SPI Applauds the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated 26 California public schools that have been chosen as 2021 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 safe and supportive school climates that set the tone for student achievement during what might be one of the most difficult times in education—and in our lifetimes,” Thurmond said. “I commend all of these schools for meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of all their students as well as finding creative ways to continue closing opportunity gaps during extraordinary circumstances.”

Schools are recognized based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. They are among their state’s highest performing schools based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates.

Source: SPI Applauds the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI to Ensure CA Students to Read by Third Grade – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a bold vision for ensuring that every California student will learn to read by third grade by the year 2026 during a virtual press conference on Tuesday. The effort will also include a biliteracy milestone for dual-language learners.

In order to advance this goal, Superintendent Thurmond said a task force will be created to bring together practitioners, advocates, researchers, foundation partners, thought leaders, students, parents, and other experts to identify key strategies for advancing this goal. Efforts are underway in the California Department of Education (CDE) to build out a task force structure and membership, as well as establish when the task force will meet and details on the types of questions they will be tackling. In addition to announcing the task force formation, Superintendent Thurmond affirmed that Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) has agreed to sponsor legislation to help advance this goal.

Source: SPI to Ensure CA Students to Read by Third Grade – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI, Leaders Discuss Mental Health Services – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a webinar on Wednesday for local educational agencies (LEAs) and education partners to discuss how schools can support students, families, and communities by addressing and investing more in mental and behavioral health services.

State Superintendent Thurmond was joined by a distinguished panel of state leaders for the “Investing in Mental Health: A Roundtable Discussion” webinar that featured conversations about how LEAs, educational leaders, and policymakers can build what Thurmond said has never been done before: creating and implementing the most robust and historic level of mental health programs throughout the state.

“We have to support our students and educators,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “This is the beginning, not the end, and we will continue to build the most robust system that we’ve ever seen to support students. Our schools are often the center for our students and their families. When they’re hungry or hurt, we must attend to their needs so we can support their learning and well-being.”

Source: SPI, Leaders Discuss Mental Health Services – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Back-to-School Letter – California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) (CA Dept of Education)

2021–22 Data Collections: Annual Back-to-School Letter

This letter kicks off the 2021–22 data collection season for the following California Department of Education (CDE) data systems:

  • California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)
  • California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS)
  • Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS)

The 2021–22 certification and amendment window deadlines for these data collections are posted on CDE’s CALPADS, CBEDS, and CARS Submission Calendar web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/dc/es/subcal.asp.

It should also be noted that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has only heightened the need for timely, quality data, from all state agencies, including the CDE. Governor Newsom’s vision of integrating existing data into a cradle-to-career longitudinal data system that will provide the data the state needs to effectively meet the needs of its citizens was authorized in postsecondary budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 132 (Chapter 144, Statutes of 2021). The CDE will keep local educational agencies (LEAs) up-do-date on this significant data integration project and how it will benefit the public pre-K to grade 12 community.

Source: 2021–22 Data Collections: Back-to-School Letter – California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Hosts Safe and Successful Schools Webinar – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond brought experts in the fields of public health and education together on Wednesday for a wide-ranging discussion of COVID-19 data and mitigation efforts that have resulted in the safe reopening of thousands of schools across California.

The Safe and Successful Schools webinar was developed in partnership by the California Department of Education (CDE), the California Department of Public Health, the State Board of Education and the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Dr. Naomi Bardach of the Safe Schools for All team and State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond shared information on California’s robust and multi-layered approach to COVID-19 prevention, which has resulted in no school reopening delays thus far in the fall semester. Bardach and Darling-Hammond shared data that demonstrates how state-supported COVID-19 testing programs, on-site vaccine clinics, universal masking and detailed quarantine guidance have helped keep California students in class and learning despite the troublesome rise of the Delta variant. A recording of the webinar is available on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

Source: SPI Hosts Safe and Successful Schools Webinar – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 STEAM Back-To-School Pre-Conference – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

In partnership with the California Department of Education’s Expanded Learning Division and the California AfterSchool Network, the California STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Symposium co-hosts are excited to announce the virtual 2021 Expanding Learning Opportunities with STEAM Back-To-School Pre-Conference on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, presented by Chevron.

This exciting partnership builds on our community belief that STEAM learning happens everywhere and at any time of the day. Throughout the event, we will explore opportunities for collaboration between community-based organizations and the TK–16 system. We are excited to support our education community as we all strategically plan to use the monumental education budgets focused on early education, social-emotional learning, teacher pipeline, and expanded learning. Participants will also learn more about the new Expanded Learning Opportunities Program established in July 2021 by Assembly Bill 130.

Source: 2021 STEAM Back-To-School Pre-Conference – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

New Multilingual Support Director Appointed – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Alesha Moreno-Ramirez as the new Director of the Multilingual Support Division at the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Multilingual Support Division provides information and resources to serve the unique needs of multilingual students so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills.

