Charter Leader Spotlight Series: Gayle Nadler, Executive Director, Multicultural Learning Center

April 28, 2022

Last month, the Multicultural Learning Center received the California Charter Schools Association’s (CCSA) Hart Vision Award for Charter School of the Year (Southern California). The Hart Vision Awards, established in 1995, are named in honor of Gary K. Hart, the former California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. The prestigious Hart Vision Awards are given annually to individuals and organizations with outstanding records of leadership and excellence in furthering California’s charter public school movement. The award recognizes​​ the work and achievements of exceptional charter public schools, leaders, and advocates.

We’re proud to work with MLC as a longtime client and admire their steadfast commitment to students and families. As a part of our Charter Leader Spotlight Series, we interviewed Gayle Nadler, the co-founder and Executive Director of MLC, to learn more about MLC, how it feels to receive such a prestigious award, and why developing global citizens is such a critical part of the school’s mission and vision!

 

EdTec: How does it feel to be the winner of the CCSA Hart Vision Award  for Charter School of the Year (Southern California)?

Gayle: It’s an honor to receive an award in Gary Hart’s name. I heard him speak at the CCSA conference many years ago and was inspired by him, the movement he started, and his brave work to get charter schools on the map in California back in 1992. He passed away in January this year, so it’s even a little more heartfelt to receive the award in his name.

I was very excited that receiving the award had to do with not only our growth academically but also our innovative dual immersion program along with our emphasis on developing global competencies in our students.

To be honest, the timing was really incredible, coming out of the two years that we’ve just experienced. To be recognized when we have felt so vulnerable shows the impact of the hard work and determination of our community. It really comes down to who you are as an organization and your values, your team, and your community especially in the toughest of times.

It’s MLC’s time to share what we’re doing, and the outcomes we’re achieving. We’re willing to share all the work that we do so that other schools and students can benefit from what we’ve learned. It’s been 20 years of innovation, creation, development, and making mistakes and fixing them. There’s a lot that we can share with developing charter schools and other organizations.

 

EdTec: Have you ever been approached by other charters for advice?

Gayle: We’re frequently working with other schools on different levels. We’re approached by a lot of developing dual language schools. These schools usually want to hear about how we teach in two languages, what curriculum we use, and where we find bilingual teachers. We’ve also been approached about different things that we do in terms of organizational culture, special programs, instruction, planning, development, and strategy.

MLC is not in this movement for solely our own benefit. We want our school to do well and be successful for the community we serve, but we’re in this movement to improve education for all students, families, and educators in California.

 

EdTec: What has been the most rewarding part of this 21-year journey for you?

Gayle: The thing that always makes me smile most, is our alumni. It’s most rewarding to hear from the alumni in terms of what they’re doing with their lives, how they furthered their education, and the impact MLC has had on who they have become as global, bilingual citizens.

 

EdTec: What has been your most valuable lesson learned over the past 21 years?

Gayle: I say this to new charter leaders all the time, the most valuable lesson you can learn as a charter leader is this: there will always be obstacles – that is the job! Don’t hope or wait for the day there will be smooth sailing because it won’t come! The job is riding the waves and sticking to your vision and mission and the reason you opened in the first place. There’s always going to be challenges in front of you and because your vision and mission is so powerful, you have what it takes to overcome them.

 

EdTec: What is it like working with your mom?

Gayle: For the first eleven years, my mother was the Executive Director and I worked under her as the Program Director. She retired in 2012, so for the last 10 years, I’ve been running the show, although she is on the board and she volunteers in the classrooms. Without her knowledge and powerful ways of making things happen, I don’t know that we would have opened. She got us going, so that I could take the reins one day and take it to the next level.

Honestly, the work is so hard and so demanding, especially in those first 10 years of running a charter school  that you don’t even have time to think about anything else! We definitely had to create boundaries and have very clear delineations – “Okay, am I talking to you as your employee or as your daughter?” So, there was a lot of that in the beginning. We were excited to build something together. It really came from our experiences as mother and daughter when I was in public school. The fact that we took this really deep experience from my childhood, and her experience as my mother, and turned it into something that would fulfill us and the community, is a very powerful thing.

