State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Issues Statement on Cuts to Education Budget

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on the final state budget:

“Preparing California’s young people for the future—all the way from early childhood through high school—will be more difficult under our state’s continuing budget problems. As Superintendent, I can sympathize with the difficult decisions faced by the Governor and the Legislature—but, as an educator, I am saddened today. The simple truth is that schools need more revenue if they are going to begin restoring some of what billions of dollars of cuts have already taken from them and from their students.

“In the budget passed by the Legislature, early child care funding was cut significantly—and then cut even more with the Governor’s line item veto. Two other vetoes that disturbed me were the elimination of both AVID funding and the Early Mental Health Initiative. These are programs that aid our students, prepare them to succeed in school, and then help them graduate ready for careers and college. The final budget also allows districts to cut as many as 30 days of instructional time over the next two years—which amounts to a combined potential loss of the equivalent of one million years of schooling for California’s 6.3 million public school kids.

“And still, our schools—even in the face of this continuing do-more-with-less approach—have found a way to raise graduation rates this year. To me, that shows they not only need and deserve our support—they have earned it.”

For more information see:  CDE News Release.

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ACT to Roll Out Career and College Readiness Tests for 3rd-10th Grades

ACT Inc. announced today that it is developing a new series of assessments for every grade level, from 3rd through 10th, to measure skills needed in college and careers.

The tests, which would be administered digitally and provide instant feedback to teachers, will be piloted in states this fall and scheduled to be launched in 2014, says Jon Erickson, the president of education for ACT, the Iowa City, Iowa-based nonprofit testing company.

The “next generation” assessment will be pegged to the Common Core State Standards and cover the four areas now on the ACT: English, reading, math, and science.

“It connects all the grades—elementary school through high school—to measure growth and development,” says Erickson. “It informs teaching, as students progress, to intervene at early ages.”

The assessment would look beyond academics to get a complete picture of the whole student, he says. There would be interest inventories for students, as well as assessment of behavioral skills for students and teachers to evaluate. (Read more, including the comments.)

Via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

It will fill a niche as the first digital, longitudinal assessment to connect student performance across grades, both in and out of the classroom, according to the ACT. The hope is to get information on students’ weaknesses and strengths earlier so teachers can make adjustments to improve their chances of success.

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The Crucial Need to Hold Students to a Higher Standard

Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors have walked across a stage and received a diploma, an important moment that should be applauded.

Unfortunately, for many of those students, that diploma represents a false promise.

Recent data from the ACT, Inc. shows that only 25 percent of high school students who take the test are college-ready in all subject areas. In my home state of Tennessee, the situation is even bleaker. All students in Tennessee take the ACT test, but only 15 percent meet college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading, and science. While more than 80 percent of our students say they want to attain at least a two-year degree, far too few are graduating with the skills they need to thrive after high school. Even some high school valedictorians are taking remedial courses in college. Too many students are completely unprepared for the future.

These hard truths are particularly worrisome because college readiness and a postsecondary credential are critical to longterm success. In 2010, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that almost two-thirds of all job openings in the United States by 2018 will require some form of postsecondary education — including technical certificates and Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and advanced degrees. Last year, the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma was 14.1 percent. For those with a Bachelor’s degree, it was 4.9 percent. (Read more.)

Via Bill Frist, The Week.

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