Gov. Brown vetoes bill intended to place more emphasis on test scores

EdSource LogoBy John Fensterwald

Sending a strong message endorsing the school accountability system adopted by the State Board of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have placed more emphasis on standardized test scores in measuring school and district performance.

In a message issued Saturday in vetoing Assembly Bill 2548, Brown credited the state board for creating a “thoughtful and integrated federal, state and local accountability system” after spending two years listening to public opinion. The board has adopted a process for annually reviewing and improving the system, he wrote, adding, “It is unnecessary and premature to impose additional requirements at this time.”

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who authored the bill and is a former school board member, expressed disappointment with Brown’s veto. “My legislative colleagues and I are still convinced that we need to focus more on closing achievement gaps and making the information about school performance more accessible and usable for parents,” she said in a statement.

The new accountability system, which the state board adopted earlier this month, shifts from California’s near-total reliance on test scores to measure how well schools and districts are doing to one based on a half-dozen measures, including non-academic measures.

Under the new accountability system, test scores on math, English language arts and, eventually, science will be included as key indicators of performance. Others will be rates of high school graduation, student suspensions and chronic absenteeism; how effectively English learners have learned English; and how prepared students are for pursuing college and careers. Districts will receive assistance if ethnic, racial and other students subgroups performed poorly in one or more of the measures.

Districts will also be held accountable for creating their measures of parent engagement, school climate and the rollout of the state’s new academic standards.

Legislators laid out multiple measures of accountability three years ago in the Local Control Funding Formula. They reaffirmed that intent in overwhelmingly approving Weber’s bill.

Read the full article here.

Morning Read: Q&A with Marcia Reed, California’s National Distinguished Principal

California’s National Distinguished Principal Marcia Reed of LAUSD talks about her school’s successes

Marcia Reed, principal of 186th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles Unified, was honored this month as a 2016 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The association recognizes one outstanding principal in each of the 50 states each year. Now in her 13th year as principal, Reed was selected by her fellow principals statewide, in part for the academic improvements at her K-5 school. She answers a few questions about her school, known as the “Home of the Wise Owls.” By Michael Janofsky, EdSouce

Morning Read: What happened to the students when City High closed?

When your charter school closes 3 weeks into the year, where do you go? In West LA, you have options

The students were heartbroken, some parents suspected the worst. When the City High School board decided last week to close its independent charter school after 13 months, it left the 120 students scrambling to find a new high school to attend. The school was faced with unsteady enrollment and an electrical fire that ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. By Kyle Stokes, KPCC

El Camino Charter updates spending rules amid credit card controversy

LosAngelesDailyNewsLOGOBy Brenda Gazzar

The governing board of El Camino Real Charter High School revised its fiscal policies Wednesday night in its latest effort to placate Los Angeles Unified School District concerns about liberal credit-card spending by school administrators and inadequate board oversight.

The meeting of the El Camino Real Alliance board, which took place in a mostly full auditorium at the Woodland Hills school, was held two days before El Camino’s deadline to respond to LAUSD’s “notice of violations” that was unanimously approved by the district’s Board of Education last month.

The notice, which alleged “fiscal mismanagement” and open-meetings violations, is the first of three steps to potentially revoking the school’s charter. El Camino officials have denied any wrongdoing.

Wednesday’s vote marks the third time the El Camino board has updated its fiscal policies and procedures since L.A. Unified issued a warning to the school, which converted to an independent charter in 2011, last October. The board was also slated to discuss possible employee “discipline/dismissal/release” in closed session Wednesday night, a continuation of a discussion started at an urgent meeting held Friday, said Jonathan Wasser, the board’s president.

To read the full article, click here

Morning Read: State releases foster youth test scores for first time, and they’re not good

For the first time, California releases test scores for foster youth

California education officials have separated out the standardized test scores of the state’s foster youth — and advocates now have sobering proof of what they long suspected: These students are learning far less than their peers. In 2014-15, the first year scores of the new, harder state tests were reported, 18.8% of students in the foster care system met or exceeded standards in English/language arts, compared with 44.2% of their non-foster peers statewide. In math, 11.8% of these students reached or beat the benchmarks, compared with 33.8% of non-foster students. By Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times  

Morning Read: New agreement will allow LAUSD students to take community college classes at their high schools

LA Unified paves the way for 15,000 students to take community college classes during their high school day

It will be easier for L.A. students to take community college classes for free — while sitting in their high school classrooms. The Los Angeles Unified School District board approved an agreement Tuesday with the Los Angeles Community College District that will let high schools enter partnerships with their local community colleges to offer classes on campus, during the regular school day. The schools hope to serve 15,000 L.A. Unified students a year. By Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

LIVESTREAM of today’s LA Unified school board meeting

LAUSD livestreamThe LA Unified school board is scheduled to hold an open session meeting today starting at 2 p.m.

