The state is in fiscal crisis with a $14 Billion budget deficit.
But the governor's proposed policies propose disinvesting in our schools. And - by not raising taxes -not making the investment - he and by extension we are asking today's children to pay for a lack of foresight, oversight and planing by cutting education programs.
The sins of Sacramento — and there plenty to blame on The Gov, The Lege, Bureaucrats, Special Interests and Lobbyists — are being visited upon the 6,286,243 schoolchildren of California.
The proposed solutions below are to address the NCLB mandate for Program Improvement Schools and Districts; responding to bad policy with bad policy solves nothing. - smf
PS: for further amusement, visit the Governor's website.
- Note that every time favorable news is presented it's "Governor Schwarzenegger"; when the the news is unfavorable or indifferent it's "The Governor."
- Now, count the "Governor Schwarzenegger"s and compare it to the "The Governor"s .
- How well is he doing?
Improving Student Achievement With Stronger Accountability And Greater Transparency
California's future is only as strong as our schools-and our schools are only as strong as the students, parents and teachers who invest in their success each day. While Governor Schwarzenegger has brought school funding in California to historic new highs, he has always maintained that our education system needs more than money to succeed. Our system must ensure that students have the skills and knowledge needed for success; that parents, teachers and policymakers have access to accurate educational data; and that classrooms have highly qualified teachers to educate the next generation of Californians.
To achieve these goals, the Governor has announced that California will be the first state to use the powers given under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to turn challenged districts around. He is also proposing immediate actions to improve the quality and accessibility of information available to parents, educators and policymakers; and address critical shortages of teachers in California's classrooms.
Creating a framework for reform.
While the Governor believes that real education reform is difficult to achieve in the state's current fiscal environment, he has always maintained that money alone won't solve our school's challenges. California's education system needs structural reforms.
The Governor's bipartisan Committee on Education Excellence (GCEE) has dedicated the past two years to creating a comprehensive report that details new strategies to promote student achievement through California's preschool and K-12 public school system. Over the next year, the Governor will hold hearings statewide to discuss a framework for education reform with the purpose of developing solutions and a long-term action plan. Focused on student data, school accountability, teachers, administrators and education funding, these hearings will explore common themes raised by the GCEE and "Getting Down to Facts" studies released last year.
Building an architecture of accountability statewide.
Currently 98 of California's school districts are not meeting federal NCLB student achievement targets. This means that these districts-which are responsible for educating approximately one-third of the state's public school students-have not made adequate yearly progress toward meeting these targets for five consecutive years. Under federal law, California's State Board of Education is required to intervene to improve student achievement. These reforms are critical, as the integrity of our school system-and $3 billion in federal funds-are on the line.
The Governor's administration is working with teachers, administrators, parents, elected officials and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a sustainable architecture for accountability that helps school districts meet federal standards and improve student achievement.
The solution will fit the district.
The Governor proposes reforms that value local control and assist school districts based on their needs. The problems driving underachievement in each of these 98 districts are different, so a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. In determining the state's response, the administration has used a "differentiated assistance" model to analyze each district individually and assign it the most appropriate intervention to improve student achievement and progress.
- For example, some districts are meeting proficiency benchmarks, yet less than 95 percent of their students took standardized tests for five years in a row. In these cases, it is an issue of ensuring enough participation in the test to meet the 95 percent federal requirement.
- Others, however, have long-term, chronic difficulty in meeting language arts or math proficiency targets. They have consistently failed to perform over time and require more significant intervention to bring about meaningful gains in student achievement.
- School districts with poor or declining graduation rates need special assistance from their school district. Under this proposal they will have options, such as prevention and recovery programs, to reduce drop outs.
The Governor proposes an architecture of accountability in which nearly every district in program improvement will receive one of the following four interventions.
- District Assistance and Intervention Team (DAIT) plus recommendations for further corrective action: A DAIT is a state-approved technical assistance team that creates improvement plans for school districts that the district must implement. Under this intervention the State Board of Education will assign a DAIT to the lowest performing districts among the 98, and then instruct it to perform an independent analysis of district performance and return to the Board with recommendations for further corrective action under federal NCLB. The State Board of Education will retain all of the options available to it under relevant state and federal laws when assigning further corrective actions.
- Corrective actions can include replacing school district personnel, appointing a receiver or trustee, permitting students to transfer to different schools, putting new curricula in-place and-in the most serious cases-abolishing and restructuring the district.
