Tuesday, January 29, 2013

York Student Co-Authors Korean E-book Bestseller

John Lim, a junior at York School, worked in collaboration with his sister Minju Lim, a student at UC-Berkeley and York School alumna, to co-author a Korean e-book entitled "How to Survive in America as a Teenager". Although John was born in the states, his family is native to Korea with Korean being their first language.

"When my sister got up to Berkeley, she made friends with several Koreans who didn't speak English very well...It inspired her to write a book on contemporary English, specifically on how modern Americans phrase things. And she asked for my help," John said.

The goal of their e-book is to serve as a practical guide for international students studying in the U.S. Some chapters include: "Interesting Episodes of Foreign Students in the U.S.", "How to Survive in High Schools and Colleges", and "Communication Guide including Basics of Emoticons and Texting". It is available for purchase online through several Korean online bookstores. The book was on the Korean e-book bestseller list for a month and continues to sell pretty well, York officials said.

The tone of the e-book is light-hearted and fun, John said. The book not only provides useful tips on how to decipher text message abbreviations and emoticons, but also includes common misused phrases their Korean-speaking friends would endure that were "comical and sometimes awkward," John stated.

Story provided by Shanna Kesler, York communications manager.

Monday, January 28, 2013

CSUMB to begin offering online graduate degrees

California State University, Monterey Bay will be among the first CSU campuses to offer degrees through the new Cal State Online, an initiative intended to expand access to fully online bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Two programs will be offered initially

• Master of Science in Instructional Science and Technology (MIST)
The MIST program is a 36-unit program intended for classroom teachers, corporate trainers and e-learning developers who want to learn how to enhance learning with advanced technology. The interdisciplinary program integrates information technology, instructional design and learning sciences and is designed for those working in the areas of teaching, instructional design and training. Classes start on May 6. Two courses will be offered during each eight-week session over the 16 months of study.
Find more information here

• Master of Science in Management and Information Technology (MSMIT)
The MSMIT program prepares leaders and managers in technology-focused business units, corporations, organizations and entrepreneurial ventures. The interdisciplinary program integrates information technology with business management. It is designed to cultivate the next generation of leaders in technology management such as chief technology officers and high-tech entrepreneurs. Classes start Sept. 2. One course will be offered during each eight-week session over the 20 months of study.

Find more information here
Applications are now being accepted for both programs. Students can apply to these and a variety of other bachelor’s and master’s program at www.calstateonline.net.

Graduation parties are coming up

And parents everywhere are ginning up support so they can help finance safe and sober parties to celebrate their kids' achievement.

Here's information from Carmel and Monterey High schools:

Carmel Sober Grad is accepting sellable goods this Friday, February 1, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and from 3:30 to 6:00 pm at the Carmel High School Theatre. These goods will be sold to help finance the party.

The sale benefiting Sober Grad is Saturday, Feb. 2nd, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For Monterey High:

Keeping with the tradition, the Monterey High School PTSA is organizing sober grad night and receiving monetary and object donations. Since they don't want to keep the theme of the party a secret, monetary donations are actually better, PTSA president Joanna Greenshields says. For more information contact her at 747-7927 or jhg2531@aol.com.

And if you are helping organize a party for any other high school, send me a note and I'll help up with the support part.

Marina High trains 48 student leaders in the Plus Program

John Vanderburgh, developer of the PLUS program to create safe school environments, kicked off Monday a two-day training for Marina High students. Forty-eight students were chosen by teachers and other students as the "natural influencers," those who have pull among their peers. Over the training, they'll be taught strategies that will result in creating a more inclusive campus. As you'll see in this video, Vanderburgh is a very engaging speaker, the students seemed completely hooked in his message. What he said resonated with them: when young people are facing pressures, their peers can help develop connections with each other that will help ease their burdens. The PLUS training is being paid for with a grant Marina, Seaside and Monterey high schools received last year from the California Department of Education. Vanderburgh said he's taken his program all over the country and that it's shown great results. I look forward to visiting Marina High in a few months and see what effect it's had. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Dreamers" can now apply for financial aid online

The California Student Aid Commission has now made Dream Act Applications for undocumented immigrant students available on its website.

Approved last year, the California Dream Act allows access to public financial aid, including Cal Grants, for undocumented students who came to the country before turning 16 and attended California high schools.

For more information or to access the application, click here.

Attention Monterey County young poets

Submit your original poetry, in English, Spanish or both before March 20 to the 2013 Monterey County High School Poetry awards.

