Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CVESD takes multilevel approach to attendance

Yolanda Sierra meets with a parent at Loma Verde Elementary about a child’s attendance. Misael Virgen

Student absences cause a reduction in revenue for schools, so it pays to hire someone to help fix the problem.

School district takes multilevel approach to attendance
Chula Vista Elementary School District works with families to cut student absences
By Caroline Dipping
Nov. 6, 2013

Truancy by the numbers:
Critical attendance referrals from school sites to the district level last year: 119
Cases that are scheduled each year to go before School Attendance Review Board: 50
Home visits made in a typical day by Yolanda Sierra: 7
Home visits made in the 2012-13 school year: 518
Of those, 265 were for attendance issues
Cases that went to the Truancy SARB Mediation program in 2012-13: 9

CHULA VISTA — Wearing sensible shoes and armed with the California Education Code, Yolanda Sierra starts most of her workdays knocking on doors as early as 6:45 a.m. If she doesn’t make contact with the family she wants to visit, she wedges her business card in the door.

If the card goes unheeded, she comes back within 24 hours. If she strikes out again, she sends out a letter.

“I’m very persistent,” Sierra said.

Sierra is the welfare and attendance technician/home visitor for the 29,200-student, 45-school Chula Vista Elementary School District. She is as responsible for getting kids into the classroom as she is working with parents to help them understand the importance of keeping their children in school.

In a typical day, Sierra may visit up to seven families. Since the school year began in July, she has visited 80 families where children have missed large amounts of school.

Sierra’s home visits are just one step in a multilevel approach the largest K-6 school district in California uses to ensure their students come to school every day. So often, it starts with educating and helping the parents.

“I think that our wraparound approach, trying to provide services, the home visiting, customizing the dialogue, that personal connection, is a big piece,” said Lisa Butler, student placement manager for the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “All the strategies happening have really created a culture in our district that we want kids at school.

“Administrators know it. Staff knows it. Everyone speaks to it.”

For their efforts, the Chula Vista district was designated earlier this year as one of 11 districts in the state as a model of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the state’s School Attendance Review Board, or SARB. The district has received the designation before, including in 2008 and 2011.

About 1 million elementary school students in California were truant in the past year, according to a report released earlier this month by state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Truancy in California is defined as a student missing school or coming late by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse at least three times during an academic year. Students who are absent for 10 percent of a school year are deemed chronically truant and at higher risk academically and socially.

Last year, the problem cost San Diego County elementary schools nearly $95 million — or about $211 per student — in state attendance money, the report showed. Missing large amounts of school during the K-6 years is among the strongest predictors of dropping out in high school, according to Harris’ report.

Depending on the statistics cited, between 82 and 98 percent of those currently incarcerated in state prison were truants.

In the Chula Vista district, the reasons a student may have a critical attendance issue are as many as the days of a school year. Some are as simple as a parent wanting to keep their child home on rainy days for fear they might catch a cold. Others are more complex.

Often, transportation is an issue. Occasionally, a child is afraid to go to school because of bullying. Sometimes a family is homeless.

There are parents who are reluctant to send their student to school if the child has a chronic medical condition such as asthma. Just as often, one or both parents have a health issue and they keep their child home to take care of things because there is nobody else to help out.

“We look to see if there are circumstances creating barriers for families,” Butler said. “What are the problems?

“We try to bring the support to the family. We try to look creatively at their barrier.”

For every reason, Chula Vista’s team works toward a solution.

Sierra has picked up students at their homes and brought them to school when transportation has been the problem. If it’s bullying, students meet with their principal and school counselor to discuss solutions.

CVESD works closely — so closely that some centers are on campuses — with Family Resource Centers that connect parents to needed medical care and social services. Accommodations are made with the school nurse if a child has a chronic illness and parents are reassured by Sierra and others that staff are equipped to handle medical situations.

With homeless families faced with the pressing reality of putting a roof over their heads, school is often the last thing on their minds. Sierra tries to get them to think outside the box.

“What I try to explain to them if the kids are in school, that is seven hours they don’t have to worry about what is going to happen,” she said. “I try to give them a different perspective.”

Chula Vista’s proactive approach has been practically perfect.

