On Monday, October 16, 2023, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California Department of Education (CDE), and partners will unveil plans to drive improvements in statewide student performance. Thurmond intends to detail plans regarding proposed legislation to fund training for educators that is expected to increase student proficiency in math and reading over time. Thurmond will also highlight a deeper alignment in how billions of dollars in state education investments will be implemented to promote and measure student success.
“I am excited and hopeful as we launch new efforts and realign existing efforts to help create a statewide campaign to improve student proficiency,” said Thurmond. “We will be adding to the many efforts underway and helping our 1,000 districts link their individual approaches into a collective approach that has the promise to help us do more, serve more, and create better outcomes for youth on a statewide basis.”
Source: SPI Plans Statewide Student Improvement – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on the report of the federal School Safety Commission. The commission was put together as a response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018, which took the lives of 14 students and three teachers, while injuring dozens of others.
“I am extremely disappointed that the School Safety Commission report contains a misguided recommendation to eliminate a policy that has nothing to do with the continuing tragedy of school shootings—the quest for disciplining students in a proportionate, fair manner. At the same time it ignores one of the key contributors to school shootings—easy access to military-style assault weapons.
I strongly oppose this recommendation and the Department of Education’s reported plans to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance encouraging schools to work to reduce the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities that are found throughout our nation.
Source: Torlakson Criticizes Safety Commission Report – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 57th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Lauren Kong of Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in the Palos Verdes Unified School District, and Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda of Gonzales (Monterey County), a senior at Gonzales High School in the Gonzales Unified School District, were selected for their outstanding leadership qualities, scholastic achievement, and contributions to their schools and communities.
“These outstanding students are among the best and brightest leaders in their schools and communities and have a heart for public service,” Torlakson said. “They are strong advocates who desire to make our world a better place. I am amazed at all they have done in their young lives and look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in their future. I know they will achieve great things due to their commitment and dedication. They make me optimistic for our future.”
Torlakson also selected two alternates in the event that one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. The first alternate is Channing Lee of Fullerton (Orange County), a senior at Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim. The second alternate is Gabriel Drill of La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), a senior at La Cañada High School in the La Cañada Unified School District.
Source: Torlakson Announces 2019 U.S. Senate Youth – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that schools funded by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office have lower rates of tobacco use than other schools, according to a comprehensive study by the University of California, San Diego. The findings were based on two statewide surveys, the 2016 California Student Tobacco Survey and the 2016 California Educator Tobacco Survey.
“This new study proves that our diligent efforts to promote tobacco-free schools are paying off,” said Torlakson. “Thanks to the work the tobacco prevention office has been doing since 1989, students are smoking less, and most public schools have signed up as tobacco-free. We also know that vaping is unsafe and unhealthy, and we need to continue encouraging all schools to include vaping bans in their tobacco-free schools policies.”
The study compared schools funded by the CDE’s TUPE Office with those that are not. It found about 10 percent more teachers in schools funded by the program reported their schools placed high priority on specific tobacco-prevention efforts such as targeting at-risk youth, providing peer-to-peer programs, holding schoolwide activities, and referring tobacco users to cessation services. Students at schools funded by the program were significantly less likely to smoke cigarettes or vape. The study also stressed the need to further strengthen education and prevention efforts regarding certain e-cigarettes products that are currently attracting attention from youth.
Source: CDE Tobacco-Use Prevention Programs Are a Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Superintendent-elect Tony Thurmond praised Butte County school leaders and community members for working selflessly and heroically so that their students could return to school on Monday, December 3, less than a month after the worst fire in California history.
Fourteen schools were damaged or destroyed during the Camp Fire and all 99 schools in Butte County were closed since the fire began, displacing 31,670 students.
“The reopening of schools in Butte County so soon after this terrible tragedy provides a bright ray of hope. It shows the resilience and determination of school leaders and community members, and the generosity and kindness of so many people who gave and continue to give,” said Torlakson.