Winning students can earn cash, certificates of merit and poetry books.

Submissions must be original, authors must be enrolled in high school in Monterey County.

Up to three poems per author of no more than 40 lines each.

No restrictions on content, style, form or metric.

All entries must be typed. Student's name, address and phone number must be included on each poem.

Poets should keep a copy of their poems.

Entries must be postmarked by March 20, 2013, and sent to Cherry Center for the Arts, P.O. Box 863, Carmel, CA 93921.

The awards ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the Monterey Public Library, 625 Pacific St., Monterey.

Write away!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gonzales tackles school safety, in another way

The Gonzales Unified School District will host a presentation -- in English and Spanish -- on raising emotionally healthy children. The meeting will address concerns of school violence, and parents and community members will learn how to support young children.

The presentations will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 7, at the Gonzales High School band room, 501 5th St Gonzales.

Salinas High is looking for volunteers for mock interviews

Help high school juniors develop interviewing skills by participating in Interview Workshops at Salinas High School. Business professionals are wanted to help interview young students and give them feedback on their skills. All materials, facilitation, and training are provided, along with refreshments. Interview workshops are scheduled for February 14, 15, 26, 27, March 19, 20.

For more information, contact the Salinas High Career Center at 796-7451 or email audrey.sharp@salinasuhsd.org

CSUMB's Seth Pollack honored for service-learning work

Seth Pollack has been named winner of the 2013 Richard E. Cone Award by California Campus Compact Pollack in recognition of his work to promote service learning and community-campus partnerships throughout the Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley.

Pollack has been director of CSU Monterey Bay’s Service Learning Institute for more than 15 years.

“Service learning and partnerships are part of the very fiber of our being as a campus, and that is due in large part to the continued leadership on the part of Dr. Pollack,” said CSUMB Provost Kathy Cruz-Uribe.

CSUMB is the only two-time recipient of the White House President’s Award for Community Service in Higher Education (2006 and 2011), given each year to the six top programs in the nation by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

One example of Pollack’s leadership in community-university partnerships is CSUMB’s involvement in the Salinas Chinatown Renewal Project. Since 2006, more than 1,200 students and 20 faculty members have participated in this community-based effort to revitalize a long-neglected neighborhood of Salinas.

Pollack holds a Ph.D. in international development education and a master’s in organizational sociology from Stanford University, and a B.A. in international affairs from the University of Colorado.

"I am really proud to receive this award, as it honors the exceptional work we are doing at CSUMB. It is such a benefit to be working at an institution that has embraced civic engagement as a core component of the academic program,” Pollack told CSUMB press officers.

Story provided by Joan Weiner, CSUMB.

Dreamers: add your voice to "The Dream is Now"

Santa Cruz native and filmmaker extraordinaire Alex Ivany has been interning with documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) on a movement that is pushing for immigration reform by way of the DREAM Act. According to an email he sent to friends and family, in spring he will be releasing a 20-30 minute documentary which will premier on Capitol Hill about the Dream Act, legislation that would grant immigrants brought illegally as children to the United States a path to citizenship.

As part of the document, Ivany has launched an interactive website for "Dreamers" to add their voices to the discussion.

So add your voice! And wait for the documentary.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dual Immersion open house at Marshall Elementary

The Dual Language Immersion Program at Marshall Elementary is hosting an information session on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Cabrillo Resource Center, 1295 La Salle Ave., Seaside.

 A dual immersion program allows a child to learn two languages at the same time. Children who attend the program at Marshall learn English and Spanish simultaneously. For more information, click here

Alisal students at Inaguration Day at the National Mall

The fun goes on for Alisal High students taking part of the festivities at Inauguration Day. We just got some photos. Check them out.

Window to apply for School Choice at the Salinas Union High district

"School Choice"(open enrollment) policy allows parents and students to apply for enrollment at any comprehensive school within the District. At the Salinas Union High School District, a School Choice window begins February 1. Applications for the 2013-14 school year are available at any district school. Applications must be completed and returned to the main office of the requested school, by 4:00 p.m. on February 28, 2013.

Interdistrict transfer requests for 2013-14 will be accepted during this open enrollment. Transfers from another school district to a school in the SUHSD attendance area must be initiated in the student's district of residence using that district's request for Interdistrict transfer form.

Any student currently in 7th – 10th grade on an Interdistrict must submit an application for the 2013-14 school year.
The required forms are available at 20 Sherwood Place, Salinas, CA 93906 (Pupil Personnel Services) or click here. For questions call (831) 796-6964.

Alisal High Students having a blast in DC

No, we haven't heard from them directly, but you just have to look at their pictures and their families' postings on Facebook: These kids are having a ball. Even before inauguration arrived. They say that pictures are more expressive than a thousand words, so here you have it.

Monterey Museum of Art to host Family Day

Admission is free during Family Day at the Monterey Museum of Art, when families are invited to explore, create and play in the galleries.

Activities include:
• Portrait Lab projects in the museum's Creative Space for Kids
• Scavenger Hunt
• Drawing in the gallery
• Story times for the little ones

Refreshments available for purchase.
Events will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 2, at the museum, 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. For more information call 831.372.5477 x 109 or click here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Alisal High Students are off to DC

They woke up early early to catch the bus to San Francisco International airport. Bound for Washington DC, a delegation of about 75 people from Alisal were expected to attend the second inauguration of Barack Obama.

I expect to get lots of updates -- including if some of the members of the delegation will be able to visit the White House.

Marilyn Shepherd of MPUSD to take a leave of absence

Rumors are flying about Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Marilyn Shepherd's absence from the district beginning early this the week, with some going as far as saying she was escorted out of her office on Thursday.

This is what I've learned, on the record, from Board President Curt Parker.

Shepherd has a family emergency, and she will request a leave of absence effective next week and to be in place until she retires at the end of the school year.

Shepherd had already said she was dealing with a lot of personal issues: an elderly mother, grandchildren, an illness in the family. She cited those reasons for her retirement, and now they appear to have pushed her retirement earlier.

She's still in contact with all personnel in the district, who consult with her on important matters. The board had already tried to relieve her work load last year by enlisting the assistance of three other top administrators.

Leslie Codianne, associate superintendent of student support services, will be acting superintendent at least for the time being. 

There will be more information Tuesday at a special board meeting where the board is scheduled to consider Sheperd's leave of absence, and the process to replace her.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tom Torlakson cracking down on Capital Appreciation Bonds

In a joint letter with State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, California Superintendent of School Tom Torlakson today urged school administrators against issuing Capital Appreciation Bonds until new legislation is completed.

"We urge you and your Board of Education not to issue CABs until the Legislature and the Governor have completed their consideration of this year’s proposals to reform the CAB issuance process by improving transparency and protecting taxpayers against exorbitant debt service payments," the letter reads

Dear County and District Superintendents:

We understand many districts face a critical need to build or modernize facilities for their children, and we recognize that falling property tax assessments, revenue losses, and statutory debt service limits have all combined to reduce districts’ debt financing options. As a result, some districts have turned to capital appreciation bonds (CABs), which have forced taxpayers to pay more than 10 times the principal to retire the bonds.

Thus, we urge you and your Board of Education not to issue CABs until the Legislature and the Governor have completed their consideration of this year’s proposals to reform the CAB issuance process by improving transparency and protecting taxpayers against exorbitant debt service payments. Through this process, we welcome and encourage your input to ensure that the needs of districts are still being met.

In too many cases, CAB deals have forced taxpayers to pay more than 10 times the principal to retire the bonds. Also, the transactions have been structured with 40-year terms that delay interest and principal payments for decades, resulting in huge balloon payments and burdens on future taxpayers that cannot be justified. Too frequently, board members and the public have not been fully informed about the costs and risks associated with CABs. In some cases, board members have reported they were not even aware they approved the sale of CABs.

It is important to note that CABs with terms exceeding 25 years place the repayment obligation on future taxpayers who likely will not benefit from the capital improvements financed by the CABs. At the same time, the CABs payments will reduce those taxpayers’ capacity to finance construction and modernization projects their own children will need.

We are convinced that remedial legislation is needed to prevent abuses and ensure that both school board members and the public obtain timely, accurate, complete, and clear information about the costs of CABs, and alternatives, before CABs are issued. The Governor has told us he wants reforms. Key lawmakers and legislative leaders have made clear they agree statutory changes are needed.

For all these reasons, we believe your district and every other district in the state should impose a moratorium on issuing CABs. The moratorium should remain in effect until the Governor and Legislature decide on reforms in the current legislative session. If reforms are enacted, subsequent CABs deals can be conducted in compliance with the new statutory requirements.

Thank you for your consideration. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jeannie Oropeza, Deputy Superintendent, California Department of Education, by e-mail at joropeza@cde.ca.gov.


Tom Torlakson
Bill Lockyer

Writing coaches needed for the Steinbeck Young Authors program

The National Steinbeck Center is looking for writing coaches for the 10th Annual Day of Writing on Monday, March 11, 2013, a portion of The Steinbeck Young Authors program.

Volunteer coaches are asked to commit about three hours. Coaches receive training and then they help their students improve their essays.

For more information, email Elizabeth Welden-Smith at Elizabeth@steinbeck.org

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A huge casualty of budget cuts -- and an unlikely hero

It's the second time in the last few months that I cover an event I feel would be exciting for young people to attend. The first one was a national telecast of community forums with filmmaker Ken Burns at the National Steinbeck Center about the Dust Bowl. 

Organizers expected 200 students. Only about 80 showed up -- mostly from private schools.

Today I covered an event in Salinas where many students were invited from all over Monterey County. Only 14 students from Seaside High made it.

It's so sad, really, to see students missing out on great opportunities because they can't get transportation. In these day an age when extra-curricular activities seem to take such importance on college entrance exams, it's crucial to extend opportunities to students, but sadly, something's falling through the cracks.

Transportation has always been deemed an "extra," almost a luxury item, but is it really in such a widespread community?

And the unlikely hero? The district that many love to bash: MPUSD, the only one to have the means to bring the students to Salinas. 

Or did AVID students fundraise for that?

Whoever paid for the trip, kudos! These kids were amazing!

Going to DC for the inauguration?

Alisal High teacher Ruben Pizarro is taking a group of 60 students to Washington DC to witness the presidential inauguration. Anybody else out there going? Give me a ring, we'd love to hear from you. (831) 753-6755. Or email cmelendez@montereyherald.com.

Parenting Classes in Soledad -- en español!

La organización Community Human Services ofrece classes en español para ser mejor padre comenzando el 23 de enero. 

The classes can help parents promote a positive, caring, and loving relationship with children; become a more confident parent; and learn effective discipline strategies.
Wednesday evenings, starting Jan. 23 and ending March 13.
5:00 – 7:00 pm
en español

Main Street Middle School
441 Main Street, Soledad, Ca 93960
Child care will be provided.

For more information contact Lupita Melgoza or Vicky Arreola at 678-6432 or 678-6300 or Maria Theresa Rodriguez at (831) 757-7920.

Friday, January 11, 2013

International School of Monterey holds open house, entrance lottery

Officials with the International School of Monterey invite the public to see their operations up front during their open house 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, January 12.

Applications for the 2013-14 school year are available now. Spots available in all K-8 grades. Deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Jan. 22.

 Enrollment is determined by public lottery, which will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 5.

The school is located at 1720 Yosemite St., Seaside. For more information, call 831-583-2165, email info@ismonterey.org, or click here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown's budget implications in education

It didn't take long for advocacy groups to venture early observations about Gov. Brown's budget proposal. Scott Lay, president of the Community College League of California fired off one that had some interesting points. Among them:

* Limit state-supported instruction in community colleges to 90 units. Units beyond the cap would be not be state supported, but available at full cost to the student.
* Shift of the remaining adult education program, including $300 million, from K-12 schools to community colleges, and an additional $15.7 million from the K-12 apprenticeship program to community college apprenticeship programs.

I foresee a lot of animated discussions on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Alisal district recognizes star students

Media hounds were ready for another showdown Wednesday night, when the Alisal Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet. There was nothing particularly controversial on the agenda, but word had it people still unhappy with the naming of the new school after Tiburcio Vásquez were planning their next move and were going to announce it at the meeting.

The meeting was cancelled by a lack of quorum. José Castañeda, who apparently hasn't resigned, was one of the trustees absent.

Cancellation notwithstanding, attending trustees and staff kept their plans to host a celebration for 47 students who earned perfect grades in the state tests, either in English or math, when they took them in the spring.

Two of them, Leonel Garibay and Jasmine Velasquez, earned perfect scores both in English and math.

They were so proud, these young scholars, showing off their badges of honor and taking pictures with their families and teachers.They were treated to cakes and hugs, who can resist?

Jose Luis Rodriguez, father of Edwin Rodriguez, a third grader at Creekside Elementary, was beaming.

"I"m really proud," he said. "I hope he remains on this path moving forward."

This is a photo of Edwin

And this is Jasmine Velásquez, surrounded by parents and teacher

You kids make us proud! You rock!