 

EdTec: As a charter school leader, you need a strong support system in place. What kind of support has been key to your success?

Gayle: On the ground, it is having an operational and instructional team that is completely committed to the school, to the vision, to the purpose. You need instructional leadership that is extremely talented and focused on outcomes for students, social, emotional, and academic.  And the operations team must have wide knowledge and experience with facilities, finance, and human resources.

Beyond your staff team, you need partners like EdTec!  Having a strong, trusting relationship with our back-office provider has been essential because it’s such a fluid relationship. Our relationship with EdTec has been essential in overcoming some of those hurdles that we face on the back end of things, so that the school can operate and have all these outstanding outcomes for kids.

Other community partners and the LA philanthropic community play a critical role. And of course, our parents – they know their students best, they are true partners in their education.

It’s also important to allow an opportunity for all folks, whether they’re administrators, teachers, teaching assistants, after school tutors, custodial staff, to have a voice in the organizational operations, policies, procedures. Your supporting community should have a strong voice and a seat at the table where they can express themselves, where they can share ideas, give feedback, make suggestions, and make decisions. The key to having a strong school organization is a collaborative approach in the truest sense. This requires a lot of listening and a lot of empathy on the part of leaders. It takes a lot to create that in an organization, but that’s a key element in our success.

 

EdTec: Why is developing global citizens is so important to you?

Gayle: It’s very important for young people to know how to navigate and live in a world with diverse thinking, diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures and language. For young people to be successful in a diverse world, they must be raised in an environment where they not only are taught to be respectful to people who are different, but to live and breathe and share space each day with people who come from diverse backgrounds. The experience at MLC enables young people to think more critically when they’re adults and to look at all sides of a story, to see different perspectives and points of view. Our students can also speak in more than one language which creates greater compassion and understanding. It’s also about having the confidence and the commitment to create change when it’s necessary. Those are the skills that we’re building when we talk about global citizens.

 

EdTec: What is your vision for the future? What is something you hope to accomplish in the next few years?

Gayle: Right now, we’re working on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. I see us bouncing back and getting back into the groove of what we do. Then it’s about what can we do to take us to the next level because we never stop growing. I’d like to see us become more involved in creating change and spreading the word about some of our successful initiatives to influence others and perhaps policy.

I also want to bring in more partners, to engage more folks in the community and perhaps document our work. One of the benefits of being a charter is you’re this little incubator of innovation. But you’re so busy doing it, that you don’t really have time to sit down and document all the wonderful things you’ve done or put it into a guidebook.  It would be great to document some of the things that we’ve done so that it can be more easily shared, studied, or developed to influence equitable access to high quality education for all students.

Thank you to Gayle, and congratulations to the MLC community!

CCSA produced a special video series featuring the exemplary charter school leaders who received the 2022 Hart Vision Award. You can view the MLC video here.

The Multicultural Learning Center (MLC) is a K-8 public charter school in Los Angeles founded in 2001 by mother and daughter team Toby Bornstein and Gayle Nadler with the vision to “bring together a diverse community of learners where cultural and individual differences are the building blocks of academic, social, and intrapersonal success.” MLC achieves this vision through the school-wide implementation of a dual immersion program (Spanish/English) and a focus on global and social-emotional competencies.

Connect with EdTec at the 2022 California Charter Schools Conference!

March 7, 2022

EdTec is excited to be a sponsor, exhibitor, and presenter at the 2022 California Charter Schools Conference! The conference will take place in Long Beach from March 14-17, 2022. EdTec staff, along with our partner organizations and partner schools, will present six breakout sessions, as well as one session at the virtual School Developer Summit. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to share our expertise with charter developers, new schools, and established schools.

