In a recent Sacramento Bee op-ed article, Collaborative member Mike Kirst and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson argue that California should not delay its implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Kirst and Torlakson acknowledge that successful implementation of the CCSS will require substantial investments in teacher training, new classroom materials, and updated technology to administer new computer-based assessments aligned with the CCSS. These costs are particularly daunting at a time when the state’s education system is just beginning to recover from severe financial distress which, despite the recent passage of Proposition 30, will take years to be fully alleviated. Despite these challenges, Kirst and Torlakson believe that in the face of rigorous and ever increasing demands of the 21st century workplace, California cannot afford to delay CCSS implementation. Specifically, without ensuring that all students have the critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills valued by employers – and emphasized in the CCSS – California risks jeopardizing its own economic future. Mike Kirst is the president of the California State Board of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University.
Aida Walqui, Director of the Teacher Professional Development Program at WestEd, presented two papers at the American Educational Research Association 2013 Annual Meeting. In Domains of Teacher Expertise for Working with English Learners, Walqui presented a conceptual framework for the teacher expertise used by Quality Teaching for English Learners, a professional development program for secondary teachers which counters the traditional view that teaching and learning must be simplified for English Learners. Her second paper, Formative Assessment as Contingent Communication: Perspectives on Assessment as and for Language Learning in the Content Areas, discusses ways in which formative assessment can help teachers to make the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Several Collaborative members also shared new research findings at the conference. These included:
- George Borhnstedt: Exploratory Analysis of Asian-White Achievement Gaps Using Data From the National Assessment of Educational Progress and A Preliminary Investigation of Reliability and Validity Evidence for NAEP Student Background Questionnaires
- Cynthia Coburn: Supporting Sustainability: Teachers’ Advice Networks and Ambitious Instructional Reform and How Teachers’ Professional Networks Contribute to Sustaining High-Quality Mathematics Instruction
- Patricia Gandara: Meeting the Needs of Language Minorities and Rigor en Español: Engaging Immigrant Students With College Preparatory Courses in Spanish
- Amy Gerstein: Community Youth Development Initiative: Promoting Youth Engagement Through Collaboration and Improving Education for Our Most Vulnerable Students: Implementing Effective Linkages Between Early Childhood and Elementary Education
- Michael Kirst: College and Career Readiness Assessments: How Will Scores Be Used by Higher Education?
- Warren Simmons: Building Smart Education Systems
In addition, Collaborative members Kenji Hakuta, Jennifer O’Day, and Joan Talbert participated in the conference as panel chairs and discussants.
As a panelist at the 2013 EdSource Symposium on Saturday, May 4th, Richard Carranza expressed his support for Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). He argued that this proposed re-design of California’s school finance system would give districts much needed flexibility over use of use of funds as well as recognize the higher level of resources required to educate students who are living in poverty and/or whose primary language is not English. Carranza also argued that the LCFF proposal is fundamentally an approach in service of equity. “We already have a system of winners and losers. We know who the losers are and we know what they look [like]…If we are talking about a well-educated populous, that [populous] is diverse. That is our strength and what makes us innovative. This goes to heart of the American dream.”
Carranza also advocated for the LCFF in a recent op-ed appearing in the San Francisco Examiner. Not only would the LCFF allocate dollars in a more equitable way (with no district receiving less than it received in the 2012-13 school year) and allow districts the flexibility to address local needs, but Carranza argues that the LCFF is an important step toward raising the overall level of funding that California directs toward education. While California currently ranks 47th out of 50 states in per-pupil funding, under Governor Brown’s proposal, the state-wide average could grow from $6,565 to as much as $10,450 per-pupil in the next five years. Fundamentally, Carranza argues, providing equitable and adequate levels of resources for all students is not only the right thing for students, but is critical to the state’s future economic health.
Richard Carranza is Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District.