Source: Celebrate the Reopening of Schools in Butte County – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve the first-ever instructional materials which incorporate California’s groundbreaking Next Generation Science Standards for grades K–8. “California is the first state in the nation to adopt a science framework and approve instructional materials based on the Next Generation Science Standards,” Torlakson said. “I am excited about the new standards, which train students to act like scientists by posing questions and developing their own experiments. In addition, they emphasize climate change and environmental literacy, along with engineering and strategies to support girls and young women in science.”This was the largest state adoption for a content area with 34 programs submitted for review. The SBE approved 29 programs. Districts will have many options of curriculum resources to meet the needs of their students. The approval of instructional materials comes after the Science Framework was approved by the SBE in 2016.
Source: Torlakson Announces Approval of NGSS Materials – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Rodney Okamoto as Director of the Technology Services Division. His division provides the California Department of Education with Information Technology (IT) leadership, technical services, and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enables it to deliver effective education services in California.
Okamoto most recently served as IT Manager II, overseeing the Information Systems and Services Office in the Technology Services Division. During his more than 20 years at the California Department of Education, he has chaired the multi-state Smarter Balanced Technology Workgroup and served as California’s IT Readiness Coordinator. His efforts were a major reason California was recognized for the most successful implementation of computer-based assessments in the country.
“Rodney has demonstrated a wealth of knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills. His team-oriented personality will help the CDE fulfill its mission of providing California students a world-class education in our multicultural, multilingual, and highly connected world,” Torlakson said. “Utilizing technology strengthens education for our students, as well as the educational support happening in our Department and at schools throughout California.”
Source: Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2018 California Expanded Learning award winners.
“Expanded learning programs are an important extension of a student’s typical school day. The programs provide additional academic support, cultural enrichment, and social and emotional learning opportunities,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to recognize the talented and dedicated staff who are helping students learn, thrive, and succeed inside and outside the classroom.”
Studies show that expanded learning programs increase student attendance, cut dropout rates, reduce juvenile crime, and boost academic success.
The awards are part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of afterschool programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.
Source: Torlakson Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named five extraordinary educators as the 2019 California Teachers of the Year.
Torlakson, who began his career as a science teacher and coach, said he is pleased to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have made a great impact in their schools and communities.
“These five remarkable teachers deserve thanks and admiration for their deep commitment, hard work, and creativity,” he said. “They make profound differences in their students’ lives and provide students the tools they need to succeed. They’re an inspiration and an example of the exceptional work going on in California schools.”
Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.
Source: 2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.
Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards (Table 1), a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards (Table 2), a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.
This is the fourth year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.
Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.
Source: CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 12 California public schools that have been chosen as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards.
“Congratulations to all the schools on this list that are helping students achieve their dreams and to the leaders dedicated to and invested in finding ways to close the achievement gap,” Torlakson said. “The teachers, parents, administrators, and community members at these schools are outstanding examples of innovative things happening in California education.”
The award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. In its 36-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,800 schools.
Source: 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked Gov. Brown for signing legislation to promote Dual Language Immersion programs in California. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, authored the bill.
Assembly Bill 2514 creates 10 grants of $300,000 that will be available to districts to start Dual Language Immersion programs.
Money will still have to be allocated by the Department of Finance, but Torlakson said he would strongly advocate for the funding.
“This is a great first step in creating a program that will support the expansion of Dual Language Immersion programs,” he said. “Students and their families want the chance to learn more than one language.”
Torlakson said the legislation advances the goals of his initiative, Global California 2030, to vastly increase the number of students who are fluent in two languages.
“Numerous studies show that fluency in another language boosts students’ mental flexibility and enhances their ability to learn all subjects. This legislation could open the door by giving more students the opportunity to become fluent in a world language by making it easier for districts to launch Dual Language Immersion programs, allowing students to start learning a world language in kindergarten.”
Source: Torlakson Applauds Dual Language Signing – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that a record 55,000 State Seals of Biliteracy, which signify fluency in another language, were awarded in 2017–2018. That means more graduating high school seniors than ever before can read, write, and speak at least two languages.
The soaring number of biliteracy seals represent progress in Torlakson’s Global California 2030 initiative, which seeks to rapidly expand the teaching and learning of world languages, in part by increasing the number of biliteracy seals awarded and by expanding the number of dual language immersion programs.
