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New school accountability system to be discussed at DHS forum

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From page A1 | September 15, 2013 | Leave Comment

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Rick Miller of CORE. Courtesy photo

A whole new way of holding schools accountable is the cornerstone of education policy expert Rick Miller’s presentation Monday in Davis titled “A New Vision for Public Education.” Miller is executive director of the CORE, California Office to Reform Education.

His talk, at 7 p.m. in the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St., is part of a forum jointly sponsored by the Yolo County School Boards Association and the UC Davis School of Education.

Eight school districts in the CORE group were granted a waiver in August by the U.S. Department of Education, allowing those districts to implement the CORE-developed School Quality Improvement System in place of the unpopular federal No Child Left Behind accountability rules.

The eight participating CORE districts covered by the waiver are Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger and Santa Ana Unified school districts. Together, these CORE districts serve more than 1 million students.

The U.S. Department of Education earlier this year turned down California’s proposed statewide NCLB waiver, then the eight CORE districts came back with a different waiver proposal on their own, which was approved.

Other school districts may get an opportunity to participate in the CORE waiver in the next few years.

“There are lots of things that are different in our waiver,” Miller told The Enterprise. “It rewrites the entire federal theory on education. We are changing the accountability model, de-emphasizing test scores.

“Right now, for high school students, about 100 percent of the (state’s) Academic Performance Index and the (federal) Adequate Yearly Progress rankings are based on test scores. In our model, (test scores) will be 40 percent.”

Miller said the CORE system uses multiple measures and also looks at factors like graduation rates, social and emotional conditions, and the number of suspensions and expulsions.

“We are looking at school culture and climate,” he said. “It is a very, very different way of looking at school accountability.”

Details of this new system are still being fleshed out, since the federal waiver was only granted in August, he added.

“The second big thing about our School Quality Improvement System is that when schools are not being successful, rather than sanction them, our strategy is to give them assistance from their (school) peers,” Miller explained. “Rather than a ‘top-down’ system with the federal or state government telling you what to do, under our system (if a school is falling behind), we partner them with a school that has similar demographics and is high-performing. They will have regular visits with each other, and work meaningfully together.”

Miller has been the executive director of CORE since the organization’s founding in 2010. Prior to that, he was the deputy state superintendent for the P-16 (Preschool through College) Policy and Information Branch of the California Department of Education.

Before that, Miller worked for Microsoft, where he developed communications strategies on privacy, security and overall corporate image. Earlier in his career, he served as a strategic communications adviser to the chancellor of the California State University System, and as press secretary to Richard W. Riley, U.S. secretary of education in the Clinton administration.

For more information about the Monday presentation, contact Davis Board of Education member Susan Lovenburg at SLovenburg@djusd.k12.ca.us or 530-304-6360.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE

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