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)

2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named five exceptional educators as the 2021 California Teachers of the Year. These educators are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year. Thurmond, who began his career as a social worker, said he is thrilled to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who go above and beyond to educate, inspire, and empower students, families, and communities.

“In a year that might be the most challenging in all of our lives, these five inspiring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” he said. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to rise above the challenges and connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances.”

Presented by California Casualty and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued nationwide federal waivers and approved state specific requests intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The CNPs referenced are the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), School Food Service Program (SFSP), and the Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP). The California Department of Education (CDE) is assisting Program Operators of the CNP by posting policy guidance and waivers, providing information on how to operate the programs during the pandemic, directions on how to claim for reimbursement and COVID-19 funding, providing bi-monthly Townhall webinars for questions and answers and best practices, connecting program operators with resources, answering Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ), and providing contact information for additional assistance. The CDE is striving to continue to support and protect access to nutritious meals for children and adults in California.

Source: COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

Tools for Teachers – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond today announced the availability of Tools for Teachers External link opens in new window or tab. from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This easy-to-use website features lessons and strategies to support instruction, save teachers time in developing quality lessons, and help prepare students for college or career success.

“No one is working harder than our teachers right now. They are learning new technologies, engaging in educator trainings, and putting in the work to reach our students,” Thurmond said. “The more tools we can provide our teachers, the better. I am pleased the California Department of Education can fund access to this resource for all local educational agencies with no cost to the teachers themselves.”

The Tools for Teachers website focuses on the formative assessment process External link opens in new window or tab., which helps teachers identify where students are in their learning, where they are heading, and how they will reach their learning goals. All of the website’s resources include recommended teaching strategies that support diverse learners and can be modified by teachers to meet instructional needs during in-person or distance learning.

Source: Tools for Teachers – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Thousands of Devices Available for Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Wednesday that the California Department of Education (CDE) has worked closely with technology companies to make available more than 500,000 more computing devices for California students in need.

“We cannot stop until we know we have leveled the playing field for every student in California by connecting them to the technology they need to succeed now, and in the years ahead,” Thurmond said. “At a time when there is a worldwide shortage of devices, I want to thank these companies for prioritizing California students, and I am proud that we have been able to work together to give school districts a unique chance to equip every student in need with a computing device.”

Thousands of devices will be made available within weeks as many schools either continue distance learning or transition to hybrid models that require some remote instruction.

Source: Thousands of Devices Available for Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated 33 California public schools that have been chosen as 2020 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 and sustaining tremendous programs that allow students to reach their full potential, leading to a successful future,” Thurmond said. “This recognition is well-deserved, and these programs are a model of success that we can all look to in terms of ensuring that all students are thriving.”

Source: 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In an hour-long virtual news conference, Monday, state schools chief Tony Thurmond announced new efforts to combat increased cases of hate, bigotry and racism in California schools and communities, the “Education to End Hate” initiative.

Thurmond said that the California Department of Education will lead a series of strategies— including educator training grants, partnerships with community leaders, and virtual classroom sessions — that uses the power of education to create a more just society.

“We do not need any more evidence that our country is facing two pandemics: coronavirus and hate. It feels like every day we are seeing heartbreaking examples: more anti-Semitic behavior, bullying of Asian American students because of our president’s rhetoric, Islamophobia, discrimination of our LGBTQ neighbors, and violence directed at people of color,” Thurmond said. “It’s time to double down on our efforts to combat all forms of hate, bias, and bigotry. By digging deeper into the complexities of our diverse and difficult histories — not denying or ignoring them — I believe education can provide the pathway to healing, understanding, and racial and social justice.”

Source: State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s recent announcement that he would seek to withhold funding from California schools that choose to use a curriculum that reviews the impacts of slavery and how it has contributed to racism in our nation:

“President Trump’s latest announcement is a petty and disgraceful threat designed to distract and further divide our country at a time when we need true leadership that can unite us. California’s educators should feel empowered to lead courageous conversations with their students about the history of race and racism in our country—not worry if their school will lose funding.

“At the California Department of Education, we will continue to encourage school districts to talk about racism and unconscious bias in all forms. That includes building training programs to help our 10,000 schools address the impacts of implicit bias and race in our schools. We are also developing a first-in-the-nation statewide ethnic studies model curriculum that all of our school districts can use as a guide for classroom instruction that will shine a long-overdue light on the contributions of people of color.

Source: Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced this week that the assessment used to determine a student’s English proficiency has successfully transitioned online, giving educators a powerful tool to reach and support English learners while school campuses are closed.

The Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) has moved from a paper-pencil test to an online computer-based test and, as a result, produced real-time results. The online test became available to school districts and charter schools on August 20.

The Initial ELPAC serves as the state’s English language proficiency assessment to identify students as English learners. The test is administered to all students whose primary or home language is not English.

Source: Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new tool—Guidance on Best Practices for Distance Learning Instructional Planning—to support educators that are implementing distance learning instruction.

“Distance learning will be with us in some form moving forward, even as schools may be allowed to begin reopening in various capacities. We are committed to offering real-time, actionable support to our educators as we all lean into this new reality,” Thurmond said. “Through continued investments in educator training—and increased, proactive family engagement—I am confident that our schools will reach and engage more students as we move through this challenging period together.”

The new guidance document offers suggestions in four key areas: clear definitions of instructional models and language, an overview of required daily minutes for the 2020-21 school year and considerations for instruction both with live interaction and without live interaction, research-based principles for school districts to consider as they prepare to re-open, and ideas for how educators may structure learning.

