As part of the technical assistance provided by the Region 15 Comprehensive Center at WestEd (R15 CC) to the California State Board of Education (SBE) and California Department of Education (CDE) staff, a request was made to the R15 CC to gather data from three selected testing publishers that had supported the administration of spring 2021 local assessments. This information, in addition to the state-level data provided by CDE, may help to provide a fuller picture of student performance in California from spring 2021.
Reading critically involves examining the language choices authors make to “get the job done” — in other words, to communicate effectively in specific ways with particular audiences. Not all students in middle and high school intuit this type of reading and may experience challenges when they go to write for academic purposes. Their teachers are in a unique position to demystify how language works in written texts in their content areas, but they may not know of specific methods for doing so.
Authored by Pamela Spycher, Senior Research Associate at WestEd, this article addresses these challenges by offering concrete ideas so teachers across the disciplines can add to their existing repertoires and support their students to be better writers. Teachers will find that the ideas offered are especially useful for their students who are learning English as an additional language (herein referred to as multilingual learners); however, they may decide that particular methods are also beneficial for their English-proficient students.
The coming months are an opportune time to reexamine the professional learning infrastructure around math teaching in California. In addition to the re-conceptualized instructional guidance and the emphasis on equity put forth in the math framework revision that’s now underway, California counties, local education agencies, and schools are also rebuilding their policies and systems for the 2021/22 school year and acknowledging lessons learned from the pandemic and its differential impacts on certain groups of students. Our latest knowledge brief aims to inform state and district leaders about options regarding effective professional learning for California math educators in advance of the adoption of the new math framework in 2022.
This brief summarizes California math teachers’ survey responses from spring 2020 about the professional learning they received during the 2019/20 school year —both before and during the period of school closures due to COVID-19 —and describes key steps education leaders can take to support the implementation of the new framework. It also compares views of California math teachers with those of non-California math teachers and with those of California teachers who teach other subjects.
The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed all aspects of teaching and learning over the past two school years; and consequently, administration of summative assessments in spring 2021 looks different than most years. And yet, understanding the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on student learning is fundamental for being able to develop responsive supports that address the needs of all students, particularly those most affected by the disruptions to learning in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 school years.
To meet this need, educators should resist the temptation to conclude that summative assessment data holds no value this year and should instead bring a different mindset to reviewing and responding to assessment data from the spring of 2021. This mindset shift requires that educators and education leaders revisit the stakes and consequences associated with different assessments, consider multiple measures including Opportunity to Learn (OTL) data and information provided by students, families, and teachers to ensure a fuller picture of the performance of our schools and districts.
Our hope is that educators will be able to use this period as an opportunity to re-evaluate their assessment practices and make important shifts toward strengthening assessment data-use practices, making lasting improvements to decision-making, equity, teaching, and — ultimately —student learning and success.
Reflecting on the How I Know initiative in the Dallas Independent School District, Susan Villani writes about her work with administrators and educators to implement formative assessment practices into school cultures and practices. In this article, Villani focuses on the most powerful strategies that school administrators utilized to support implementation of formative assessment practices into educators’ instruction. Villani writes about five main leadership strategies:
- Learning about formative assessment so they could be leaders.
- Listening to the pilot teachers and students to find out what they need.
- Letting Go of a current way of doing something to make room for a new way.
- Lingering to observe and learn from each other.
- Lighting the Way by inviting other teachers to observe pilot classrooms.
As school leaders and educators consider how to implement, and eventually scale up, formative assessment as part of instructional culture, these leadership practices can be valuable considerations for developing action plans.
Reviewing state efforts to develop and implement curricula that reflects and affirms students’ racial and ethnic identities, Sylvia Kwon from the Region 15 Comprehensive Center developed this summary of recent and ongoing states’ ethnic studies legislation. For the purposes of this scan, “ethnic studies” encompasses coursework that purposefully reflects and supports students’ identities. Kwon examines state legislative initiatives (enacted between February 2019 and January 2021) that require ethnic studies to be incorporated into K–12 standards or curricula.
Kwon’s scan details legislative efforts in 19 states, along with summarizing the legislation’s implementation timeline.