Edvoice - Issues

Students make slight gains on new Common Core state tests

August 24 | Sacramento Bee

By Diana Lambert and Phillip Reese

Sacramento-area students made modest progress in English and math this year, based on new state test results released Wednesday.

Fifty percent of the students in the four-county region met English standards - up from 46 percent the previous year, while about 40 percent of the region’s students met math standards - up from 37 percent.

The incremental gains came after dismal scores last year when students took the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests for the first time. The new exams are based on Common-Core State Standards.

Tears, hugs follow jurors' $3.1 million award to whistleblower in teacher credentialing case

August 19 | Sacramento Bee

By Loretta Kalb

A Sacramento woman fired from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing after disclosing a three-year backlog in teacher misconduct complaints has won a $3.1 million jury verdict in a lawsuit against the agency and two of its executives.

Whistleblower Kathleen Carroll, an attorney for the commission until her termination in November 2010, revealed sweeping backlogs, nepotism in the agency and favoritism that within a year led to a blistering state audit of its educator discipline process. Then-state Auditor Elaine Howle characterized the commission as one of the “worst-run” agencies she had ever investigated.

What LAUSD's new 'one stop shop' school choice system will (probably) look like

August 18 | 89.3 KPCC

By Kyle Stokes

Superintendent Michelle King wants Los Angeles Unified School District officials to speed their efforts to create a "one-stop shop" where parents can browse and apply for all the district's popular choice programs — like magnet schools, open enrollment and gifted programs — from a single website.

This week, King gave herself a deadline of bringing that site "fully online" during the 2017-18 school year, though members of the district working group on the project later added that it might only cover a limited geographic area or student age range in its first year.

Focus: Teacher 'chronic absence' rate exceeds students'

August 15 | San Diego Tribune

By Lauryn Schroeder

The federal government has begun putting together a regular report on how many students — and how many teachers — are “chronically absent” from school.

It turns out teachers get that label more than their pupils.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one out of every four teachers in San Diego County miss 10 or more school days per year, a threshold that triggers that label. Those absences don’t include professional development time off for training or in-service days.

How did LAUSD spend $450 million? Not on the high-needs students the money was for, state officials say

August 9 | LA Times

By Sonali Kohli

The Los Angeles Unified School District may soon have to redirect how it spends hundreds of millions of dollars in order to directly benefit the English learners, foster youth and low-income students for whom the state funding was earmarked.

This summer, the school district appealed state officials’ determination that it was not following the terms of a new state funding plan meant to direct more money to students who are costly and difficult to teach. 

On Friday, state education officials upheld the original decision, saying “LAUSD must revise its calculation” of how it accounted for $450 million in spending.

Federal education officials should tell California no

August 6 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

This week, state Board of Education President Michael Kirst and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a 10-page letter to the U.S. Education Department taking issue with how the federal government is implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a far-reaching 2015 law that replaced the oft-criticized No Child Left Behind Act enacted in 2002.

ESSA sharply reduces federal mandates that states must follow. But it includes a provision to ensure states make a good-faith effort to improve public schools: a requirement that all students’ progress be regularly measured and that states must intervene when schools rank in the bottom 5 percent of statewide assessments, have more than one-third of students drop out and repeatedly have ethnic groups with poor test results.

Kirst and Torlakson object to ESSA regulations that require each school be given a single score to assess its quality. 

Five molestation victims reach $5.4 million settlement with Fresno-area school district

August 1 | The Fresno Bee

By Pablo Lopez

Five students who accused a former superintendent/principal of the Orange Center Elementary School District of molesting them inside his office during the 2013-2014 school year have settled their civil lawsuits against the district for $5.4 million.

Why an advocacy group is suing local school districts over teacher evaluations

July 29 | Daily Bulletin

By Joyce Tsai

Is it fair to use students’ standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness in the classroom?

A lawsuit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by Students Matter, the same education policy nonprofit that challenged the state’s teacher tenure system, says yes. And it believes districts that don’t use standardized tests to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness are violating the law.

The lawsuit, Jane Doe v. Antioch Unified School District et al, seeks to force 13 school districts — including Chaffey Joint Union in Ontario, Chino Valley Unified, El Monte City, Ontario-Montclair and Upland Unified school districts — to use state standardized test scores as one measure of teachers’ annual job reviews.

Parents retain right to enroll in schools near where they work

July 26 | Cabinet Report

By Tom Chorneau

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Monday that removes a July 2017 sunset on authorization for students to enroll in a school near where a parent or legal guardian works.

Assembly Bill 2537 from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, represents the most recent relaxation of policy that governs family rights to enroll their children in a school district where they do not live.

Misnamed 'accountability' system for schools leaves parents in dark

July 25 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

The state Board of Education is on the verge of approving a mind-bendingly dense system of “accountability” for the state’s K-12 schools.

“Unaccountability” would be a better word.

The “multiple measures” system pending before the board would replace the test-oriented Academic Performance Index, which was in use for a decade and a half but has now been unceremoniously dumped.

Professional educators criticize the API, and a similarly oriented federal rating system, as being too simplistically narrow, too punitive and too prone to manipulation.