Edvoice - Issues

Analysis: Why Orange Is the New Red in California — and School Accountability Just Got a Whole Lot Harder to Read

November 13 | The 74 Million

By: Conor Williams

Last week, the land of good news got a dose of the other blend. California’s Department of Education announced a significant increase in the number of state schools falling into the bottom tier of the state’s accountability system. From 2016 to 2017, the number of bottom-tier schools for math and ELA performance approximately doubled (page 8 here). Schools appear to be especially struggling at showing academic improvements over time.

Well, that’s not quite how the state sees it. On Wednesday, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to tweak the numbers so more schools will show up in the orange category instead of red. They called the change a technical matter.


California Today: The Latino Education Crisis

November 8 | The New York Times

Latinos make up the majority of students in California. And yet, a new report from The Education Trust-West shows a stark and persistent achievement gap between Latino and white students. In every county in the state the majority of Latino students are not proficient in math or English language arts.

The report also found that California’s Latino students attend some of the country’s most segregated schools, lack access to early childhood education, are often pushed away from college-prep coursework in high school and are more likely to be required to take remedial classes in colleges and universities.

School District Spars with School Reform Groups over Achievement Gap Data

November 6 | The Bay City Beacon

The San Francisco Unified School District continues to struggle with disparities in academic success between demographic groups, often to a greater degree than in similar communities across the state. 

On October 26, members of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, along with Innovate Public Schools, a nonprofit organized to promote reforms in public education to disadvantaged groups, held a press conference on the front steps of San Francisco City Hall promoting the latter group's new report on SFUSD's persistent and worsening achievement gap. The report highlights continuing challenges to academic success, especially among Black and Latinx students, contrasting the problem with the District's overall high performance and the City's affluence.

Latino students lag far behind whites in every county in California, new study shows

November 6 | Los Angeles School Report

There is not a single county in California where the majority of Latino students are proficient in math or English language arts, according to a report released Monday. 

The report, by The Education Trust-West, looked at this year’s state test scores and compared the difference between Latino students and white students who met state standards.

Why is San Francisco the state’s worst county for black student achievement?

October 26 | CALmatters

By Jessica Calefati

Parents from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood gathered around school cafeteria tables and listened as administrators delivered a hopeful message: Their children, who all attend Charles R. Drew Preparatory Academy, one of the city’s few schools serving mostly black students, were already on track to do better on next year’s state tests.

But the staff didn’t tell the parents about this year’s results, even though the recent meeting had been billed as a forum to discuss the scores, which the state published online several weeks ago. Those results present a much different picture. Nine out of 10 black students at the school had failed reading and math exams.

Fallbrook schools pays $1.2 million to former employee in whistleblower case

October 16 | The San Diego Tribune

By Deborah Sullivan Brennan

A former information technology director for Fallbrook schools received a court award of almost $1.2 million this month, concluding a wrongful termination case filed five years ago.

The employee, Elaine Allyn, sued the district after she was fired in May 2012, claiming officials had retaliated against her for initially refusing to delete e-mails archived on a school server.

Allyn, a 19-year veteran IT director with Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, said officials ordered her to delete the e-mails, which she believed contained information about possible misappropriation of funds, said Susan Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, the Encinitas legal firm which represented her in the case.

Attorney: Alum Rock manager sought secret deal on construction bids

October 15 | The Mercury News

By Sharon 

Alum Rock schools’ facilities director made a side deal with a construction company for a middle school renovation that would have cost taxpayers an extra $2.5 million and netted extra revenue for the firm and for the district’s controversial bond construction manager, Del Terra Real Estate, the school district’s attorney alleged in a confidential report obtained by this newspaper.

The alleged deal, not authorized by top administrators or the school board, fell apart in May. The report by attorney Rogelio Ruiz recounts conversations that detail an unorthodox arrangement for remodeling bathrooms at Mathson Middle School and space at the former Mexican-American Community Services Agency (MACSA)  building, which the Alum Rock district owns and intends to use as a multipurpose room for the adjacent Mathson.

Commentary | School funding change: Promise of law still not fulfilled

October 6 | San Diego Union Tribune

By Norma Chavez-Peterson & Sylvia Torres-Guillen

Four years ago, the Local Control Funding Formula became law, fundamentally changing the way California funds school districts. It was supposed to usher in a new era giving more power and autonomy to districts, streamlining funding and — most importantly — leveling the playing field for students whom we often leave behind.

Specifically, the law provides school districts with more money to support low-income students, foster youth and English learners. While the American Civil Liberties Union believes the intended changes are critical, much of the law’s promise is still to be fulfilled.

Poll: Californians lean toward school choice, away from testing

October 4 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

When it comes to education, Californians see the wealthy awash in school choice, the poor with few options and, surprisingly, the middle class with some — but not a lot — of choices in selecting a school, a poll released Thursday shows.

So it’s no wonder that 55 percent of voters want government to offer vouchers or tax breaks to enable children from low-income families to attend private school; 46 percent would offer that government aid to parents of all income levels.

2017 California school test scores: Why are they flatlining?

September 27 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Naguchi

Breaking with its steadily upward trend, California’s annual test scores have stagnated, with fewer than half of students proficient in math and English, and a wide ethnic achievement gap persisting.

State scores released Wednesday show just 49 percent of students proficient in English and 37 percent proficient in math. The numbers are half a percentage-point different from 2016 — down in English and up in math. Tests were administered last spring to students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade.