Useful updates and information for education leaders… brought to you by EdSource
This Common Core update web page is produced in conjunction with our ‘Leading Change’ newsletter, which focuses on the range of new California academic standards — from the Common Core standards in English language arts and math, to the Next Generation Science Standards and the history-social science standards — as well as how schools are held accountable for measuring progress on them. You can subscribe to the newsletter here to receive this information twice a month via email.
September 21, 2017
Common Core insights, improving 5th-grade math achievement, and Hispanic Heritage Month
This month, EdSource published a Q&A with 2nd-grade teacher Gabriela Orozco Gonzalez, who shares Common Core tips and insights from her classroom. Gonzalez mostly teaches students who, like her, came to school speaking a language other than English. She is especially focused on strategies to enhance their literacy skills.
Also, we’re highlighting an effort in Tulare County to improve 5th-grade math achievement in a network of schools using “improvement science” principles. And, we’ve compiled resources for educators to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Let us know what you think. Enjoy!
Tulare County Office of Education leads 5th-grade math improvement project
One burning question for many 5th-grade teachers in Tulare County districts is: Can they triple students’ math proficiency on standardized test scores in four years?
“It’s a lofty goal, considering the state average,” said Shelah Feldstein, a Tulare County Office of Education math staff development and curriculum specialist who is helping to spearhead a project that aims to improve 5th-grade math achievement in a network of area schools and districts.
The Central Valley Networked Improvement Communities, known as CVNIC, include 1,091 students and 41 teachers across 15 schools in eight school districts: Burton School District in Porterville, the Cutler-Orosi Joint School District in Orosi, Dinuba Unified, Exeter Unified, Tulare City School District, Visalia Unified, and the Sycamore Valley Academy charter school and Valley Life Charter Schools in Visalia.
September kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month
A month-long celebration of Hispanic heritage, which started on September 15, continues through October 15 nationwide. September 15 was chosen as the kick-off date because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days near that date.
More than 50.5 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino on the 2010 U.S. Census. In California, students identifying as Hispanic or Latino made up about 54 percent of public school students in 2015-16 according to the California Department of Education — by far the largest ethnic group. The percentage of classroom teachers who are Hispanic, however, is far lower.
The following resources can help schools and teachers plan for Hispanic Heritage Month with lesson plans and cultural activities, some of which are tied to Common Core standards:
- Teacher magazine has posted a month of ideas for celebrating and learning about Hispanic heritage in grades 3-8, such as learning about the life of baseball legend Roberto Clemente through on online virtual exhibition. The magazine also provides a Hispanic heritage leveled book list starting at PreK up to grade 8.
- The Library of Congress has collected numerous primary source materials that can be used in teaching about Hispanic history in the United States. Resources include historic photos and sound recordings, multimedia resources, a teaching guide, lesson plans and a curated set of archival materials including a presentation on the Mexican-American immigrant experience. Click here for the overview of available resources.
- For older students, the National Education Association has collected a set of lesson plans, multi-media presentations, quizzes, and other resources at this link. Lesson plans are tied to standards.
Improving math instruction, summer learning resources, and a possible later school start time
This month, EdSource published a Q&A with author and former 4th-grade teacher Tracy Johnston Zager, who has released a new book called “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms.” It includes the best strategies for teaching math and gives readers a glimpse of who’s who among innovative math teaching gurus in California.
Also, we’ve compiled summer science, math and reading resources for families and, we’re reporting on a bill that could require all middle and high schools in California to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
To keep up with EdSource stories produced each week, check out “This Week in California Education,” EdSource’s must-listen-to podcast. Let us know what you think.
Teens, you’ll want to wake up for this: Later school start time bill moves forward
A ban on starting regular school classes earlier than 8:30 a.m. in all California middle and high schools will come up for a vote next month in an Assembly committee.
The bill passed the Assembly Education Committee last week and must clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee before it goes to the full Assembly. If passed and signed by the governor, the bill would make California the first state in the country to adopt a ban on early start times in secondary schools.
