Edvoice - Issues

Dan Walters: Poor kids' school aid diverted

August 27 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

California school districts were granted extraordinary flexibility in implementing a historic overhaul of public education finance to provide more help to “high-needs” poor and English-learner students.

The flexibility Brown and the state Board of Education granted disturbed an informal coalition of civil rights and education reform groups. They feared that the extra allocations of funds for nearly 60 percent of California’s 6 million-plus students would be dissipated into teacher salaries and other general uses, rather than concentrated on the targeted kids.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union surveyed the “local control accountability plans” of 40 large districts and found them wanting.

Just one of the LCAPs the ACLU studied addressed the eight required “metrics.” Moreover, most districts couldn’t account for extra money they had been allocated and didn’t explain why they were using LCFF funds for other purposes.

State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores

August 26 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

California Department of Education officials have repeatedly cautioned against comparing students’ scores on past state standardized tests with forthcoming results on tests aligned with the Common Core standards. The academic standards have changed and the tests are different, making comparisons inaccurate, they and others have warned.

Earlier this month, as the department got ready to send parents the initial student scores on the new tests sometime over the next few weeks, department officials deleted old test results going back more than 15 years from the most accessible part of the department’s website, impeding the public’s ability to make those comparisons.

Republicans in the Legislature are drafting a letter to Torlakson asking that the data be restored immediately, Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, the Senate minority leader, said Wednesday.

“CDE (the department) is allergic to transparency and anything that might show schools in a bad light,” he said. “It’s important for parents to be able to look back over 10 years to know if there have been patterns of improvement.


Latinos struggle to close gap with whites in California ACT scores

August 26 | The LA Times

By Joy Resmovits

A performance gap on the ACT college entrance exam persisted this year between California's Latino and white high school students, according to new test results.

Educators and experts find this trend particularly concerning. They had hoped for better results from the relatively small segment of test takers who are largely a self-selected group of students who are motivated to get to college.

Teacher pay, evaluation systems need overhaul

August 20 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

By Robert Fellner

California’s teacher shortage is due, in large part, to a broken system that underpays its best teachers and discourages talented young professionals from ever joining.

And now legislators want to make it even worse.

Dan Walters: Rating California schools is a big battle

August 16 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

California’s largest-in-the-nation public school system educates – or purports to do so – 6 million-plus kids from dozens of socioeconomic, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.

National academic testing has found that California’s students rank near the bottom in achievement.

The situation spawns two perpetual political debates – whether we’re spending enough money to raise that achievement, and whether there’s sufficient accountability for results.

Orinda: Gov. Jerry Brown signs two bills inspired by second-grader

August 12 | Contra Costa Times

By Matthias Gafni

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this week two bills inspired by this newspaper's stories on Vivian, an Orinda second-grader who was told she had to leave the affluent district after officials incorrectly determined she lived outside its boundaries.

In November, the 7-year-old -- who lived with her mother, a live-in nanny for an Orinda family -- was told she would have to leave her elementary school after the Orinda Union district hired a private investigator who determined she lived outside the residency boundaries.

$240 Million Education Contract IIustrates State Lobbying Loopholes

August 13 | KQED

By Marisa Lagos

When California education officials awarded a $240 million, three-year contract to conduct Common Core testing for millions of school children this spring, they said it was an open and competitive process — and that Educational Testing Service, the winning company, simply had the best proposal.

Not everyone agrees the process was so open, nor do they agree that ETS was the clear choice. And several weeks of KQED News questions about the contracting process ended without a full set of answers.

California education officials sued for records on English learners

August 11 | Sacramento Bee

By Christopher Cadelago

A civil rights group filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Education on Monday, claiming the state refused to divulge records detailing its number of long-term English-language learners.

The plaintiffs say state education officials are required to collect data on the number of English learners in public schools and inform individual school districts about their findings. Under state law, agencies and officials must make certain records available for public inspection upon request.

The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, was brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Public Counsel, which are asking for a court order to enforce the California Public Records Act and to obtain the documents.

Summer remedial courses now required for nearly half of CSU freshman

August 9 | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

In a recent quiz for her class of incoming Cal State Fullerton freshmen – who had all failed an algebra placement exam – Cherlyn Converse asked the students to solve a polynomial equation by factoring its properties.

Converse’s students are among the 25,000 incoming California State University freshmen, or nearly half of all enrolled freshmen for this fall, required to participate in the system’s Early Start, a summer program for students who haven’t demonstrated they’re ready for college-level math or English courses.

It’s the second straight summer CSU has required the program for new freshmen who failed the system’s English or math placements tests.

Survey: Most high school students feel unprepared for college, careers

July 30 | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

Fewer than half of high school students across the country feel they’re ready for college and careers, even though these remain top goals for students, according to a survey released Thursday.

Results from a multi-year College and Career Readiness survey of 165,000 high school students conducted by YouthTruth, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, found that 45 percent of students feel positive about their college and career readiness.