Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Superintendents lobby DC for waiver from No Child Left Behind

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan addresses the National School Board Association's Federal Relations Network Conference in January 28, 2013. Nine California school districts are hoping he'll grant them waivers to the penalties in No Child Left Behind.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Time is running out for nine California school districts that are hoping to get a waiver from penalties in the No Child Left Behind Act before the school year starts.

So several of their superintendents flew to Washington to meet with Department of Education officials to speed things up.

The group is calling itself the California Office to Reform Education. It includes the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Long Beach, San Francisco and Oakland school district. 

The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to bring all students up to proficiency in Math and English by next year. If they don’t, they’ll face penalties, including closures and having to set aside significant amounts of money for tutoring.

Thirty-nine states and Washington, DC, have received waivers from the federal government. California has not. Its application was rejected in January, in part because it will not consider using student test scores in teacher evaluation. The state said it wouldn’t reapply.


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Encino teen's perfect summer: Visiting wells and clinics in Africa

14 year-old Lulu Cerone with her Mattel-created character, a punk-rocker teen-philanthropist.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

SUMMER LEARNING: Education experts say idle summers can put kids behind when they go back to school in the fall. KPCC's education team spoke to teachers, parents and kids across Southern California about what they're learning this summer - or not.

Ask most teens what they want to study over the summer and many will give not-so-ambitious responses like: learning to dance the shuffle, mastering the latest version of Call of Duty or practicing kick flips on their skateboard.

Not Lulu Cerone. The 14-year-old from Encino wants to figure out how to solve the water crisis in Africa.

"Me and my entire family - my mom, my dad, and my little brother - we are going to northern Uganda to visit a well and also go to a medical clinic," she said. "I’m hoping to identify a new project there."


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New, tougher GED has students racing to finish before January

Administrators at the adult education center are concerned that the GED overhaul will make it harder for many test takers to complete the exam.
Diane Orson/WNPR

If you're working on your GED, you better hurry.

That's because the GED Testing Service is changing its test to bring it more in line with job preparedness. 

The new General Educational Development tests will be administered starting on January 2, 2014. People who want to take the current version of the test have a little more than five months to finish. Anyone caught in the middle of the process when the deadline passes will have to begin all over again.

The deadline has led to high demand for the test, according to the Contra Costa Times. 

Officials for Los Angeles Unified School District’s GED testing program said they're offering increased testing ahead of the deadline.

“We’ve been sending out letters as a warning to partial testers, asking them to please contact us or contact their local GED test centers so they can finish up this version,” said Monica Balbuena, chief examiner for LAUSD’s GED testing program.


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Praise for appointment of Janet Napolitano to UC President post

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Kevin Dietsch /UPI/Landov

Friday's news that a University of California Regents committee recommended U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the University of California presidency spread fast in California.  

"Secretary Napolitano has the strength of character and an outsider's mind that will well serve the students and faculty," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a written statement. "It will be exciting to work with her."

What they'll likely be working on is UC funding, which has been cut by $1 billion over the last five years. Napolitano is expected to spend a lot of time in Sacramento trying to convince legislators to restore some of it. Former assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg said he thinks she'll be good at it.

RELATED: US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to head University of California


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Teachers get more time to weigh in on new California science standards

A view of biology teacher Ronald Hitchcock's American Bull Frogs from the science storage room behind his classroom at Sylmar High School.

The California Board of Education delayed a vote this week on whether to adopt teaching goals based on new science standards released last April, because it wants to give teachers more time to comment. 

The Next Generation Science Standards were developed by 26 states, including California. Its benchmarks are designed to change the focus from rote memorization to hands-on experimentation . It represents the first national push to revamp science teaching since 1996. 

"Our members are overwhelmingly in support of the Next Generation Science Standards," said Laura Henriques, president of the California Science Teachers Association.

Still, she understands the board's decision. She said lots of teachers are on vacation over the summer, so they may not have had a chance to review the new standards yet.


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