One Teacher’s Suggestions for Creating a More Diverse Classroom Library

November 15, 2018
By Meredith Kimi Lewis

The library is the physical and metaphorical center of my classroom. It is a reading world adorned with a carpet, comfy chairs, a lamp, and bins of neatly organized books. When I remember my own childhood, I picture a colorful tapestry woven by the hundreds of worlds I visited through the pages of books.

Imagine my surprise when one of my students commented about what I thought was a magical space, “I’m tired of reading about white kids.”

She followed this with a reminder that I, her teacher, am also not white. I was taken aback. More than 60 percent of my students are individuals of color. My library featured white characters almost exclusively. What schema was I helping to create for my students? I decided to make a change...

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SBE Approves First Instructional Materials Based on Next Generation Science Standards

November 15, 2018

On November 8, the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve the first-ever instructional materials which incorporate California’s groundbreaking Next Generation Science Standards for grades K-8.

“California is the first state in the nation to adopt a science framework and approve instructional materials based on the Next Generation Science Standards,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “I am excited about the new standards, which train students to act like scientists by posing questions and developing their own experiments. In addition, they emphasize climate change and environmental literacy, along with engineering and strategies to support girls and young women in science...

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California's History-Social Science Framework Wins American Historical Association Prize

November 1, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on October 17 that the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California History-Social Science Project (University of California, Davis) have won the American Historical Association's Beveridge Family Teaching Prize for distinguished K–12 history teaching. The two organizations collaborated to create the groundbreaking History­-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which was approved by the State Board of Education in 2016 and published last year.

"California is leading the way in helping our students recognize the diversity of our great state and nation," Torlakson said. "Thanks to the partnership between the California Department of Education and the California History-Social Science project, California students will learn from the latest research and have a deeper understanding of the important contributions and challenges faced by many individuals and ethnic groups that have sometimes been overlooked. These include every major ethnic group, as well as members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.”...

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U.S. Department of Education Releases New Study, Accompanying Toolkit on Ed Tech for English Learners

November 1, 2018

On October 22, the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of the National Study on English Learners and Digital Resources. The study provides the first national look at how districts and educators use educational technology to instruct English learner students - the fastest-growing student population in the country.

Today’s students are entering classrooms that have seen rapid adoption of digital technologies in instruction. With these new technologies, teachers of English learner (EL) students, whether they are general education teachers or specialists in EL student instruction, have exciting new tools to support learning...

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Focus, Emotion Regulation, and Goal Setting are Social and Emotional Learning Skills That Teachers Can Address During Recess and PE

October 3, 2018
By Maurice J. Elias

I’d like to offer up four social and emotional learning (SEL) skills that can be built up during physical education class or recess. Outdoor physical activities are an ideal time to develop SEL. Some of this is done in the moment, while at other times it involves instruction and preparation. For example, you may call students’ attention to certain actions during their participation and observations during play, and follow this up by facilitating a class discussion around their observations.

FOCUS

Sometimes students are concerned only about what they will do when it’s their turn-for example, when the ball will next come to them. In a group game that has a ball, you can assist students with attending to the small things involved. This builds their appreciation of all the moving pieces that are critical to team - and individual - success...

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CDE Releases Last Spring’s CAASPP Test Results, Several Subgroups Show Modest Improvement

October 3, 2018

On October 2, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards, a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards, a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

This is the fourth year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers...

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Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?
Research Shows Students Benefit When Teachers Share Their Race or Gender. Yet Most Teachers are White Women

September 20, 2018
By Claire Cain Miller

As students have returned to school, they have been greeted by teachers who, more likely than not, are white women. That means many students will be continuing to see teachers who are a different gender than they are, and a different skin color.

Does it matter? Yes, according to a significant body of research: Students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students...

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SBE Adopts State’s First-Ever Computer Science Standards for Schools

September 20, 2018

On September 6, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved California’s first-ever computer science standards - learning expectations that will help each student reach their creative potential in our digitally connected world.

“As a forward-leaning state and home to Silicon Valley, California’s new standards will not only enable students to understand how their digital world works but will encourage critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology,” said State Board member Trish Williams, who serves as the Board’s computer science liaison...

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Greeting Each Student at the Door Benefits Students, Teacher

September 20, 2018
By Youki Terada

A widely cited 2007 study claimed that teachers greeting students at the classroom door led to a 27 percentage point increase in academic engagement. The problem? It included just three students.

Now a new, much larger and more credible study - comprising 203 students in 10 classrooms - validates that claim: Greeting students at the door sets a positive tone and can increase engagement and reduce disruptive behavior. Spending a few moments welcoming students promotes a sense of belonging, giving them social and emotional support that helps them feel invested in their learning...

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Almost 10,000 Schools Report 30% of Students are Chronically Absent

September 6, 2018

There are almost 10,000 public schools across the United States - or 11 percent of the total - at which chronic student absence rates affect 30 percent or more of their students, a new analysis shows.

The problem is almost as challenging at another 10,000 schools where 20-to-29 percent of the students are chronically absent. At such high levels, all students in the classroom are affected when teachers have to deal with the churn of sporadic attendance...

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September is Attendance Awareness Month
CDE Urges Schools, Families to Combat Chronic Absenteeism

September 6, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, said school districts, public agencies, community groups, students, and their families must work together to combat chronic absenteeism.

“Students aren’t learning if they are not in class. Cohesive partnerships, intervention strategies, and solid support services create attendance teams that are armed with the necessary tools to identify and help students struggling with attendance problems,” said Torlakson. “By combining resources and working together, school attendance administrators, parents, and community organizations can build systems to reduce chronic absenteeism rates that are positive and effective, not negative and punitive.”...

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Latest Healthy Kids Survey Reports Decline in Teenage Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs

August 22, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on August 20 that alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use continues to decline among middle and high school students, and improvements have occurred in indicators of pupil engagement, school climate, and mental health among high school students, according to the 2015-17 Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey.

The survey assesses how well schools are meeting students’ needs for school safety, drug and alcohol prevention, mental health, and other factors that influence learning and positive development...

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California High School Graduation Rates Dip 1.1 Percent Under New Methodology

August 7, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced California’s high school graduation rates on July 26 under a new methodology that was adopted in response to a federal audit.

As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation...

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Using Person-First Language at School Focuses on Who Students Are as Individuals

August 7, 2018
By Michelle Foley, Cristina Santamaria Graff

As educators strive to be inclusive of all children, one way to begin is to actively use person-first language, a form of linguistic etiquette in which we describe a trait or diagnosis as something a person has rather than as who they are-e.g., “a person with diabetes,” not “a diabetic.” This is a way to honor and welcome students with different abilities. Indeed, how we discuss and describe our students profoundly impacts their sense of inclusion in the classroom.

To begin using person-first language, we should initially try to understand its purpose and meaning. At its core, person-first language seeks to acknowledge the inherent and equal value of every individual, before attaching any other descriptors or identities the person may view as secondary or not intrinsic. Communicating using person-first language begins with empathy...

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