Key items on the agenda include a consideration of starting school later in the year and an exploration of building workforce housing near Sun Valley High School.

The board is also scheduled to hold a second meeting at 6 p.m. specifically for charter school applications and renewals, which is part of a new effort to decrease the amount of time charter supporters have to wait to speak before the board.

Click here to watch the livestream of the meeting.

Morning Read: LAUSD board to consider later start for school year

Heat is on L.A. school board over later start for classes
On Tuesday, school board members will work through what, if anything, to do about the Los Angeles Unified School District calendar when they debate whether to change when school is in session, moving the academic year away from the intense heat of August to the somewhat cooler clime of June. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

King asks LAUSD managers to tell her how they would slash 30 percent from their budgets

KPCC logoBy Kyle Stokes

Superintendent Michelle King has asked managers in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s central offices to submit plans outlining how they would slash their departments’ budgets by 30 percent in the coming fiscal year, according to a memo obtained by KPCC.

For now, it’s just a planning exercise. But top district officials say the aggressive cost-cutting target — the reductions would total more than $112 million if fully implemented — falls in line with King’s vision for a slimmed-down headquarters and a district in which school sites are given greater control over their own budgets.

“It’s not just another 5 percent drill,” said L.A. Unified Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly. (Some central office departments took a 5 percent cut this year, saving a total of $11 million.)

For managers to hit their cost-saving targets of 30 percent, they couldn’t simply close open positions or pick off other similar low-hanging fruit in their budgets. The idea behind the exercise, Reilly said, is to prompt central office managers to completely rethink how they operate as declining enrollment in L.A. Unified kinks the district’s revenue stream.

“You can’t get to 30 percent without really reinventing yourself or basically talking about consolidation in other types of functions,” Reilly said.

“I call it an exercise,” Reilly added later, “but this is, in reality, something we will be going through … to look at how do we work effectively with a smaller, leaner kind of headquarters.”

L.A. Unified’s own projections show an operating shortfall of up to $663 million in the 2017-18 budget year. If that holds true, the long-term fiscal stabilization plan approved in June calls for $60 million in cuts to central office departments next year.

That grim projection, however, does not factor in new revenues the district could see from Proposition 55, a measure on the statewide ballot in November that would extend an income tax increase on the rich to benefit healthcare programs and schools.

The measure, which one poll showed as leading by a wide margin, could net L.A. Unified as much as $120 million in new revenues starting in 2018-19, district projections show.

To read the full article from KPCC, click here

Morning Read: Gov. Brown faces decision over charter school accountability bill

Charter school bill calls for accountability
A coalition of state leaders and community groups in California is pushing Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would step up charter school accountability and financial transparency. Assembly Bill 709, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, would require charter schools to more closely report how they spend taxpayer funds. By Maureen Magee, San Diego Union-Tribune

Morning Read: UCLA symposium studies U.S. children struggling at Mexican schools

Nearly half a million U.S. citizens are enrolled in Mexican schools, and many are struggling

This week, more than 100 academics, advocates and lawmakers from both sides of the border met for a symposium organized by UCLA at a conference called: “The Students We Share.” They are studying the estimated half a million U.S. children struggling to integrate into Mexican schools because they cannot read or write in Spanish. Others aren’t in school at all because they lacked the necessary accreditations. In all, nearly a third have either been held back a grade or have missed a year or more of school. By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

Morning Read: Jill Biden and Mayor Eric Garcetti launch free community-college tuition program

Mayor Eric Garcetti promises free community-college tuition as Jill Biden helps launch initiative 

Speaking in a theater packed with cheering students, Mayor Eric Garcetti reiterated his promise Wednesday to make one year of community college free for eligible high school graduates, beginning next year. Inside the doors of Los Angeles City College’s El Camino Theater, a band played while staff distributed promotional T-shirts to high school and community college students in the audience. Onstage, elected officials congratulated each other on the launch of the plan, L.A. College Promise, and on drawing the attention of their high-profile guest: Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a longtime educator. The program held enormous potential, everyone agreed. But five months after the mayor dropped a mention of the free-tuition proposal into his annual State of the City speech, Garcetti had few details to offer. By Anna M. Phillips, Los Angeles Times

Steve Jobs’ widow grants 2 LA teachers $10 million to start charter school for homeless and foster youth

Los-Angeles-Times-logoBy Joy Resmovits

Instead of going to school, school will come to you.