Because everyone can always use a new headshot, EdTec is the Headshot Bar sponsor this year! The Headshot Bar will be set up at the back of the exhibit hall in the right corner during exhibit hall hours (Tuesday from 9:00am – 4:30pm, and Wednesday from 9:00am – 4:30pm).

We will have two booth locations in the exhibit hall. We hope you will stop by Booth 1112 to meet the EdTec team and learn more about our charter development and back office services. Our school data and assessment experts will be available at Booth 1515 to discuss how we help charters to create actionable school plans by supporting school leaders with accountability reporting, performance analysis, and educational partner engagement.

EdTec Breakout Sessions

Monday, March 14

Tuesday, March 15

We look forward to seeing you at our booths and sessions, in-person for the first time in three years! We hope everyone has a great conference experience full of learning, networking, and inspiration.

Tune into Education Strategy with EdTec’s Partner, Friday

EdTec’s Jeremy Divinity, a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University, was joined by Friday’s Annie Crangle and Dr. Jeffrey Hunt to discuss the power of strategic planning during a crisis in a recent podcast episode titled, “From Crisis Management to Strategic Planning“.

During the podcast episode, Annie and Dr. Hunt talk insights from FORWARD, a recent strategic planning cohort designed to support charter school leaders in developing solid reopening plans grounded in a long-term strategic vision. As partners, EdTec’s experts participated in the cohort by providing school leaders with additional expertise in operations, finance, and student data analytics. In addition, in the podcast episode, Annie and Dr. Hunt emphasize how incorporating student voice from an equity lens through their equity tool, Highlight, positively impacts school planning.

Tune into the episode now by listening below!   

Disclaimer: This podcast is not sponsored by any outside organizations and was recorded as part of a project for a program of study.

Do you need guidance generating a new strategic plan in today’s rapidly changing environment? Don’t worry, as Friday is launching more cohorts this fall!  Sign up here to stay informed. 

Connect with EdTec at the California Charter Schools Virtual Conference!

(This post has been updated to include links to the session recordings that are only accessible to conference attendees.) 

March 2, 2021

EdTec is proud to be a sponsor, exhibitor, and presenter at the California Charter Schools Virtual Conference! The conference is scheduled for March 15-19, 2021. EdTec staff, along with our partner organizations and partner schools, will present 10 breakout sessions, as well as participate in the School Developer Summit and present during the Solutions Hour. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to share our expertise and connect with charter leaders across the state.

On Tuesday, March 16 at 11am, as part of the Solutions Hour, EdTec will open up its monthly, clients-only Leadership Hour series to all conference attendees! Our school finance and accountability experts will provide updates on current issues impacting California charter schools, including the 2021-22 State Budget proposal and related legislation. We’ll also provide guidance on the Local Indicators and 2021-24 LCAP development, preparing you to align your goals, set reasonable metrics, and track expenditures.

We also hope you will visit our booth in the Virtual Exhibit Hall to meet the EdTec team and learn more about our services.  We’ll be available everyday during exhibit hall hours to meet one-on-one to discuss how we can support your school with new charter petitions, back office, CALPADS,  student achievement analyses, the LCAP, licensing for learning management solutions, charter renewal, grant writing, and more.

EdTec Breakout Sessions

Monday, March 15

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

Thursday, March 18

Friday, March 19

 

EdTec Booth Demos

Monday, March 15 

  • Introduction to Otus — Data, Assessment, and Learning Management System | 1:00pm – 1:30pm
    • EdTec will showcase Otus, an affordable K-12 learning platform designed to streamline the process of using data to improve learning. Combined with EdTec’s charter-specific support, Otus is the ideal solution for charter schools striving for a data-driven, equity-focused school culture in a distanced-, hybrid, or in-person learning environment.

Wednesday, March 17

  • Introduction to Otus — Data, Assessment, and Learning Management System | 1:00pm – 1:30pm
    • EdTec will showcase Otus, an affordable K-12 learning platform designed to streamline the process of using data to improve learning. Combined with EdTec’s charter-specific support, Otus is the ideal solution for charter schools striving for a data-driven, equity-focused school culture in a distanced-, hybrid, or in-person learning environment.

