So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

API scores: School Quality in Snapshot Format

In addition to releasing state Academic Performance Index numbers on Thursday, the California Department of Education is also debuting an easy-to-read School Quality Snapshot

It’s a brightly-colored report – full of graphs and pie charts – designed to simplify and aggregate key information about a school in one place.

Deb Sigman, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the purpose of the snapshot is to gather a set of data that would have previously required parents to visit multiple websites to compile.

She added: “This will be a great tool for schools and districts to use as they communicate to their communities and their staffs about the performance of their schools.”

The focal point of the report is the Academic Performance Index – or API – but the two-page report goes well beyond that.

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LAUSD board votes to extend superintendent's contract through June 2015

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

John Deasy, head of the Los Angeles Unified School District, has had his contract extended for one more year through June 2015.

The L.A. Unified board Tuesday unanimously approved extending Superintendent John Deasy's contract for one more year through June 2015.

The vote was 6-0 with board member Richard Vladovic absent because of a "hardship," according to a release from school board President Monica Garcia's office. The formerly two-year contract was set to expire in June 2014.

“Dr. Deasy and his administrative team helped move our district forward in the face of so many challenges," Garcia said in the statement. "It is evident that there is good, thoughtful leadership at LAUSD and the unanimous vote validates that.”

The contract extension was part of the district's regular annual evaluation of the superintendent's performance.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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Compton superintendent on student walkout: Student protests should be before or after school

University of the Pacific/Flickr

District officials didn’t have much to say after Tuesday’s student-led protest during which approximately 70 students walked out of class and marched several blocks from Compton High School to district headquarters.  

On Wednesday, Superintendent Darin Brawley released the following statement encouraging “stakeholders” to voice their concerns:

"…However, it should not be at the expense of valuable instructional time for students. We encourage that in the future, any and all protests by students be conducted before or after school."

Supt. Brawley went on to assure frustrated students concerned about the district’s plan to dissolve Advanced Placement programs that “no such thing has been proposed nor implemented for any of our secondary school sites.”

Read more: Compton High School students walk out of class

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LAUSD arts funding cut 76% in five years

arts education budget cuts

L.A. Unified

In the last five years, funding for arts education at L.A. Unified has dropped from a budgeted high of $78.6 million in 2007-8 to $18.6 million this year. The district has committed to returning funds to the 2007-8 levels.

In the last five years, funding for arts education at L.A. Unified has dropped from a budgeted high of $78.6 million to $18.6 million.

The 76 percent drop in funding equates to about $60 million, and is the result of a dramatic decrease in state support and the district's need to constrict its budget in response.

With a greater awareness for the importance of arts education today, LAUSD hasn't singled out the arts for cuts as much as before, but still cuts have happened amid the economic downturn.

"When things start getting cut, legal mandates win, and other things fall to the wayside," said L.A. Unified senior arts coordinator Steven McCarthy. He's now the only staffer of the school district's "arts education branch," which used to include about 20 people. 

On Tuesday, the L.A. Unified school board unanimously approved a measure that will make arts education a "core subject," prohibit further cuts to the arts, and ultimately restore some money to arts programs.

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API scores: An educational horse race that will soon change

L.A. County Fair

The California Department of Education will release the Academic Performance Index numbers Thursday in an annual tradition that is perhaps the closest equivalent to educational horse racing — parents and schools obsess over the scores and districts work to make them higher.

The California Department of Education will release the Academic Performance Index numbers Thursday in an annual tradition that's the educational equivalent to horse racing — like oddsmakers poring over a racing form, parents and schools obsess over the meaning of scores; like trainers in search of a winning strategy, school districts sweat to push the scores higher.

But this state measure, as it currently exists, will soon be obsolete.

The API gives schools a score between 200 and 1000 that's calculated from the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) exam and the California High School Exit Examination results; schools aim for a score of at least 800. 

But educators say that's hardly a full measure of a school's effectiveness. Parents often have to dig for other relevant information such as class sizes and graduation rates.

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