That’s the prize-winning idea behind RISE High, a proposed Los Angeles charter high school designed to serve homeless and foster children whose educations are frequently disrupted.

Los Angeles educators Kari Croft, 29, and Erin Whalen, 26, who came up with the idea, won $10 million in XQ: The Super School Project, a high school redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs.

RISE is one of 10 $10-million winning school projects nationwide. Winners receive the prize money over five years.

XQ officials, in announcing the winners on Wednesday, described RISE as a “completely new” model. The idea is to have three to four physical sites sharing space with existing nonprofits as well as an online learning system. A bus would also be turned into a “mobile resource center,” to bring Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer and homework help to the neediest students.

Click here for the full Los Angeles Times story.

Read more on another winner: Washington Leadership Academy, a public charter high school in D.C. that’s using virtual reality to simulate learning opportunities that are beyond our wildest dreams of what’s currently possible in a typical classroom. By Richard Whitmire, The 74

Morning Read: Southland school districts say English learners monitoring list is wrong

School districts baffled about why they’re on English learners monitoring list

Days after California and federal officials agreed to improve service to English learners, most of the school districts on the list the state agreed to monitor more closely said they were surprised they were on it. The settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Education compels the state to, among other things, respond in a “timely and effective manner” to information that schools are not serving English learners, improve online monitoring technology and include charter schools in English learner reviews. By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC

Morning Read: Rising waters of climate change about to claim first U.S. school in Alaska

The last days of one Alaska Village, as climate change swallows its first U.S. school
In Dawn Wilson’s classroom, fourth-graders are writing a story about what they would need to survive if their families were forced to quickly leave their homes and relocate upriver. Astutely, her young students tick off the essentials: food, clothing, guns and ammunition. In this remote Yup’ik tribal community on Alaska’s southwest shore, this sort of brainstorming is not an abstract academic exercise. It’s a real-life lesson built around the environmental forces now threatening to upend the already hardscrabble existence of some 400 people for whom hunting is essential to eating. By Mareesa Nicosia, The 74

Morning Read: California settles with feds over services to English learners

Feds say some students went a decade without help learning English. After lawsuit, state pledges new support
Up and down the state, for at least a decade, according to the federal government, tens of thousands of English learners in elementary, middle and high school received no services to help them learn the language and keep up academically while they did, even though the law required that they get it. Under pressure from a lawsuit and federal authorities, California pledged Friday to make sure that all 1.4 million students who are English learners receive special academic help. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Morning Read: Trump goes all in on school choice in first major education policy speech

Trump goes all in on school choice in first major education policy speech

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave his first major policy address on education at a charter school in Cleveland, saying he would “reprioritize” $20 billion in existing federal spending for school choice. While specifics would be left to each state, block grant funding would favor states that have charter schools and private school choice laws, he said, and money would follow students as they moved among public, private, charter or magnet schools. By Carolyn Phenicie, The 74

Morning Read: Kindergarten readiness gap is shrinking, new study shows

Kindergarten readiness gap between low-income and higher-income students shrinking

Persistent gaps in kindergarten readiness between children from low-income families and their higher-income peers — which have continued as ongoing achievement gaps in later years — appear to be narrowing, new research shows. And in a related finding, another report has concluded that lower-income parents are investing more time and effort in their younger children. By Jeremy Hay, EdSource

Morning Read: Chronic absenteeism is as high in Southland’s suburban and rural areas as its urban

Chronic absenteeism is as high in rural and suburban areas as it is in urban areas

At least 225,000 Southern California public school students miss at least three weeks of class each year which, research suggests, puts them at risk of falling behind in school — if not dropping out altogether. Those students attend schools in 47 districts in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura and western Riverside counties the authors of a new national analysis identified as having notable concentrations of “chronic absenteeism.” By Kyle Stokes, KPCC

Morning Read: State board ready to move forward on school accountability system

State board poised to take new direction in school accountability
After months of drafting, revising and debating how best to measure and improve schools, the State Board of Education this week will adopt key elements of a new and distinct school accountability system. The series of votes on Thursday will meet the Legislature’s Oct. 1 deadline and will mark 2½ years since the state board suspended its simpler predecessor, the Academic Performance Index. The board expects to change components of the system in coming years. By John Fensterwald, EdSource