California School News — November 2017
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SBE Changes Dashboard; Approves Inclusive Textbooks

The State Board of Education updated criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard at its November meeting.

The change reduces the number of districts and schools rated red, indicating the lowest performing category, and moves more schools to the second-lowest category, orange. If a district or subgroup has two red indicators, they are designated as in need of help.

The State Board said California Department of Education advisers recommended the change after flat scores on statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment tests in math and English language arts created wide fluctuations in Dashboard indicators.

“The new cut points actually identify more schools in the red and orange categories and will allow those communities to focus resources on areas of concern,” said Teri Burns, legislative advocate for CSBA. “The new LCAP template for this June will require districts to report their plans to improve areas ranked red or orange. As we get more data, system fluctuations will level out, but until then we need some patience and willingness to make changes that make the data more useful.”

Some advocacy groups criticized the move and lack of public discussion about the process. In a letter to the State Board, 14 civil rights and advocacy groups stated, “We appreciate the volatility that would result were the current cut scores and color designations used with no modifications. However, we do not think the answer is to establish the significant negative precedent of altering the rubrics to produce the result the State finds more palatable.” They urged the board to reevaluate the content of the Smarter Balanced tests and to have more public transparency. A report on the quality of the tests is due in February 2018.

Inclusive textbooks approved

Also at the meeting, the SBE made history by approving 10 textbooks for kindergarten through eighth-grade students that include the historical contributions of the LGBT community. California is the first state to include LGBT inclusive history textbooks in the classroom.

“[The textbooks] update the teaching and learning of history and social science and convey important new information about the challenges and contributions made by individuals and ethnic groups, members of the LGBT communities and people with disabilities ... individuals and groups who may not have been fully included in the past,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. The textbooks will be used in K-8 classrooms as part of lessons on history and social science.

In one example, the material will include discussion of the challenges faced by astronaut Sally Ride.

The additions to the history and social science curriculum are a part of guidelines established by the FAIR Education Act from 2011 mandating study of a broad range of ethnic and cultural groups and people with disabilities. As part of this, the State Board also voted this month to expand coverage of the Filipino contributions to the farm labor movement and the role of activist Larry Itliong; add information on the illegal deportation of thousands of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s, many of whom were U.S. citizens; provide more detail on African-American history and slavery and include perspectives on the mistreatment of Native Americans in California’s missions before statehood.

In another move, the SBE voted to improve the representation of India and Hinduism in instructional material through the rejection of two textbook programs, voting unanimously to approve edits submitted by Hindu-American community groups. A coalition led by the Hindu American Foundation urged the board to push for an accurate, equitable and culturally competent portrayal of Hinduism and India in California textbooks. Another group of Indian-Americans, known as the South Asian Histories For All Coalition, expressed concern that some of the approved changes erased the histories of Buddhists, Dalits, Sikhs and other South Asian communities, and noted that the edits proposed by their group were not adopted.

These changes were based on a lengthy review process overseen by the Instructional Quality Commission involving teachers, historians and public comment. Going forward, school districts can either use the approved SBE material or choose their own so long as it reflects the new standards.

Members of the Student Advisory Board on Education also took part in the meeting. Students from across the state came to Sacramento to work together on recommendations and proposals and deliver them to the SBE. Proposals included greater use of restorative justice by school districts, adding career and technical education indicators to the California School Dashboard and developing a youth advisory board for the student representative to the SBE. Visit CSBA’s blog at to read more about these student advocacy efforts.

More information on the 2017 History-Social Science Framework adoption of K-8 instructional materials process can be found on the CDE website at