- DAIT: Under this intervention, a school district will choose its DAIT in consultation with the local county superintendent of schools. In these districts, as above, the DAIT will create a plan of action for the district's improvement that the district will be required to implement.
- Targeted technical assistance from a state-approved provider: Under this intervention, a school district will choose a state-approved provider. This provider will develop tailored technical assistance to help the school district meet federal accountability targets.
- Revise and fully implement Local Education Agency (LEA) plans: A number of districts that narrowly missed federal accountability targets will be directed to revise their LEA plans, which outline how they will implement NCLB in the district. In these cases, the districts will revise their LEA plans in order to 1) fully implement a standards based curriculum and/or 2) redirect a portion of their Title I Administrative Funds to support activities designed to help the district meet federal targets. Student achievement data will drive how districts revise their LEA plans.
California has a responsibility to invest in the neediest districts first.
NCLB also requires that every state set aside part of its federal Title I allocation to invest in program improvement districts. Currently, California has set aside $29 million for this purpose. The Governor proposes that the state allocate a higher percentage of these funds in districts that need the greatest assistance and intervention. The Governor looks forward to working with the legislature to quickly allocate these funds, so they can be put to work improving student achievement as quickly as possible.
California has an opportunity to reward high performing districts.
As part of this architecture of accountability, the Governor proposes that high-performing schools and districts have the opportunity to apply to the State Board of Education for waivers from provisions of the Education Code. Waivers granted by the State Board of Education will give these schools and districts flexibility to budget and operate in ways that continue to improve student achievement.
Increasing transparency with better data delivery and accessibility.
Information and data drives where parents send their children to school and what policies our elected officials pursue. It enables teachers to respond to the needs of their students with better instruction and curriculum and helps California's schools understand and respond to the specific challenges they face.
But for students, parents, teachers and policy makers to be empowered by data and information, it must be accurate, integrated, accessible and transparent. For many years in California, this has not been the case. Fortunately, with the roll-out of CALPADS (California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System) and CALTIDES (California Longitudinal Teacher Education Data System) in the next few years, California has the opportunity to drastically improve the delivery and accessibility of California's educational data and information. To build on this potential and to ensure California's education data system improves, the Governor proposes the state:
- Fund, link, and determine additional data elements for CALPADS and CALTIDES.
- Establish the Education Data Commission. The Governor will create a nine-member Education Data Commission by Executive Order to make policy recommendations to him for the development and implementation of an education data system for California public schools. The data commission will include members appointed by the Governor and the Speaker, Senate President Pro Tem and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Launch the California School Finder Website. The Governor will follow through on his commitment in last year's State of the State to launch the California School Finder Website.
- This website, created by the state in partnership with Microsoft and Google, allows users to compare schools side-by-side and is a strong example of an effective and efficient public private partnership.
Meeting California's need for qualified teachers.
California is facing a critical shortage of qualified teachers. Over the next decade, the state is expected to lose more than 100,000 teachers to retirement-fully one-third of the teacher workforce. Shortages will be particularly prominent in special education, math, science and high school English. To ensure California's public schools have the 100,000 new teachers they need over the next 10 years, the Governor proposes California:
- Expand the market for teacher preparation. To meet California's demand for more teachers, it is essential that California expand the market for teacher preparation. Consistent with recommendations made by the Governor's Committee on Education Excellence, the Governor will sponsor legislation to generate new high quality public and private teacher preparation programs.
- This legislation will allow any institution with a high quality program that is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to credential teachers.
- Create new routes to a teaching credential. The Governor has already taken steps to offset California's teacher shortage, including proposing the EnCorps Teachers Program in June 2007. The Governor now proposes to further expand these kinds of programs and create new routes to credentialing.
