By Richard Bammer
With the goal of creating a safer and healthier community, nine active Solano Friday Night Live programs will host a series of activities focusing on student advocacy, health and wellness in coordination with the Solano Youth Coalition.
Beginning Wednesday, the FNL at Sem Yeto Continuation High in Fairfield will host Denim Day, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during which students and school staff are encouraged to wear denim.
Also on Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Youth Coalition will host its first student-led education forum for middle and high school students. Superintendents and school board presidents from Solano County districts will discuss student issues and how to support students. The forum will be at the Solano County Office of Education, 5100 Business Center Drive, Fairfield.
Source: Youth Coalition hosts student-led forum, with goals of health, wellness – The Vacaville Reporter
By Di Holokahi
Saturday, Jan. 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Rush RanchGet the Rush: Get the Rush is a free, family-friendly monthly gathering with activities for all. We will have the blacksmith shop, the marsh walk, the storybook walk in partnership with the Library, and the self-guided geocache scavenger hunt, Explorer Quest, presented in partnership with Solano County Office of Education. Registration for the marsh walk is required.
Source: Explore the outdoors this January – Winters Express
The California State Board of Education this week moved to increase the number of highly trained teachers serving high-need students; approve new optional arts and world language instructional materials; adopt new procedures to ensure that increased and improved services are realized for low-income students, English learners, and foster youth; and strengthen the state’s “whole child” approach to education.
“I am pleased by the many steps taken by our Board over the course of the last two days to enrich the education of all California students. The policies we approved will improve classroom learning in the arts and world languages; ensure attention to the needs of the most vulnerable students; create stronger relationships with parents and communities; and broaden the availability of health, mental health, and other supports for children who need them the most,” said State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond. “I appreciate the staff of the California Department of Education and the State Board for working to shape implementation of these exciting initiatives. These measures set California students on a course for not only overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 but thriving in years to come.”
Source: SBE Acts to Improve Teacher Quality & More – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Local educators on Friday weighed in the state Board of Education’s approval of guidelines to help local high schools develop or enhance ethnic studies courses, classes that researchers say can improve graduation and college-going rates among all students — and especially teens of color.
From the Vacaville Unified board president to area superintendents to ethnic studies teachers, they say there is a need to offer students, increasingly racially diverse in numbers, instruction about other cultures, knowledge that can be life-changing for all.
In their responses to Reporter questions, the local educators more or less reflected what state schools chief Tony Thurmond said Thursday after the state board voted unanimously on the model curriculum guidance. This ended years of often divisive debate over ethnic studies in California’s K-12 schools and how to show the histories, struggles, and contributions of Asians, Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians — and the racism and marginalization they have experienced in the United States — to millions of students.
Source: Local educators weigh in on state’s historic ethnic studies guide for high schools – 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
By Sydney Johnson, EdSource
As Covid-19 cases continue to soar in California, a majority of the State Board of Education is now in favor of pursuing a waiver from the federal government that would remove the obligation to carry out standardized testing for the second year in a row.
The U.S. Department of Education waived federal testing requirements following abrupt school closures in March 2020, but this school year, the department intends to resume testing. Now, as California faces the largest daily number of cases it’s experienced yet, State Board of Education members say they want a testing waiver to be made available for states.
“It would be educational malpractice to require LEAs (local education agencies) to provide results of assessments that really are seriously in jeopardy of being valid going forward,” said State Board of Education member Sue Burr, during a public meeting on Wednesday. “It’s important to make a strong statement about how we feel about that.”
Source: California school officials push for standardized testing waiver amid COVID-19 spike – Times-Herald
Lilibeth Pinpin is starting to rack up the awards for her work at the Solano County Office of Education.
Pinpin, the director of Innovative Programs and Student Success, is the recipient of the University of California, Davis C-STEM Administrator of the Year award.
“Students of Solano County have greatly benefitted from Ms. Pinpin’s many years of experience as well as her passion for all things related to STEM,” Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement. “We extend our gratitude to Ms. Pinpin for her dedication and commitment to ensuring STEM education is accessible to all students and congratulate her on her recognition.”
Source: STEM work earns award for SCOE’s innovation director
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)
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that public comment is now open for the draft California Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) State Plan. The plan was developed by the California Department of Education (CDE), California State Board of Education (SBE), and California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO).
