Edvoice - Issues

California school accountability plan is anti-accountability

August 24 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

The State Board of Education must submit its plan by next month and appears satisfied with a version released Aug. 8. On Thursday, Bellwether Education Partners — a national nonprofit think tank — released its evaluation of California’s proposal. While praising the plan’s vision of a first-rate education of all, the analysis is sharply critical of the plan’s most crucial components. The biggest complaints:

  • The plan wouldn’t even manage to “capture individual students’ improvement over time.”

  • The plan is vague about how the state would identify the worst-performing schools, how it would intervene to improve their results and how it would measure progress in targeted schools. Under the current language, these schools could be found to have complied with state guidelines “without making any improvements.”

  • It is unclear how the plan’s “dashboard” concept of using several factors to evaluate school quality would actually work, in particular how much value it would place on the performance of ethnic groups.

In other words, the State Board of Education has come up with an anti-accountability accountability plan — one that would make it difficult for Californians to figure out which students and what schools are improving; to know whether schools deemed as improving have actually improved; and to assess how well districts are doing with the state’s neediest students, its 1.4 million English-language learners.

Commentary: Credential not only way to measure good teachers

August 25 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By Elise Morgan

I didn’t expect to be a teacher. My first career choice was counselor, and I specialized in helping low-income adults return to college. After two years of hearing my advisees explain how they got off track during high school, I decided if I really wanted to make a difference, I needed to work with students earlier in their educational experiences.

But like many career changers, I faced a financial hurdle. My undergraduate degree was in English, and I could not afford to take time off to pursue a master’s degree in education.

An Independent Review of California’s Draft ESSA Plan

August 24 | Bellwether Education Partners

By Bellwether Education Partners

...[T]he plan lacks important specificity about its continued engagement with key stakeholders after the state begins implementing its plan. The state would improve its proposal by clearly describing in more detail its process for gathering data and input along the way, for continuing to engage with stakeholders, and for modifying its system as necessary.

AB 1164: Don't protect the worst teachers

August 12 | San Diego Tribune

By Rae Belisle

Competition for success in the 21st-century economy is increasingly tied to an educated workforce with strong science, technology, engineering and math skills. Parents, community and business leaders, and policy makers trying to keep and grow jobs in California should be shocked that in just a few short years California has won the race to the bottom.

A Free Education System Bought and Sold on the Housing Market, as It Was Intended to Be

August 7 | The 74 Million

By Derrell Bradford

When you think about education, it’s worth asking two questions over and over again: Why is this thing the way it is? And does it have to stay this way?

One thing you hear often in education is that your ZIP code shouldn’t determine your educational destiny. This is something even folks who say they oppose “education reform” ostensibly believe.

So if that’s true, why is your house the overwhelming predictor of the sort of education you will receive?

Kids in low-performing schools lose big under California’s ESSA plan

August 3 | LA School Report

By Seth Litt

On July 12, the California Board of Education met to discuss the state’s plan to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which must be approved and submitted by September. Board President Michael Kirst opened the conversation with a defense of the draft plan, which offers no commitment on how the state will improve its lowest-performing schools and little urgency for when these improvements might happen.

90% of Parents Think Their Kids Are on Track in Math & Reading. The Real Number? Just 1 in 3, Survey Shows

August 1 | The 74 Million

By Katie Stringer

One parent thought teachers with emergency certificates had CPR training. Another heard the phrase “school climate” and thought her child’s school had a broken air-conditioning system.

These are just a few of the misconceptions the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Learning Heroes has heard while trying to help parents understand the jargon-heavy education landscape at their children’s schools. And though they may be amusing examples, they reveal a concerning communication gap between schools and parents.

“The education community continues to use a language that parents don’t speak,” said Bibb Hubbard, Learning Heroes founder and president.

This communication gap creates a significant disconnect in how parents think their children are doing in school versus reality. In its second national survey, Learning Heroes found that 9 in 10 parents think their children are performing at or above grade level in math and reading — but results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that only 1 in 3 U.S. eighth-graders are proficient in math and reading.

California’s war over public schools moves to a new front

July 31 | Fresno Bee

By Dan Walters, CALmatters

The multi-front political and legal war over the direction of California’s immense public school system has a new front.

The state Board of Education – and inferentially, Gov. Jerry Brown and the education establishment – want to take a minimalist approach to complying with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Sacramento district can’t find enough teachers, so it turns to Philippines for help

July 16 | Sacramento Bee

By Richard Chang

Officials at the Sacramento City Unified School District took an international field trip to the Philippines this year – to hire teachers.

The district says it has no choice but to look abroad to fill vacancies, as schools around California and the nation face a shortage of employable teachers.

Sacramento City Unified is the only district in the greater Sacramento region hiring from the Philippines through a program that began last year.

Anaheim parents win victory over district in charter school fight

July 13 | Orange County Register

By Roxana Kopetman

Parents at an Anaheim elementary school who have fought their district to convert their campus to a charter school won their battle Wednesday when the California Supreme Court refused to hear the district’s appeal.

Families at Palm Lane Elementary can now move forward to convert their school into a public charter, independently run from the Anaheim Elementary School District.