$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)

Rapid COVID Testing to Facilitate School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a statewide webinar today with health experts and educators that addressed the use of rapid COVID-19 testing as a tool to safely resume in-person learning on school campuses.

“I strongly believe that while we wait for a full vaccine roll-out, we also need to be moving toward a strategy for the deployment of rapid COVID testing that is cost-effective for schools,” Thurmond said. “This is one tool in our tool box—but an important one. Rapid COVID testing is a game-changer. With mounting data that students are suffering from mental health issues and learning disruptions, rapid testing is a real help for districts looking for ways to get students safely back into classrooms.”

During the presentation, Thurmond shared how the use of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Cards, which provide test results in 15 minutes at a cost of $5 per test, will be used at the California Department of Education’s (CDE) three State Special Schools to safely return students to in-person instruction.

Source: Rapid COVID Testing to Facilitate School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Response to Legislative Deal on School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to a legislative deal announced by Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers that is designed to help more schools open classrooms for in-person learning:

“There is no question that students learn best when they are together with their peers and educators in a physically and emotionally safe school environment. Our schools need every resource possible to implement the layered safety measures that will facilitate a safe return to in-person learning for students, school staff, teachers, and their families.

“I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom and our leaders in the Legislature for crafting a proposal that will provide our school districts and educators additional resources to help resume safe in-person learning and invest in expanded learning and academic interventions to help students accelerate learning and recover from the impacts of this pandemic.

Source: Response to Legislative Deal on School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State ed board wants flexibility on fed school assessments amid pandemic – The Reporter

After comments by state schools chief Tony Thurmond earlier this week, the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to seek relief from certain federal testing, accountability, and reporting requirements and directed staff to explore other ways to size up student learning progress amid the ongoing pandemic.

The board’s decision is in response to federal guidance released Monday that allows states to ask for latitude to account for the impact of the pandemic on schools. Unlike last year, the U.S. Department of Education will not invite states to apply for blanket waivers that would allow states to opt out of annual testing altogether, citing the role testing data plays in supporting students.

Source: State ed board wants flexibility on fed school assessments amid pandemic – The Reporter

CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald

State schools chief Tony Thurmond on Tuesday quite plainly expressed his disapproval of the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on administering statewide standardized tests in the COVID-19 era.

In a statement issued by the California Department of Education, he called the tests “imperfect measures at best and often provide snapshots of student performance that are far too narrow to help educators in any given year, let alone during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”

“Most years, the results of statewide testing simply reflect the deep and systemic inequities that have placed generations of students at a historic, ongoing academic disadvantage,” he added.

Source: CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald

Grading Guidance for Progress in Distance Learning – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of guidelines that address grading student progress and the ongoing issue of equity in distance and hybrid learning environments. Resources that support local control are included in the new guidance, allowing schools to make the best decisions for their respective student populations.

“As the majority of California’s public schools continue to respond to distance learning needs, we should reflect on how student progress is measured and consider how to shift to more equitable grading systems and policies, whether the instructional setting is in-person, virtual, or hybrid,” Thurmond said. “This is an opportunity to make a significant change.”

The new guidance includes research-based approaches to grading that may be especially helpful if students are not in class and access to technology and learning supports may be unequal. These include replacing grading quantities, such as the extent to which students have completed assignments, with grading qualities in student work that reflect students’ current achievement level at the time, and using flexibility in timing the collection of evidence for grading decisions so students are graded on the learning they do, not when they do it.

Source: Grading Guidance for Progress in Distance Learning – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Jamaal Willis of Barstow (San Bernardino County), a senior at Barstow High School in the Barstow Unified School District, and Sathvik Nori of Atherton (San Mateo County), a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School in the Sequoia Union High School District, were selected for their exceptional leadership skills, remarkable commitment to their schools and communities, and scholastic achievement as California’s delegates in this highly competitive program.

“I could not be prouder to recognize these students for this honor. These young scholars will represent our state on a national stage, and I’m confident they will one day rise to leadership positions that help advance the dreams, aspirations, and ambitions of Californians for years to come,” Thurmond said. “I am impressed and inspired by their strong leadership and passion. From advocating for racial equity and civil rights to working on mental health awareness and increasing civic engagement among their peers, these students desire to empower the disadvantaged and improve the lives of others, which fills me with great optimism for our future.”

Source: 2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond’s Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed education budget for the fiscal year 2021–22:“

At a time when a global pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for our students, families, and educators, the weeks and months ahead represent the most important moment for public education in a lifetime. The investments we choose must help our schools urgently and immediately recover from this crisis and accelerate learning for the students and families hardest hit by a global pandemic that has deepened historic inequities. Our priorities should not only help our schools emerge safely from the impacts of COVID-19, but should immediately double down on our efforts to level the playing field for a generation of students.