“Last year, 32 of our schools ended at 3 percent or less critical absence,” Butler said.

Yet, when all the district’s efforts don’t yield consistent attendance, the case is sent to Truancy SARB Mediation. The pilot program between the Chula Vista school district and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office began last November and is slated to expand to all the county’s school districts this year.

The program is geared toward families and children younger than 11. Meetings between a parent or parents, their child, a school district representative and a deputy district attorney are held the first Wednesday of each month in the law library at the South Bay Courthouse in Chula Vista.

“It’s been an amazing successful program for families when nothing else has worked,” said Cyndi Jo Means, the mediating deputy district attorney. “These families have been to a lot of meetings at schools with a lot of people sitting across the table from them that they perceive as ganging up on them.

“The whole goal of the mediation is to even the playing field. This is one on one. Kids get to participate as much as the grown-ups.”

Agreements are made, not just by parents and kids, but by the school district as well.

“We totally change the dynamic,” Means said. “Parents are given credence and power in the situation where they haven’t felt like they had it before. They aren’t the only ones who have to change. The school has to change, too.”

Butler cited an example where change all around has led to success.

Two years ago, a fourth-grader with critical attendance faced many of the aforementioned barriers. Her mother struggles with her own health issues, she has a special-needs sibling, and she simply didn’t want to be at school.

Meetings with the school counselor and multiple home visits proved futile. Frustration did not begin to describe it for Butler and her staff.

Then the family was referred to the Truancy SARB Mediation program last year. The student was asked, “What do you want to do? What could we do to make school better for you?” And she was told her classmates missed her when she was not in school.

“That changed her countenance, that sense of belonging,” Butler said. “She got excited.”

Now in the sixth grade, the girl comes to school regularly. She spends part of her day helping a kindergarten teacher and she works in the library. Per her request — that was written into the SARB agreement — she has a specific adult she can reach out to if she has any problems.

“Sometimes, it looks like we just want the kids in school,” Butler said. “That is the perspective.

“It isn’t just the attendance record. Our team is really motivated because we are very concerned about the loss of human potential when those kids miss school. We want them to want to be in school, to see what exciting things are ahead for them. That is our motivation.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pertussis Cases in San Diego Double from Last Year

Pertussis Cases in San Diego Double from Last Year
So far this year, 334 cases of whooping cough have been reported locally, up from 165 in 2012
By Monica Garske
Dec 26, 2013

There’s been a major increase in the number of cases of whooping cough across San Diego County this year -- up double from last year’s count, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

So far, 334 local cases of pertussis have been reported, including 12 new cases in local school districts. Compare that to 165 cases reported in San Diego County in 2012.

According to the HHSA, the one dozen new cases of whooping cough involved patients between the ages of six and 16. v This includes: a 12-year-old student at R. Roger Rowe School in the Rancho Santa Fe School District; a 6-year-old student at Cajon Park School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Sycamore Canyon Elementary School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Heritage Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District; a 14-year -old student at Hillsdale Middle School in the Cajon Valley Union School District; and two students – ages 15 and 16 – at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla.

The HHSA says additional recent cases include a person at Flying Hills Elementary School, two people who attend the San Onofre Child Development Center at Camp Pendleton, a person at Monarch School and a person at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church Preschool.

All but the latter case involved patients with up-to-date immunizations.

Given the uptick in pertussis cases, county public health officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., says it’s important for locals to be up-to-date on their vaccines and booster shot.

“It’s likely that activity levels will remain elevated in the region,” Wooten said.

In order to combat whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says children should get doses of the DtaP vaccine at the ages of two months, four months, six months, 15 to 18 months and four to six years. The CDC also recommends that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster shot.

Individuals without medical insurance can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

Health officials say pertussis symptoms include a cough and runny nose for one or two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. A mild fever may also arise.

The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Now, while cases of pertussis have doubled this year, the HHSA says the current number of cases is much lower than the record-setting number reported in 2010.

That year, a total of 1,179 cases of whooping cough were reported across the county, two of which resulted in infant deaths. In 2011, the number declined substantially, with a total of 400 cases reported in San Diego County.

For more information about whooping cough and local vaccination clinics, visit this website or call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966.