Washington Union district seeks candidates for its board of trustees

Trustees with the Washington Union School District are seeking candidates to fill the vacancy left by Sherry Blandon, who resigned in December.

The appointment would be effective Feb. 6 through November, when the next election is held.

People interested in being considered for the appointment must live in the district and be registered voters. They should submit a letter of interest, resume and completed application form.

Application for appointment may be requested by contacting Diana Palmer, Administrative Manager at (831) 484-2166. Deadline to complete the application is 5 p.m. Jan. 23.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Which tests would California suspend under proposed changes?

Superintendent of California Schools Tom Torlakson proposed on Tuesday to revamp how students in K-12 get tested. Among the recommendations, he proposed all non-federally mandated tests be suspended beginning this school year. Many of us were scratching our heads: which tests would fall into that category?

Well, scratch your heads no more. Here's the list, provided by the California Department of Education. Enjoy!

Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program
Assessments That Would be Suspended During the 2013-14 School Year
(Not federally mandated or required for early assessment)

Grade-Level Assessments
Grade 2 ELA and Mathematics (CST and CAPA)
Grade 8 History–Social Science (CST)
Grade 9 ELA (CST, CMA, and CAPA)
Grade 9 Math (CAPA)
Grade 10 ELA (CST and CMA)
Grade 11 U.S. History (CST)
Grade 11 ELA (CMA and CAPA)
Grade 11 Math (CAPA)
Grade 2 - 11 Reading/Language Arts (STS)
Grade 2 – 7 Mathematics (STS)

End-of-Course Assessments
Algebra I (CST and CMA) (for grades 9-11)
Algebra II (CST) (for grades 9-10)
General Mathematics (CST) (grade 9)
High School Summative Math (CST) (for grades 9-10)
Geometry (CST and CMA) (for grades 9-11)
Integrated Mathematics 1 (CST) (for grades 9-11)
Integrated Mathematics 2 (CST) (for grades 9-11)
Integrated Mathematics 3 (CST) (for grades 9-11)
Biology (CST)
Chemistry (CST)
Earth Science (CST)
Physics (CST)
Integrated/Coordinated Science 1 (CST)
Integrated/Coordinated Science 2 (CST)
Integrated/Coordinated Science 3 (CST)
Integrated/Coordinated Science 4 (CST)
World History (CST)
Algebra I (STS)
Geometry (STS)

EAP: Early Assessment Program
ELA: English-Language Arts
CAPA: California Alternate Performance Assessment
CMA: California Modified Assessment
CST: California Standards Test
STS: Standards-based Tests in Spanish

Guest writer Doug McRae on the proposed revamping of testing

California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson yesterday unveiled a proposal to revamp testing system for California schools. Here's my story on the topic.

As often is the case with topics on testing, I rely on the expertise of Doug McRae, statistician extraordinaire and former top executive with one of the leading testing companies in the country. He has a lot to say about the proposal, so here's what he wrote in response to Torlakson's detailed proposal. (You can also find that in the story).

By Doug McRae

General Comments

The purpose for a K-12 assessment system is the most important factor for the design of a new assessment system. The primary purpose defined by the report is found on page 4 when the report says the recommended system “has as its primary purpose to model and promote high-quality teaching and student learning activities.” This statement of purpose deviates from the usual purpose for a K-12 statewide assessment system, which is to measure the results of instruction. CA’s previous STAR system had measuring the results of instruction as its primary purpose, so the SPI is recommending a radical departure from the previous statewide assessments.

Based on many many years designing and developing large scale K-12 testing systems, I can say that the two purposes cited above are mutually incompatible. Systems designed for purposes of instruction do not serve the needs for measuring the results of instruction, and systems designed for purposes of measuring the results of instruction do not serve instructional needs well. The report itself says this in a one-sided way on page 5 when it says that STAR is valid for comparing school and district performance (i.e., measuring the results of instruction), but it was not designed to support instructional uses. What the report neglects to say is that assessment systems designed for instructional purposes are not designed to serve the needs of measuring the results of instruction (i.e., accountability uses) well.