In May, the Senate approved the bill in a 23-13 vote. If passed, the bill wouldn’t go into effect for two years, to give schools and districts time to plan for it. Small, rural districts could apply for waivers for up to two years, if the new law would pose a hardship for them.
The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, California Federation of Teachers, California Sleep Society and several hospitals, school districts and student advocacy groups.
Summer science, math and reading resources
To help prevent summer learning loss, many organizations such as the nonprofit Project Lead the Way, California Mathematics Council and Storyline Online offer fun activities and resources.
Click here for resources in math, science and reading that could be useful for parents and children during summer break – or even during the school year.
Students can lose the equivalent of up to two months of grade-level math and science skills over the summer if they don’t keep their brains active, according to Project Lead the Way.
State Board of Education approves English Learner Roadmap
To help California’s more than 1.3 million English learners navigate through the public school system, the State Board of Education has approved an “English Learner Roadmap.”
The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly two decades to serve the one in four public school students throughout the state who are classified as English learners. It is expected to help schools in the more than 1,000 districts statewide to meet updated state and federal education requirements and laws.
Approved last week, the Roadmap aims to help English learner students and their parents know what courses, programs and services are available to them. It was created partially in response to the passage of Proposition 58 last year, which eliminated some legal barriers to bilingual education.
Closing the Achievement Gap, Teacher Quality and LGBTQ Pride Month
Now that students have finished the third year of Common Core-aligned standardized tests in math and English language arts, a Public Policy Institute of California report warns that results from the first two years show low-income students and English learners are falling further behind their English-fluent, wealthier peers.
Also, education expert Linda Darling-Hammond and an international team of researchers just finished up a three-year study examining how countries that outperform the U.S. on internationally benchmarked tests provide high-quality teaching to every child. And you’ll find resources to help educators highlight LGBTQ Pride Month, which can be used year-round to support students, help prevent bullying and improve school climate.
To keep up with EdSource stories produced each week, listen to “This Week in California Education,” EdSource’s new podcast. Check it out and let us know what you think.
What can U.S. schools learn from top education systems in other countries?
To prepare students for an increasingly interconnected and global society, many countries have revamped their education systems to provide students with a 21st century education that has produced higher achievement and greater equity than U.S. schools, a new study has found.
The study of teaching quality in the world’s top-performing education systems reveals that one of the most important strategies to achieve these results is developing policies to ensure that every student receives high-quality teaching.
Called “Empowered Educators,” the three-year study was led by education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute, along with an international team of education researchers, with the support of the Center on International Benchmarking at the National Center on Education and the Economy, or NCEE. It investigated the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, the provinces of Alberta and Ontario in Canada, the province of Shanghai in China, and the countries Singapore and Finland.
Resources for LGBTQ Pride Month (or any month)
The school year may be over, but since June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning Pride Month in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, it’s an appropriate time for a roundup of resources for schools and classrooms. According to the Anti-Defamation League, LGBTQ history “is American history and should be integrated into the curriculum throughout the school year.”
- The Anti-Defamation League offers a set of curricula, recommended books and other resources on topics such as marriage equality, LGBTQ history, transgender students, bullying and hate-crime prevention available at no cost at this link. Resources include standards-based downloadable lesson plans organized by grade level.
- The nonprofit LGBTQ education advocacy group GLSEN, which has chapters in Los Angeles and San Diego, offers many resources for teachers and students, including lesson plans, book recommendations, a toolkit, a blog with frequent posts about LGBTQ students and school supports for them and a research-focused Twitter feed.
— Pridelines (@Pridelines) June 22, 2017
- Facing History and Ourselves, an international education and professional development nonprofit, has an extensive selection of training and curricular resources on bullying and ostracism, many related to LGBTQ and gender identity issues.
- Three organizations (Advocates for Youth, Answer at Rutgers University, and Youth Tech Health) recently launched an initiative called AMAZE that provides animated YouTube videos geared to 10-14 year olds on topics such as gender expression, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The project also provides educators with tips, conversation starters and other resources at this link.