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-Cases-of-Pertussis-Whooping-Cough-Double-237339681.html#ixzz2ohuR0WPy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

South Bay school officials have entered a number of guilty pleas; trial Feb. 18, 2014 if any defendants remain

Former South Bay schools officials have day in court
Sweetwater and Southwestern administrators make pleas in corruption cases
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Dec. 7, 2013

On December 6, readiness conferences began in the South Bay courthouse at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 4:00. All of the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College defendants appeared in court with the exception Jeff Flores, former program manager for Southwestern’s Proposition R.

Judge Ana España issued a $25,000 bench warrant for Flores.

In those brief hours on Friday — as attorneys scurried between the judge’s chambers and the clients in the courthouse hallways — deals were hammered out for Southwestern College’s remaining defendants.

Former Southwestern superintendent Raj Chopra pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in October.

Former Southwestern trustee Yolanda Salcido pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on count 48, perjury in relation to her 700 form. Sentencing was set for April 22, 2014, and Salcido faces a fine of up to $5000.

Former Southwestern vice president Nicholas Alioto pleaded guilty to one felony count, penal code 32. Alioto admitted to aiding former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable to commit a felony by accepting a thing of value and failing to report it on his 700 form. Alioto will be sentenced on January 7.

The former facilities manager at Southwestern, John Wilson, also pleaded guilty to one felony, penal code 32, and will also be sentenced on January 7.

Both Alioto and Wilson face the possibility of a $10,000 fine and three years in a state prison. However, in pleading guilty, the court will consider alternatives to custody.

Earlier in the day on December 6, former Southwestern College trustee Jorge Dominguez pleaded guilty to a felony. In a related case, former superintendent Manuel Paul pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Next Friday, again at 1:30, all of the Sweetwater defendants will return to the South Bay courthouse for a continuation of their readiness hearings.

Courtroom locker talk suggests that the Sweetwater hearings will look much the same as the Southwestern hearings: a sprinkling of felonies, a handful of misdemeanors, and a stage swept clean.

Deputy district attorney Leon Schorr said in a December 7 email: “As to remaining defendants we have a further date for readiness on the 13th and a trial date confirmed for the 18th of February for any and all that we are unable to resolve.”

Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina's depiction of two cuddling penguins

Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina's depiction of two cuddling penguins will adorn holiday greeting cards sent out by the Chula Vista Elementary School District this season. — Photo courtesy of the Chula Vista Elementary School District

Student's art to grace holiday card to community leaders
Chula Vista Elementary School District has held student card contest for 25 years
By Caroline Dipping
Dec. 11, 2013

CHULA VISTA — Who needs Hallmark?

Not the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

As it has done for more than a quarter of a century, the school district is eschewing the business of buying and mailing out commercial holiday greeting cards in favor of issuing a more homegrown sentiment.

This year, more than 200 of the district’s “key communicators” will receive a greeting card adorned with art created by a Chula Vista student. Specifically, a colorful drawing of two cuddling penguins drawn by Kellogg Elementary School sixth grader Natalie Medina.

Natalie took first place in the school district’s biennial holiday greeting card competition. Her drawing of embracing penguins received the most votes from district personnel and community leaders including Mayor Cheryl Cox and Sunset Rotary Club members who cast their ballots last week in the district office. She received $75.

Camila Natalia Gomez, a fourth grader at Heritage Elementary, took second place with her wintry snowman and won $50 in the competition. Finney Elementary sixth grader Melissa Holtcamp placed third and won $25 for her portrait of a group of people holding hands and a peace symbol.

Each school in the Chula Vista Elementary School District was invited to submit one schoolwide winning card for the competition, with each school-level winner receiving a cash gift of $25. The second and third place winners were also recognized and one of their cards will be used for the 2014 mailings.

The teachers of the districtwide winners will each receive gift certificates. Recipients of the cards will include Mayor Cox and city council members, advisory group members and superintendents in other school districts.

Per district tradition, printing, postage and prize money were donated so there was no cost to taxpayers. This year, Copy Link Inc. in Chula Vista is paying for the printing of the cards and California Coast Credit Union is defraying the cost for postage and prizes.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Chula Vista Elementary teachers once again require loyalty to the Castle Park Family at election time for CVE president

Former Castle Park Elementary teachers Robin Donlan and Peg Myers.

The self-titled Castle Park Family seems to have run Chula Vista Educators for over a decade.

Gina Boyd was the first CVE President who was a member of the Castle Park Family

Since Gina Boyd was CVE president, every person who has held the office has been loyal to the group of teachers who rallied to conceal the illegal actions of teacher Robin Donlan and her power-hungry cohort at Castle Park Elementary from 2000 to 2005.

Once CTA and CVESD make up their minds to cover-up problems, they stick to their guns. Fixing mistakes is not on the agenda. Doing the right thing is not a priority. Protecting themselves and their organizations (in that order) is their goal, even when they have to break the law and violate the contract to do it.

Jim Groth and Peg Myers worked hard to keep the lid on things after Castle Park Elementary teachers went out of control. But when Peg Myers fell into disgrace after a few years as CVE President, apparently due to some type of scam, and clambered clumsily across the bargaining table to work with the district, her followers claimed to be shocked and dismayed that she would do such a thing. I guess they forgot why they were following her in the first place.

Jennefer Porch was president for a while, obediently falling in step behind Jim Groth.

But now teachers have rallied behind Manuel Yvellez, who's major difference with Ms. Porch is that he is livid about teachers being asked to implement Common Core standards.

Mr. Yvellez' CVE election victory was made possible by his PERB complaint about election irregularities. Here is a partial decision from the PERB board that includes a mention of this and other CVE problems, including the bizarre mid-term exit of Peg Myers.

I do applaud Manuel Yvellez for having the courage to challenge the corrupt hierarchy of CTA. But Mr. Yvellez actually boasts of having worked at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz law firm, which has worked behind the scenes with CTA to conceal events in schools, including Castle Park Elementary, so he can hardly claim to be a breath of fresh air for CVESD.

Interestingly, Mr. Yvellez leaves out the name of Dan Shinoff when he refers to the Stutz law firm, calling it "Stutz Gallagher and Artiano." But Mr. Shinoff was a partner at the firm well before Mr. Yvellez was employed. Mr. Yvellez is correct that Robert Gallagher still allowed the firm to use his name at the time Mr. Yvellez was employed. It would appear that Mr. Yvellez was wise to use Mr. Gallagher's name to recall a better time in the firm's history. But how can Mr. Yvellez distance himself from Dan Shinoff when he is so closely connected to individuals who helped Mr. Shinoff conceal events at Castle Park Elementary?

Isn't there any candidate for CVE president who cares about kids, teachers, the rule of law and transparency in government?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Chula Vista Educators president Manuel Yvellez is wrong about Common Core, and how to teach sixth-grade math

Manuel Yvellez, President of Chula Vista Educators (CVE)

See all posts regarding Common Core.

CVE president Manuel Yvellez won office last August by promising to protect teachers from the District's implementation of Common Core standards. He said he'd insist on extra pay for teachers since they would have to design their own curriculum for Common Core.

But how does he propose to show that any given teacher actually designed an effective curriculum?

Here's an obvious way to figure out which teachers designed a good curriculum for Common Core: look at the test scores of their students. Would you agree to that, Mr. Yvellez? Unfortunately, the teachers union (CTA) has been reluctant to approve effective evaluations of teachers, with or without test scores.


I've been thinking about Mr. Yvellez' complaints about the strict timelines for sixth grade Common Core math lessons. This led me to ask myself why teaching math is so difficult for so many teachers.

Of course, there are many reasons, including the fact that most teachers were poorly taught when they themselves were students.

But another reason is that teachers simply don't want to be bothered. They have their way of doing things, and anyone who does things differently should get out of their school or, better yet, out of their district. I have noticed a couple of what I call "lazy teacher syndromes" among teachers at CVESD:

Lazy teacher syndrome #1: I can't be bothered with kids who are behind

At Castle Park Elementary, I was on the math committee with the Teacher of the Year. She stated, without embarrassment, "I don't have time to teach the kids who are behind." Many teachers can't be bothered to figure out how teach more than one level at a time. These teachers certainly shouldn't be paid by the district to develop curriculum.

