2020 Classified School Employees of the Year – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public-school students. He also nominated one of the six for the inaugural Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award, a national honor which will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in spring 2021.

“This has been an extremely difficult year, and meeting students’ basic needs as well as their social and emotional needs has been more important than ever,” said Thurmond. “Thankfully our classified employees have made heroic efforts to step up and support California’s students so they can continue to learn. These dedicated employees make sure that kids have healthy meals, safe transportation on school buses, and have someone to talk to during difficult and unexpected changes—helping them stay safe and supported in their lives and in their education.”

Source: 2020 Classified School Employees of the Year – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Multilingual Education Publication Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of the new California Department of California (CDE) publication, Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learner Students: Research to Practice. The publication is designed to support local educational agencies (LEAs) to implement the English Learner Roadmap Policy in schools and improve instruction for both English learners and other students learning multiple languages.

“This publication will serve as a valuable resource for teachers, administrators, and other educators who serve California’s 2.5 million multilingual and English learner students,” said Thurmond. “It highlights research-based practices implemented by districts and schools, grounded in the English Learner Roadmap principles. This book is a needed resource for continuing to improve the education of the diverse student population we serve.”

Source: New Multilingual Education Publication Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Attendance Data to Address Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released, for the first time, statewide absenteeism data that provides information about the types of reasons students are absent. The “absenteeism by reason” (AR) reports available on the CDE Dataquest website offer an extensive statewide view of absenteeism numbers that can assist local educational agencies (LEAs) in their efforts to develop targeted attendance intervention strategies and support.

“Knowing why students are missing school is a crucial step in helping them stay in school,” said Thurmond. “These data add an extra layer of transparency to existing absenteeism information and a level of detail that school districts can utilize as they evaluate the effectiveness of existing attendance plans and compare absenteeism rates with other districts. It also creates an opportunity for school attendance staff throughout the state to collaborate and share best practices on methods to improve attendance, identifying specific actions that can help students and their families overcome attendance barriers.”

Source: New Attendance Data to Address Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

CA State Board Approves Shorter Standardized Tests – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved the use of shorter standardized tests in English language arts and math this spring, creating a path for collecting critical student data amidst COVID-19 uncertainties.

The Board’s action also recognizes the need for innovative solutions to support students, schools, and districts as they confront myriad challenges associated with the pandemic.

“Our schools and educators need flexibility, options, and ongoing support as they continue to navigate tremendous challenges and collect data across multiple measures to fully understand student learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Source: CA State Board Approves Shorter Standardized Tests – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

California school districts revert to A-F grades this fall — The Reporter

By Ali Tadayon, EdSource

While many high schools and middle schools adopted pass-fail grading at the start of the pandemic in order to hold students harmless as they adjusted to distance learning, districts have largely reverted back to the traditional A-to-F system.

But now that students are receiving their fall progress reports, it appears as though in at least some districts, many students’ grades are slipping. Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday that the number of middle school and high school students receiving Ds and Fs so far this year has increased compared to last year. In Sonoma County, the number of high school students failing classes is so much higher than previous years that Steven Herrington, the county schools superintendent, convened a summit of district leaders last week to discuss the issue, and will meet again this Thursday.

Source: California school districts revert to A-F grades this fall — with more flexibility for some students – The Reporter

2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named five exceptional educators as the 2021 California Teachers of the Year. These educators are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year. Thurmond, who began his career as a social worker, said he is thrilled to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who go above and beyond to educate, inspire, and empower students, families, and communities.

“In a year that might be the most challenging in all of our lives, these five inspiring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” he said. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to rise above the challenges and connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances.”

Presented by California Casualty and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued nationwide federal waivers and approved state specific requests intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The CNPs referenced are the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), School Food Service Program (SFSP), and the Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP). The California Department of Education (CDE) is assisting Program Operators of the CNP by posting policy guidance and waivers, providing information on how to operate the programs during the pandemic, directions on how to claim for reimbursement and COVID-19 funding, providing bi-monthly Townhall webinars for questions and answers and best practices, connecting program operators with resources, answering Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ), and providing contact information for additional assistance. The CDE is striving to continue to support and protect access to nutritious meals for children and adults in California.

