Applications being accepted for major Dixon High scholarship
By Daily Republic Staff
The 10th Annual Community Advisory Committee Recognition Awards Ceremony is scheduled for April 18 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Solano County Office of Education, 5100 Business Center Drive..
The awards are presented for outstanding service to students with special needs. Awards are given to one person from each school district within the Solano County Special Education Local Plan Area: Benicia Unified, Dixon Unified, Fairfield-Suisun Unified, Travis Unified, Vacaville Unified and the Solano County Office of Education.
In addition, one community organization representative and one student representative will be honored who have shown dedication to the support of individuals with special needs.
Source: Ceremony to recognize outstanding service to special needs students
By Elena Aguilar
If you are a team leader — a department head, grade-level lead, coach, or an administrator — chances are high that conflict makes you nervous. It makes most of us nervous, and when we’re in a position of leadership, there’s an implicit understanding that we’re supposed to do something about conflict. We may even worry that we contributed or caused the conflict.
I want to make something clear: It is your role to address unhealthy conflict in a team you lead or facilitate. Your primary role as a leader is to attend to your team member’s dynamics with each other and to build a constructive team culture.
Without a healthy team culture, you probably won’t get into the kinds of conversations that make a big difference for students because those conversations are challenging ones in which conflict will most likely surface. That said, let me offer you some ways to manage unhealthy conflict in teams that you lead.
Source: Managing Conflict in School Leadership Teams | Edutopia
By Andrew Ujifusa
Plenty of issues have gotten more ink and pixels in coverage of the Every Student Succeeds Act than parent, family, and other forms of engagement. But advocates for those issues are excited about how the federal education law could reinvigorate communities’ relationships with schools and enhance their impact on policy.
Here’s one big theme in the article I co-wrote this week on how ESSA could change engagement: A lot of the potential changes for the issue don’t necessarily have to do with how the law’s language departs from the No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, there’s a sentiment that because the law shifts more decisionmaking power to states and districts, it’s a big, fresh opportunity for local and state groups representing parents, civil rights groups, and others to work from the ground up with K-12 officials and policymakers.
Source: Examining How ESSA Changes the Terrain for Parent and Community Engagement – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Irma Widjojo
Creating was the name of the game Thursday at Robert Semple Elementary School.
Students traded in their traditional books and pencils with paintbrushes, crayons, even Jelly Beans and their imagination during the annual Art Day at the school.
“This day is a celebration,” Principal Christina Moore said. “It highlights the involvement of the parents, community and the school to put this together. And we realize that students need art in school. … For some students art is the hook that gets them back to school.”
Source: Benicia students enjoy an art-full day
By Dom Pruett
It seems everyone has been affected by a fatal teenage automobile accident in one way or another.
Whether it be a friend or family member, the numbers that back up this assertion are staggering.
In a joint effort between Vanden High School’s Friday Night Live club, the Solano County Office of Education, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, underage drinking — and its correlation to driving — was brought to light Wednesday evening at Vanden High School’s “Little Theater.”
In front of a group of students sitting in on the presentation, Vanden senior and Friday Night Live president Hannah Thueson talked about the dangers of drinking and driving and what she hoped her peers would gain that evening.
Source: Vanden High School’s Friday Night Live educates peers on dangers of underage drinking
By Anya Kamenetz
An artificially intelligent computer system built by Google has just beaten the world’s best human, Lee Sedol of South Korea, at an ancient strategy game called Go. Go originated in Asia about 2,500 years ago and is considered many, many times more complex than chess, which fell to AI back in 1997.
And here’s what’s really crazy. Google’s programmers didn’t explicitly teach AlphaGo to play the game. Instead, they built a sort of model brain called a neural network that learned how to play Go by itself.
Source: What Artificial Intelligence Could Mean For Education : NPR Ed : NPR
By Jeremy Hay
An Oakland Assemblyman has proposed legislation to create new kindergarten readiness standards in state-funded preschools, saying the bill would give low-income students and those learning English an equal shot at academic success.
“It seems simple but we don’t have it,” said Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, author of AB 2410, which he introduced last month. “We’re the largest state in the country and other states have it and, frankly, we need it. We need to know what we’re trying to accomplish in early childhood education. The question should be, ‘How can we not have kindergarten readiness standards?’”
He calls it “a justice issue” that is long overdue.
Bonta’s bill continues a decades-long national debate about whether such standards succeed or, as critics contend, lead to teaching practices and testing that are unsuited to how preschool-age children develop intellectually, behaviorally and emotionally.
Source: A bill for kindergarten readiness standards to meet a need – or cause problems? | EdSource
By Times Herald Staff
Several local businesses and students were recognized recently by the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Totaling about $7,500, the chamber distributed scholarships to six Solano County students for their respective efforts to improve the local community.
The scholarships went to Monica Medina and Matthew Lewis, both of Vanden High School; Audrey Moore of the University of Southern California; Kaleb Hernandez of the University of California, Davis, and Madelyn Garcia and Diana DeVore, both of Touro University California.
“Each of our scholarship winners has also demonstrated a clear commitment to improving their communities. They are future leaders and individuals with commitment and drive,” said Andrea Garcia, President of the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in a chamber press release. “We are pleased to award the scholarships and support their pursuit of education and exploration of career paths.”
Source: Hispanic chamber recognizes local businesses and students
The Solano Adult Education Consortium will hold its monthly meeting from 2 to 5 p.m. April 4 at Solano Community College, 4000 Suisun Valley Road, Bldg. 400, Room 414, in Fairfield.
The agenda for the meeting will include: 1) action item on direct funding 2) diploma program requirements 3) formalize changes to 2015-2016 plan 4) review of recommended changes for 2016-17 plan.
Solano County Adult Education consortium meetings are open to the public and interested community members are invited to attend.
Consortium members are: Fairfield-Suisun Adult School, Vacaville Education Extension Program, Vallejo Regional Career Center, Solano Community College, Benicia Unified School District, and Solano County Office of Education.
Source: Solano Adult Education Consortium meets April 4
By Daily Republic Staff
School officials in Vacaville are making plans for families who have unvaccinated children to continue their children’s education.
The changes prompted by Senate Bill 277 will take effect July 1, which means that children without current vaccinations will no longer be able to attend California schools or day care centers.
The Vacaville School District’s Independent Study Program is an alternative offered for children in the area. The district recently created a school principal position for the Independent Study Program and appointed Manolo Garcia as principal, according to a school district press release.
Source: Vacaville schools provide learning options for children not vaccinated
By John Glidden
A Vallejo school board trustee believes the city council doesn’t care about the impact a proposed water rate increase will have on the school district.
During the March 14 Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting, trustee Burky Worel made his comments while Martin Querin, the city’s assistant public works director for water, made a presentation.
The school district currently pays $493,261 annually for water. Under the proposed increase, that rate will jump to $1,201,376 annually by 2020.
Worel expressed anger toward the proposed increase.
“The city is trying to take money from the school district,” he explained to Querin. “The city council does not care.”
Source: Vallejo school board receives info on proposed water increase