The theme of the report focuses on use of assessment data for instruction. Now, data for instructional purposes is a vital ingredient for a comprehensive instructional system, but such data need to reside within the instructional system. Such an instructional system should have strong local school and district control to be aligned with other components of an instructional system, such as instructional materials and professional development. A statewide assessment system is centrally controlled with strict standardization and testing windows and test security that limit utility for instruction. In effect, the SPI recommendation replaces accountability testing by an approach to statewide testing motivated by helping instructional systems. As such, the report has a strong anti-accountability theme. Indeed, over the past 20 years, one of the constants in the debates over statewide assessment systems in the US has been the conflict between advocates of accountability and detractors of accountability for our K-12 schools, and advocating for instructional tests rather than tests that measure the results of instruction is in effect an anti-accountability Trojan Horse strategy that focuses on the benefits of instructional tests to hide an intent to minimize the use of accountability tests.

Rather than abandon the accountability purpose for CA’s statewide testing system, a far better approach would be to advocate for instructional tests as part of CA local control instructional systems, and reserve the mandated statewide assessment system efforts for measuring the results of instruction, or the accountability purpose.

The report provides very little information on three other aspects of its recommendations:

• Tests for instruction will take increased testing time – this is acknowledged generally in the report but no specific information is provided for how much increased time. From the information available from the Smarter Balanced consortium, the summative portion of the tests they plan to provide will increase CA’s statewide assessment time anywhere from 50 percent to 300 percent.
• Tests for instruction will require increased financial resources – again, this is generally acknowledged in the report but no specific information is provided for how many additional dollars will be needed. Based on information currently available on the Smarter Balanced tests that the SPI anticipates will serve as the core for a future statewide assessment system, the costs will increase anywhere from 50 percent to 300 percent.
• The prospects for California being able to implement a computer-adaptive testing system by 2014-15 are not addressed at all in the report. California will have to upgrade its technology hardware and bandwidth significantly simply to administer computer-adaptive tests, just to permit schools to conduct test administrations. In addition, whether or not students will be ready to take computerized tests by 2014-15 is an unknown that has yet to be explored at all. Frankly, the chances that California will have the hardware capability or the student experience needed to implement a statewide computerized test by 2014-15 are slim and none. [More on this under detail recommendation (2) below.]

Detailed Recommendations

The report provides 12 detailed recommendations on pp 41-47, with a summary table on p 48. I’ll now provide initial observations on these 12 recommendations.

(1) Suspend Portions of STAR Beginning Spring 2014
This recommendation is to suspend all parts of STAR not used for federal accountability reporting starting 2014. No rationale is given for this recommendation other than “suspending assessments . . . . will allow staff and stakeholders to focus attention, efforts, and resources on building a new assessment and accountability system.” The only logical way to interpret this recommendation is that the SPI and CDE staff are anti-accountability testing and they want to use their time to design a statewide instructional assessment system. The recommendation ignores the benefits of a substantial amount of data generated by the current STAR program, and the achievement data trends it supplies for schools and districts as well as the state. A far more nuanced recommendation would be to suspend the portions of STAR that generate duplicative and/or unneeded information; there are some major portions of our current statewide assessment system (STAR as well as CAHSEE) that can be modified without losing valuable specific information and/or trend information.

(2) Fully Implement Smarter Balanced E/LA and Math Tests in 2014-15
We have no idea whether we can implement a computerized test for 3-4 million kids by 2014-15 yet. As indicated above, hardware and bandwidth upgrades of unknown quantities will be needed, and students have not been prepped to be able to generate valid and reliable scores from computerized assessments yet. The report notes under this recommendation that for students unable to access a computer, a paper-and-pencil version of the SBAC assessment will be provided for up to 3 years. However, there is no discussion whether the two versions of the SBAC assessments will yield comparable scores that would allow for local school, local district, or statewide aggregation; the technical considerations for generating comparable scores particularly for variable form computer-adaptive tests and fixed form paper-and-pencil tests are substantial, and indeed the state-of-the-art for providing such comparisons is in its infancy. The “phase-in over 3 years” recommendation is shaky, much more so for computer-adaptive tests than for fixed form computer-administered tests and counterpart fixed-form paper-and-pencil tests.

(3) Use Grade 11 SBAC E/LA and Mathematics Tests as Indicators of College Readiness Other than college admission tests such as the College Board SAT and the ACT, the idea of measuring college readiness and/or career readiness across the full spectrum of grade 11 enrollment is a relatively new idea, and frankly assessment system designers do not have much experience with this concept. Initial progress by both consortia (Smarter Balanced and PARCC) now developing “next generation” assessments has been slow. The idea that we will have a fully functional college and/or career readiness assessment instrument by 2014-15 is fanciful thinking.