Source: COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

CDE Emergency Response Fund – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Thursday that the California Department of Education (CDE) has launched a statewide fundraising effort to bolster aid for schools in regions ravaged by wildfires and other disasters.

Thousands of students, families, and educators across California have endured weeks of back-to-back challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, power outages, and poor air quality. The new CDE Emergency Response Fund, launched Thursday in partnership with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation (CDEF), will support the rapid generation of resources to schools facing unprecedented loss and uncertainty.

“Too many of our school communities are hurting and have endured more challenges than many of us will experience in a lifetime,” Thurmond said. “Californians are resilient, generous, and always have each other’s backs in times of crisis. Let’s continue to come together for our communities in need so they can get back on their feet.”

Source: CDE Emergency Response Fund – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Tools for Teachers – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond today announced the availability of Tools for Teachers External link opens in new window or tab. from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This easy-to-use website features lessons and strategies to support instruction, save teachers time in developing quality lessons, and help prepare students for college or career success.

“No one is working harder than our teachers right now. They are learning new technologies, engaging in educator trainings, and putting in the work to reach our students,” Thurmond said. “The more tools we can provide our teachers, the better. I am pleased the California Department of Education can fund access to this resource for all local educational agencies with no cost to the teachers themselves.”

The Tools for Teachers website focuses on the formative assessment process External link opens in new window or tab., which helps teachers identify where students are in their learning, where they are heading, and how they will reach their learning goals. All of the website’s resources include recommended teaching strategies that support diverse learners and can be modified by teachers to meet instructional needs during in-person or distance learning.

Source: Tools for Teachers – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Thousands of Devices Available for Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Wednesday that the California Department of Education (CDE) has worked closely with technology companies to make available more than 500,000 more computing devices for California students in need.

“We cannot stop until we know we have leveled the playing field for every student in California by connecting them to the technology they need to succeed now, and in the years ahead,” Thurmond said. “At a time when there is a worldwide shortage of devices, I want to thank these companies for prioritizing California students, and I am proud that we have been able to work together to give school districts a unique chance to equip every student in need with a computing device.”

Thousands of devices will be made available within weeks as many schools either continue distance learning or transition to hybrid models that require some remote instruction.

Source: Thousands of Devices Available for Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated 33 California public schools that have been chosen as 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This prestigious award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that close achievement and opportunity gaps and where students achieve high learning standards.

“Congratulations to these schools for creating and sustaining tremendous programs that allow students to reach their full potential, leading to a successful future,” Thurmond said. “This recognition is well-deserved, and these programs are a model of success that we can all look to in terms of ensuring that all students are thriving.”

Source: 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In an hour-long virtual news conference, Monday, state schools chief Tony Thurmond announced new efforts to combat increased cases of hate, bigotry and racism in California schools and communities, the “Education to End Hate” initiative.

Thurmond said that the California Department of Education will lead a series of strategies— including educator training grants, partnerships with community leaders, and virtual classroom sessions — that uses the power of education to create a more just society.

“We do not need any more evidence that our country is facing two pandemics: coronavirus and hate. It feels like every day we are seeing heartbreaking examples: more anti-Semitic behavior, bullying of Asian American students because of our president’s rhetoric, Islamophobia, discrimination of our LGBTQ neighbors, and violence directed at people of color,” Thurmond said. “It’s time to double down on our efforts to combat all forms of hate, bias, and bigotry. By digging deeper into the complexities of our diverse and difficult histories — not denying or ignoring them — I believe education can provide the pathway to healing, understanding, and racial and social justice.”

Source: State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

New Seal of Civic Engagement – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

The California State Board of Education today approved criteria for California students to earn a new Seal of Civic Engagement, an incentive aimed at encouraging active and ongoing citizenship.

To earn the seal, students must demonstrate excellence in civic learning, participation in civics-related projects, contributions to their community, and an understanding of the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the American democratic system. Students may earn the seal on a transcript, diploma, or Certificate of Completion. California history and social science teachers worked in partnership with the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop the initial requirements.

“The future of our democracy depends on a knowledgeable and actively engaged citizenry,” said State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond. “With this new seal, we hope to prepare all students with an empathetic concern for others, a deep understanding of democracy, and the civic engagement skills needed to contribute to the welfare of their local communities, the state, and the country.”