In a recent interview with New America Media, Mike Kirst discussed the legal and political history of California’s current education finance system and how Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can more equitably allocate state funding to districts and allow them the flexibility they need to meet rising expectations of college-readiness. After the California Supreme Court’s 1971 ruling in Serrano v. Priest declared the state’s school finance system based on property tax wealth to be unconstitutional, Kirst helped then-Governor Jerry Brown to reduce funding disparities among California’s over 1,000 school districts. Kirst argues that the LCFF will take the next step toward funding equity by directing additional resources toward districts based on the number of low income and English learner students they serve, as well as concentrations of such students. Though originally intended to promote equity, the state’s current convoluted system of categorical funds that tie resources to specific groups of students limits districts from using funds as efficiently and effectively as possible. Kirst argues that local discretion offered by the LCFF is essential for districts to mobilize resources they will need to effectively implement the Common Core State Standards. Mike Kirst is the president of the California State Board of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University.
Mike Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University, authored a policy memorandum outlining the impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on key state education policy areas. He argues that to successfully implement these standards which hold a new vision for teaching and learning in the 21st century, California must build 21st century capacity in its educational institutions and policies. Kirst discusses how the state must re-think its policies and programs in areas such as assessment, accountability, finance, preschool, special education, and teacher preparation, professional development, and evaluation. In addition to aligning its K-12 educational policies with the CCSS, Kirst argues that California must harmonize policies between K-12 and post-secondary institutions to reflect the changing standards.
Christopher Steinhauser authored an op-ed, appearing in the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Los Angeles Daily News, in which he expressed his support for Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). He argues that this proposed re-design of California’s school finance system would give districts much needed flexibility over use of use of funds as well as recognize the higher level of resources required to educate students who are living in poverty and/or whose primary language is not English. Steinhauser also testified in support of the LCFF at a hearing of the California State Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. While other superintendents testifying at the hearing questioned the formula’s ability to hold districts harmless, Steinhauser argued that it is critical to ensuring equity and access for all students, saying “It’s the right thing to do. You don’t need to have all of the answers to move forward.”
Clovis, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana Unified School Districts have collectively submitted an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education. Along with Garden Grove Unified, these districts make up the California Office to Reform Education (CORE), a consortium of districts dedicated to collaborative innovation and knowledge sharing. The superintendents of nine out of the ten CORE districts are also Collaborative members. With its waiver request, CORE seeks a new system of accountability based on four goals: (1) expectations of college and career readiness for all students, (2) an emphasis on capacity-building over accountability, (3) fostering of intrinsic motivation for change, and (4) targeted capacity-building for instructional and leadership effectiveness. If the waiver is approved, any district in California would be eligible to join the alternative accountability system should it agree to the waiver’s requirements. At their March meeting, California State Board of Education members lauded the waiver and unanimously authorized Collaborative member and State Board President Mike Kirst and State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to send formal commentary on the waiver to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Rose Owens-West, director of the Region XI Equity Assistance Center at WestEd, presented in a SchoolsMovingUp webinar entitled Comprehensive, Equitable Induction of Beginning Science and Mathematics Teachers. The webinar focused on the specific knowledge, skill, and resource needs of novice teachers of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Drawing on a 10-year body of research, Owens-West and Ted Britton, Associate Director of STEM at WestEd, discussed promoting college and career readiness by improving STEM teachers’ content knowledge through differentiated induction programs and professional development. Owens-West discussed the equity aspects of this topic and provided an overview of the Equity Assistance Center’s services.
In anticipation of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Tony Smith, Superintendent of Oakland Unified School District, authored a Huffington Post article in which he offered recommendations for addressing the needs of all American children. Smith emphasized that the success of our nation depends on the quality of all our public schools. Consequently, he argues that schools should provide for the whole child – addressing the physical and emotional health and safety of students and the economic and social conditions which present barriers to student academic performance – to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in school. Finally, Smith cautions against the Obama Administration’s competitive approach to education reform, which fosters a narrow, “teach to the test” mentality. Instead, he argues that educators across the country should work collaboratively to tackle challenges, such as the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith co-authored an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing for state school finance reform to reduce current funding disparities among districts, increase local control over use of funds, and simplify the overly complex and burdensome state-mandated reporting obligations. Smith explains that control over use of funds will help districts meet the unique needs of their students and keep up with increasing academic expectations, particularly in this time of scarce resources. In addition to allocating a flat base rate per student, the authors support a formula which would provide additional resources to districts proportional to their numbers of low income and English learner students. Such a system, Smith argues, would increase efficiency and transparency in the use of taxpayer dollars and increase accountability by giving district officials more authority over resource allocation decisions in order to better meet local needs.