Thursday, March 18

  • Introduction to Otus — Data, Assessment, and Learning Management System | 10:00am – 10:30am
    • EdTec will showcase Otus, an affordable K-12 learning platform designed to streamline the process of using data to improve learning. Combined with EdTec’s charter-specific support, Otus is the ideal solution for charter schools striving for a data-driven, equity-focused school culture in a distanced-, hybrid, or in-person learning environment.

Friday, March 19

  • Verified Data from National Student Clearinghouse | 10:00am – 10:30am
    • EdTec has partnered with National Student Clearinghouse® to provide verified data for charters on their graduates’ college enrollment, persistence, and completion status. EdTec makes the StudentTracker® data process simple and provides key reports to support your LCAP and renewal.

We look forward to connecting at our sessions, during our booth demos, and in the exhibit hall. We hope everyone has an informative and fun conference experience!

Every Student Succeeds Act

What California Charter Leaders Need to Know About Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Assistance

By Annice Weinstein, Senior Manager, Assessment Data & Analysis

February 18, 2020

The California Department of Education (CDE) just released the list of schools that qualify for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) assistance based on the 2019 CA School Dashboard. All schools in California qualify for either General Assistance, Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), or Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI). General Assistance is the standard assistance that every school receives, so we’ll focus on CSI and ATSI.

So, how does a school get identified for CSI?

California uses the CA School Dashboard to determine eligibility for CSI based on two categories of schools. The criteria for CSI are based on the performance of “All Students.” The categories are:

  1. Schools with a low graduation rate: High schools with a four- and five-year graduation rate of less than 68% averaged over two years; applies to high schools regardless of whether they receive Title I funds.
  2. Lowest-performing Title I schools (based on 2019 CA School Dashboard and Title I funds for the 2018-19 school year):
    • School with all red indicators
    • Schools with all red but one indicator of another color
    • Schools with all red and orange indicators
    • Schools with five or more indicators where the majority are red
    • Note: For 2019, an English Language Progress Indicator (ELPI) Status level of “Very Low” will be used as a proxy for “Red” in CSI criteria.

Schools can only be eligible for CSI in one of the two categories for a single school year. The criteria apply to Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS) schools as well. Schools will be evaluated annually to determine continued eligibility for CSI or exit.

What is required of a school identified for CSI?

Schools that meet the criteria for CSI are required to develop and approve a plan for the school to improve student outcomes. That plan must be based on a needs assessment, include evidence-based interventions, and address any resource inequities through the implementation of the plan.

If your school is identified for CSI, you are eligible to receive additional funding to support the implementation of school plans. Eligible schools should log into the Grant Management and Reporting Tool (GMART) to submit their applications before 4 pm on February 28, 2020. The application timeline is short, so make sure you don’t miss out on this extra funding.

CSI charter schools also have additional reporting requirements for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). CSI charter schools must complete CSI prompts #2 and #3 in the LCAP Plan Summary that describe the programs and supports implemented, as well as the process for monitoring program effectiveness. These schools will also detail how the CSI funds were used to implement related actions in the LCAP. CSI charters may utilize the LCAP to meet the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) requirement, provided they include evidence-based interventions in the “Actions” and the “Increased and Improved Services” sections of the LCAP.

How does a school get identified for ATSI?

The criteria for ATSI is based on the performance of student groups. Even if your indicators for “All Students” look good on the Dashboard, you can still qualify for ATSI based on your student group performance.

Schools that are not eligible for CSI can qualify for ATSI if they have one or more student group(s) that for two consecutive years (example: 2018 AND 2019), meet(s) the criteria listed above for “CSI-Lowest performing schools.”

