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

Beverly Hills Unified to require all juniors take PSAT

SAT Test To Be Revamped

Mario Tama/Getty Images

SAT prep books line the shelves of Barnes and Noble store. Beverly Hills Unified's school board approved a new plan to require juniors take the PSAT in October as part of an effort to increase college readiness.

Beverly Hills Unified's school board unanimously approved a new policy Tuesday night to require all juniors take the PSAT starting in October.

"This really fits in with the high school's plan of preparing every student for college readiness to apply to a university," said Jennifer Tedford, the district's chief academic officer. "We know that the PSAT is a gateway assessment, that students who take this assessment are on their way to apply to a university."

Roughly half of all high school sophomores and two-thirds of the juniors take the Preliminary SAT each year on a Saturday morning, Tedford said. Under the new plan, the district will offer the test on a Wednesday morning possibly as part of a college preparedness day, Tedford said.

The exam is not only practice for the SAT, but juniors who take the exam can also qualify as National Merit Scholars. Finalists win a $2,500 prize and additional distinction during the college application process.


Beverly Hills Unified moves to cut permits from outsiders to enroll in district

An exterior of Beverly Hills High School. The Beverly Hills Unified School board soon decide how many students who live outside the affluent district will be allowed in its schools.

The Beverly Hills Unified School board will sit down Tuesday night and hash out an issue that’s long divided residents: how many students who live outside the affluent district to allow in its public schools.

It used to be a win-win for Beverly Hills Unified. Students allowed in on inter-district permits added per-pupil funding from the state to the district budget while parents took advantage of a marquee public education for their children.

But two years ago, local property taxes surpassed state funding and the district dropped its per-pupil funding formula.

Which is precisely when the district began shrinking inter-district permits, says former board member Myra Lurie.

"There are also residents who feel that the permit students have essentially taken a free ride, which I don’t agree with," Lurie added. "And I think much of that is driven by a resentment of people who have been able to utilize the school system without being [...] in the City of Beverly Hills."


Study: When times get tough, college is still worth it

Mercer 4060

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

CSU Dominguez Hills students graduate.

When times get tough, that investment in higher education can be even more valuable, according to a new study released today by UC Berkeley.

That was just one finding in a study entitled "California's Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access & Completion," which strove to answer two key questions: "What are the benefits of investing in higher education? And is it worth it for Californians?

The answers? Many. And yes.

Researchers at UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Societal Issues found that for every $1 California invests in students who go to college, the state will receive a net return of $4.50 on its investment. For those who complete college, the return is $4.80 and for those who enter, but drop out the return is $2.40.

A college degree often translated into higher earnings for the graduate, and therefore higher income taxes paid to the state; additionally, the state saved money on its payout on social services and incarceration costs for these graduates.


LAUSD to keep transitional kindergarten in wake of threatened budget cuts

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

A transitional kindergarten class in Long Beach serves kids who are about to turn five-years-old at the beginning of the school years. Governor Jerry Brown proposed cutting funding for the classes to start in the fall.

Supporters of early childhood education are praising a decision by Los Angeles Unified School District to keep a special kindergarten program for four-year-olds – even after Governor Brown had threatened to cut off the funding. 

L.A. Unified runs transitional kindergarten classes in about a quarter of its elementary schools, for children who will turn five in the fall.

The state is in the process of moving back the kindergarten birthday cutoff date from December to September. 

The one-year transitional program is ideal for its four-and-a-half year-old classmembers, says Nora Armenta, who oversees transitional kindergarten at LAUSD. 

"We now expect kindergarteners to become emergent readers, for example," she explains. "To be able to really understand mathematics, and quantities, and operations."


California teacher wins nation's top teaching prize

Mercer 12083

Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

File photo: Pupils listen to their teacher in a classroom on the first day of the school year.

California teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki has been named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, which is the oldest and most prestigious teaching prize in the country.

Mieliwocki is a seventh-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School, in Burbank, Calif., and has taught for a total of 14 years.

She initially trained to become an attorney, then went into publishing before eventually turning to teaching. Both her parents were teachers for 30 years.

"It's in my DNA," she said in a statement released today. "It's who I am. It's who I'm supposed to be. Teaching truly is a calling. I may not have picked up the phone right away, but eventually I answered the call."

Mieliwocki studied speech communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. As the 62nd National Teacher of the Year, she will serve as a one-year, full-time national spokesperson for education. She will be honored at a ceremony at the White House Tuesday.