An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


Oct. 5, 2015
Issue 39
School Climate
Students at Argonne Elementary School in San Francisco in spring 2015. Credit: Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource Today

The U.S. Department of Education has moved closer to its 2016-17 goal of providing free middle school and high school survey tools to measure "school climate," the learning and teaching conditions that affect academic performance, classroom behavior and job satisfaction.The department closed the comment period on Sept. 24 for one of the draft school climate surveys and began considering recommendations.

Do students like coming to school? Do teachers enjoy their work? These and other questions address what is known as school climate, which the U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Supportive Schools initiative mapped in the model below. Three areas that affect one another -- engagement, safety and environment -- should be considered as "a single issue in policy and practice" to create positive school climates, the department said.

School climate is a student health issue because it touches on key areas of emotional and physical wellbeing, including: a sense of belonging, freedom from being bullied, feeling connected to an adult on campus and learning to resolve conflicts in positive ways.

"Many schools have not yet intentionally focused on improving school climate, in part because of lack of knowledge and/or capacity to do so in a meaningful way," the New America Foundation's Education Policy Program said in a blog post about the forthcoming federal surveys, which are voluntary for schools to use. The federal surveys are a good start, the New America Foundation blog post said.
Elements of school climate. Source: U.S Department of Education

Student Health
Sexual health education will become mandatory on Jan. 1, 2016 for California public school students in grades 7 through 12 under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The comprehensive sexual health education law will combine education on HIV prevention, which already is mandatory, with sexual health education, which has been optional, into a single, mandatory course of instruction with updated curriculum, according to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, author of Assembly Bill 329. Parents will have the option of excusing their child from instruction.

Read more at EdSource Today.
Social and Emotional Learning
Psychologist Carol Dweck. Credit: Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource Today
Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck's research on intelligence, motivation and achievement has changed the thinking of educators around the globe -- and is being applied in schools throughout California, including 10 districts in the collaborative known as the California Office to Reform Education.

Now Dweck is working to ensure that her insights about the power of a "growth mindset" -- a student's belief that his or her intelligence can be developed -- are not being misunderstood.

In Dweck's research, she and her collaborators found that students who believed they could increase their intelligence worked harder in mathematics and outperformed peers of similar ability, who believed that intelligence was a fixed trait given at birth.

But in a column in Education Week, Dweck said she is concerned that her ideas are being overly simplified. Some educators, she wrote, are praising students who are trying hard, but not learning, "in order to make them feel good in the moment: 'Great effort! You tried your best!'" Praising effort without results does not do students any good, she said.

"The growth-mindset approach helps children feel good in the short and long terms, by helping them thrive on challenges and setbacks on their way to learning," she wrote. "When they're stuck, teachers can appreciate their work so far, but add: 'Let's talk about what you've tried, and what you can try next.'"
School Climate Event
Improving school climate through the three-year districtwide planning document known as a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is the focus of this day-long free event hosted by the School Climate Alliance at the Regional Educational Laboratory West, part of the San Francisco-based research nonprofit group WestEd.

What: Transforming School Climate to Exceed LCAP Expectations

Who: Kerry Callahan, Assistant Superintendent, Western Placer Unified; Ian Guidera, Chief Schools Officer, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools; Thomas Hanson, Senior Research Associate, REL West at WestEd; Jeanne Herrick, Associate Superintendent, Alisal Union School District (Oakland event); Jannelle Kubinec, Director, Comprehensive School Assistance Program at WestEd; Rick Martin, Director of Curriculum, Learning, Assessment and Accountability, Orange County Department of Education (Anaheim event); Sonia Rodarte Llamas, Director of School Climate, Santa Ana Unified School District (Anaheim event); Darrick Smith, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, University of San Francisco; Doreen Lohnes, Assistant Superintendent, Santa Ana Unified School District (Oakland event); Nellie Meyer, Superintendent, Mt. Diablo Unified School District (Oakland event).

When: Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Oakland, and Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Anaheim, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT for the Oakland and Anaheim events

To register for the Oakland event, click here.
To register for the Anaheim event, click here.
High-Needs Students

What did $200 million for school reform accomplish in Newark, N.J.?

Dale Russakoff, author of the new book, "The Prize: Who's In Charge Of America's Schools," describes what worked and what didn't when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg invested $100 million to reform low-achieving schools in Newark, N.J.

Zuckerberg's investment was matched by another $100 million in donations.

"Russakoff writes that almost everyone on all sides was well-intentioned, and that makes the failures, as well as the successes, of this five-year experiment important to wrestle with," said Fresh Air host Terry Gross.

Listen to the interview on NPR's Fresh Air.
In Orange County, home to the Disneyland measles outbreak that spread to seven other states and fueled a strict California vaccination law this year, attorneys for the Orange County Department of Education have stated that the new vaccination requirements apply equally to special education students, a group that some thought would be exempt because of their federally protected right to educational services. Read more at EdSource Today.

Opponents of the new state vaccination law, known as Senate Bill 277, appeared to be unsuccessful in gathering 365,880 signatures to put the issue on the November ballot next year, according to the Sacramento Bee. A final ruling awaits from the California Secretary of State.
After a 30-day grace-period for North Carolina students who are not fully vaccinated, schools were set to begin excluding students if their shots were not up to date, according to news reports. The state increased student vaccination requirements, effective July 1, and has posted resources for schools.
Special Education
Study questions whether one-to-one classroom aides are used efficiently
One-to-one aides for students with autism may not be using their time in the classroom efficiently,
according to a study by a researcher at UC Riverside and colleagues from other institutions published in the journal Teacher Education and Special Education.

The study found that the one-to-one aides spent 57 percent of their time instructing or supporting their students. That compares to teachers spending 98 percent of their time instructing or supporting students and classroom assistants were involved in those activities 91 percent of the time. The report raised questions about whether the aides were receiving adequate training and whether classroom teachers are taught how to supervise the aides,
Webinar for School Psychologists

The National Association of School Psychologists will present training for school psychologists about the nature of test anxiety as it unfolds before, during, and after testing. The webinar includes ideas about how to create effective interventions.

What: Assessing and Remediating Student Test Anxiety
Who: Nathaniel von der Embse, assistant professor of school psychology at Temple University
When: Friday, Oct. 16, 9 to 10 a.m. PT

Click here to register.
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 38: Updated information on the new school vaccination law
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 37: CDC asks coaches not to 'insult' players for reporting injuries
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 36: Rethinking Discipline: New tools for educators
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 35: Oakland schools receive $8 M for discipline reform
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 34: After Charleston killings, teachers prep for discussions

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