Wednesday, August 22, 2012


By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report |

Wednesday, August 22, 2012  ::  Frustrated by the patchwork of criteria California schools use to evaluate the reclassification of English learners, lawmakers approved Tuesday a bill aimed at standardizing the system with best practices.

The bill, SB 1108 by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, requires the California Department of Education by January 1, 2014 to review and analyze English learner reclassification criteria, policies, and practices used by a sample of school districts and made recommendations to the Legislature and the California State Board of Education for possible changes in regulations or statue.

Padilla points out that only 11 percent of the English learners in California are designated as reaching full fluency each year meanwhile only 56 percent of English learners eventually graduate from high school.

“Some students become ‘Long Term English Learners’ and never achieve fluency,” the senate said in a statement earlier this spring. “That is unacceptable. Academic success and college readiness hinge on English proficiency.”

The bill was one of only a handful passed off the Assembly floor Tuesday, with lawmakers in both houses leaving a long list of bills to still resolve.

Another bill that did move ahead was SB 1235, the suspension intervention legislation by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

SB 1235 would, beginning with the 2013-14 instructional year, require any school that has suspended more than 25 percent of its enrollment – or 25 percent of any numerically significant pupil subgroup – to implement an evidence-based system of positive behavioral interventions for improving the site’s academic and social climate.

Among the major education bills that met last week’s deadline and remain pending in the Assembly are:

SB 1458, also by Steinberg, makes changes to the composition and use of the Academic Performance Index (API) by providing that achievement test results constitute no more than 40 percent of the value of the API for secondary schools, and that achievement test results constitute at least 40 percent of the value of the API for primary and middle schools. Both sets of criteria would take effect beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

SB 1509 by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, would repeal the sunset date of January 1, 2014 for authorizing K-12 and California Community Colleges (CCC) districts to enter into a design-build contract for the design and construction of an education facility.

There are no direct costs attributed to the bill, as use of the design-build process is voluntary, and should result in potential savings. Presumably K-12 and CCC districts will choose design-build for a specific project upon determining a potential for savings in terms of project schedule and costs.

SB 1088 by Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, would prohibit a pupil from being denied enrollment or readmission to a public school based solely on contact with the juvenile justice system.

SB 1154 by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, requires publishers of state-adopted instructional materials to offer their products in digital format – and at prices that are lower or equivalent to the traditional printed version.

SB 1200 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction to recommend and the state board to adopt the college and career readiness anchor standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative consortium. The bill would also authorize the state board to take action to resolve any technical issues in English language arts content standards.

SB 1290 by Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, requires the authorizing school board or other authority that granted a charter school to consider increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils served by the charter school as the most important factor in determining whether to grant a charter renewal or whether to revoke a charter school.

SB 1291 by state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would add credential preparation or other teacher training programs in mathematics, science and special education to the list of allowable activities under the state’s unemployment program – which generally does not allow its participants to attend school while receiving benefits.

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