“This plan is a significant opportunity to strengthen Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and pathways for all students in both the K–12 and community college systems,” Thurmond said. “I encourage educators and stakeholders in the CTE field to submit their valuable input on this plan. These programs provide valuable skills to meet industry needs.”
Perkins V was signed into law on July 31, 2018. This bipartisan measure reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to provide nearly $1.3 billion annually in federal support for CTE programs across the nation. California receives approximately $127 million annually to support CTE programs and pathways.
Source: Public Comment Open for CTE State Plan – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
Linda Darling-Hammond, Governor Gavin Newsom’s choice to lead the California State Board of Education, was sworn into office today by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who serves as the Board’s Executive Secretary.
“Linda Darling-Hammond is one of the most respected education leaders in the nation, and we are so fortunate that she calls California home. Her appointment to the State Board of Education shows the caliber of focus the Governor has on raising the stakes in public education in California. We have work to do, and with Linda Darling-Hammond at the helm, I am confident that we will move the needle forward to work toward improving the public education system in an equitable way for all of our six million students,” Thurmond said.
Darling-Hammond is one of the nation’s leading scholars on education policy and practice. Immediately following her swearing in, Darling-Hammond was elected Board President by fellow members. She succeeds former Board President Michael W. Kirst, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s longtime policy advisor, who declined to seek reappointment. Veteran educator Ilene Straus was re-elected vice president.
Source: Thurmond Swears in Linda Darling-Hammond to SB. – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
By Amelia Harper
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Friday issued proposed nonregulatory guidance to districts regarding compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) “supplement-not-supplant” provision, which says federal funding can supplement — and not replace — state and local spending, Education Week reports. In a news release, the department said the old requirement proved “burdensome and restrictive,” leading to changes that allow administrators more flexibility and to make good spending choices while also being in compliance.
Under the proposal, districts don’t have to make sure per-pupil spending on Title I schools — which have a larger high-poverty student population — equals that of others. Districts also don’t have to post their methods for complying with “supplement-not-supplant,” but they can’t simply use per-pupil spending data to prove their compliance.
Source: DeVos proposes guidance for district Title 1 spending | Education Dive
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has released proposed guidance to schools about a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act that prohibits schools from cutting state and local money from education and simply filling the hole with federal funding.
DeVos released the proposed nonregulatory guidance on Friday. Among other things, it clearly states that districts do not need to ensure that there is equal per-pupil spending between Title I schools (those with relatively high shares of low-income students) and non-Title I schools.
After ESSA passed in 2015, the Obama administration proposed regulations that would have required spending at Title I schools to be at least equal to that of the non-Title I schools. But the idea got a torrent of criticism from state and local school officials and others, although civil rights advocates in particular defended the proposal. Those regulations were never finalized before the Trump administration took over.
Source: Betsy DeVos Releases Proposed Guidance on School Spending – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Christina Samuels
The Education Department’s offices for civil rights and for special education and rehabilitative services are teaming up to “address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion” on students with disabilities.
The agencies on Thursday outlined three areas that they will focus on: conducting compliance reviews of school districts, providing resources on legalities and on interventions that could “reduce the need for less effective and potentially dangerous practices”; and on improving data collection on the use of restraint and seclusion.
“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”
Source: Ed. Dept. Pushes to Reduce ‘Inappropriate’ Restraint, Seclusion in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that he is creating an Action Team on Charter Schools to review laws governing California’s charter schools, and provide recommendations about any needed changes to the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Governor, State Board of Education, and State Legislature.
The guiding law for charter schools—the California Charter School Act—was enacted 26 years ago but has had few changes and little comprehensive review since then. In the meantime, California’s population and student population have increased significantly, our demographics have shifted, and our education system has been transformed with the introduction of new academic standards and new systems for funding and evaluating schools, Torlakson said.
“In the past few years, we have updated virtually our entire K–12 education system. Now it’s time to look at the key laws governing charter schools, which have not been significantly changed in 26 years, to see how they can be modernized to better meet the needs of all public school students, including those who attend charter schools,” said Superintendent Torlakson.
Source: Torlakson Creates Action Team on Charter Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
New research shows that California’s overhaul of public education finance and accountability is narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students and helping parents learn about school progress.
