News Briefs | FYI

October 19, 2020
Purchase programs help districts secure devices
In an effort to support schools, the California Department of Education has partnered with a few major technology companies and internet service providers to put together programs to make it easier for schools to acquire necessary equipment and services for their students. The CDE encourages schools to place their orders now, as devices are in high demand across the country. Find more information at this regularly updated link: Looking ahead: Observances in November  Make plans to observe the following events next month. November is National American Indian Heritage Month, which honors the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. Find resources at November is also National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. This is a time to acknowledge those children and families experiencing homelessness. As many as 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has compiled a list of helpful resources, including fact sheets, webinars and trainings at your nomination for ACSA Negotiator of the Year ACSA is accepting nominations for the 2021 Negotiator of the Year, which will be presented during the Negotiators Symposium in January. This recognition is awarded to the person serving as chief negotiator for a school district or county office as a full-time employee of that district. For more information on selection criteria and to fill out the nomination form, visit Nominations are due Nov. 30, 2020.
Tools for teachers website Tools for Teachers is a website from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that features lessons and strategies to support instruction, save teachers time in developing quality lessons, and help prepare students for college or career success. The Tools for Teachers website focuses on the formative assessment process, which helps teachers identify where students are in their learning, where they are heading, and how they will reach their learning goals. It includes lessons, classroom activities, teaching strategies, professional learning, and links to additional Smarter Balanced resources. In addition, the website resources are designed to be used in conjunction with the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Blocks, which are optional assessments of students’ progress toward meeting the ELA/literacy and mathematics content standards. To access these tools, visit
PACE: Middle schoolers face biggest drop in scores Middle school students may experience the biggest drop in test scores and social emotional learning due to school absences during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new policy brief from PACE.   Using data from six large California CORE districts during regular school years, the authors predicted how spring 2020 COVID absences might affect test scores for various student subgroups.   They concluded that as absences increase, test scores decrease in both English language arts and math, with a steeper decrease for math. These losses will be felt even more by middle school students, which showed a steeper decline in scores than other grade spans.    The analysis also showed negative effects will be most pronounced for low-income students, students with disabilities, and homeless and foster youth. Absences also hurt SEL development for all student subgroups.   “Our results suggest that if students missed more than a few weeks of cumulative instruction during the pandemic — which is likely, particularly among low-income and other disadvantaged students — their test scores and SEL outcomes are likely to be badly affected,” according to the brief.   Find the full brief “The Effects of Absenteeism on Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes” here:  
Newsom vetoes ethnic studies requirement for K-12 Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have mandated ethnic studies as a K-12 graduation requirement.  In his Sept. 30 veto statement, Newsom said he supports the intent of AB 331, pointing to his recent support of another bill, AB 1460, which requires ethnic studies as a graduation requirement in the California State University system. However, Newsom said AB 331 would have made ethnic studies a requirement at a time when there is much uncertainty about the state’s model ethnic studies curriculum.  In 2019, numerous stakeholders expressed concerns with a draft version, which has since been revised.  “Last year, I expressed concern that the initial draft of the model curriculum was insufficiently balanced and inclusive and needed to be substantially amended,” Newsom wrote. “In my opinion, the latest draft, which is currently out for review, still needs revision.”  Meanwhile, the California Department of Education will launch a second series of live online broadcasts centered on ethnic studies. On Oct. 2, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the new programming, which builds upon this summer’s ethnic studies virtual classroom series. The broadcasts will be provided to teachers across California as a package of online lessons that can be used in distance learning.  Thurmond said that by building out a new and more comprehensive set of virtual lessons focused on the four core disciplines of ethnic studies — African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American Studies — teachers can begin introducing this instruction right away.  “Our students of color cannot wait additional years to see their stories represented in the classroom when they have already waited generations. Our students deserve better than to put their experiences on hold until there is the political appetite to embrace them,” Thurmond said, in a news release. “Students and teachers have called for ethnic studies because education can provide a clear path to a more just society. At a time when our own president cannot clearly denounce white supremacy and our state and nation is crying out for racial justice, our teachers want to start leading these critical conversations in the classroom right now. I am proud to launch this new resource so they can do this work immediately.”  The ethnic studies sessions will feature live interactions between ethnic studies scholars and students demonstrating lesson plans broadcast on the CDE’s social media accounts. After the live broadcasts, the archived videos will be posted on the CDE website with example lesson plans and sent to all school districts in California as a resource for any teacher that wants to use them as distance learning modules.   

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators