A Press Democrat Blog

Extra Credit

Daily education news and conversation

Second graders hit the pads

The Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs football team was out at Proctor Terrace Elementary School today, running Ms. Leslie Gude-Dunbar’s second grade class through drills. It was part of an effort to get involved in the community that coaches are encouraging. And it was quite a sight.

Designing a school

I was out at Healdsburg Junior High the other day reporting a story about how the school has been redesigned with the goal of making teaching and learning better — more effective, more collaborative, more creative and so on.  In a lot of ways the idea was to align the design of the physical structure, as well as the technological environment, with the qualities the new Common Core tries to articulate and emphasize.  The story will run this weekend or… Read More »

ArtQuest shows its stuff

The 22nd annual ArtQuest Fall Showcase will be held Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Santa Rosa High School. The free event is open to the public and is a lively — and always crowded — display of student talents nurtured in the eight specialty disciplines of the Santa Rosa High magnet program. Those disciplines are: dance, digital arts, instrumental music, photography, theatre arts, video arts, vocal music and visual fine arts. Information is available at the event about… Read More »

Thinking about grades

I was in a Montgomery High School classroom this week, talking to the seniors about their exercise in design thinking, which was being taught them by three classmates.  Their challenge was to see if there is a more effective way to approach grading.  The approach they are using — the workshop concludes Wednesday — is design thinking. “It’s a different way of approaching problems that focuses on radical collaboration with a bias toward action,” said Riley Beal, 17, a Montgomery… Read More »

Let’s talk Common Core. Yowzer!

So, who wants to talk about Common Core, upon which is built our new regime of standardized testing? I’m very interested in reporting/exploring over time how it is unfolding and working — for teacher and students and parents, too.   As I reported earlier this month on the release of the first Smarter Balanced test scores, I heard from a number of educators that they liked the CC curriculum, that it allowed them to teach smarter and with an emphasis… Read More »

The “Achievement Gap”

I’m going to start work any day on a story about the so-called achievement gap that exists between poorer students, who usually (though not always) are racial or ethnic minorities, and students who generally are from of high-income white families. While there are often specific exceptions, that’s pretty much how it breaks down, according to the data. Here’s a link to my latest story about test scores and a link to the database our brilliant data researcher/analyst Janet Balicki built… Read More »

I’ll be listening on the radio

I’ll be on KBBF 89.1, the nation’s first bilingual radio station, Thursday night to talk about education.  Really, though, I’m most interested in listening — to what people have to say about education in the North Bay and what they want to see covered. I go on at about 6 p.m. with host Rafael Vazquez. 707-545-8833 or info@kbbf-fm.org   / http://www.kbbf-fm.org.    

Truancy in the North Bay

The annual California truancy report in has been released by Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office. Here’s a link. https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2015.

It focuses on truancy at the elementary school level — students who had three or more unexcused absences –  the societal impact of truancy and what it costs counties in state education funds.

The local numbers are:

Sonoma County: had a 17.70 percent truancy rate among elementary school students in the 2013-2014 school year, up from 14.94 the year before. That represented a loss in state funding of $11.5 million, the report said.

Mendocino County: had a 23.10 percent truancy rate in the 2012-20143 year, up dramatically from 14.37 percent the year before. (I should probably look into that). That represented a loss in state funding of $3.7 million in per pupil funds.

Lake County: went down, but only fractionally and from 32.8 percent in the 2012-2013 year to 31.8 percent in 2013-2014.  That represented a loss of $3.3 million in state funding, the report said.

Statewide, the numbers were:  the 2013-2014 truancy rate among elementary school stuednts was 23.2 percent, up from 21.32 percent the year before.

There’s a lot more in the report about the downstream/longterm effects of truancy and absenteeism, but perhaps this can start the conversation.






Truancy report due today

In about 20 minutes, state Attorney General Kamala Harris is going to release her office’s third annual elementary school truancy and chronic absenteeism in California report in about 20 minutes.  She’ll do that at a press event at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. An announcement of the event reads: “The Attorney General will highlight the high economic and public safety costs tied to the state’s elementary school truancy crisis.  The facts are clear: when students are chronically absent… Read More »