- The Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools Initiative also offers a wealth of resources such as lesson plans and staff training materials. Particularly helpful are their “Answering Challenging Questions” and “LGBTQ Definitions” sections for adults and children.
STANDARDS IN THE NEWS
More than 200 titles added to state’s recommended literature list
The California Department of Education has added 285 award-winning titles to its Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list, which includes more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and teens.
The online list includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The recent additions include multilingual authors and increase the stories available about diverse people and lifestyles.
Literature in the interactive database may be searched by author, title, annotation, illustrator, translator, subject, grade level or language. Go here for more information and to access the list.
New updates available regarding English language proficiency tests
California is developing new English language proficiency assessments called English Language Proficiency Assessments for California, or ELPAC, which will be administered for the first time in spring 2018.
Those interested in finding out more about the new assessments can sign up to receive the California Department of Education’s new monthly “ELPAC Update,” which will include information on upcoming fall training sessions and opportunities for educators to be involved in the test design and pilot process in 2017–18.
Subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to email@example.com.
New research from WestEd on how teachers choose instructional materials
With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, WestEd is exploring how teachers make decisions about which instructional materials to use in their classrooms to inform efforts aimed at improving the quality and consistency of instructional materials across the country. Although WestEd conducted focus groups with teachers in six cities outside California, educators here will find the reports useful.
Three briefs examine how teachers in Seattle, Denver, Boston, New Orleans, Tampa and Raleigh obtain, assess the quality of, choose and supplement instructional materials:
Instructional improvement, immigration rights and equity
As high school math teachers in California strive to improve student achievement, they may be interested to hear about a network of educators studying ways to make math more interesting. Kirk Walters, a former math teacher from San Bernardino High who is now a researcher with the American Institutes for Research, talked to EdSource about how California teachers could set up their own networks to try out new instructional strategies and share what worked and what didn’t. Three keys to engage students, he said, are: teacher excitement and curiosity about their subject matter, exploring underlying concepts and pushing students to explain their answers, and presenting teens with novel problems where the answers aren’t immediately apparent.
Also this month, education leader Carl Cohn said fears about immigration rights and the possibility of deportation among families with undocumented members heighten the need for
schools to provide safe spaces for students and to consider offering services such as counseling or other resources.
And, a new report prepared by a team of researchers who are members of a Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative shows some districts aren’t spending their targeted Local Control funding in ways that will specifically help low-income students, foster youth and English learners.
Have you listened to “This Week in California Education,” EdSource’s new podcast yet? We are adding new features and voices every week to give you more insight into our stories, so subscribe through iTunes or Stitcher and let us know what you think.
Thanks for reading!
USEFUL PICKS FROM OTHER SOURCES
Student achievement and test score growth on Smarter Balanced assessments
A recent Public Policy Institute of California study shows that on average California school children did much better in 2015-16 than they did in 2014-15 on the Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math.
Results for English Learners and low-income students, however, show achievement gaps are not closing. The report concludes that districts with a large number of struggling students may need more guidance from the state and suggests they look to schools and districts that have had greater success with high-need students for improvement ideas. Here are some of the findings:
- About 49 percent of students met standards in English Language Arts in 2016, while 37 percent met the standard in mathematics. These percentages were somewhat lower than those in 14 other large states using the Smarter Balanced assessments, but the increases in achievement levels from the previous year were nearly twice as large in California, which grew by 9 percentage points, compared to an average 5 percentage point growth in the other states.
- The percentage of low-income students and English Learners meeting the standards increased, but these increases were not at fast enough rates to close substantial achievement gaps with higher income students who are fluent in English.
- Fewer students in districts where more than 55 percent of students are from low income families or are English Learners met the standards on the state tests. About 33 percent of students met the standards in those districts, compared to about 60 percent for districts with fewer high-need students.