(4) Develop and Administer Science Assessments Aligned to New Science Standards No standards yet, no details yet, no timeline yet, other than these new assessments will be like the E/LA and Math assessments in terms of their instructional qualities. A pretty empty recommendation right now.

(5) Use Multistate Consortia Alternate Assessments to Replace CAPA To date, virtually no information has been disseminated on CA’s involvement in the NCSC consortium of which CA is a member, nor to my knowledge has the consortium itself disseminated information on its progress.

(6) Determine the Need for Assessments in Other Languages than English Primary language assessments are needed to provide evaluation of the effectiveness of various bilingual education programs (i.e., to measure the results of instruction for these programs). California has had an ineffective primary language program for years since the current test was not designed to provide valid accountability information.

(7) Assess the Full Curriculum with Model Instructional Tests
As indicated under General Comments above, this recommendation is a fine contribution to a local control comprehensive instructional system, but does not belong in a large scale standardized secure centrally controlled statewide assessment system.

(8) Invest in Interim, Diagnostic, and Formative Testing Tools
Again, as indicated under General Comments above, these tools are fine for a locally controlled comprehensive instructional system, but not for a centrally controlled statewide assessment system. There is a significant danger that including these components in a statewide assessment system will result in these components simply being used to game a statewide summative assessment system designed to measure the results of instruction, or in effect as state encouraged institutional tools to “teach to the test” in ways more pervasive than current “teaching to the test” efforts. Teaching to the test efforts degrade both the validity of statewide assessment results and good instructional practices.

(9) Consider Alternatives to CAHSEE
 CAHSEE is essentially a redundant test for a substantial number of 10th graders in CA. We can use STAR results from earlier grades as “early qualification” tests for the CAHSEE high school graduation requirement. This efficiency for our statewide assessment system has been ignored for years by Sacramento policymakers, and is a major contributor to over testing our high school students.

(10) Explore Matriculation Exams
Finally, a recommendation I can agree with . . . . .

(11) Conduct Comparability Studies
These studies are absolutely necessary, but they will impose a substantial time requirement for students to take both tests. The representative samples needed may be problematic if any phased implementations over three years recommended above takes place if indeed certain subgroups of students (i.e., our underserved subgroups) all take paper-and-pencil tests while other subgroups (non-minorities, high SES) take computer-adaptive tests. Achieving adequate study designs for these studies will not be trivial.

(12) Maintain a Continuous Cycle of Improvement
Always a good recommendation for any “future” report . . . . . fills out a nice round number for recommendations.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Carmel High student wins "The Right to Vote" essay contest

Noah Liebmiller of Carmel High School was the first prize winner of the "Right to Vote" contest organized by the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula.

Carmel High students pretty much swept the contest, getting first and second prized plus three honorable mentions. Seaside High students nabbed two, and Monterey High one. Maybe next year more teachers from more high schools will encourage their students to participate? Hey, there's cash involved!

Second place winner: Marguerite Kise, Carmel HS
Third place winner: Jaleny Reyes, Seaside HS

Honorable Mentions
Kaili Alexander, Carmel HS
Jordan Collignon, Monterey HS
Charlotte Anderle, Carmel HS
Jackie Mauldwin, Carmel HS
Juan Babara, Seaside HS

The winners will be recognized during the League's luncheon at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9th at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd.

Congratulations, everyone!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A must-see documentary on Michelle Rhee

Anybody who's interested in the state of public education should know about Michelle Rhee, the controversial former chancellor DC of public school.

Rhee was determined to reform the failing schools --and she did.

A few years later, investigations put into question whether those astronomical gains were even real.

Rhee has since founded an organization call "Students First" which is advocating on school reform based primarily on reforming unionized teaching. She wants states to abolish tenure and add similar measures often rejected by organized labor.

Today, student's first issued a "report card" that grades California with a "F" based on whether or not the state follows the reforms the group is advocating for. Find the report card here. And find a related article by the New York Times here.

A very timely Frontline documentary on Rhee will air starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. at local PBS stations. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boys & Girls art featured at the Museum of Monterey

The art of over 30 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County will be featured at the Museum of Monterey on Friday, January 4, 2013 from 6-8pm. The exhibit honors these youth for their achievement in the arts, and this name has been renamed in honor of Marti Mulford and her support for youth arts. 

I can imagine it must be a thrill for these young artists to see their work up on a museum wall, so if you have a chance, check it out!