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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
News Briefs | FYI
March 1, 2021
SBE seeks relief from ED on assessment requirements
On Feb. 24, the State Board of Education voted to seek relief from certain federal testing, accountability, and reporting requirements and directed staff to explore other options for assessing student learning given the many challenges facing schools, educators, families, and students this year.
The board’s action is in response to federal guidance released earlier that week allowing states to ask for latitude to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools. Unlike last year, the U.S. Department of Education is not inviting states to apply for blanket waivers that would allow states to opt–out of annual testing altogether, citing the role testing data plays in supporting students.
“We understand that this is an emotional issue and that these are difficult circumstances with less than perfect choices,” said State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond, in a news release. “Supporting schools in caring for students and staff and supporting learning must be our most important priorities. We clearly need to value time for learning and carefully prioritize how we allocate time for assessments so that results can be useful and well-used.”
If granted, California’s federal flexibility request would:
  • Decouple state assessments from federal accountability requirements, as applicable. Instead, any data collected would be used to inform local educators, parents, and the public and align resources to student supports.
  • Waive federal penalties for student testing participation rates of less than 95 percent on the state’s Smarter Balanced English language arts and math assessments.
  • Extend the window by which schools must complete test administration to July 30 for both the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) and the English Language Assessments for California (ELPAC).
  • Waive administration of the state’s science test altogether for 2021.
At its November meeting, the State Board voted to approve shortened blueprints of the Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math in order to administer shorter tests in these subjects during the 2020–21 school year.
Two decades of research reveal impact principals have
Principals have a tremendous role in shaping student learning, and investments in preparing and supporting principals may have a bigger effect than previously believed, according to a new report commissioned by The Wallace Foundation. “How Principals Affect Students and Schools” looked at two decades of research on principals from 219 different studies and found that principals’ contributions to student achievement were nearly as large as the average effects of teachers identified in similar studies. The authors note that one principal’s effectiveness has an even greater impact on student achievement because gains are averaged over an entire school
“The results of this new study are striking, suggesting that the link between leadership and learning is even stronger than we had previously known,” said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation, in a news release. “Of course, an effective principal’s ability to create better outcomes for students happens primarily through working with teachers, so rather than thinking in terms of either/or, the evidence suggests we need a balance of investments in developing great principals and great teachers. In that spirit, we hope this report will be helpful to practitioners, policymakers, and others who are working to improve equitable outcomes for more young people.”
For insights into the practices of effective principals, the research team identified four key behaviors:
  • Focusing on high-leverage engagement around instruction, which includes teacher evaluation, feedback and coaching, and establishing a data-driven instructional program;
  • Establishing a productive school climate, in which all individuals in the school can spend their time engaging in or supporting effective instruction;
    Facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities:; and
    Using personnel and resource management processes strategically, including intangible resources like time and social capital.
The report also describes the composition of the current principal workforce and how it has changed. Over the past two decades, researchers found the principalship has become markedly more female, with women representing 54 percent of all principals in 2016, compared with just 25 percent in 1988. Principals’ level of experience has fallen on average, especially in high-need schools. The report also shows growing racial and ethnic gaps between principals and the students they serve.
Read the report at
Exemplary Woman in Ed award seeks nominations Know an outstanding woman in educational leadership? Nominate her for the Exemplary Woman in Education Award, which will be presented at a future ACSA women’s leadership event. The nominee should serve as a role model for other women and demonstrate a passion for the profession, a commitment to grow and develop others, a desire to give back through service, advocacy for the value of school administrators, and effective crisis leadership during unprecedented times. Find the nomination form and more information about this award at The nomination deadline is April 23, 2021.
Refer student leaders to Ed100 Academy California’s student leaders are essential — now more than ever. The Ed100 Academy for California High School Student Leaders is an online summer conference that prepares California high school student leaders with the knowledge and connections they need to make a difference in their school, in their community and beyond. Students who should consider attending include those with service on a school site council or ELAC, school board, PTA board, nonprofit school organization or in other student led or student-focused organizations. Sometimes students need encouragement to realize their leadership potential. Administrators, counselors, PTA leaders and peers can help a great deal by individually nominating students to apply for this academy, which takes place June 21-23, 2021. Find more information and sample nomination wording at