By John Fensterwald
A dozen California school districts are joining more than two dozen states and a fast-increasing number of districts that are making the SAT or its rival, the ACT, available to all high school juniors for free in an effort to encourage more students to apply to college.
Beginning this month, the students are taking the new SAT, which debuted last week. The College Board, the nonprofit that developed and administers the test, says the latest version better measures the core skills that students learn in high school, such as citing evidence from lengthy reading passages to back up their answers. The test also aims to reflect what students learn under the Common Core standards. Among the changes, it eliminated the vocabulary quiz of arcane words that students would rarely see outside of SAT prep courses.
Source: Dozen districts offer free SAT to all juniors | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
The new-look SAT, in its biggest redesign in 10 years, debuts Saturday for hundreds of Vacaville-area students and hundreds of thousands more nationwide who will, in most cases, grapple with the hours-long reading, writing and math test that is used for college entrance.
By all accounts, the revamped version seems to be more in line with assessments based on the new Common Core State Standards, with reading portions more focused on current issues rather than passages from classic literature. The math portion, likely more often than not, will be in the form of word problems.
An essay portion — although the results are sought by admissions officers at many colleges, especially elite private schools and some major public universities — is optional. Students who decide not to write an essay would see about 50 minutes shaved off the length of the test.
Source: New-look SAT debuts Saturday
By Sarah Tully
Just over 20,000 California students opted out of last year’s Smarter Balanced assessments – far fewer than in other states, where resistance to the Common Core has been greater, a final tally from the state shows.
In December, the California Department of Education issued a final list of opt-outs in each school district. It indicates that a mere .61 percent of the 3.3 million students who took the Common Core-aligned tests in math and English language arts last spring opted out.
Only 39 districts out of all 1,022 districts statewide had more than 100 students opt out of English testing. For math, only 37 districts reported more than 100 opt-outs.
Statewide, the highest number of opt-outs was in the 11th grade – 8,526 students, or 1.8 percent of the total number of high school juniors, from the math test, and 8,318 students, or 1.7 percent, from the English test. Opt-opt rates were under .5 percent in all other grades.
via Final tally shows few opt-outs from Common Core-aligned tests in California | EdSource.
By Theresa Harrington
School districts in California may get a new influx of money to reimburse as much as $600 million in estimated costs related to the administration of mandated tests, based on a state commission’s decision Friday.
The Commission on State Mandates found that required Internet access, training and technology necessary to administer new computer-based tests under the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, program, are reimbursable state mandates. This is because districts were required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars beginning in 2013-14 on upgrading technology and related costs to comply with the state’s mandate to administer the tests.
“Today’s decision recognizes the constitutional obligation of the state to ensure that the state provides school districts and county offices of education with resources necessary to implement new state programs,” said Chris Ungar, president of the California School Boards Association and a San Luis Coastal Unified district trustee, in a prepared statement.
via State to reimburse costs related to Common Core tests | EdSource.
By Richard Bammer
The recent reissuing of a list of California’s lowest-achieving schools, including 10 in Solano County, has left Vacaville-area educators scratching their heads because the list uses 2013 data that is based on a test no longer in use.
The list — re-released Monday by the state Department of Education after a prominent Republican state senator threatened a lawsuit late last year — identifies 1,000 “open enrollment schools,” named after a state law passed in 2010, and makes it easier for students to transfer from their neighborhood school to another with a higher academic ratings. The best-known provision of the Open Enrollment Act is the so-called “parent trigger,” which allows parents of children in low-performing schools to intervene.
State education officials reluctantly reissued the list under pressure from state Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas, most recently the Republican Senate leader, and school improvement groups.
via Reissued state list of subpar schools confounds local educators.
By Kristin DeCarr
Beginning in February, a group of districts throughout California will begin to evaluate their schools using more than just test scores.
A group made up of some of the largest districts in the state, CORE, is expected to discuss its new plan for measuring public schools in the state at the California School Boards Association Conference in San Diego.
School scores are expected to account not only for academic performance, but also how safe children feel while on campus, suspension rates, skills that cannot be measured by traditional academic tests, such as self-control and social awareness, and how quickly students who do not speak English are learning the language, among other things.
The group hopes that the new measures will offer a broader picture of how schools in California are truly operating.The group is expected to release preliminary results of the first attempt at using the measures in the coming months.
via California CORE Districts to Evaluate Schools Differently.
By Theresa Harrington
The State Board of Education is set to adopt a new set of instructional materials and textbooks for kindergarten through 8th grade on Wednesday that incorporates what education officials describe as a pathbreaking approach to more effectively teaching English learners.
In January 2014, the state board adopted a set of recommended textbooks for math aligned with the Common Core, but it has taken nearly two additional years to come up with its list of Common Core-aligned recommended textbooks and other instructional materials in English language arts. This is in part because it has integrated English language development – which teaches English learners to speak and read English – into the English Language Arts framework that was adopted last year.
via California prepares to adopt materials for new English learner approach | EdSource.
By Katherine Ellison
It seems an unlikely battlefront for a revolution – this two-story wooden house off a quiet side street in a small coastal town bordering Silicon Valley.
Yet this is the headquarters of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, or ISKME, whose wonkish name belies its upstart challenge to the multibillion-dollar textbook industry.
The 12-year-old nonprofit is a leading champion of the “Open Educational Resources” movement – a growing campaign, strongly rooted in California, to make educational materials available online and free of cost. The movement has gained increasing clout in U.S. classrooms as teachers and school districts seek up-to-date materials to meet new demands stemming from the Common Core State Standards. In one sign of its growing importance, the U.S. Department of Education last month hired its first in-house adviser to help school districts use such resources more effectively.
via Free online content helps teachers meet Common Core demands | EdSource.
By Fermin Leal
As parents across the state open the envelopes containing their children’s scores on the new Smarter Balanced assessments administered last spring, only a third of them will see that their children met or exceeded the math standard on the new Common Core-aligned tests.
In fact, only one-third of California students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 met the math standard – compared to 44 percent of students who met the standard in English language arts. That is also significantly lower than the percentage who scored at a proficient level in math on the old California Standards tests.
via Educators try to come to terms with low math scores on Smarter Balanced tests | EdSource.
Test results released Wednesday by the California Department of Education set a new baseline for academic performance of students, schools and districts. The tests set standards at readiness for college unlike the old, multiple-choice tests they replaced. Results, in combination with new online instructional resources and local accountability tools, give parents, educators and stakeholders much more actionable data than ever before.
The results show that 53 percent of California’s students meet or nearly meet the English Language Arts achievement standards, and 48 percent meet or nearly meet the mathematics achievement standards. One of 10 students exceeds the standards for both subjects. At every grade level, English Language Arts results are stronger for girls than for boys. The results for math show much less gender disparity. Results for students from traditionally disadvantaged groups show significant achievement gaps.
These new tests aligned with the Common Core Standards ask a lot more of students than the old, multiple-choice exams. The new tests use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about individual student performance. Along with reading to follow a story, students are asked to cite evidence and draw logical conclusions. They are using math to solve real-world problems.
via SBE News Release for September 10, 2015 – State Board of Education (CA Dept of Education).
By Irma Widjojo
Benicia school students did well in the inaugural standardized test — based on the Common Core State Standards — compared to the state’s average, according results released this week.
“It’s a real solid first effort,” said Charles Young, Benicia Unified School District superintendent.
Of more than 3.1 million public school students tested in English statewide, only 44 percent met or exceeded standard. In math, only 33 percent met that threshold, according to the state Department of Education.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of Benicia students met or exceeded standards in English and 47 percent did so in math. These results rank the Benicia school district as the highest achieving district in Solano County.
via Benicia students perform better than state average.
By Richard Bammer
Kairos students posted some of Solano County’s highest scores on the recently released new, all-computerized state tests taken by some 3.2 million California public school students last spring, the California Department of Education reported.
While most Vacaville-area school district students, in grades three through eight and 11, failed to meet state standards in English and mathematics, nearly 300 Kairos students did.
At the Elm Street campus in Vacaville, nearly 60 percent of the students at Kairos — an independent charter not formally governed by Vacaville Unified officials — met or exceeded the standard; in math, 52 percent met or exceeded the standard. The CDE did not list Kairos’ scores as part of Vacaville Unified’s, treating them as if from a separate school district.
via Kairos students score well on new state tests.
By John Glidden
A majority of California students are not ready for college, according to results from new standardized tests released on Wednesday.
Forty-four percent of California students met or exceeded the English language/literacy standard, while 33 percent met or exceeded the math standard.
Students in the Vallejo City Unified School District fared even worse.
Only 25 percent of VCUSD students exceeded or met the English standard, while 17 percent met or exceeded the math achievement.
The tests are connected to new Common Core standards, which outline what students should now at the end of each grade level.
via Vallejo students perform poorly on Common Core exams.
By Richard Bammer
Interpreting last year’s all-computerized state tests, a resolution to comply with state law about relocating portable classrooms, and a report on enrollment and staffing are among the items up for discussion by Dixon Unified leaders.
