School district superintendents start nonprofit for education reform

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The superintendents of seven California public school districts announced today they’re starting a new nonprofit to try to improve education.

The superintendents represent more than a million students in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Clovis, and Sanger. Their districts are large and small, urban, suburban, and rural.

They worked together on California’s bid for federal Race to the Top dollars. The bid fell short, but some good ideas came out of the process: sharing information on what works, common standards in English and math, and common ways to measure teacher performance.

“We’re gonna have collaboration of these seven school districts working together to bring the best minds in all these systems to develop these assessments that will go on line for anybody to use," , Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinhauser said at a news conference at 122nd Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

More than 75 percent of the school’s students live in poverty, but the school’s performance — or API — ratings have improved more than 200 points in the last five years.

The new nonprofit is called the California Office on Education Reform. California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss said the new group will use the Race to the Top application as a guide for change.

"This plan says that the train of reform has left the station," said Reiss. "All will be invited on board. But any that choose to continue to stand on the tracks and defend the status quo, will not stop this movement."