News Briefs | FYI
November 15, 2021
Unhealthy air days affect student academic achievement
A spike in air pollution from wildfires in the last five years may pose challenges for student achievement, according to a recent blog post from the Public Policy Institute of California.
According to the authors, 80 percent of California’s very unhealthy or hazardous air quality days in the past two decades have occurred in the last five years. More unhealthy air days is cause for concern as recent studies have linked poor air quality to lower test scores, absenteeism and increased suspensions.
While poor air quality is a problem in both high- and low-poverty districts, the authors note that low-income students are disproportionally impacted by chronic disease and conditions like asthma, which are exacerbated by smoke.
“If air quality continues to worsen, students at school districts already prone to poor air may face more health and educational challenges,” authors write. “Furthermore, if California’s wildfire seasons continue to intensify, policymakers will need to take measures to protect indoor air quality and mitigate health effects for children from exposure to unhealthy air. Failure to do so could have long-term implications on the health and academic success of the next generation of Californians.”
Analysis finds more can be done to reduce class size
A comparison of school district class size policies done by the National Council on Teacher Quality finds that while the number of districts establishing class size limits is increasing, more could be done to reduce class sizes for economically disadvantaged students.
Noting that class size is one of the key factors in teacher well-being, NCTQ looked at contractual obligations for class size limits at 148 school districts, including the nation’s 100 largest.
The analysis found that 87 percent of districts have a defined class size limit for any grade or subject, up from 68 percent in 2016. They also found that districts tend to set lower class size limits for K-3, in accordance with research showing academic benefits for this grade span.
However, the analysis turned up only a few districts that reduce class sizes for economically disadvantaged students, where research has shown clear academic benefits.
“Although system-wide class size reductions are not cost effective, targeted class size policies might make a difference to the kids most impacted by COVID and provide some relief to weary teachers,” writes author Patricia Saenz-Armstrong. “As school districts begin to spend down their ESSER funds, devoting a portion of funds to this kind of targeted class size reduction is very much in the spirit of why the funding was formulated.”
Read the full analysis at
District accepted into national League of Innovative Schools
San Antonio Union School District was accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking K-12 school districts organized by Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization with the mission to accelerate innovation in education and improve the opportunity to learn for all through technology and research.
San Antonio Union School District was selected from a competitive national pool of applicants based on its educational leadership, innovative vision for learning, key achievements and evidence of results, and demonstrated commitment to equity and excellence.
“We are honored to be accepted into the League of Innovative Schools as the sole representative from Monterey County and one of two districts representing Central California,” said Josh Van Norman, superintendent of the San Antonio Union School District, in a news release. “As a small school district, we will use our platform to amplify the outstanding work that is taking place among small school districts throughout our state, as well as our country. We look forward to collaborating with other League members, as we strive to provide the best possible education for our students. Congratulations to our staff, students, families, and community on this prestigious honor.”
A small, rural, one-school district located in South Monterey County, SAUSD serves approximately 130 students from TK through 8th grade.
The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, launched at the White House under President Barack Obama within the United States Department of Education in 2011, accepts new members through an open application process once per year. The full list of members can be found at
League members are represented by their superintendent, who commits to attending biannual League meetings, participating in problem solving and professional learning with peers and partners, and supporting Digital Promise research.
CDE grantees will implement literacy strategies
The California Department of Education has announced the recipients of seven grant awards to county offices of education, or consortia of COEs, to serve as Local Literacy Lead Agencies as part of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development federal grant program. Grantees will use the funding to build expertise in strategies that address the statewide literacy priorities identified in the State Literacy Plan and implement these strategies through a three-year, small-scale pilot with one or more local districts.
These strategies will align with state guidance and policies, will be evidence-based, and will support the literacy needs of economically disadvantaged and high-needs students.
The CLSD grant program is authorized by sections 2222–2225 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. In 2019, California was awarded approximately $37.5 million to advance literacy skills for children from birth through grade 12 through the use of evidence-based practices, activities, and interventions, including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing.
Consistent with grant requirements, funds will be awarded as follows:
Priority 1: San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (Lead Agency): $5,626,867 Priority 2: Los Angeles County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660 Priority 3: San Diego County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660 Priority 4: Contra Costa County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660 Grade six to grade 12 programs Priority 5: Butte County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660 Priority 6: Tulare County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660 Priority 7: Napa County Office of Education (Lead Agency): $5,001,660
Still time to sign up for ACSA Gender Inclusive Training
Gender Spectrum is partnering with ACSA to offer a six-part series of professional development opportunities for educators seeking to build their capacity related to gender and school leadership. Live online sessions will explore the role leaders can and must play in creating schools that account for and support the gender of every student. These will include foundational sessions focused on gender literacy, as well as more specific sessions on a range of topics such as using gender support plans and working with families. Sessions are from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on six Mondays (Nov. 15, Dec. 6, Jan. 10, Feb. 7, March 7 and May 2). The first session on Nov. 15 will be recorded and repeated on Jan. 10 for those who are unable to attend. Register through Dec. 6 at Save $20 off this series by using the code NOVEMBER.
2022 Every Child Counts keynotes announced
ACSA’s 2022 Every Child Counts Symposium will welcome three outstanding keynotes to the conference, held Jan. 12-14, 2022 in Palm Desert: Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray — two lifelong friends who completed the grueling 500-mile journey along the Camino de Santiago, even though one of them uses a wheelchair; Dr. Nadine Burke Harris — California’s Surgeon General who has made it her mission to respond to one of the most serious, expensive and widespread public health crises of our time: childhood trauma; and Jessica Chandler — a former foster youth who is the subject of the HBO documentary “Foster” and now works with children and families as a social worker in Los Angeles County. Early bird registration pricing is $550 for ACSA members through Dec. 18. Register now at
Contact Us
© 2021 Association of California School Administrators