- Most districts saw similar growth regardless of their percentages of disadvantaged students. But districts where students scored low and did not show significant growth in scores from one year to the next tended to have higher percentages of high-need students. These results were considered “especially troubling because they indicate that disadvantaged students are falling further behind.”
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month
With passage of the Local Control Funding Formula, California became the first state to require schools to consider how best to serve a small subset of at-risk students: youth in foster care.According to 2016 California Department of Education data, in English language arts, 56.2 percent of foster students did not meet standards on the Smarter Balanced tests (compared to 30.5 percent of non-foster students) and for mathematics, 64 percent of foster students did not meet standards (compared to 37.3 percent of non-foster students).
The following resources provide more information about the state’s nearly 70,000 foster youth, as well as some strategies for schools and districts:
- In 2016, The CDE released accountability data on how foster youth performed in the 2014-15 school year. You can search for data broken down by school, district or county on Data Quest at this link. Select “foster” under the Subject pulldown menu.
- The National Center for Youth Law has released a report on how foster youth are faring under local control, which is available at this link. The report includes promising and innovative examples of district approaches to including foster youth in LCAPs.
- The Alliance for Children’s Rights has created a helpful guide to improving education outcomes for California children in foster care. Updated in late 2016, the Foster Youth Education Toolkit includes step-by-step procedures and implementation tools to help districts engage in best practices when educating foster youth.
STANDARDS IN THE NEWS
New studies suggest choice of curriculum and textbooks can make a big difference for students
Have you ever wondered if textbook choice really makes a difference? Choosing better curriculum materials can indeed lead to gains in student achievement, according to a report in the The 74. “Multiple research studies meeting the highest bar for methodological rigor find substantial learning impacts from the adoption of specific curricula. The impact on student learning can be profound,” wrote Johns Hopkins University’s David Steiner in a review of research. Read more
‘Nature Bowl’ competition connects environmental awareness and new science standards
A science teaching idea that could spread: Third- to sixth-graders from 22 schools in the Sacramento region recently competed in an annual science-based educational program, Nature Bowl XXXII. Students learned about the environment while building teamwork skills, according to the Sacramento Bee. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife coordinates the event and the program curriculum corresponds with California’s Next Generation Science Standards. Read more
April 25, 2017
Graduation rates rise, but questions about equity remain
California got some good news this month: high school graduation rates ticked up for the seventh year in a row to 83.2 percent (though some significant achievement gaps are still in place). In addition, the dropout rate fell to less than 10 percent, down from 16.6 percent in 2010.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson attributed the improvement to recent reforms, including the Local Control Funding Formula. But, as EdSource’s John Fensterwald reports, not everyone is such an ardent fan of local control. Student advocates such as the nonprofit Education Trust–West are calling for more transparency to allow the public to follow the money. Without improved accountability, they say, all we can do is “wonder whether this massive public experiment and investment is paying off.”
EdSource has created a database that families and educators can use to look up how well their districts and schools are doing in getting students their diplomas within four years. They can also search for dropout rates and measurements of how many students are taking more than four years to finish high school. Here is the link to search district by district. Use this link to research individual high schools.
Noted educator and lecturer Jeff Duncan-Andrade says the state can’t rely on its funding formula alone to achieve equity for all California students. Instead, he says in an EdSource Q and A that educators and society must view all the state’s children as “our children” and must ensure that we are meeting their diverse needs.
And for a new way to follow these and other important education issues, we invite you to listen to “This Week in California Education,” EdSource’s new podcast. Once you do, let us know what you think.
Thanks for reading!
IN OTHER NEWS
“Mathematical Mindsets” online math course for teachers
The YouCubed math center at Stanford University, formed by well-known Stanford professor and math expert Jo Boaler, is offering a new online course for math teachers beginning June 5.
The course, designed for math teachers working with students from kindergarten through college, is based on Boaler’s book, Mathematical Mindsets. Read an EdSource Q and A with Boaler about her book here. It is Common Core-aligned and includes research on the best ways children and adults learn math. It also explains instructional approaches educators can use to foster a growth mindset in their students.
Boaler demonstrates techniques she used to teach math to 6th-and 7th-graders, which raised their test scores by 50 percent. The course also features comments from growth mindset guru Carol Dweck and mathematician Steven Strogatz.
The class includes 30 videos, takes 30 hours to complete and costs $99 per person. Teachers are encouraged to discuss the videos and math topics with other participants in an online class community.
For more information, or to pre-enroll, visit https://www.youcubed.org/how-to-learn-math-for-teachers-and-parents-copy/.
Looking for Resources for National Poetry Month?
April may or may not be “the cruellest month,” but it’s definitely a good time to think about how to bring poetry into into the classroom and help students discover the poet in themselves.
Teach this Poem Each week, this website features a poem and resources for interdisciplinary teaching and student activities for teachers of kindergarten through grade 12.
Poetry Foundation Poems for children on holidays and nature, from different countries and regions, and in blank verse or rhymed stanzas are featured on this website, along with resources for teachers and parents.
Poetry Out Loud provides resources for teachers, including a complete teacher guide and lesson plans, to teach students how to perform poetry.
STANDARDS IN THE NEWS
Learn from the early implementers: New report calls out best practices for profession learning around Next Generation Science Standards
Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts: Professional Learning is a new 18-page report that shares insights from eight traditional school districts and two charter management organizations in California that took part in a project intended to build school system capacity for implementing NGSS. The idea was to monitor “early implementer” districts and share their reflections on what was needed to introduce the new science standards into state classrooms.
STEM Blossoms in California Salad Bowl
In an article for Education Week, Charles Taylor Kerchner tells the story of two Imperial Valley teachers who started the Imperial Valley Discovery Zone, which excites 2nd graders with the scientific method and opens doors in STEM colleges for high school students. The concept is pretty straightforward: get high school students to present highly engaging, interactive, standards-based science lessons to elementary school students beginning with 7- and 8-year-olds.
March 24, 2017
EdSource School Dashboard Database and more
The release of a new California School Dashboard – featuring ratings of schools and districts according to several accountability criteria – was big news recently.
Several EdSource stories have highlighting the pros and cons of the dashboard, as well as new “5×5 reports” that show how well schools or student subgroups are doing in specific categories.
Also, we’d like to draw your attention to our searchable EdSource California School Dashboard database, which includes comparison features not available on the state’s website. Our site shows side-by-side color-coded ratings for every category currently available in schools and districts. Our database also includes a “comparison clipboard” that allows users to easily click on a school or district and paste it onto an online clipboard, then add more schools or districts to see how they stack up next to each other.
Also of note in this update is a Q & A with a USC professor about the challenges teachers face in implementing the Common Core state standards and a new online guide to the standards created by the university.
Thanks for reading!
New California School Dashboard
The California Department of Education and other organizations have created several resources to help educators and the public understand and navigate the new California School Dashboard, which includes data that will be used for school and district accountability purposes beginning next fall.
These resources include:
- California Department of Education Communications Toolkit.
- Alameda County Office of Education Dashboard website, including video and infographics.
- Ed100 Dashboard explanatory blog.
- EdSource searchable database with “comparisons clipboard.”
EdReports Curriculum Reviews
The nonprofit organization EdReports, which reviews curriculum materials based on their alignment to Common Core standards in math and English language arts, recently released six new reports, including two for math and four for English language arts instruction. The reports include color-coded ratings that show whether or not materials are aligned to the standards. Green signifies they are aligned, yellow shows partial alignment and red designates lack of alignment. If materials are at least partially aligned, EdReports reviewers also rate the usability of the materials for students and teachers using the same color-coded system.
The new reports review:
- Big Ideas Math 6-8 by Big Ideas Learning, LLC
- Integrated Math HS by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Core Knowledge Language Arts 3-5 by Amplify
- Journeys (2017) 3-6 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Reading Wonders 3-6 by McGraw-Hill Education
- ReadyGen 6by
The organization has also launched a California-specific website called the California Curriculum Collaborative, created in partnership with Pivot Learning, which also lists all Common Core curriculum materials recommended by the state Board of Education.