The Learning Policy Institute on Friday released “Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform External link opens in new window or tab.,” a study by researcher Sean Tanner and U.C. Berkeley professor Rucker Johnson.
The authors examined the impact of the landmark Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which gave school districts greater control over the use of state funds in exchange for greater accountability and parent engagement at the local level. LCFF, which was approved in 2013, also increased funding to districts that serve students needing extra support.The authors found that LCFF “led to significant increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among children from low-income families.” Students in the highest poverty districts showed greater academic gain, the authors reported. The study also found that LCFF funding was used to improve classroom learning by lowering student-to-teacher ratios and helping districts recruit and train new teachers.
“Money targeted to students’ needs can make a significant difference in outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “Money matters.”
Source: School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
During a presentation earlier this month on how to choose the roughly 300 lowest-performing schools that must get intensive help under federal law, a number struck some members of the State Board of Education like a brick from the sky: 3,003.
That’s the total number of schools in the state — not 300 but nine or 10 times that many — that staff estimate would require at least some form of help based on the school selection criteria that the board was considering.
That massive number is slightly under half of all schools in California receiving federal aid for low-income schools. It underscored the challenge, if not a larger threat, that the Every Student Succeeds Act could pose for the state board by diverting attention and resources from the different strategy of reform that the board is putting into place. That number is why the board called a time out and stripped any reference to the method it will use to select schools needing help — a key element of the state plan for complying with the law — from the revision it sent to the U.S. Department of Education last week.
Source: Federal, state visions for improving schools collide in California | EdSource
By Vernon M. Billy and Ryan J. Smith
California has always been a state of dreamers and idealists. That’s part of our legacy and a reason for our success. Yet, as our state’s long trail of innovators have shown us, success takes more than ideas — it also requires careful implementation. California’s school funding model is based on a powerful idea: improve outcomes by directing more resources to high-need students and use a multiple-measure accountability system that supports local decision-making. Unfortunately, the reality of the system doesn’t match the vision.
This week, the State Board of Education will hear feedback about the California School Dashboard — an online tool that shows how schools and districts are performing. The state says it’s “the next step in a series of major shifts in California K-12 schools, changes that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and placed the focus on equity for all students.”
Source: State must improve the California School Dashboard, not move the goalposts | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve instructional materials for grades K–8 that teach California’s groundbreaking History/Social-Science Curriculum Framework.
“I am proud California continues to lead the nation by teaching history-social science that is inclusive and recognizes the diversity of our great state and nation,” he said. “Students will benefit enormously.”
Torlakson said the instructional materials will give students a broader, deeper, and more accurate understanding of history and the social sciences, provide them with current research, and equip them with the critical thinking and research skills to make up their own minds about controversial issues.
“They update the teaching and learning of history and social science and convey important new information about the challenges and contributions made by individuals and ethnic groups, members of the LGBT communities, and people with disabilities,” he said. “They recognize some individuals and groups who may not have been fully included in the past.”
Source: Board Approves History Social Science Materials – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
Citing methodology flaws, the State Board of Education on Wednesday revised criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard. The unanimous decision will reduce the number of districts and schools rated red, the lowest performing of the five color categories, but board members and state administrators insisted that was not the motivating factor (see previous story).
“It would be worse to do nothing; that would undermine credibility (of the system) and create more volatility” in test score ratings, said board member Ilene Straus, who monitors school improvement and accountability issues for the board.
The fix — which was proposed by a technical group of advisers to the California State Department of Education — was in response to what would otherwise be a big fluctuation in school and district color designations on the “academic” indicator, which includes test scores, on the school dashboard.
Source: State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource
By Andrew Ujifusa
We’ve written a lot about states’ long term goals in their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some of those goals deal with students’ successful transition from K-12 schools to higher education. But the extent to which states are aligning those two systems varies, at least as far as their ESSA plans go.
That’s one general conclusion reached in an analysis of ESSA plans released Wednesday by the Education Strategy Group, a consulting firm that works on college- and career-readiness with state education departments, districts, and education-oriented groups.
The group’s report found that 41 states addressed college- and career-readiness in some fashion in their proposed ESSA accountability systems. However, just 17 states “directly linked their long-term K-12 goals in ESSA to the state’s higher education attainment goals.”
Source: Do State ESSA Plans Have Strong Connections to Higher Education? – Politics K-12 – Education Week