Source: New Seal of Civic Engagement – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SFSP Annual Update 2020–21 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

The California Department of Education (CDE) has opened the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Annual Update in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) for School Year (SY) 2020–21 (October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021).

Important Information

Prior to serving meals the Nutrition Services Division must approve your CNIPS SY 2020–21 Application Packet. If you are planning to serve SFSP meals on October 1, 2020, please submit your complete Application Packet as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition to the new year.

Source: SFSP Annual Update 2020–21 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

Webinar on Public Health Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a special webinar today for thousands of school leaders, parents, and educational partners to answer questions and assist schools in their understanding of state public health guidance as they continue to ensure the health and safety of students and staff during the pandemic.

The State Superintendent was joined by Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary in the Governor’s Office, and Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Health Officer at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“I want to acknowledge how proud I am of California’s entire education community, and I just have to commend everyone for doing your part,” Thurmond said. “This is not easy, but I am inspired by our students, educators, administrators, families, and partners leaning in under unimaginable circumstances. Thank you to our partners in the Governor’s Office and CDPH for helping school leaders plan for the weeks and months ahead. We are grateful for all efforts to help schools navigate these complicated decisions in their communities.”

Source: Webinar on Public Health Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s recent announcement that he would seek to withhold funding from California schools that choose to use a curriculum that reviews the impacts of slavery and how it has contributed to racism in our nation:

“President Trump’s latest announcement is a petty and disgraceful threat designed to distract and further divide our country at a time when we need true leadership that can unite us. California’s educators should feel empowered to lead courageous conversations with their students about the history of race and racism in our country—not worry if their school will lose funding.

“At the California Department of Education, we will continue to encourage school districts to talk about racism and unconscious bias in all forms. That includes building training programs to help our 10,000 schools address the impacts of implicit bias and race in our schools. We are also developing a first-in-the-nation statewide ethnic studies model curriculum that all of our school districts can use as a guide for classroom instruction that will shine a long-overdue light on the contributions of people of color.

Source: Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced this week that the assessment used to determine a student’s English proficiency has successfully transitioned online, giving educators a powerful tool to reach and support English learners while school campuses are closed.

The Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) has moved from a paper-pencil test to an online computer-based test and, as a result, produced real-time results. The online test became available to school districts and charter schools on August 20.

The Initial ELPAC serves as the state’s English language proficiency assessment to identify students as English learners. The test is administered to all students whose primary or home language is not English.

Source: Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

School Year 2020–21 Annual Update—Fourth Notice – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

The California Department of Education (CDE) has opened the School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Annual Update in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) for School Year (SY) 2020–21 (July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021).

The CDE recognizes the challenges that School Food Authorities (SFA) face while preparing for the upcoming SY. As a result, we want to provide as much time as possible for the Annual Update process. The CDE is actively developing re-opening guidance for schools and will continue to release resources as they are developed. Those SFAs that have already established re-opening plans for the fall can complete their required annual participation updates in the CNIPS now.

Source: School Year 2020–21 Annual Update—Fourth Notice – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

CARES Reimbursement Tool for March 2020 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

Pursuant to the 2020 Budget Act, Section 118, in accordance with the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, funds from the Federal Trust Fund have been appropriated for allocation by the California Department of Education (CDE) to be used for increased rates for meals served during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Program operators, including school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, residential childcare institutions, and private schools, participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), or Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) that served meals in the months of March 2020 to August 2020, inclusive, during school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for an increased state meal reimbursement, not to exceed $0.75 for breakfasts and lunches served.

Source: CARES Reimbursement Tool for March 2020 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new tool—Guidance on Best Practices for Distance Learning Instructional Planning—to support educators that are implementing distance learning instruction.

“Distance learning will be with us in some form moving forward, even as schools may be allowed to begin reopening in various capacities. We are committed to offering real-time, actionable support to our educators as we all lean into this new reality,” Thurmond said. “Through continued investments in educator training—and increased, proactive family engagement—I am confident that our schools will reach and engage more students as we move through this challenging period together.”

The new guidance document offers suggestions in four key areas: clear definitions of instructional models and language, an overview of required daily minutes for the 2020-21 school year and considerations for instruction both with live interaction and without live interaction, research-based principles for school districts to consider as they prepare to re-open, and ideas for how educators may structure learning.

Source: New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)