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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
SBE approves changes to COVID-19 State Plan
February 1, 2021
The following State Board of Education report was prepared by Lee Angela Reid and Caitlin Jung of Capitol Advisors Group.
The January 2021 State Board of Education meeting was an interesting mix of new year activities, responses needed for the continued navigation of the COVID-19 world, and some decisions delayed until the new federal administration is in place. President Linda Darling-Hammond reiterated the board’s intent to work to address inequities in access and services as well as any gaps in learning made more evident by the pandemic, and use the opportunity created by COVID-19 to re-think the state’s approach to educating students, including possible extension of the school day and the school year.
Some highlights included SBE Officer Elections, California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System update, Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan and Career Technical Education Incentive Grants.
Below is a summary of the major issues and takeaways from the meeting:
SBE Officer Elections
As the first item of the day, the Board unanimously elected Linda Darling-Hammond as SBE President and Ilene Straus as SBE Vice President. While the selection of Darling Hammond was expected, the election of Straus was a pleasant surprise. Straus’ term as a member of the board, along with Member Sue Burr’s term, were scheduled to expire this week.
However, late on Jan. 14, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the reappointment of both Member Burr and Straus to the state board.
Member Burr has served on the board since 2013. Prior to that, she was the SBE executive director and education advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown. She has also held multiple positions at the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, including executive director, as well as in the Office of Gov. Gray Davis and in the Legislature.
Vice-President Straus has served on the board since 2011. She has been a lecturer for the Educational Leadership Program at the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies since 2014. She has also held several positions as a district and school administrator, including serving as assistant superintendent of Educational Services at Beverly Hills Unified School District, senior director of Secondary Education at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and chief educational officer and principal of Santa Monica High School.
Member Burr and Vice-President Straus will give the Board continued stability during these demanding times. They are both consistently responsive to the field, understand the challenges being faced and share the goal of being a partner as we all work together to make California’s students, families and schools a priority. They will continue to be a strong asset to the board and to the field.
CAASPP Assessment update
The main charge to SBE members on this item was to take action on the proposed goals and priorities to be included in the California Assessment System Request for Qualifications for the next assessment contract, as well as to hear updates on the various ongoing programs and projects in the CAASPP.
However, public comment and board discussion were overwhelmingly focused on pursuit of a federal waiver of required assessments, despite the fact that it is not yet clear what, if any, federal waivers the incoming administration might offer. Public as well as board member comments ranged from support to waive all assessments, to testing to have a baseline of data but waiving the accountability measures tied to assessment, to extending the testing window.
While all the board members recognized the burden of conducting assessments during these difficult times and that conditions and environments (access to technology and internet services, COVID tier status and socio-economic levels) vary greatly across the state, there was also a real concern about going for two years without data showing where students are (effects of learning loss, for example).
The board was very thoughtful in their discussion and went to great lengths to ensure the public knew they were heard. While the board was unable to take action on a federal waiver at this hearing, we fully expect this issue to continue to be at the forefront and, should the federal government decide to offer any sort of waiver, believe it will be brought before the board as soon as possible, even if a special hearing is necessary to do so.
DASS Amendments to the State Plan
At the May 2018 SBE meeting, the SBE approved using a grade 12 graduation rate for all Dashboard Alternative School Status schools instead of the four-year cohort rate. During the September 2019 meeting, SBE approved modified Academic Indicator Status cut scores for two levels only, “Very Low” and “Low” for DASS schools.
This past October, CDE received a letter from the U.S. Department of Education stating that using modified methods to calculate state indicators for DASS schools is not permissible under ESSA. Specifically, CDE cannot establish different cut scores for the Academic Indicator or use a one-year graduation rate.
In order to make ED aware that in California’s accountability system DASS schools are held accountable to all of the same indicators as traditional schools, CDE recommended, and SBE approved, amending the ESSA State Plan to include DASS along with the modified methods for the Academic and Graduation Rate indicators for DASS schools.
COVID-19 State Plan Addendum
The COVID-19 State Plan Addendum is a streamlined process offered by U.S. Department of Education for use in the 2020-21 school year in response to the COVID-19 waivers approved by ED in March 2020.
States can use the addendum to amend their State Plan to account for one-year changes (for example, changes to how California will hold schools accountable for the 2020-21 school year) and two specific long-term changes: shifting forward timelines by one year for identifying schools and shifting forward timelines by one year for meeting measurements of interim progress and long-term goals due to COVID-19. CDE recommended and SBE approved utilizing the Addendum to:
  • Exclude the College/Career Indicator for the 2020-21 school year because students scheduled to graduate in spring 2021 will not have grade 11 assessment results since assessments were suspended in March 2020.
  • Shift forward by one-year school identifications for Comprehensive Support and Improvement or Additional Targeted Support and Improvement. (Schools currently in CSI or ATSI would maintain their status in 2021-22 if they do not meet the exit criteria.)
  • Revise the exit criteria for schools identified for support so that CSI schools would have an extra year to meet the statewide exit criteria before implementing more rigorous State-determined action and ATSI schools would have an extra year to meet statewide exit criteria before being identified for CSI.
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