EdReports Seeks Curriculum Reviewers
EdReports relies on educators from across the country to review curriculum materials for its website. The nonprofit organization is currently seeking experts to serve as Content Reviewers. More details and an online application are available here.
Johns Hopkins University reviews academic programs based on research
The Center for Research and Reform in Education in the School of Education at the John Hopkins University launched a new website earlier this month to help educators and administrators evaluate K-12 math and reading programs according to requirements established in the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. However, the U.S. Senate later voted to rescind accountability regulations under that law.
Still, anyone interested in learning about evidence-based programs may find the website, called Evidence for ESSA, useful.
It relies on the center’s faculty, along with scholarly studies, to determine an academic program’s effectiveness.
The website was established to function like a consumer report aimed at determining how well programs were vetted, said Robert Slavin, director of the center, in a university article.
“State chiefs, district superintendents, and principals are the primary audience —the people making decisions about programs for schoolchildren,” he said. “But there are many other people — parents and teachers, for example — who could use this information to advocate for particular programs that they think would be better for their kids. And we hope they will.”
Read more here.
In other news
New teacher tenure bill introduced
AB 1220, a bill that would lengthen the probationary period for new teachers, was introduced this week by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego.
Called the Teacher and Student Success Act, the bill would extend the probationary period before teachers receive tenure to three years, up from the current period of two years. According to the LA School Report, under the bill teachers who don’t meet the requirements in three years could receive a fourth or fifth year to receive additional mentoring and professional development.
Common Core critics built social media ‘Botnets’ to skew the education debate, says report
In an article for The 74, Kevin Mahnken writes that researchers with the University of Pennsylvania’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education released a report from the #commoncore project, suggesting that public animosity toward Common Core was amplified and manipulated by organized online communities using cutting-edge social media strategies. Read more
March 7, 2017
Leading Change newsletter now includes expanded Common Core update
Welcome to EdSource’s new Common Core update web page, which is being produced in conjunction with our updated ‘Leading Change’ newsletter. The newsletter now has an expanded focus: the range of new California academic standards — from the Common Core standards in English language arts and math, to the Next Generation Science Standards and the history-social science standards — as well as how schools will be held accountable for measuring their progress on them.
We will update our website often with relevant news, interviews, events and opportunities to participate in online #EdSourceChats. You can also engage us via Twitter.
We’d also like to hear your ideas and strategies for implementing California academic standards that we can share with others in the field. And please share this link to our Common Core web page with your friends and colleagues.
Thanks for reading!
Common Core Standards: What educators are saying
Across the country, teachers are adapting their instructional practices to the new Common Core standards in math and English language arts. A recent report, called Listening and Learning from Teachers: A Summary of Focus Groups on the Common Core and Assessments, reveals support, concerns and insights about the standards expressed by elementary teachers in Delaware, Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin. The teachers also discussed how the standards are affecting curricula and instructional materials, testing, student achievement data and accountability.
Although California teachers were not involved in these discussions, many of the comments shared may ring true for those working to implement the standards in this state.
If you’d like to weigh in on how standards are affecting instruction in your school, please participate in our Common Core #EdSourceChat!
Physics professor defends a key feature of Common Core math
Writing for Forbes, author and physics professor Chad Orzel defends Common Core math’s emphasis on explaining how students get their answers. “Forcing students to not just generate numbers but understand and explain the process they used is one of the best developments I’ve seen in the math my kids are learning. I hope they keep this up all the way through school, because it will make them better scientists or engineers (should they choose to go that route), and just better thinkers in general.” Read more
What are states actually changing about Common Core?
According to a new analysis highlighted in an article at Education Week, though 21 states are revising the Common Core standards or have already done so, most of the changes are minor: “Nearly 70 percent of the changes that were made in either math or language arts across all grades were simply wording or format clarifications to make the standards easier for educators or the public to understand.” Read more.