California Collaborative member Kristi Kimball has joined the Schwab Foundation as its Executive Director. In addition to managing its overall operations, she will direct the foundation’s grantmaking in K-12 education and human services. Prior to this position, Kimball worked with a number of education policy, evaluation, and grantmaking organizations, including an eight year term as a program officer with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Before entering the philanthropic field, Kimball spent time at the U.S. Department of Education and the Education Office of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. In the area of K-12 education, the Schwab Foundation supports organizations across California such as public charter schools and programs which promote effective teaching and robust learning environments for children.
Collaborative member Cynthia Coburn has co-authored an article, Interventions to Promote Data Use: An Introduction, for a special issue of the Teachers College Record focused on data use interventions. The authors define data use interventions as “initiatives, policies, programs, and tools designed to alter the ways that educational decision-makers access, draw on, interact with, and respond to data in their ongoing work.” As an introduction to the special issue, the article highlights the increased effort to use data in practice and policy, summarizes contributions and limitations of existing research on data use interventions, and previews subsequent articles in the issue. Coburn is joined in the issue by fellow Collaborative member Warren Simmons, Executive Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, who wrote a commentary entitled Data as a Lever for Improving Instruction and Student Achievement.
Coburn has also published earlier this year on the use of data in education. In February 2012, she edited a special issue, as well as co-authored the introduction, of the American Journal of Education series The Practice of Data Use.
The Educator Excellence Task Force, co-chaired by Long Beach Superintendent Chris Steinhauser, has released recommendations for the state to better recruit, develop, allocate, evaluate, and support its educators in a new report, Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State. The task force was created by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in partnership with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to assess the state of the teaching profession in California. Collaborative member Holly Jacobson, Director of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, co-chaired the sub-committee on professional learning. Collaborative member Ellen Moir, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the New Teacher Center, served on the teacher induction sub-committee.
Joseph Johnson, Executive Director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) at San Diego State University, led a recent SchoolsMovingUp webinar entitled High Quality Instruction that Promotes Learning and Achievement for African American Male Students. The webinar highlighted instructional and school-wide practices that have been identified over the past six years through a NCUST study of urban schools that are producing exceptional academic outcomes for all students, in particular for African American males. California Collaborative member Rose Owens-West, Director of the Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd, hosted the webinar.
Collaborative member Kenji Hakuta has co-authored a policy brief from the Policy Analysis for California Education research center, How Next-Generation Standards and Assessments Can Foster Success for California’s English Learners. The report builds on the work done by the Understanding Language Initiative at Stanford University, a national project to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the Common Core State Standards for English learners (ELs). Hakuta writes, “California cannot afford to ignore or postpone questions of how to support the academic success of English Learners in the state’s K-12 education system” and argues that the “next-generation college-and career-ready standards signal a fundamental shift in the expectations for sophisticated language use required of all students.” The report examines the “enormous systemic implications” for how California’s policy-makers, school district leaders and educators fundamentally approach language development for ELs.
Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond co-authored an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee arguing for greater efficiency and equity in California’s school funding system through transition to a weighted pupil formula. Last month, Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser of Long Beach Unified School District wrote a similar op-ed published in the Long Beach Press Telegram and the Los Angeles Daily News.