“I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom for proposing a budget that—until our educators, school employees and communities are vaccinated—addresses main areas of need as public schools consider how to safely resume in-person instruction. Today’s budget proposal also represents a strong start at tackling the growing access and learning gaps experienced most severely among our students of color, low-income households, children with disabilities, and students learning English.

Source: Thurmond’s Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2020 National ESEA Distinguished Schools Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated two California schools for receiving national recognition as 2020 National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools—formerly known as National Title I Distinguished Schools. Sixth Street Prep School in the Victor Elementary School District and Solano Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles Unified School District are two of up to 100 schools throughout the country being recognized.

“Congratulations to principals Collin Rowe and Jorge Parra, as well as all of the educators, staff, administrators, parents, and students at these schools,” said Thurmond. “Not only were these two schools already named 2020 California Distinguished Schools, they’re also being recognized for their excellent work closing achievement gaps between student groups and ensuring academic growth for students who need extra assistance.”

Source: 2020 National ESEA Distinguished Schools Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Mini Grants to Address Equity Now Available – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that California school districts and charter schools can now begin applying for mini grants to address equity and opportunity gaps in student learning.

Announced earlier this month as part of its ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on students, the California Department of Education (CDE) will award grants of up to $20,000 each to schools, districts, and charter schools that can demonstrate how they will address equity and opportunity gaps by utilizing the funds to target educators’ or students’ needs in distance learning, in-person instruction, or hybrid models.

The application process and criteria were emailed to all county and district superintendents and charter school administrators in California earlier today, and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Friday, January 8, 2021. The grants have been funded through a $200,000 contribution from the Stuart Foundation External link opens in new window or tab..

Source: Mini Grants to Address Equity Now Available – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

2019-20 High School Graduation and Dropout Rates – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

The California Department of Education (CDE) today released high school graduation data that showed rates remained largely steady overall in 2019–20—and some of the state’s highest-need students saw increases—during a school year in which the majority of California’s schools abruptly shifted to distance learning midway through their spring semesters due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“The COVID-19 crisis upended the senior years of hundreds of thousands of high school students throughout California, and I am proud of the resilience of these young adults and of the educators who went above and beyond to help keep them on track to graduate,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Among all students statewide who started high school in 2016, 84.3 percent graduated with their peers, compared to the 84.5 percent from the year before. Rates for many student groups remained level year-to-year, though some experienced decreases (Asian, Filipino, White) while others, including some of the state’s highest-need students, saw increases (American Indian or Alaska Native, English Learners, Foster Youth, Students with Disabilities). (See Table 1).

Source: 2019-20 High School Graduation and Dropout Rates – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Grants and Training to Address Learning Gaps – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Tuesday that the California Department of Education (CDE) is launching additional virtual educator trainings and mini-grants designed to accelerate ongoing efforts to address equity gaps, strengthen distance learning, and support students’ social emotional wellness during the pandemic.

The latest professional development webinars and the new grant opportunities are the latest efforts to build on the CDE’s training, guidance, and direct assistance provided to schools and educators throughout the months-long pandemic.

“Like all educators, I am concerned about the pandemic’s continued impact on our students, especially those students already pushed to the margins by historic and systemic inequities that have existed for generations and created persistent barriers to educational opportunity,” Thurmond said. “We know that until we eradicate the COVID-19 virus, some forms of remote learning will remain necessary in the weeks and months ahead for our schools to continue safe teaching and learning. That means we must continue putting resources into supporting our educators who are going above and beyond to engage all students.”

Source: New Grants and Training to Address Learning Gaps – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Register for the California STEAM Symposium – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Give yourself the gifts of community, inspiration, and revitalization by joining us at this year’s California STEAM Symposium External link opens in new window or tab. on December 11–13, 2020! As we wind down 2020, we look forward to collaborating with educators from around the world at the California STEAM Symposium to prepare for a wonderful launch into 2021 and we are excited to announce our keynote speakers who will rejuvenate, energize, and motivate you!

Source: Register for the California STEAM Symposium – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Master Plan for Early Learning and Care – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s release of the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids External link opens in new window or tab., a roadmap for building a more equitable, comprehensive early learning and care system in California.

“We know that bold investments early in a child’s life can pay remarkable returns throughout their education and their careers. We applaud the recommendations outlined today that we know can level the playing field and make all the difference for children, such as providing universal preschool and ending disproportionate suspensions for students of color in early care.

Source: Master Plan for Early Learning and Care – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)