Lazy teacher syndrome #2: It's not cool to know math

At other schools I taught at, teachers frequently boasted about how they couldn't do their own offspring's elementary math homework. They felt no shame, no embarrassment. They didn't sit down and study their kids' math books. It was apparently considered cool to be a college graduate and math teacher who couldn't do elementary math.

Another teacher at CVESD announced at lunch that there was a problem in the third-grade math book that she couldn't do, her students couldn't do, and none of the parents could do. "It can't be done," she stated. I offered to help her, and after school she showed me a word problem. As soon as I explained to her that the problem involved a number sequence, and that she just had to figure out what number came next, she immediately knew the answer.

This teacher wasn't lazy. And she appreciated the help I gave her.

But other teachers resented my thinking that I could solve a third-grade math problem. It is simply not considered cool among many CVESD teachers to be able to do elementary math. Being clueless is the way to popularity.


Mr. Yvellez complains in his campaign speech (see video below) that Common Core sixth-grade math topics such as fractions and decimals are taught in a different sequence than in his text books.

The Common Core timelines will work just fine if teachers teach basic number concepts in depth, WHILE TEACHING KIDS SIMPLY TO VARY THE WAY THE NUMBERS ARE WRITTEN, AS SEEN HERE:

There is no need to do advanced fractions before starting decimals and percentages and ratios. In fact, each concept can easily be combined, and should be combined, with the other concepts.

The sixth grade math Common Core standards that Mr. Yvellez rants about in his video (see below) specifically instruct the teacher to use VISUAL AIDS.



MATH CAN BE BOILED DOWN TO ONE SIMPLE GOAL: finding different names for a number.

2 plus 2 is one name for a specific number. 4 is another name for that number. If you draw a picture, you see that 2 is half of 4.

The relationship between any two quantities can be expressed as a fraction, decimal, percentage or ratio.

And teachers should constantly use number lines, all kinds of number lines, showing fractions, decimals, whole numbers, etc.


ALL students can benefit from review of basic concepts. After the teacher has presented the basic concept, the advanced students can be challenged with more complicated problems on one side of the whiteboard, while proceeding with more basic ideas for the kids who are at or below grade level.

It can be done. I know, because I did it for years.

It's simple. You just divide the whiteboard in half, and let kids decide which problems they want to do, the easy ones or the hard ones. I liked to put my low-achievers in the front of the room, and the high achievers in the back. I went from side to side of the whiteboard, teaching one type of problem while the other group worked on its own.

I also had a clipboard with every child's name on it. I'd instruct the kids to cover their answers as soon as they were done. I'd come around and they'd show me, and I'd mark down if they had it right.

Then I'd go to the front and give the right answer. (Kids need feedback right away, right at the teachable moment.) I'd tell them to give themselves a star if they had it right, and to change the answer and then give themselves a star if they had it wrong. I wanted right answers, not wrong answers, on their papers.

My kids did terrific on standardized tests.

And we had fun. We all loved math.

Here's the 9 minute 16 second campaign video of Mr. Yvellez from YouTube. In it, Mr. Yvellez talks about how Common Core math standards might hurt students:

No teacher should teach in a way that harms students, and then blame Common Core. There is simply no excuse for such behavior.

And what about the District's responsibility?

The school district insists that teachers carefully evaluate their students' abilities, but the district doesn't even bother to find out if the teachers can do elementary math. Why not give teachers a math test? Then the teachers who do well can give some classes to the teachers who do poorly. But for heaven's sake, CVESD, don't do what you usually do: bring in some consultant and give him huge amounts of tax revenue to do what your teachers can do.

Note: Mr. Yvellez' CVE election victory was probably also helped by his PERB complaint about election irregularities. Here is a partial decision from the PERB board that includes a mention of this and other CVE problems, including the bizarre mid-term exit of former CVE President Peg Myers.


Are some school districts misusing Common Core, rejecting the idea that concepts should be taught in depth?

I've been thinking about this issue, and I believe that Common Core is NOT being misused. Teachers can and should teach basic concepts in depth. They just can't go on and on for months teaching the details of a single basic concept. They have to create a broad understanding in their students of multiple basic concepts.