The same student group would have to meet the criteria in both years, although the group may meet the criteria based on different color combinations in each of the two years. The school does not need to receive Title I funds to be eligible for ATSI. Schools identified for ATSI do not receive any additional federal funds for support.

How do I know if my school was identified for CSI or ATSI?

To see if your charter was identified for CSI or ATSI this year, click here. The list only shows charter schools identified for CSI or ATSI. If your school isn’t on the list, it only qualifies for General Assistance.

CA Testing Participation Rates

What California Charter Leaders Need to Know About Testing Participation Rates

By Annice Weinstein, Senior Manager, Assessment Data & Analysis

January 15, 2020

EdTec’s data specialists put together a tool that makes it easy for any school to check their 2019 participation rates. Click here to review your 2019 participation rates for ELA and math, schoolwide and for each student group.

In Spring 2020, the testing participation rate will matter more than ever for the Dashboard. Check out our recent blog post to learn why.

So, who counts towards the participation rate calculation?

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all California schools (including charters and Dashboard Alternative School Status, or DASS, schools) to test at least 95 percent of all students and student groups in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, and to factor the participation rate into California’s accountability system, the CA School Dashboard. The calculation includes students tested on Smarter Balanced (SBAC) Summative Assessments as well as the CA Alternate Assessments (CAAs) in ELA and mathematics. Students must take both the computer adaptive test (CAT) and performance task (PT) sections to count as participating. The rates are calculated separately for each subject area. The CA Science Test (CAST) is not currently included on the Dashboard, but participation rate will be calculated for the CAST as well.

All schools that serve students in grades three through eight and eleven are responsible for meeting the 95 percent participation rate, both schoolwide and for all student groups with at least 11 students. Even though only groups with 30 or more students receive a color designation on the Dashboard, groups with at least 11 continuously enrolled students will have Status data reported on the Dashboard, and the participation rate will impact the Distance from Standard (DFS) for those groups.

How is the participation rate calculated?

Although the DFS for the Dashboard is calculated based on students continuously enrolled since census day, the participation rate is based on the number of students enrolled during the testing window. The participation rate penalty is applied after the initial DFS average is calculated.

The following students are removed from the participation rate:

  • Medical emergency: Students absent from testing due to a significant medical emergency and flagged with a medical emergency condition code on the CAASPP file
  • English learners new to the country (enrolled after April 15 of the prior school year) are exempt from the ELA portion only. They are still required to take the Math assessment.

Parent waivers DO NOT EXEMPT students from the participation rate.

 

Formula for Participation Rate*

Total number of students tested (SBAC and CAAs)

——————————————————————————-

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Total number of students enrolled during testing window

*The CDE uses whole number rounding (example: 94.1% rounds up to 95%)

 

The testing window begins when the first student at the school logs on to take either the CAT or PT of the SBAC in ELA or math or the CAA. The end of the testing window

Make sure to test any students who transfer in during the testing window, although you’re not responsible for testing students who transfer in during the last 14 days of the testing window. You’re also responsible for testing any students who transfer out during the testing window provided they don’t transfer out during the first 14 days of the testing window.

To monitor your testing progress in TOMS, have an LEA-level user generate the Test Completion Rate Report. You can export the report to Excel to total the “Total Student Completed” column across grade levels for each subject area. Separately, based on your enrollment in CALPADS, calculate the total students needed to test at your school in order to reach a 94.1% participation rate. Check that the total from the Test Completion Rate report is above your estimated total. Note: The “Total Student” column in the report includes students with medical exemptions but not students with parent waivers, so that total and the “Percent Completed” column can be misleading in relation to the participation rate.

Where can I check my school’s 2019 participation rates?

EdTec’s data specialists put together a tool that makes it easy for any school to check their 2019 participation rates. Click here to review your 2019 participation rates for ELA and math, schoolwide and for each student group. Take note of any student groups that had a participation rate below 95%. And begin communicating the importance of meeting the 95% participation rate with your students and families now to ensure a successful round of testing in Spring 2020!

