College & Careers

EdSource symposium to tackle ‘seminal’ public school reforms



New tests, new lessons, new acronyms.

Public education in California is undergoing radical reforms that change everything – from how students will be tested on what they learn to the fundamental way schools are evaluated.

Symposiumlogo2014An EdSource symposium in Los Angeles next month will help the public make sense of the changes and how they’ll shape the future of education in the state.

The May 7 event, offered in partnership with the California State PTA, brings together some of the top experts in their fields to discuss the impact of reforms underway.

Panels will tackle the implementation of the Common Core State Standards – nationally aligned guidelines in math and English – and the online tests associated with them that students are now piloting; a push to add measures of “college and career readiness” into the Academic Performance Index of school effectiveness; and new standards of school accountability driven by the state’s revamped education funding law, the Local Control Funding Formula.

“California is at the apex of a generational education change, both in terms of funding and in terms of instructional methodology,” said Ken Hall, vice president of the EdSource Board of Directors who has been involved in public education for more than three decades.

With the slate of state reforms, “there’s a tremendous obligation for parents, the community, school boards … and superintendents to design an instructional system that will reduce the achievement gap,” Hall said. “It’s a seminal change.”

Speakers at the symposium include school reform expert Michael Fullan, the former dean at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto who is credited with leading a whole scale transformation of the Ontario, Canada school system. He’ll keynote a session on what it will take to reform education in California.

Other sessions focus on a 2012 law requiring that the API incorporate measures of how well schools are preparing students to succeed in college and careers – a challenging task for the state committee working to define how to assess such skills. A top researcher on the subject, David Conley from the University of Oregon, will be joined by Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond on panels exploring the new focus on college and careers, and how to best evaluate schools using measures other than test scores alone.

“It’s a new day in California,” Darling-Hammond said. “This new accountability is substantially bottom up, rather than top down, and focused on multiple measures of success, rather than a single test score.” She said an “important new conversation has begun.”

The symposium is intended to deepen that conversation.

“California (is) ready for a pretty significant inflection point to go to a new level of accountability (for student success) that’s much more enlightened,” said David Rattray, senior vice president of education and work force development for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Rattray will participate in a panel called, “Moving beyond the API: The Challenge of Evaluating Schools Using Multiple Measures.”

Schools will no longer be rated and ranked by standardized test scores alone, Rattray said – a welcome change that will ultimately result in a more robust system for evaluating schools.

“California is showing a lot of courage and creativity” in its reforms, Rattray said. “But I do think we’re at a crucial point where we really need to step forward and use that courage and creativity to imagine a better way to think about these questions.”

The EdSource symposium – The New Accountability: Testing Students and Evaluating Schools in the Age of the Common Core – is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The $58 registration fee includes breakfast.   (Contact EdSource at edsource@edsource.org about scholarships to attend the event.)

Online registration for the event closes April 30. Last year’s symposium reached capacity and organizers are expecting a similar turnout this year, so participants are encouraged to register early.

The symposium is held in conjunction with the California State PTA’s annual convention, whose theme this year is “Connecting Families and Schools.”

Register here for the EdSource symposium

Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California.

Filed under: College & Careers, Common Core, Local Control Funding Formula, Reforms

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8 Responses to “EdSource symposium to tackle ‘seminal’ public school reforms”

  1. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on April 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Harvard’s Grad School of Education is holding a Summit on Adult Education Saturday, April 26th. I’m including a link to their flyer. You will note the flag in the photo reads, “Education is a Civil Right” and the title is, “When Do Civil Rights Expire?” California colleges and universities – and this sympositum – should be discussing Adult Education, as well. As noted in all the other comments here, California Adult Education, more than any other branch of public education, has been re-formed. It’s deeply troubling to me, as a graduate of both UC Berkeley and SFSU, that there has been no academic discussion of this. SFSU continues to provide a credential program – even though there are few jobs for graduates with an adult ed (designated subjects) credential. This points to larger problems in our higher education system. I’m also troubled that a private institution – Harvard – has the wisdom to see this – but not our public higher ed institutions here in California. Perhaps it’s too painful. Perhaps it connects to funding issues and attitudes and politics that connect to public higher ed in CA. I don’t know, but it’s deeply troubling and should be looked at and discussed. Here’s a link to the flyer: http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/adulted/files/whiteboxhorss_0.png

