Edvoice - Issues

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.

Author shelves teacher tenure bill; surprise alternative emerges

July 13 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The latest attempt in the Legislature to lengthen the probation period for new teachers has stalled for the year. On Wednesday, the author of a bill to add an optional extra probationary year pulled her bill amid the surprise emergence of a competing bill by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s Assembly Bill 1164 adopts the position of the California Teachers Association, which is expected to support his candidacy, and appeared last week as an alternative to a bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. Her bill would extend the standard two-year probation to a third year for those teachers “on the bubble,” showing potential but needing further help and supervision. Thurmond’s bill also would permit a third probationary year, but contains conditions and restrictions, advocated by the teachers’ unions but criticized by school districts, that aren’t in Weber’s bill.

‘There’s no timeline for accountability’: LA parents tell state board the lowest-performing schools need to be improved now

July 12 | LA School Report

By Esmeralda Fabian Romero

Los Angeles parents traveled to Sacramento Wednesday in hopes of making sure their children’s interests will be reflected in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, which must be finalized and submitted to the federal government by Sept. 18.

A mother from Compton, Esther Covarrubias, was one of a handful of parents who are members of the Parent Power Network in LA who addressed the state Board of Education. “The state needs to design a plan that truly improves the lowest-performing schools such as the ones I attended when I was 12 years old and I was an ESL student who failed because of the old system,” she said during public comment.

She also urged the board to ensure that the plan can improve schools in poor and minority areas such as South and East LA and Compton — not in three or five years, but now.

What exactly is an 'ineffective teacher?' California's definition doesn't include measures of performance

July 14 | LA Times

By Joy Resmovits

Even after years of debate and litigation over teacher evaluations and tenure, California had no official definition of what constituted a bad educator — until now.

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, states must report on whether disadvantaged students have a higher proportion of ineffective, out-of-field or inexperienced teachers than do their peers. But to supply that answer, California needed to define, concretely, what an ineffective teacher looks like.

On Wednesday, the Board of Education approved a profile that does not touch on teacher performance: An “ineffective” teacher is now officially one who is improperly assigned or does not have proper credentials.

Is California’s investment in needy students paying off? Few signs yet that achievement gap is closing

June 20 | CALmatters

By Jessica Calefati

California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students.

A CALmatters analysis of the biggest districts with the greatest clusters of needy children found limited success with the policy’s goal: to close the achievement gap between these students and their more privileged peers. Instead, test scores in most of those districts show the gap is growing.

The test scores echo a broader and growing concern about the Local Control Funding Formula from civil rights groups, researchers and legislators.

Data Exclusive: 75 Percent of Black California Boys Don’t Meet State Reading Standards

May 31 | CALmatters

By Matt Levin

Three of four African-American boys in California classrooms failed to meet reading and writing standards on the most recent round of testing, according to data obtained from the state Department of Education and analyzed by CALmatters.

More than half of black boys scored in the lowest category on the English portion of the test, trailing their female counterparts. The disparity reflects a stubbornly persistent gender gap in reading and writing scores that stretches across ethnic groups.