EdTec’s Winter & Spring LCAP Workshops

January 2020

This year EdTec is offering  a series of workshops  to make sure your school is fully prepared to tackle the LCAP!  While the fall workshop has already passed, school leaders still have the option to register for the Winter & Spring Workshop Bundle. Each workshop addresses relevant topics to focus on in the winter and spring, and together build cumulative knowledge that will lead to a quality, actionable LCAP. Registration is now open for the Winter & Spring Workshop Bundle, as well as the individual Winter Workshop; the workshop dates, times, and topics are outlined below. When you register for the workshop bundle, you save $100 off the total price of the two workshops!

Workshop Overview

EdTec’s charter school LCAP experts will lead you through small-group, hands-on workshops designed to strengthen your LCAP and teach you to engage stakeholders, align your goals, set reasonable metrics, and track expenditures. We’ll also make sure to provide updates about policy and accountability requirements along the way.

Workshop Locations, Dates, & Times

Winter Workshops

Emeryville (Bay Area) EdTec Office: Friday, January 24, 9am – 12pm Register here!

Los Angeles – Japanese American Cultural & Community Center: Friday, February 7, 9am – 12pm Register here!

Spring Workshops

Emeryville (Bay Area) EdTec Office: Friday, April 24, 10am – 3pm

Los Angeles EdTec Office: Friday, May 1, 10am – 3pm

Registration is now open for the Workshop Series, as well as the individual Winter Workshop. You may register for the workshops using the links above or by clicking the buttons below.

Understand the Role of the California School Dashboard in New Renewal Criteria

By Annice Weinstein, Senior Manager, Assessment Data & Analysis

December 18, 2019

If you have questions about your Dashboard or would like to know what renewal track your school qualifies for based on 2018 and 2019 Dashboard data, contact EdTec’s data specialists.

 

California’s 2019 School Dashboard was just released in mid-December 2019. The 2019 Dashboard reflects your school’s performance during the 2018-19 school year and performance improvement from 2017-18 to 2018-19. The Dashboard indicators will be central to charter renewal criteria starting July 1, 2020, when AB 1505 legislation goes into effect, so take time now to review your indicators closely, both schoolwide and for your student groups. The new renewal criteria will apply to Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS) schools as well.

The new charter renewal criteria splits schools into three groups based on their Dashboard performance:

High

High-performing schools can expect a streamlined renewal for a term of five to seven years. Schools that receive all blue and green indicators in the most recent two years (2018 and 2019 Dashboards) qualify, as well as schools that meet the following criteria for closing the achievement gap:

For all measurements of academic performance, the charter school has received performance levels schoolwide that are the same or higher than the state average and, for a majority of subgroups performing statewide below the state average in each respective year, received performance levels that are higher than the state average.

The secondary criteria indicates schools must perform equal to or better than the state indicators schoolwide for ELA, math, English learner progress (ELPI), and college and career (CCI), and the majority of the school’s disadvantaged student groups must also perform better than the state indicators for those student groups.

When the state average performance increases, the criteria become more challenging to meet. Statewide indicators improved either schoolwide or for student groups in math, ELA, and the CCI from 2018 to 2019. Whereas 8.2% of charters would have qualified for the high track in 2018, only 4.3% qualify in 2019.

Determinations are based on Dashboard performance over the last two years. Schools identified for differentiated assistance cannot qualify for the high-performing track.

Low

Low-performing schools can expect non-renewal or at best, a two-year renewal. These schools have all red or orange indicators on the dashboard for the past two years, or meet the following criteria:

For all measurements of academic performance, the charter school has received performance levels schoolwide that are the same or lower than the state average and, for a majority of subgroups performing statewide below the state average in each respective year, received performance levels that are lower than the state average.

The secondary criteria reflect the opposite of the high group – a majority of a school’s student groups are performing below the state’s student group performance on the academic indicators.