Common Core timelines can work is to teach basic concepts in depth by teaching the relationships between a variety of numerical conventions, such as fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios at a simple level for kids who are behind, while at the same time giving advanced students more difficult problems. It can be done. I know, because I did it for years. ALL students can benefit from review of basic concepts. Then the advanced students can be challenged by presenting more complicated problems on one side of the whiteboard, while proceeding with more basic ideas for the kids who are at or below grade level.

Comment on "Teachers can be bullied, too"
by Margaret Berry
Teaching Tolerance
3 November 2013

No one ever said teaching would be easy, but I never dreamed that with more than 27 years under my belt I would be treated like an outsider.

When I first read Common Core Standards I thought they would free me to teach my students what they needed when they needed it. I thought that with careful scaffolding and time, they would make progress. Little did I know that my school district would make Common Core more restrictive than a basal reading program. Who knew that someone with years and experience would be told, "not to worry, that mastery isn't necessary.... they will catch up next year or the next".

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tie teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.

Teacher quality matters more for student achievement, so we should quit certifying teachers who can't teach.

"Finding a way to guarantee an effective teacher in every classroom has vexed reformers for decades." So why not try thinking outside the box? Here's my simple plan: a great teacher in every classroom right now, without firing anyone.

See all posts regarding Common Core.

Common Core turns focus to teacher training: Column
Laura Vanderkam
October 1, 2013

Tie teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.
45 states have signed on to the Common Core idea.
A growing research consensus finds that teacher quality matters more than any other school-based factor.

Shortly before school started this fall, New York parents got some grim news. Student scores on old tests looked decent, but once the state aligned its tests with the more rigorous Common Core standards, proficiency rates plummeted.

Most likely, it will happen in your state, too, because 45 states have signed on to the Common Core idea. Soon parents nationwide will see just how much more students need to learn to succeed.

The good news is that changing one variable could change a lot. A growing research consensus finds that teacher quality matters more for student achievement than any other school-based factor (such as class size). Economist Eric Hanushek has calculated that replacing the bottom 7%-12% of U.S. teachers with average teachers would rocket the U.S. to the academic company of the world's highest-performing countries.

The bad news is that finding a way to guarantee an effective teacher in every classroom has vexed reformers for decades. If American schools want to clear the new bar set for them, they'll need a new idea, and they have at least one promising option. A few innovative programs are tying teacher certification not just to completing a degree or program, but also to classroom performance.

Alternative certification programs (think Teach for America) have blossomed in recent decades, but most new teachers still come from traditional schools of education where course work in these programs covers the theory, history and politics of education. Even great grades don't give principals insight into whether a new teacher will command the attention of 30 third-graders.

"Every time principals hire a teacher, they make a gamble," says Christina Hall, co-founder of the Urban Teacher Center. "They don't know if a teacher will improve student performance or not."

Competent teachers

As the stakes get higher, that matters. Students deserve teachers who are "competent in the real challenges they will face," says Stig Leschly, of Match Education, a training program in Boston. How do you explain complex content clearly? What does it mean to have high expectations for students in terms of how you comport yourself Monday morning?

These skills can be taught — and measured.

Match Education, for instance, puts its trainees through an intense program involving hundreds of student simulations. Halfway through the first year, these prospective teachers are scored on mini lessons presented to students. After several months of student teaching, they become full-time teachers but are granted a "Master's in Effective Teaching" only after an assessment of their first year on the job — using principal evaluations, student survey data, expert evaluations and student achievement data.

The Urban Teacher Center trains teachers in math, English language arts and special education, then places them in about 50 schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. To be certified, these new teachers must demonstrate student achievement over their first few years on the job.

For principals looking at a UTC-certified teacher's résumé, Hall says, they'll know "we cut the tail off the bell curve."

Rookie teachers

To be sure, such accountability puts pressure on rookie teachers, but "there's this mythology in education that your first year is just something you live through and then you become a real teacher," says Tim Daly, head of TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project), which trains thousands of new teachers across the country. In reality, performance in training and your first year is fairly predictive of future performance.

Of course, what "performance" means for teachers is an ongoing debate. While UTC focuses on math and English — for which there are tests that show whether a teacher has added value — not all subjects have such assessments.