Source: New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Special Education Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Heather Calomese as the new Director of the Special Education Division at the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Special Education Division provides information and resources to serve the unique needs of individuals with disabilities so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills. As schools continue virtual learning in the weeks ahead, Calomese will support CDE’s efforts to provide assistance to schools and engage families and educators in ways that ensure the unique needs of students with disabilities are met.

Source: New Special Education Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has posted online its latest recommendations to the draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. The recommendations are scheduled to be reviewed by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) at its quarterly meeting on August 13, the next in ongoing opportunities for public input before final adoption.

The CDE recommends that the model curriculum remain rooted in four foundational disciplines of ethnic studies—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. The CDE also recommends the draft include educator resources for engaging in expanded, critical conversations that can be customized to reflect a school community’s diversity and engage in broader social justice issues.

“Our schools have not always been a place where students can gain a full understanding of the contributions of people of color and the many ways throughout history—and present day—that our country has exploited, marginalized, and oppressed them. At a time when people across the nation are calling for a fairer, more just society, we must empower and equip students and educators to have these courageous conversations in the classroom,” said Thurmond. “I am proud to submit these recommendations for a draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that will not only serve as a roadmap for educators but, hopefully, inspire action across the nation.”

Source: Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday outlined ways in which the California Department of Education (CDE) is helping schools implement and strengthen distance learning in the weeks leading up to the new school year, including guidance updates and virtual professional development, and ongoing efforts to connect school districts to resources that can close the digital divide.

“With school starting in a matter of weeks for many districts—and with as many as 97 percent of students expected to begin in distance learning—CDE is leaning into this moment to help make sure our educators are ready,” said Thurmond. “Whether we are helping schools close the digital divide, or providing guidance and webinars to understand new requirements, I am proud of the work our team is leading to help educators have the resources and responsiveness they need to make critical decisions in real time.”

Source: SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

By Carolyn Jones

With students facing ever-growing levels of depression and anxiety as the pandemic wears on, nearly everyone agrees that school districts need to expand their mental health services.

But budget uncertainties have stymied school districts’ efforts to hire more counselors and psychologists, leaving mental health advocates worried that thousands of students in California won’t receive the help they need.

“Basically, nearly every student in California has been traumatized,” said Melanee Cottrill, executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists. “We expect to see a huge demand when school reopens, and we are very concerned about meeting the needs of students.”

Source: Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force identified new resources and partnerships today to support California schools preparing for distance learning this fall. The task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), has been working since April to help equip all California students with computing devices and connectivity as schools prepare for the new academic year.

Among the resources identified Thursday include more than $5 billion available in the state budget to school districts to acquire devices, strengthen distance learning and address learning gaps. Task Force members also learned more about the progress of a multi-million dollar initiative spearheaded by Intel Corp. to support online learning.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forces more school districts to resume virtual learning in the fall, this work grows increasingly urgent. But it is not insurmountable: Together, I believe we have the opportunity to rapidly build on the progress we already have made to date to close the digital divide,” Thurmond said. “Hundreds of thousands of students still lack the basic tools to connect to their learning. This is unacceptable, and now is the time to accelerate our efforts so that no student is left behind.”

Source: Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to the Governor’s updated guidance for schools:

“I want to commend the Governor for his leadership and for his focus on prioritizing public safety during what might be one of the most challenging experiences we will face in our lifetime. I appreciate the concern he expressed today as a father, his concern for the safety of California’s six million students, and his concern for the health and welfare of our schools’ educators and families.

“I also want to thank the Governor for the work he has led to ensure that our educators have necessary personal protective equipment—already on its way to our 10,000 schools—in the form of millions of units of face coverings, face shields, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.

Source: SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday commended school districts across California for making student, teacher, and staff health and safety the foremost priority as they formalize plans for resuming learning this fall.

During his latest virtual news media briefing Wednesday, the State Superintendent encouraged schools to continue designing plans for in-person instruction this fall but urged educators to prepare for the possibility of resuming distance learning based on current health and safety conditions. COVID-19 infections continue to rise, and some of the state’s largest school districts have announced plans to resume learning virtually this fall.

“Everyone shares the desire to reopen schools and agrees that the best place for children to learn and thrive is in the classroom connected with caring teachers and staff. We also understand that schools are more than a place of learning: They provide critical necessities like meals, relationships with caring adults, and support for working parents,” said Thurmond. “But we can only open schools if it is safe to do so. As the largest educational agency in the country, our stance has been consistent during this pandemic: Science, data, and safety must guide any decision about reopening a school. The health and safety of our students and staff is too important to risk.”

Source: Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Announces Tool for Assessing Student Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new implementation tool on diagnostic and formative assessments as a resource for schools. Being able to identify where students are in their learning within key content areas when they return to school would support educators moving forward as they teach students who missed months of in-class instruction.

The new document—titled “Implementation Tool: Guidance on Diagnostic and Formative Assessments”—offers many tools and strategies for taking a snapshot of students’ learning, but none of the assessments are required.

“Due to the school closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have concerns about learning gaps and share educators’ desires to have useful diagnostic assessments when students return,” Thurmond said. “This has especially impacted our most disadvantaged and vulnerable students, many of whom lack access to the technology needed for distance learning. Our set of resources offers multiple ways to measure a student’s learning without exacerbating the trauma they have experienced in recent months, while providing tools educators need to accelerate learning.”

Source: SSPI Announces Tool for Assessing Student Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)