Edvoice - Issues

Despite state mediator, LAUSD and teachers still $774 million and an evaluation system apart

March 27 | Los Angeles Daily News

By Thomas Himes

A referee from California’s top labor authority proved little help Thursday in the fray between Los Angeles’ school district and teachers union.

The two sides remain divided by more than $774 million per year and at odds over teacher evaluations, Los Angeles Unified School District Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian said in a written statement.

A key issue for district officials is $171 million in federal dollars that could be lost if teachers don’t agree to an evaluation system that groups them into one of three categories based, in part, on student performance.

Districts adopting measures to assess students in earliest grades

March 19 | EdSource

By Michael Collier 

For the past 15 years, students in 2nd through 11th grade were assessed on California’s STAR tests, a battery of mostly multiple-choice questions in English language arts and math. The state testing program was discontinued in 2013 to make way for the new Smarter Balanced assessments that will be administered this spring for the first time.

Only students in 3rd through 8th grade and 11th grade are taking the new Common Core-aligned assessments this year, which means school districts must figure out how to measure students’ progress in the 2nd grade – while continuing to assess how they are doing in kindergarten and 1st grade.

But without the benefit of established assessments for K-2 students that are fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards – the new academic standards in English language arts and math adopted by California and 42 other states – school districts are using off-the-shelf assessments such as the Fountas & Pinnell reading assessment, creating their own tests or using a combination of each.

Grade colleges on how well they teach teachers? Universities balk

March 4 | Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

With fresh credentials in hand, enthusiastic and energetic teachers charge into classrooms hoping to change young lives. But in the first year they often end up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and unprepared to teach and manage classes.

Now the Obama administration wants to improve teacher training so that newly minted teachers arrive prepared and able to deliver high-quality instruction. Too many teacher credential programs focus on theory, critics say, and devote too little time to instructing teachers on how to teach. And reformers say too many teachers -- 40 percent -- leave the profession in the first five years, in part because they're unable to handle a complex, tough job.


Opinion: A new fight over judging K-12 schools

February 27 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

California’s long-running conflict over how its public schools should be held accountable for educational outcomes entered a new phase this week.

Representatives of 19 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and Ed-Voice, issued the critique to WestEd, a San Francisco think tank that’s writing “evaluation rubrics” for the state Board of Education.

LAUSD superintendent warns of layoffs as teachers union prepares to strike

February 20 | Los Angeles Daily News

By Thomas Himes

As the teachers union ramps up strike preparations, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines on Friday discussed union demands, the district’s budget deficit and layoffs.

With a projected deficit of nearly $160 million and no money in the reserve fund, Cortines wants every department to make cuts ranging from 7 percent to 10 percent in hopes of balancing the budget by the July 1 start of the 2015-16 Fiscal Year.

House Education Committee Approves NCLB Rewrite on Party-Line Vote

February 11 | Education Week

By Lauren Camera

The Republican-controlled House education committee approved an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act Wednesday afternoon on a party-line vote. 

The measure, which would significantly curtail the footprint of the federal government in K-12 schools, will be considered by the full House the week of Feb. 24. 

Education Funding Debate Begins at California Capitol

February 9 | Capital Public Radio

By Ben Adler

California’s economy is on the rebound, but there’s little extra revenue to go around for the next state budget. Yet there’s one area that will see a big increase in funding: education. And that’s sparking a debate at the Capitol over how to spend the money.

“We cannot continue to tolerate the level of failure that is occurring in our schools among certain children. It’s alarming – for me personally and others. And it’s very disheartening,” [Assemblymember] Weber says. 

Compliance issues spotlight teacher evaluation stalemate

February 2 | Cabinet Report

by Tom Chorneau

More than five years have passed since President Barack Obama warned lawmakers in California that federal funding was at risk because the state failed to use education data to distinguish poor teachers from good ones.

The president could repeat his warning again today because things stand largely as they did in 2009.

No Resolution to Annual-Testing Debate After First NCLB Reauthorization Hearing

January 21 | Education Week

By Lauren Camera

In the opening bid to reauthorize the federal K-12 education law, No Child Left Behind, the Senate education committee took up the divisive issue of testing, in which the overwhelming recommendation to the committee was to maintain the current law's annual-testing regimen. 


Group faults SUSD teacher evaluations

January 22 | The Record

By Elizabeth Roberts

A scathing report faulting state school districts for not complying with a decades-old teacher-evaluation law cites Stockton Unified, which has been mired in a lengthy stalemate over contract negotiations centered around the contentious issue.

The EdVoice analysis, “Student Progress Ignored,” looked at a sample of 26 school districts that serve 1.25 million students, 20 percent of California’s enrollment. Half of the districts do not mention any form of student progress in their evaluation or collective bargaining language, the report found. EdVoice points to those findings in pushing the Legislature and state Board of Education to take steps to rectify the issue, such as tying compliance to Local Control Funding Formula money.