That doesn't mean accountability can't happen. TNTP evaluates teachers based on student surveys, principal evaluations and feedback from observers who score teachers on classroom performance. These scores are compared with other teachers teaching similar students. The goal is to certify only those TNTP teachers who are "better than most of their peers," says Daly. If teachers are not on a trajectory to be effective, "we part ways."

Used broadly, such accountability will help students meet the Common Core's standards. The key is to recognize, as Ellen Moir, founder of the New Teacher Center puts it, that "we don't have to certify every person that goes into a program."

Students deserve teachers who have data to show they can bring out their best.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.

CVESD superintendent Francisco Escobedo and the UCSD and CSU San Marcos joint doctorate in Educational Leadership

Does all the education theory go out the window as soon as a UCSD/CSU graduate meets the board and--more importantly--the board's lawyers? Or are "practical strategies" taught in the UCSD/CSU program that don't show up in the course descriptions--sort of like what's taught in some law schools? In fact, do "education leadership" programs even claim to deal with problems of law and ethics?

See all Francisco Escobedo posts.

Dr. Francisco (“Frankie”) Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District, is a graduate of the UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. He was previously an assistant superintendent at the South Bay Union School District.

UCSD won't let the public see his dissertation:
Jose Francisco Escobedo (2008). Implementation of a district-initiated inquiry process in a Southern California School District.
Advisor: Janet H. Chrispeels

Here is a description of the UCSD program: Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (downloaded Dec. 3, 2013):
The University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos offer a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership. This cohort-based three-year (including summers) doctor of education degree is designed to enable education leaders to participate in a research-based program while working in an educational setting. Please select the About tab above for more information.

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership functions on a cohort based learning system. Our students represent groups of great depth in diversity and professional experience. Students include Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Principals and Assistant Principals, Program Directors at the Pre-K to University program level, Learning Specialists and School Counselors.

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership has three foci. First, we are committed to a program of study that addresses issues of social justice in all aspects of education.

Second, we teach and use a strengths and asset-based inquiry approach that enables you to embrace your own strengths and to identify and build on the strengths of others as stepping stones to powerful leadership.

Third, we engage you in exploring cutting edge research and practices that will enable you to design and lead educational systems in and for the future.

Currently most educators are preoccupied with repairing a 19th century model of education. We believe we need leaders who know the past but envision the future and are prepared to design and lead in ways that meet the needs of 21st century learners. We envision a community of learners, who strive to critically review and engage in research as a way to contribute to knowledge, improve practice, build theory, and shape the future of education in the region.

Faculty and staff in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
UCSD Affiliated Faculty:
Frances Contreras
Alan J. Daly
In addition to his K-12 public education experience, Alan has most recently...collaboratively supported the delivery of high quality services and research to 5 school districts focusing on the rigorous examination of strengths, building leadership capacity, and facilitating the potential of systems for transformation. Alan has presented at the local, state, and national level around conflict mediation, the creation and maintenance of positive school cultures, and the impact of current accountability structures. As a licensed educational psychologist, he has also provided consultation to school districts working to build and sustain systemic leadership capacity, district reform, and implementation of adult and student conflict mediation systems. Alan’s research interests include social capital, the analysis of social networks, trust, educational policy, and the building of strengths-based systems of support.

Amanda Datnow
Carolyn Huie Hofstetter--
Carolyn Huie Hofstetter works primarily with the Educational Leadership Program. She focuses on evaluation, assessment, and research methodologies, with special emphasis on the validity of assessments for English language learners and adult education students... She has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on several educational projects, including an evaluation of a K-5 transitional bilingual education program (San Jose USD), evaluation of an analytic procedure to align content standards with test items (AAAS/Project 2061), and an evaluation of a professional development program for mathematics teachers of English learners (LHS/EQUALS)...

Currently she is overseeing a federally-funded evaluation of the Striving Readers Initiative at the San Diego USD, which provides intensive literacy instruction for middle and high school students.
Jim Levin
Paula Levin
Alison Wishard Guerra

CSUSM Affiliated Faculty:
Mark Baldwin
Erika Daniels
John Halcon
Kathy Hayden
Jennifer Jeffries
Delores Lindsey
Robin Marion
Grace McField
Sue Moineau
Patricia Prado-Olmos
Lorri Santamariã
Patricia Stall
Laurie Stowell