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A. Introduction

Our Journey Together on The California Way.

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Immediately following his election as California's State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2011, Tom Torlakson convened a Transition Advisory Team to provide him with advice on the critical issues facing public education. The result was the groundbreaking A Blueprint for Great Schools.

Now in 2015, as Superintendent Torlakson starts his second term, many of the goals identified in the Blueprint report have become reality. With the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012, the fiscal crisis impacting public education in California eased temporarily. But Proposition 30 soon expires, making the search for stable and sufficient education funding a top priority. Financial stability is essential for our state's districts and schools to continue the exciting implementation of the far-reaching changes now under way. These include the implementation of new California Standards,1 the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and the transformation of California's education accountability systems from the "test and judge" methods of the past to the "support and improve" approaches of the future that now have irreversible momentum.

The days of California's reliance on a single standardized test for accountability purposes are over. While we had good intentions, we now recognize that we were using the wrong drivers for positive educational change. The implementation of the LCFF and the new California Standards drive an accountability system that differs from the previous one in almost every respect. Schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) throughout California now have a unique opportunity to reconfigure themselves as learning organizations committed to continuous improvement.

The California Way logo.

The result of all of this work is emerging as The California Way, which builds on a collaborative team approach to positive education change and is now attracting national attention as an alternative to test-driven reform. The California Way rests on the belief that educators want to excel, trusts them to improve when given the proper supports, and provides local schools and districts with the leeway and flexibility to deploy resources so they can improve. The California Way engages students, parents, and communities as part of a collaborative decision-making process around how to fund and implement these improvement efforts, and provides supplemental resources to ensure that California's English learners (ELs), foster youths, and students in poverty have the learning supports they need.2

Today, the eyes of the nation have shifted appreciatively to our state as The California Way gains momentum. With Governor Jerry Brown, Superintendent Tom Torlakson, the State Board of Education (SBE), the State Legislature, and other key stakeholders fundamentally aligned on the major issues facing public education, we have an exciting and unprecedented opportunity to make meaningful advances together.

We recognize that much work remains to be done. To provide a framework for his next four years in office, Superintendent Torlakson again asked key external advisers and staff at the California Department of Education (CDE) to describe California's Education North Star (see section B) and to develop strategic recommendations that will prioritize and organize the work ahead.3 He asked that this work be undertaken rapidly so that it could provide the basis for detailed strategic planning by the CDE and its partners.

California stands at a crossroads of huge significance. The recommendations in A Blueprint for Great Schools: Version 2.0, when successfully implemented, will provide for great strides along The California Way for our students and the adults that serve them.

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  1. Throughout this document, the term California Standards is used to refer to the full range of standards that describe our state's learning goals for students, including the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, English Language Development Standards, Career Technical Education Standards, Infant/Toddler and Preschool Early Learning Foundations, and future new standards in other subject areas, including history and social science, social and emotional learning, and visual and performing arts.
  2. Throughout the rest of this document, English learners (ELs), foster youths, and students in poverty will be referred to as "CFF subgroups."
  3. The Blueprint 2.0 group was co-chaired by Martha Infante, Teacher, Los Angeles USD; David Rattray, Executive Vice President, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Steinhauser, Superintendent, Long Beach USD. See the acknowledgments section for the full list of Blueprint 2.0 team members.

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Questions: Dina Fong | dfong@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0551 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 21, 2016
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