Tonight, Mike Walbridge, assistant superintendent for educational services, will offer a slide presentation about how the trustees may interpret results from the California Assessment of Student Performance & Progress, the test — given to all students in grades three to eight and 11 — that measures student achievement under the new Common Core State Standards.
School districts statewide have received test results from the 2014-15 year, but the state Department of Education has not officially released them to the public and is expected to do so in the coming weeks.
via Decoding new state test results, enrollment, staffing report on DUSD agenda.
By Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD
How do students learn to challenge ideas and think beyond the status quo? Can creativity be fostered in classrooms that follow Common Core standards and test for conformity? At first glance, these questions may seem at odds. And, in fact, many educators believe that todays schools have abandoned the concept of creativity. Yet teachers can and do foster creativity in standards-based classrooms every day.
In the past decade, a new science of creativity has emerged. Neuroscientists are turning previously-held notions of creativity on their heads, including the fact that creativity does not involve just a single side of the brain. Most scientists agree that creativity must be defined by more than the sum of its parts, which include but are not limited to originality, self-expression, risk taking, intelligence, autonomy, collaboration, and imagination.
via Cultivating Creativity in Standards-Based Classrooms | Edutopia.
By Sarah Tully
As educators eagerly await the results of the new standardized assessments aligned with the Common Core standards that more than 3 million students took in the spring, state officials now say they plan to release the scores in early September, later than originally projected.
Parents can expect to start receiving their children’s scores about the same time.
As early as last month at the State Board of Education’s most recent meeting, California Department of Education officials anticipated that results of the Smarter Balanced Assessments would be released to the public sometime in August.
Officials say that because this is the first time results on the new assessments will be released, they want to take extra care to make sure everything is accurate and complete before the official release in September. A date has yet to be announced.
via State delays releasing Common Core-aligned test scores until September | EdSource.
By José Vilson
For years, Ive been saying that the Common Core State Standards needed true teacher voice in order to succeed. Millions, however wittingly, have taken on the challenge, reading denser passages in English and complicating their math problems. Whenever we talk about the standards, we rarely hear about whats actually happening in classrooms beside what I view as outliers: the intense schools with kids crying their eyes out during a test, homework assignments that many of the math teachers I speak with would rebuke, and mass movements of opting out across larger states.
And Im a teacher whose professional duty is teaching to the Common Core, and have done so to fidelity (more on this later) for the last five years. In that vein, Ive decided to jot down some notes comparing the original claims I heard those five fateful years ago to what Ive actually experienced since then.
via The Common Core Debate: One Teacher Vs. The Experts | Edutopia.
By Erin Brownfield
Tyler Graff is the incoming principal at the Claire Lilienthal alternative school in San Francisco Unified.
Previously, he was principal of Stevenson Elementary, a public school in Mountain View, where he kicked off a project-based learning initiative in 2012.
In project-based learning, students work on a complex problem or topic that often incorporates working as a team and involves a student presentation of work. At Graff’s school, the program started as a pilot and expanded each year.
Graff earned his bachelor’s degree and multiple subjects teaching credential from California State University, Chico. He earned his master’s degree in school leadership at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
via ‘Project-based learning and Common Core are a natural fit’ | EdSource.
By Katherine Ellison
Thousands of California teachers, who’ve spent recent years simultaneously learning and teaching the new Common Core State Standards, will share ideas about what has worked best in their classrooms at a multi-site conference on July 31.
An expected 20,000 pre-K-12 teachers will lead and attend workshops on best practices they’ve discovered for teaching the new standards at the one-day event, “Better Together: California Teacher Summit.” It will be hosted at 33 college and university campuses throughout the state.
Kitty Dixon, senior vice president for special projects at the New Teacher Center, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit dedicated to improving teacher effectiveness, said the conference aims to inspire and help teachers struggling to find effective curriculum materials and best practices to help them implement the new standards. These concerns, she said, have been at the top of teachers’ lists when asked what would most help them.
via Teachers to teach teachers at statewide Common Core summit | EdSource.
By Sarah Tully
As school districts wrap up administering new online assessments aligned with the Common Core, educators now face another challenge: how best to share with millions of parents how their children fared on the tests.
At stake is whether parents – and by extension students themselves – will be able to understand what the scores on the new tests mean. Without that understanding, test scores on the new online tests could raise anxieties among both parents and students, including whether students are being adequately prepared for the next grade, college and the workplace.
One special concern among educators is that they anticipate fewer students will meet standards compared to those who scored proficient on the California Standards Tests students took until the spring of 2013.
via Schools face challenge of explaining Common Core test results to parents | EdSource#.VW8rZ2fbLGg#.VW8rZ2fbLGg.