  2. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on April 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks to Mr. Harper for the correction on my district stats! Ooof, yes, that’s 70 consortia but as he notes, almost 300 school districts! Thinking about all this inspired me to write an AEM post on the topic of Adult Ed and visibility: http://adulteducationmatters.blogspot.com/2014/04/adult-education-invisible-power.html and in the course of writing it, I confirmed that nearly half of all California kids have an immigrant parent (Kidscount Data Center). If that’s not reason to consider the impact of Adult Ed on K12 success, I don’t know what is. LCFF is designed to support and empower English learner and low-income families. More than any other branch of public education, Adult Ed shares the same aim.

  3. Michelle Cohen said

    on April 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks to Cynthia Eagleton and Bob Harper for their comments here stating the importance of adult education in CA, the reforms that have been affecting us, and noting that adult ed should be part of this symposium. As an adult ed teacher who has been living through the reforms they described, I agree. This symposium sounds interesting, and some very important people will be there.

    However, I wonder how many teachers will be able to go to this. Even though I live and teach in L.A., and am very interested in this topic, I won’t. It’s scheduled in the morning, on a school day. One might conclude that the symposium is for people who are “more important” than teachers. Big people, “Experts,” who make the decisions that are handed down to us lowly teachers and students and that we have to live with, or else.

    Missing out on what is basically a full-day’s pay for the many of us adult ed teachers who only work 4 hours (not usually our preference), plus the registration fee, is not something many, if any, of us will be able to do.

  4. Bob Harper said

    on April 20, 2014 at 11:15 am

    It’s good to see adult education represented in the comments and response to this article. Adult Ed., as Ms. Eagleton points out, has been charged to achieve a level of reform unlike any other level – Pre-K, Elementary, Secondary, Post-Secondary – and adult ed. has an impact on all of those levels – parents of Pre-school, elementary, and secondary children, helping those of any age who did not finish secondary education, and preparing adults for success in post-secondary. General levels of adult literacy have a direct impact on economic justice, workforce capacity, public health, and civic engagement. Now the state has mandated Regional Consortia to plan to address the need for adult education around the state. After years of devastation this is welcome visibility and offers an opportunity to expand and improve adult education in our state, but if K-12 adult schools don’t receive continued support, it may also further diminish the critical capacity of community-based adult education (for example, serving parents in the schools where their children attend). ALMOST 300 SCHOOL DISTRICTS are engaged in the 70 regional consortium around the state – every community college district is, on some level, engaged. This is as “seminal” a reform as possible – and needs to be visible and understood in places like the Symposium planned by EdSource and the state PTA.

  5. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on April 19, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I need to correct myself. Sweetwater is not rural. It is not just not one of the “urban centers” of California such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. A rural district such as Salinas should be included. Education policy is in active change and immigration policy soon will be. It is important to look at how those two things intersect. Add in food/agriculture/business/economy policy and politics and you understand why Adult Ed in rural areas matters so much. How much we are or aren’t educating and supporting the people who work in agriculture – and their children – reveals a lot.

  6. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on April 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

    70 K12 Districts are engaged in Regional Consortia – the new system for Adult Education. Adult Education provides GED and HS Diploma courses, programs and testing for those students who do not graduate from “regular” high school programs. K12 Adult Schools are still funded through K12 Districts, which money is subject to LCFF rules. Adult Education strengthens and supports the families LCFF is designed to strengthen and support – the English learners, the low-income, etc. For all these reasons and more, there should be a strand at the Symposium about Adult Education. SFSU Prof. Doris Flowers, who teaches courses in Equity and Social Justice and Adult Education, would be an excellent person to invite. LA has largest Adult Ed program in the state and will receive the largest grant in the RC planning process. They would be good to invite, also – especially since the Symposium will be held in Los Angeles. I suggest inviting folks from rural districts, as well. Sweetwater is not far from LA. They have gone through a lot where K12, Adult Ed, funding, and corruption are concerned. Their experience needs to be heard. And they are a district with a high number of English Learner and low income students. This AEM blogpost lists the K12 districts engaged in the Adult Ed Regional Consortia and the dollar amount of their planning grants. http://adulteducationmatters.blogspot.com/2014/04/ab86-report-grant-awards-by-regional.html

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