A “second look” consideration will be given to schools in the low category to consider alternative measures of achievement growth and post-secondary success, but the that process will only be available through 2026. The “second look” process will take into account evidence-based “verified data”[i] that the school is producing measurable increases in academic achievement equivalent to one year’s progress for each year the student is in school.

Middle

The remainder of charters will fall into the middle category, and they can expect a five-year renewal if approved. This will encompass 80-90% of charter schools. The “second look” process also applies to these schools if the Dashboard indicators are not a good reflection of the school’s achievements. This process will likely benefit schools with high rates of school mobility or with many students who enter far below grade level, small schools with few Dashboard indicators, and high schools achieving post-secondary success not represented in the college and career indicator.

As you review your school’s Dashboard indicators, take note of the two elements that make up the indicator: your status for 2018-19 and the change from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Even relatively small changes from one year to the next can cause your indicator color to fluctuate. Also make sure to click “View More Details” to review the performance of each of your significant student groups.

 

CA School Dashboard

 

If you have questions about your Dashboard or would like to know what renewal track your school qualifies for based on 2018 and 2019 Dashboard data, contact EdTec’s data specialists

[i] “Verified Data” criteria will be released by the state in January 2021

CA Dashboard Participation Rate

California Charters, SBAC Participation Rate Matters More Now Than Ever!

By Jennifer Reyes, Educational Support Services Manager

December 10, 2019

Starting with the 2020 CA School Dashboard, there will be a greater penalty to the Academic Indicators if a school’s participation rate falls below 95% on Math or ELA for the SBAC or CAA. The change will result in a greater decrease in Distance from Standard than the methodology used in the 2018 and 2019 Dashboards for schools that did not meet the participation rate threshold.  The Academic Indicators in the 2020 Dashboard will be calculated based on 19-20 CAASPP results.  That means schools have the opportunity NOW to plan for 95% or higher participation rates in Spring 2020 to avoid the new larger penalty.

Why the change?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to test at least 95% of all students and student groups in ELA and mathematics.  California introduced a methodology for factoring participation rate into scores in 2018.  This methodology will be applied once more in the 2019 Dashboard release (with test results from 2018-19).  The federal Education Department reviewed the California Department of Education (CDE)’s methodology and determined that it does not meet ESSA requirements.

What is the current methodology?

For the 2018 and 2019 CA Dashboard data, CDE calculates the number of percentage points that the school, LEA, or student group falls short of the 95% participation target.  For each of these percentage points, they reduce the Distance from Standard (DFS) by 0.25 points.

What is the new methodology?

Instead of a 0.25 point penalty for each percentage point below 95%, the CDE will assign the Lowest Obtainable Score (LOSS) for each student needed to bring the school, district, or student group to a 95% participation rate.  Under the new methodology, the calculation will add the number of students needed to reach a 95% participation rate into the DFS calculations, and these students will be assigned a predetermined LOSS score.  The LOSS in Level 1 varies by subject and grade level.  The calculation will assign the LOSS among the school’s tested grade levels that penalizes the school the least.

Are there any exceptions to the participation rate requirement?

Students flagged with the “Medical Emergency” condition code will be automatically removed from the participation rate calculation unless they log onto both parts of the test.  English learners new to the country (enrolled in a U.S. school for less than one year) are exempt from taking the ELA portion of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments.  It’s important to note that parent waivers do not exempt students form the participation rate calculations. Also note that the same LOSS will be applied to students who do not take the California Alternative Assessments as for those taking the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments.

What can I do to ensure 95% participation?

Awareness, advance planning, and strong systems can all be leveraged to ensure a strong participation rate.  Educate staff, parents, and students about the way in which your school performance is tracked and publicized on the CA School Dashboard.  When stakeholders mobilize around school goals, everyone is invested in having their school represented in the best possible light.  When planning the window and logistics of the testing, it’s important to solicit staff, parent, and student input to avoid unanticipated barriers to participation and optimize the testing schedule for everyone.  Be sure to include a cushion of time for make-up testing for absent students. Finally, set up systems for reminding everyone of their role in successful testing, and closely monitor participation rates while still within your window and respond accordingly until you hit or surpass 95%.

Is your school ready to hit 95% participation on SBAC/CAA Math and ELA? Let us know how you plan to prepare in the comments section below!

My School Had an Emergency Closure. Do I Need to File a J-13A Emergency Waiver?

By the EdTec Data Team

October 16, 2019

Between power outages, wildfires, and other natural disasters, there are many events that may result in unexpected school closures. Read on to learn if you need to complete a J-13A emergency waiver, and the steps you should take to make sure you’re in compliance with the State of California’s requirements.

If my school experiences an unexpected closure, what should I do?

Before completing a J-13A emergency waiver, there are a few things to consider. First, find out if the length of the closure ends up putting your school below the state’s annual instructional minutes and days requirement. You’ll also want to look at your charter petition to see if you have instructional minutes or days requirements beyond what the state mandates. If your instructional time doesn’t fall below either requirement, you can relax – you don’t need to complete a J-13A waiver.

However, what if the closure puts you below the requirements? Again, don’t panic – you have options! Your first option is to add days to your calendar and/or minutes to your bell schedule later in the year to recover the lost days/minutes resulting from the closure. If you go this route, you do not need to complete a waiver, although it is highly recommended that you get these calendar and bell schedule changes approved by your board. But if you prefer to keep your calendar and bell schedule as is, your second option is to complete a J-13A waiver. Simply completing the waiver isn’t enough; it must be signed by a majority of your board, and approved by your authorizer, the county, and the California Department of Education (CDE). Only after your waiver makes it through this multi-level approval process will the state allow your school to be below the instructional time requirements without penalty.

The J13-A waiver also has a material decrease option. But what does this option really mean? The material decrease option applies to schools that stay open during an emergency. If the event has an adverse impact on the school’s attendance, a school can use the material decrease option to substitute its attendance for the affected days with the school’s average daily attendance (ADA). This option is a bit unpredictable and may not actually be as beneficial as just removing the lost days and/or replacing them. This option is unpredictable because we don’t know exactly what you will get as your final replacement ADA until the CDE approves the waiver and then does calculations based on your attendance data. This is one of the reasons why the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) recommends not filing the waiver unless you know you’re below the instructional minutes and days requirement.

If the emergency occurred before P-1, do I need to file the waiver before submitting my school’s P-1?

Not necessarily, but you should confirm your attendance data accurately reflects any changes caused by the unexpected closure before submitting your P-1 to ensure your ADA is correct.

It is important your school decides as soon as possible whether it wants to file the waiver or add more days to your schedule since you obviously can’t make additions to the calendar or schedule after the year is over. Although schools report days of instruction with the P-Annual at the end of the year and auditors verify instructional time requirements around the same time, it is best to file a waiver before P-2 so you know what your P-2 ADA will be without having to wait for an adjustment. Waivers filed after P-2 will lead to any ADA funding revisions processed as prior year adjustments and won’t be reflected until P-1 of the following year. Also keep in mind that CDE approval can take months, depending how many waivers are submitted.

Now that we’ve discussed the waiver, are there any other things to keep in mind?

Yes, don’t forget your Student Information System (SIS)! Each SIS is different but there should be a way to change days from school days to non-school days. Make sure to update your SIS to reflect any closure days and, if applicable, add any replacement days. You need to do this even if you do not file a J-13A waiver. If you’re still uncertain of what the process is like in your SIS, reach out to your EdTec data contact or your SIS support line.

In addition to updating your SIS, you’ll also need to update your school calendar showing closure days as non-school days. Any other changes such as days added as replacement should also be included in your school calendar update. It is also helpful to recalculate your instructional days/minutes, so you have an updated calculation available.

If you have additional questions about the J-13A waiver, don’t hesitate to reach out to your EdTec data contact. You can also find additional guidance from CDE’s J-13A website at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/formj13afaq.asp.