On The Record/Just The Facts
Sacramento Bee - "Data Should Be The Year One Priority" For Education: "We'd like to see the governor and legislature use 2008 to set an education road map - where we want to be and how we want to get there - with benchmarks for Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5. Data should be the Year 1 priority. California has dragged its feet in tracking performance, programs and resources. We need to know what's working and what's not. Get the data piece passed and funded." (Editorial, "Time to make the 'Year of Education' a reality", Sacramento Bee, 1/7/08)
California School Boards Association Executive Director Scott Plotkin - "We Can't Keep Living This Feast-or-Famine Approach": "Just because we are in a fiscal crisis doesn't mean that we don't need to have that conversation...We can't keep living in this feast-or-famine approach to schools." (Juliet Williams, "California's grim budget picture stalls 'Year of Education'", Associated Press, 1/6/08)
Governor's Committee on Education Excellence Chair Ted Mitchell and Member Dede Alpert - Difficult Budget Year An "Opportunity To Begin The Dialogue": "Those who would use the state's budget challenges as an excuse for delay are presuming a one-year solution to a crisis that has been building over many years. But there are no quick-fixes here: Real change will be a multi-year effort involving substantive dialogue. This difficult budget year gives us the opportunity to begin the dialogue and work toward agreement on necessary changes without the battles over funding that invariably accompany these efforts." (Ted Mitchell and Dede Alpert, Op-Ed, "Removing barriers to student success need not break the bank", San Jose Mercury News, 1/6/08)
Stanford University Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek - Accountability Systems Help Student Achievement, But "Only For Those States Attaching Accountability To Performance": "Eric Hanushek, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and one of the nation's leading education economists, has found that accountability systems have a significantly positive impact on student achievement. But Hanushek attaches an important caveat: ‘The impact, however, holds only for those states attaching consequences to performance. States that do not attach consequences to performance,' he says, ‘do not get significantly larger impacts than those not having a formal accountability system.' Unfortunately, California's school accountability system is severely deficient in this crucial area of consequences, mandated corrective interventions or options for parents of students attending consistently low-performing schools." (James S. Lanich, "Educational Governance and Accountability," Little Hoover Commission Public Hearing, Written Testimony, 10/25/07)
California Business For Education Excellence President James S. Lanich - California Needs A "Clear And Understandable" Accountability System: "California deserves to have an accountability system that matches our world-class standards. More importantly, for the government's K-12 enterprise, if the public trust is to be regained, an education accountability system that is clear and understandable to all must be constructed." (James S. Lanich, "Educational Governance and Accountability," Little Hoover Commission Public Hearing, Written Testimony, 10/25/07)
California Council On Science And Technology Executive Director Susan Hackwood - Shortage Of Fully Prepared Math And Science Teachers Is "Undermining The Quality Of The State's Education System": "The shortage of fully prepared math and science teachers is undermining the quality of the state's education system and hampering the ability to produce college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics...Without focused action, California will continue to fall far short of producing the skilled and knowledgeable math and science teachers it desperately needs over the next decade." (Center For The Future Of Teaching And Learning, "California Faces Critical Shortage of Math and Science Teachers," Press Release, 3/5/07)
Hewlett Foundation Education Program Director Marshall Smith And Program Officer Kristi Kimball - "Collecting Basic Information About School And Student Performance" Will "Improve Our Schools": "Are California's students getting the preparation they need for life? Which public schools are succeeding and which ones are lagging behind? Every parent should have answers to these questions. But unfortunately, in California, they don't. Parents might want to know why. Collecting basic information about school and student performance is an investment that will improve our schools and ensure that our children are well-educated." (Marshall Smith and Kristi Kimball, Op-Ed, "State Hurting Education By Not Funding Data Collection," San Jose Mercury News, 7/5/06)
California's Education Data System Does Not Have The Capacity To Answer Four Of Six "Priority Questions" Facing Policymakers And Educators. The National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA) conducted a survey in September 2007, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, about state data systems to determine the number of states that have built the infrastructure to tap into the power of longitudinal data. Out of six priority questions facing policy makers and educators, California was unable to answer the following four questions with its data system:
- What achievement levels in middle school indicate that a student is on track to succeed in rigorous courses in high school?
- What high school performance indicators (e.g., enrollment in rigorous courses or performance on state tests) are the best predictors of students' success in college or the workplace?
- What percentage of high school graduates who go on to college take remedial courses?
- Which teacher preparation programs produce the graduates whose students have the strongest academic growth? (National Center for Educational Accountability, "Data Quality Campaign: Survey of State P-12 Data Collection Issues Related to Longitudinal Analysis," Survey, 9/07)
Almost One-Third Of The Teaching Workforce Is 50 Or Older. "Thirty-two percent of the teaching workforce was 50 years old or older in 2006-07. About one-third of the workforce will be eligible for retirement within ten years." (Center For The Future Of Teaching And Learning, "California Reduces Underprepared Teachers by 25,000," Press Release, 12/3/07)