“I’m thrilled that so many of our students are learning a second language that will improve their cognitive abilities, better prepare them for the global economy, and broaden their horizons and understanding of other cultures and nations,” Torlakson said. “This is a great start in meeting the goals of Global California 2030.”
Source: Record Number of Biliteracy Seals Awarded – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who are among the 104 educators nationwide recently announced by the White House as recipients of the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He also announced six outstanding teachers as the 2018 California state finalists.
The California mathematics winner is Gabriela Cárdenas, a first and second grade dual language teacher at the UCLA Lab School, the laboratory for the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies in Los Angeles. The California science winner is Nancy Wright, who teaches grades three through six at Lorin Eden Elementary School and serves as the Science Teacher on Special Assignment for Hayward Unified School District in Hayward, leading the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for her district.
“I applaud these teachers who play an essential role in shaping and inspiring our students in the areas of mathematics and science—which is so critical especially in California, where technology reigns, “said Torlakson, a former science teacher. “Their students are our future scientists, engineers, and inventors who can make a huge impact in our country.”
Source: CA Math & Science Teachers Receive Honors – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson marked Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month today by reminding students, teachers, and staff at C.K. McClatchy High School to recognize the risk factors of suicide so they can help identify students who might be in crisis and need assistance.
Students from the C.K. McClatchy National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Campus Club and the California Department of Education (CDE) conducted the event to focus on student suicide risks.
“The suicide of a student is a terrible tragedy that devastates a family, a school, and an entire community. We must do everything we can to prevent suicide,” said Torlakson. “Every suicide threat made by a student should be taken seriously.”
Torlakson said peer-to-peer assistance programs, school mental health professionals, and trained school and district staff can reassure and support a student who might be struggling with depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, or bullying.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics stated that nearly one in five high school students in California experienced suicidal ideation.
Source: Torlakson Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
The State Board of Education on Thursday approved California’s first-ever computer science standards—learning expectations that will help each student reach their creative potential in our digitally connected world.
“As a forward-leaning state and home to Silicon Valley, California’s new standards will not only enable students to understand how their digital world works but will encourage critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology,” said State Board Member Trish Williams, who serves as the Board’s computer science liaison.
Developed by educators, the standards are designed to help students move from passive users of technology to creators and innovators who interact with computers. Beyond simply learning to code, the standards push students to communicate as scientists and find creative solutions to difficult problems.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the standards would help improve computer science education in California.
Source: CA Adopts First-Ever Computer Science Standards – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
It’s 26 years old and needs a tune-up. Perhaps even an overhaul.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has created a panel to review the 1992 law governing California charter schools.
In a recent press release, the schools chief noted by name members of the Action Team on Charter Schools to provide recommendations of needed changes to his successor, the governor, the state Board of Education, and state Legislature. Both Torlakson and Gov. Jerry Brown term out at the end of the year.
The California Charter School Act has had few changes and little top-to-bottom review since it was enacted, Torlakson noted in the prepared statement.
Source: State schools chief forms team to update charter school law
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)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged educators, parents, school board members, community leaders and all residents to voice their support for state legislation that will improve mental health services for students.
Torlakson is putting a major focus on mental health awareness and treatment, suicide prevention, and school safety as the Legislature reconvenes August 6 for the final weeks of the 2017–18 session.
“Students need to have good mental health to succeed in the classroom and in life. Schools can help by creating a caring and supportive environment and by working to help identify mental health problems early so students can receive the treatment they need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and served as a track and cross country coach.
Source: Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced California’s high school graduation rates today under a new methodology that was adopted in response to a federal audit.
As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation.
Using this new methodology, which reduces the number of students counted as graduates, 82.7 percent of California students who started high school as ninth graders in 2013–14 graduated on-time four years later in 2017. Under the old methodology, the statewide graduation rate was 83.8 percent in 2016.
Overall, the number of graduates increased from 2016 by over 900 for a total of 408,124 students. In addition, the number of students who dropped out in 2017 decreased by over 2,200 compared to last year.
Source: Torlakson Reports 2017 High School Grad Rates – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)