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6th February 2024
School support and improvement plan oversight falls short
According to a report sent to Congress by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), less than half (42%) of comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) plans are in compliance with federal requirements. CSI plans are developed by districts to serve as a guide to underperforming schools’ improvement processes, and are required to include needs assessments, resource inequity identification, and evidence-based interventions. Under a third (28%) of plans reviewed by the watchdog however addressed only one or none of these issues. There was also wide variation in how districts addressed each of those elements. Some plans, for example, discussed resource inequities that schools have limited opportunities to address, such as which students faced homelessness or poverty, rather than evaluating whether school resources were being inequitably distributed. Overall, only 52% appeared to identify resource inequities at all. Currently, about 2.5m students attend K-12 public schools that have been identified for CSI and those schools are much more likely to serve mostly Black and low-income students, have higher student-teacher ratios, and serve students not proficient in reading or math.
Los Angeles Schools brave rainstorms
Los Angeles students and school employees faced a challenging day as heavy rain hit the city on Monday. Despite hazardous conditions, about 63% of students and 90% of teachers and staff made it to campuses. Two schools had to close completely due to unsafe hillside and road conditions. However, the decision to keep campuses open was deemed correct by L.A. Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Providing food to children was also highlighted as a benefit of keeping schools open. The attendance rate of school workers was impressive, considering their scattered locations across L.A. County. While L.A. Unified kept schools open, Santa Barbara County closed all public schools due to potential risks from flooding and severe weather. The closed L.A. campuses directed students and teachers to nearby campuses. There are no plans to close campuses today, despite rainy weather. Most Cal State campuses moved to remote learning, while UCLA and USC continued with regular operations.
Voters in Manhattan Beach face tax dilemma
Manhattan Beach Unified voters will decide on Measure MB, which asks them to renew a tax for the benefit of MBUSD and its students. The measure will appear on the March 5 ballot.
Covina Valley Unified investigates disbursement of proceeds from SGV Bowl
The Covina Valley Unified School District is conducting an investigation into the handling of the SGV Bowl all-star football game and events that took place at the contest. The district is looking into the disbursement of proceeds collected at the game, as well as the distribution of funds to other groups and booster clubs. The investigation was launched after concerns were raised about the fundraising event. Covina High's football coach, Kevin Glaspy, has been replaced and placed on administrative leave. The district is unable to comment further as the investigation is ongoing. The district is looking into issues surrounding the SGV Bowl and is conducting a thorough investigation with the assistance of legal counsel. The district is investigating how revenue from the game was used and distributed, including ticket sales, parking fees, and snack bar sales. The district requires all funds raised by approved booster organizations to be exclusively used for the support of the school program.
Academic inequality grew amid pandemic recovery
Academic gaps between students from low-income backgrounds and their more affluent peers have widened, according to a new study, despite American students' recovery from the pandemic’s disruptions. In contrast to the initial sharp decline in test scores during the pandemic, when differences among districts drove much of the decrease for low-income students, gaps have even widened in the last year between students from different income levels within the same district. These are the findings of a new analysis of student progress between spring 2022 and spring 2023 from The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University and a team of researchers that includes Stanford’s Sean Reardon, who studies inequality, and Harvard University’s Thomas Kane, an education professor and economist. The analysis relied on federal and state reading and math test data from 30 states accounting for roughly 8,000 school districts and some 15m students.
Chino teachers union demands fair wage
Multiple members of teachers, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists and others with the Associated Chino Teachers Union (ACT) are demanding a fair wage. Union members have started "working to the contract" and are limiting their work-related duties to only those covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Contract negotiations have been ongoing since May 2023. The union is asking for a cost-of-living increase that is reasonable and recognizes their worth. Speech-language pathologists are also requesting that caseload sizes be limited to 55 students. The district currently has 20 vacancies, with special education teachers and speech-language pathologists being the most needed. The union is committed to negotiating a fair deal and providing stability for teachers, students, and parents.
Santa Ana Unified establishes AI Policy Lab
Santa Ana Unified and EdSAFE AI Alliance have announced the establishment of an AI Policy Lab. The lab aims to promote the safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in educational settings. It will provide policy recommendations and educational resources for teachers, students, and parents, with a focus on community engagement. The collaboration between SAUSD and EdSAFE AI Alliance is part of a nationwide network of similar policy initiatives, working towards responsible AI development, deployment, and usage. Jerry Almendarez, Superintendent of SAUSD, expressed excitement about the partnership and emphasized the commitment to safety, equity, ethics, effectiveness, and transparency in integrating AI into the school district. The EdSAFE AI Alliance, consisting of 12 districts across the country, focuses on creating a comprehensive "policy stack" for AI integration in education. This collaborative effort aims to leverage AI effectively and align it with the needs of each district.
Assistive technology can boost outcomes for special ed students
Assistive technology can significantly improve outcomes for students in special education, according to guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education. The guidance clarifies the role of assistive technology in meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It emphasizes the need for states and districts to take full advantage of assistive technology tools, especially as schools increasingly rely on technology for teaching and learning. The guidance dispels misconceptions about assistive technology and highlights the importance of providing training and support to students and families. It also emphasizes that assistive technology can be used from infancy to elementary school, and encourages schools and districts to seek assistance from local Assistive Technology programs. The release of the guidance, alongside the National Education Technology plan, promotes accessibility and addresses digital divides.
Arroyo Grande teacher competes in USA Olympic marathon trials
Arroyo Grande teacher and coach Phillip Reid is set to compete in the USA Olympic Marathon Team Trials. Reid, the head coach of cross country at Arroyo Grande High School, will join nearly 400 runners vying for a spot on Team USA. The trials will take place in Orlando, with a maximum of three male and three female athletes making it to the Paris games.

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