“Alesha is an accomplished leader with a depth of knowledge regarding high-level multilingual best practices and policies,” said Thurmond. “She is a strong advocate and champion for all students and believes the linguistic and cultural assets English learners bring to California schools enrich the lives of all of the state’s 6.1 million TK–12 public school students and their communities. She brings to the position extensive experience with equity, multilingual learner rights, and social justice issues along with an unwavering focus and commitment to do what is best to ensure the needs of multilingual, English learner, dual language, migrant, and immigrant students and their families are being met. I am pleased to add an educator with her passion and dedication to the CDE leadership team.”

Source: New Multilingual Support Director Appointed – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Applauds 2021-22 Education Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of the 2021–22 state budget bills and trailer bills, which include key investments in areas the State Superintendent championed before the pandemic disrupted public education. These investments provide the resources schools desperately need to recover and to build back better.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, and we are grateful that this budget recognizes that investments in public education will be a critical driver to our state’s rebound,” said Thurmond. “Coming off the most difficult year for education in our lifetime, historic funding levels to the state and education will enable us to recover, accelerate learning, and build back better—with specific attention to student mental health and closing opportunity gaps that disproportionately affected students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students in low-income households.

“I echo our Governor, who announced that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in California’s future and expand opportunities for every child across the state, with $123.9 billion to reduce barriers and increase opportunities from transitional kindergarten through community college. In this year’s budget, our Proposition 98 funding for TK to 12—money going to our schools and classrooms—went from $69.3 billion in 2020–21 to $80.4 billion this year, almost a 30 percent increase over last year.

Source: SPI Applauds 2021-22 Education Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Bill Dodd, education leaders talk mask mandates, pandemic silver linings – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

To paraphrase former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, “They’ll be back.”

And when they do, expect students throughout the state to mask up, along with clerical staff, teachers and principals.

“I wish we didn’t wear masks. There will be a time we expect and hope we won’t,” said Tony Thurmond, California’s Superintendent of Schools.

Thurmond joined Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson, and Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, in State Sen. Bill Dodd’s virtual town hall forum streamed live on KSVY radio in Sonoma and on multiple media platforms Tuesday night.

Source: Bill Dodd, education leaders talk mask mandates, pandemic silver linings – Times-Herald

Thurmond Names California Education Ambassadors – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Karen Korematsu are living icons who have made significant contributions to culture and society with work and messages that transcend divisions of race, gender, and other social and political constructs and inspire us with universal lessons that can take us in new directions with their talent and impact.

Today, these significant figures received special recognition as Ambassadors to California Education by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond for demonstrating outstanding dedication and contributions to support the education of California’s students. Abdul-Jabbar was honored for leading efforts to boost after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities for California’s students. Huerta and Korematsu received the recognition for being key voices in the development of California’s new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which provides guidance to assist local high schools in developing ethnic studies courses, which are classes that research shows can improve graduation and college-going rates among all students—and especially teens of color.

Source: Thurmond Names California Education Ambassadors – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 CA Exemplary Arts Education Awards – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 33 California schools were selected for the California Exemplary Arts Education Award.

These schools engage students in quality arts education that meet California Arts Standards for Public Schools (Arts Standards) and demonstrate progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard. The awards are designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in arts through exposure to a variety of disciplines.

“This year has been especially challenging for our students and schools, but I commend these schools for recognizing that this is a time when the arts are more critical than ever,” State Superintendent Thurmond said. “These schools excelled in providing quality arts education, despite all the obstacles presented by distance learning. It is with great pleasure we honor these schools for their steadfast dedication to arts education that plays a powerful role in supporting wellness, bridging social divides, and expanding creativity and critical thinking in our students.”

Source: 2021 CA Exemplary Arts Education Awards – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Nearly 30 Bay Area Schools Added To List Of CA Distinguished Schools – CBS San Francisco

State schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond named an additional 121 schools – including 28 in the greater Bay Area – as 2021 California Distinguished Schools.

The award honors schools who have made improvements in test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. The state originally honored 102 schools March 18, but after further review of the data added the additional schools.

Source: Nearly 30 Bay Area Schools Added To List Of California Distinguished Schools – CBS San Francisco

Rodriguez High School Named 2021 California Distinguished School | Suisun City, CA Patch

By Maggie Fusek

A school in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District was among an additional 121 schools named 2021 California Distinguished Schools this week by California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond.

The state originally honored 102 schools March 18, but after further review of the data recognized the additional schools, including Angelo Rodriguez High School in Fairfield and 27 other greater Bay Area schools.

The award recognizes schools that have made improvements in closing the achievement gap and student participation, which are measured by test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate.

Source: Rodriguez High School Named 2021 California Distinguished School | Suisun City, CA Patch

Additional 2021 California Distinguished Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named an additional 121 schools as 2021 California Distinguished Schools. In an announcement on March 18, the California Department of Education (CDE) awarded the honor to 102 schools and today that list has been broadened to include 120 additional California senior high schools and one more middle school.

The California Department of Education (CDE) identifies and awards eligible schools based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability and continuous improvement system. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. After a review of the data, CDE identified these additional schools for this year’s honor.

“These additional high schools join the ranks of all 2021 California Distinguished Schools who are being recognized for this distinction because of their exceptional record to provide for all students and their commitment to data-driven efforts that prepare students for college and career,” Thurmond said. “Our thanks go to the entire communities surrounding these schools, including the teachers, administrators, and classified employees as well as the students and their families who, through teamwork, all accomplished this impressive achievement together.”

Source: Additional 2021 California Distinguished Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 Civic Learning Awards Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 32 schools won this year’s Civic Learning Awards, which celebrate public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. This year, the awards emphasize school-based efforts that went uninterrupted despite the pandemic. Now in its ninth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and is part of the Chief Justice’s Civic Learning Initiative External link opens in new window or tab.

“I’m so proud of these schools for keeping students engaged in civic learning during a pandemic, especially as our country grapples with serious social and civic conversations and actions that can reimagine governance at all levels,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “I’m a passionate supporter of civics education, which not only engages students, but often inspires them to make a difference for their communities. During my time both as a civics teacher and in the State Legislature, I’ve always encouraged students to get involved. My office continues to be open for students to share their ideas; I’ve heard from so many students during this pandemic, and their voices are crucial now more than ever.”

Source: 2021 Civic Learning Awards Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Support for Bill to Diversify Teaching Workforce – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) were joined by education leaders today to urge support for new legislation designed to help support male educators of color and diversify the teaching workforce.

Assembly Bill (AB) 520, sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and authored by Assemblymember Gipson, received unanimous approval from the California State Assembly Committee on Education last week. The bill would establish the California Diversifying Teacher Grant Program, awarding $15 million in grants for school districts to provide one-time competitive grants that develop and implement new (or expand existing) programs that address a local need to develop the teacher workforce while emphasizing the retention of male teachers of color.

“We regularly talk about equity, but we must make equity the forefront and center in our schools. This bill is about adding tools to the toolbox and creating the opportunities to motivate more men of color to be in the classroom. The research is undeniable,” Gipson said. “The National Bureau of Economic Research reported that having a Black teacher for one year in elementary school raised long-term education attainment for Black male students, especially for those from low-income households. AB 520 would provide schools with the tools to help them build a more diverse teacher population and students with opportunities to succeed.”

Source: Support for Bill to Diversify Teaching Workforce – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

$6 Billion in Reopening/Expanded Learning Funding – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

The California Department of Education (CDE) today has posted estimated local education agency (LEA) allocations from the $6.6 billion made available as part of the Assembly Bill (AB) 86 External link opens in new window or tab. COVID-19 relief package. The funding provided by AB 86 will accelerate the safe return to in-person instruction across California and provide schools the resources to expand academic, mental health and social-emotional supports, including over the summer.

“As more school districts across California announce plans to bring students back into classrooms, we at the CDE are providing the technical support our schools need to access resources in a timely way so educators can focus on providing a safe return to in-person learning, accelerate learning, and begin recovering,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

A breakdown of how the $2 billion for In-Person Instruction (IPI) Grants and $4.6 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Grants were determined for each LEA are available on the CDE IPI and ELO Grants Funding Results web page.

Source: $6 Billion in Reopening/Expanded Learning Funding – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Additional Spring Testing Flexibility for Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education today voted to give California school districts the opportunity to use either state tests or other standards-aligned assessments to gauge student learning this spring.

The vote builds on last month’s Board action to apply for the maximum flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Education in testing, accountability and reporting requirements and to seek further options that account for the impact of COVID-19 on educators, families, and schools.

The Board is seeking to allow districts to use the best assessment tool available for the local context this spring, as many of them are still providing distance learning and working to reopen schools. Options include the state’s Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments for English language arts and mathematics, the Smarter Balanced interim assessments, or other diagnostic, benchmark, or interim assessments that:

Source: Additional Spring Testing Flexibility for Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

California could allow school districts to choose their own standardized tests this year – The Reporter

BY Sydney Johnson

California school officials scratching their heads over how to roll out standardized tests this spring could soon have another option.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow California school districts to use locally selected tests rather than the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required by state and federal education law.

“It has become clear that the persistent gaps that existed in our education system pre-pandemic have become chasms,” said Rachael Maves, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Instruction and Measurement Branch of the California Department of Education. “In this context, it seems not only appropriate but necessary” to measure student learning.

Source: California could allow school districts to choose their own standardized tests this year – The Reporter

$240,000 in Grants to Address Education Inequities – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) has selected 12 recipients of mini grants, totaling more than $240,000, that will fund local efforts across the state to address equity and opportunity gaps through supporting educator and student needs in distance learning, in-person instruction, and hybrid models.

Since the applications were announced in December 2020 as part of CDE’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on students, more than 400 schools and districts across California applied for the grants, which are funded by contributions from philanthropic partners. The funds must be used to advance equity and close opportunity and access gaps. The grantees are given discretion to decide how they will address the topic of equity. The list of grantees is at the end of this press release.

Source: $240,000 in Grants to Address Education Inequities – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)