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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
News Briefs | FYI
March 15, 2021
USDA extends school meal waivers through Sept. 30
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through Sept. 30, 2021.
USDA is extending these waivers to provide local program operators with clarity and certainty for the summer months ahead, when many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year. The waivers were previously extended only through June 30, 2021.
“We will do everything we can to make sure children get access to healthy, nutritious meals regardless of their families’ financial circumstances,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a news release. “Our child nutrition professionals are doing a heroic job ensuring kids across the country have proper nutrition throughout this public health emergency, often times with limited resources. USDA is committed to providing local operators with the flexibilities and resources they need to continue offering the best meal service possible to their children, given their day-to-day realities.”
The waivers were extended on March 9 to allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:
  • Allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option — collectively known as “summer meal programs” — to be made available in all areas at no cost;
  • Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times; and
  • Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days of feeding children.
Summer meal sites are places where children and youth age 18 and under can receive meals at no cost in a safe environment. The meals are also available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities. Sites may be located in a variety of settings including schools, parks, community centers, libraries, churches and more.
USDA is issuing this guidance as early as possible to empower communities to establish as many meal sites as they can effectively manage this summer. To learn more about how the program works and the role of sponsors and meal sites, visit
Teacher shortage worsened by pandemic, according to report
Critical teacher shortages, a challenge that predates the pandemic but has worsened in many districts since its emergence, may jeopardize schools’ ability to safely reopen or stay open, according to new research from the Learning Policy Institute.
Longstanding shortages, which are often most acute in high-need fields and high-need schools, appear to be growing more severe due to a range of pandemic-related factors, including rising early retirements and resignations and a reduced pipeline of incoming teachers, according to the new report, “California Teachers and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Teacher Workforce.” In California and across the country, many districts are meeting hiring needs with teachers on substandard credentials and permits or increasingly relying on substitute teachers, who are also in short supply.
That matters because the failure to recruit and retain well-prepared teachers undermines student achievement, with the most severe impacts on students from low-income families and students of color. It also jeopardizes school reopening because in-person learning may require a greater number of teachers to accommodate physical distancing or provide intensive tutoring.
The new report investigates the impact of the pandemic on key aspects of teacher supply and demand, including increasing resignations, retirements, turnover, vacancies and the number of new teachers joining the profession.
Researchers interviewed leaders from eight of the largest California districts, which collectively serve nearly one in six California students. In addition, researchers interviewed leaders from nine small, rural districts since these are also frequently subject to shortages.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further strained an already faltering pipeline of qualified teachers,” said LPI President Linda Darling-Hammond. “Resuming in-person instruction and meeting the needs of students will require a stable, high-qualified teacher workforce. It’s more important than ever that states and districts invest in proven solutions that address ongoing teacher shortages.”
Read the report at
CDE issues new guidance on equitable grading
The California Department of Education has released new guidelines that address grading student progress and the ongoing issue of equity in distance and hybrid learning environments. Resources that support local control are included in the new guidance, allowing schools to make the best decisions for their respective student populations.
“As the majority of California’s public schools continue to respond to distance learning needs, we should reflect on how student progress is measured and consider how to shift to more equitable grading systems and policies, whether the instructional setting is in-person, virtual, or hybrid,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in a news release. “This is an opportunity to make a significant change.”
The new guidance includes research-based approaches to grading that may be especially helpful if students are not in class and access to technology and learning supports may be unequal. These include replacing grading quantities, such as the extent to which students have completed assignments, with grading qualities in student work that reflect students’ current achievement level at the time, and using flexibility in timing the collection of evidence for grading decisions so students are graded on the learning they do, not when they do it.
Resources for Making Local Decisions Regarding Grading Student Progress is located on the CDE Support tab on the CDE Distance Learning web page under “Grading and Graduation.” Contact the CDE Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resource Division at with any questions regarding the grading guidance and resources.
Guide addresses meeting the unique needs of Black students
As educators grapple with learning loss and inequities worsened by the pandemic, a new work has been released to guide them in meeting the unique circumstances of Black students that school systems have failed to address.
“Supporting the African American Learner: A Guide for Transforming Beliefs, Systems, and Practices for Black Students,” is the result of a collaborative initiated by the Los Angeles County Office of Education with the Riverside County Office of Education, UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools and the Center for Powerful Public Schools.
“California educators have no time to waste in closing longstanding opportunity and achievement gaps,” said LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo, head of the nation’s largest regional education agency, in a news release. “Our guide points the way with effective strategies and best practices to benefit our African American students, the teachers who serve them and the communities in which they live.”
Los Angeles County’s 80 K-12 districts serve one-third of California’s more than 324,000 Black students. The county has the nation’s second highest population of Black students after Cook County, Illinois.
In 2019, findings of the “Beyond the Schoolhouse Policy Report” revealed that achievement data for African American students were the lowest among all groups in Los Angeles County.
The guide offers a roadmap to address the specific factors that inhibit and impede equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for Black students, such as low expectations, punitive discipline practices and limited access to college-prep academies.
“Real, sustainable change requires the action of bold leaders who are willing to take a hard look at policies, practices and beliefs that have failed Black students for 150 years,” said project leader Kathryn Edwards, LACOE director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “Our guide provides a clear pathway for confronting and dismantling systemic issues in education that continue to hinder achievement and opportunity for Black students.”
The guide is founded on four principles:
  • Exploring belief systems and shifting deficit-based mindsets that are barriers to effective engagement,
  • Creating educational systems that facilitate and support learning,
  • Ensuring and sustaining culturally relevant, high-quality instruction, and
  • Mitigating the accumulation of disadvantage.
With the launch of “Supporting the African American Learner,” LACOE will initiate a state- and countywide effort to implement the roadmap through outreach, legislative advocacy and professional development for district administrators and teachers. View and download the guide at
CDE webinar discusses COVID-19 testing in schools
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently hosted a webinar to discuss the strategic use of rapid COVID-19 testing. “Stronger Together: Rapid COVID-19 Tests: A Strategy to Reopen Schools” covered the use of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Cards, which provide test results in 15 minutes at a low cost of $5 per test. The California Department of Education shared how to access and leverage these rapid tests as a vital and cost-effective component of their reopening plans. View this webinar on the CDE’s Facebook page at
Committee of Credentials seeks to fill vacancies The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is seeking applications to fill vacancies for public member, school administrator, and secondary teacher positions on the Committee of Credentials. The electronic application can be found at The final filing date for applications is March 26, 2021.
ScholarShare 529 Match returns for 2021 ScholarShare 529’s Matching Grant Program is now offering eligible families a dollar-for-dollar match contribution of up to $200 in newly opened ScholarShare 529 accounts and a $25 bonus for establishing monthly recurring contributions of $25 or more. Schools interested in partnering with ScholarShare 529 to raise awareness about the program with students and families will find a comprehensive online toolkit including fliers, social media posts and press releases at