Raymond and Steinhauser explain that the state’s highly rigid, compliance-oriented categorical funds restrict districts’ creative or entrepreneurial approaches to meet the needs of their students in a time of increasingly scarce resources. Furthermore, despite the intention of providing additional resources to high-needs students, the state’s current system of categorical funding is failing to ensure equity in opportunities or outcomes. Lastly, Raymond and Steinhauser outline key qualities that should be incorporated into a weighted pupil formula to ensure equity, transparency, accountability, and efficiency in school funding that translates to improved learning opportunities and improved achievement for all students.
The op-eds voice similar sentiments to the California Collaborative on District Reform’s May 2012 letter to the Governor, which draws on ten member districts’ direct experience with navigating the allocation of funding to meet student needs. Additionally, Raymond, Steinhauser, and the Collaborative as a whole emphasize the need for a continued focus on an adequate amount of funding for all districts regardless of the funding formula.
Arun Ramanathan serves as Executive Director of The Education Trust—West (ETW), California’s leading non-partisan educational policy, research, and advocacy organization working for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. As Arun explains, “In a majority-minority state like California, our prosperity is dependent on closing the opportunity and achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from their more advantaged peers. Our job is to focus public attention on those gaps, the inequities that produce them, and the education leaders and reformers who make closing them their top priority.” ETW’s mission is therefore to expose the opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps. As part of its work, ETW not only analyzes data to expose achievement gaps and understand underlying causes, but also works directly with schools and districts to understand and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of public school reform strategies and with community-based organizations to press for critical reforms. Over the past two years, ETW’s policy and research reports have made national and state headlines for exposing education inequities and identifying promising solutions. Additionally, ETW’s unique data resources, including its California District Report Cards website and online tool, have given tens of thousands of Californians access to education data that is understandable and user-friendly. As a resource for national, state and local policymakers, ETW has provided testimony before the California State Legislature and the State Board of Education. As education experts, ETW has been quoted in national newspapers such as the New York Times, as well as the top newspapers around the state, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Arun is also a frequent contributor to EdSource Today and maintains his own blog at http://edvocatewest.org/. Over the course of the past ten years, more than 1,000,000 students across California have been impacted by ETW’s work and technical assistance to schools, districts, and community based-organizations to ensure that all students are accessing a rigorous college and career readiness “A-G” curriculum.
Rose Owens-West is the Director of the Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd. The center, launched in October 2011, is one of 10 federally funded centers across the United States. Drawing from the many resources within WestEd, Rose is responsible for coordinating with managers and staff in programs across the organization to address equity issues related to STEM, English Learners, and the school environment. She is also responsible for building collaborative relationships beyond WestEd, and has established connections between the Center and other organizations focused on ensuring high quality education for all students.
In serving clients, Rose works to help educators and others at the state, district and local levels to use data and evidence-based practices to address the many equity issues that arise across the three-state region. Some of her activities include assisting school districts to improve equity and inclusivity for their diverse students, and providing technical assistance on implementation to resolve the over-representation of students of color and English Learners in Special Education. Currently she is also working with a state department of education to improve outcomes for African American, Latino and American Indian students. Rose has been committed to improving educational opportunities for underrepresented and underserved students throughout her career, and the Equity Center allows her to focus more intensely on this career-long passion.
Collaborative member Jorge Ruiz de Velasco has co-authored a new report from the California Alternative Education Research Project, Raising the Bar: Driving Improvement in California’s Continuation High Schools. The report continues a study that began in 2007 and identifies “better practices” characteristic of more effective continuation high schools. Ruiz de Velasco explains, “California is unique in providing these schools, and there is evidence that they can provide an effective pathway to a diploma for a large number of kids who need special and supplemental services. But most are failing to do that.” The report examines the roles that the state, districts, and school leaders play in affecting school quality and student outcomes, and introduces recommendations for each of these groups to better provide opportunities and resources for a vulnerable population of youth.
Collaborative member Richard Carranza was selected as the next superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) by a unanimous vote of the San Francisco Board of Education. He will begin his tenure when Superintendent Carlos Garcia retires in July 2012. Carranza has served as SFUSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, Innovation, and Social Justice since 2009. In this role, he led the district’s implementation of a core instructional curriculum, redesign of the central office, and development of its strategic plan, all with a focus on improving educational equity. Carranza will begin his superintendency with a public listening tour and plans to continue moving forward on priorities established during Garcia’s tenure.
The Understanding Language initiative has launched a new website and online community atell.stanford.edu. The initiative, co-chaired by California Collaborative member Kenji Hakuta, aims to investigate, raise awareness about, and address the role of language in learning for all students, particularly English learners. Hakuta explains, “The main message is that language matters — it has always mattered, but it matters especially so with the new standards. The implication is that content and language specialists need to collaborate to effectively educate ELLs, and we need to develop the necessary tools and systems to make this happen.” Beginning with a series of papers by national experts and a recent national conference at Stanford University, the group has engaged in an in-depth analysis of the language demands of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. In upcoming phases of its work, Understanding Language plans to test and share exemplars of language-rich teaching practices and to collaboratively develop open-source instructional resources around the new standards. California Collaborative chair Jennifer O’Day will serve on the group’s Policy Strategy Committee and California Collaborative member Aída Walqui will serve on the group’s Steering and Public Dialogue Committees as well as its ELA, Math, and Science Work Groups.
eSchool News named Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Mike Hanson a winner of the 2012 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award. Under Hanson’s leadership, the district has made tremendous progress in the area of technology, equipping its whole system with a fiber-optic network and introducing more than 2,000 interactive whiteboards, 16,000 netbooks, and 3,000 video projectors over the past four years. Within the central office, use of videoconferencing has enabled increased opportunities for cross-district collaboration (including activities of the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership) while minimizing travel costs.
Oakland Unified School District, a district represented in the California Collaborative on District Reform, has won nearly $3 million in the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grants competition. The grant will fund the district’s efforts to implement EXCELerator, a career readiness framework developed by the College Board that aims to improve the district college readiness infrastructure and capacity to provide rigorous education and supports, with a particular focus on historically underserved students.
A new book, edited by California Collaborative Institute Fellow Jennifer O’Day, documents New York City’s Children First initiative through a set of eleven evidence-based papers on various aspects of the reform’s rationale, policies, implementation, and results. Collaborative Member Joan Talbert also contributed a chapter to the book, Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation’s Most Complex School System. The publication is a product of the New York City Education Reform Retrospective project, which was directed by O’Day.
California Collaborative member Kenji Hakuta will co-chair a two-year effort to develop a framework for the English-language demands of the Common Core State Standards. With $2 million in support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the group will build an open-source platform of resources for teachers of English Language Learners in an effort to link English language proficiency with content standards and assessments. California Collaborative member Aída Walqui will be a member of the project team.
California Collaborative members Cynthia Coburn and Patricia Gándara were honored at the 92nd annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Coburn received the Early Career Award for her exceptional portfolio of research within a decade after receiving her doctoral degree. Gándara received a Presidential Citation for her outstanding contributions to the education research community.
The Working Group on ELL Policy, which includes California Collaborative members Patricia Gándara, Kenji Hakuta, and Jennifer O’Day, released a policy brief with recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The document focuses on four key areas of ESEA policy that can promote improved educational outcomes for English language learners.
Marc Johnson, California Collaborative member and superintendent of Sanger Unified School District, has been named the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Johnson is honored for his success in overseeing a remarkable turnaround in student achievement in the district by focusing on student learning and teacher collaboration. The Collaborative recently held a meeting in Sanger USD; to learn more about the district’s strategies discussed during this visit, see Meeting 14.
The Working Group on ELL Policy, which includes California Collaborative members Patricia Gándara, Kenji Hakuta, and Jennifer O’Day, released a detailed question and answer style document addressing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The document focuses on five key areas of ESEA policy that can promote improved educational outcomes for English language learners.
McKinsey & Company released a report on November 29 naming Long Beach Unified School District one of the world’s 20 most improved school systems, and one of the top three in the United States. The report classified Long Beach USD, a district represented in the California Collaborative on District Reform, as a sustained improver, a system that has demonstrated consistent growth over five or more years.