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CDE Today for September 24, 2021

A streamlined weekly publication from the California Department of Education (CDE) designed to provide you with clear, consistent updates on what is important to California schools.

CDE Today Logo - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond

Welcome to CDE Today, a streamlined, weekly publication from CDE Communications designed to provide you with clear, consistent updates on what is important to California schools.


SSPI Thurmond Announces Bold Vision for Ensuring Every California Student Learns to Read by Third Grade

On Tuesday, September 21, State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Thurmond launched a bold vision for ensuring that every California student will learn to read by third grade by the year 2026. The effort will also include a biliteracy milestone for dual-language learners. In the weeks to come, SSPI Thurmond is in the process of convening a task force that will bring together practitioners, advocates, researchers, foundation partners, thought leaders, students, parents, and other experts to identify key strategies for advancing this goal. As part of the announcement, SSPI Thurmond also called for efforts to get books in the hands of as many students and families as possible. Video of the press event is archived on Facebook's CDE page External link opens in new window or tab.. Organizations or individuals interested in learning more or who wish to take part in the statewide literacy and book donation effort should email

Student Growth Model Data Release

This week, CDE released California’s Student Growth data, based on the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment results in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The data files contain growth scores for grades four through eight at the local educational agency (LEA), school, and student group levels, and are intended for informational use only. Posted alongside the data is a Student Growth Toolkit to support LEAs and the general public in understanding growth scores and their appropriate uses as well as to how to communicate about them with colleagues. The Toolkit and the data are available on the CDE Growth Model web page. For additional questions, contact the California Growth Model Team by email at

School Health, Safety, and Support

COVID-19 Youth Health Information Act—Assembly Bill 856

The COVID-19 Youth Health Information Act encourages schools and school districts to provide information to our youth and their families on how to safely return to exercise and physical activity after exhibiting signs or symptoms of, or testing positive for, COVID-19. Read the Assembly Bill 856: Pupil Health letter from State Superintendent Thurmond on this topic. More information and resources are available on the CDE COVID-19 Youth Health Information Act web page.

CDPH Issues Updates to K–12 School Guidance for 2021–22 School Year

The California Department Public Health (CDPH) this week issued a few updates to their school guidance. These updates include the timing of testing to exit quarantine and the use of pooled PCR as a testing option during quarantine. View guidance updates on the CDPH K-12 Guidance 2021-22 School Year External link opens in new window or tab. web page and revised FAQs on the CDPH K-12 Schools Guidance 2021-2022 Questions & Answers External link opens in new window or tab. web page. LEAs with questions should contact CDE Deputy Superintendent of Strategy, Planning, and Special Projects Jennie Carreon at

Program Highlights

Serving English Learners Enrolled in Independent Study

Independent Study (IS) is the vehicle being used to provide families with an alternative to in-person instruction this school year. It is important to remember that English learners who are enrolled in IS must be provided with both designated and integrated English language development as part of the IS program. If you have questions about serving English learners in IS, please contact the Multilingual Support Division by email at

American Indian Education Oversight Committee

The CDE’s American Indian Education Oversight Committee (AIEOC) met for the second time on September 16 for an important discussion on California’s accountability system, identification of Native Indian students, and the state’s System of Support. The committee also discussed support provided to LEAs to improve the academic success of Native Indian students, CDE’s newly developed Tribal Consultation Guidance, and a legislative overview including Assembly Bill (AB) 945, AB 1055, and AB 1554. To learn more, visit the CDE American Indian Education Committee web page or contact

Events and Opportunities

Thurmond to Launch Effort to Improve Black Student Achievement—September 29

On Wednesday, September 29, at 11 a.m., SSPI Thurmond will hold a virtual press conference to announce a new effort to improve Black student achievement in the state. SSPI Thurmond’s plan is expected to focus on legislation that will fund professional learning for educators and include resources to support Black students who attend schools that are highly segregated by race and ethnicity and with high poverty rates. The event will be streamed live on Zoom and on Facebook's CDE page External link opens in new window or tab..

School Nutrition Town Hall—September 28

On September 28, 2021, the CDE Nutrition Services Division (NSD) will host the 23rd School Nutrition Tuesday@2 Town Hall to support LEAs and School Nutrition Program leaders through the complexities of managing meal programs during COVID-19. In addition to providing policy updates, this town hall will feature two foodservice directors sharing their best practices for meal service during COVID-19 and addressing their solutions to the supply chain challenges. All LEAs are encouraged to register on Zoom in advance for the Tuesday@2 School Nutrition Town Hall webinar External link opens in new window or tab..

Universal Meals Listening Session—October 5

On October 5, 2021, NSD will host the first in a series of Universal Meals Listening Sessions. These listening sessions are designed to support the successful implementation of the California Universal Meals Program effective in School Year 2022–23. Register on Zoom for the Universal Meals Listening Session External link opens in new window or tab.. NSD also released the first round of Universal Meals Frequently Asked Questions. To submit your universal Meals question, please email NSD at

Apply to Be Part of the Recommended Literature List—Deadline October 1

The CDE invites qualified individuals to apply on the CDE Recommended Literature List web page to be a member of the Recommended Literature List: Prekindergarten through Grade 12 (Recommended Literature List) Committee. The Recommended Literature List is a curated database of books for children and teens designed to help students, teachers, and families find books that entertain, inform, and explore new ideas and experiences. Applications to join the Recommended Literature List Committee External link opens in new window or tab. (Online Survey) must be received by October 1, 2021. If you have any questions regarding the Recommended Literature List or participation on the committee, please contact the Recommended Literature List team at


Thurmond Names Betty Reid Soskin as California Education Ambassador

State Superintendent Thurmond proudly recognized Betty Reid Soskin, a pioneering Bay Area civil rights activist, musician, businesswoman, and the oldest living National Park Ranger, as an Ambassador to California education on her 100th birthday. Soskin was honored on September 22 with the distinction during a renaming ceremony of a West Contra Costa Unified middle school that now bears her name. Read the CDE Newest California Education Ambassador news release about the recognition.

Celebrating California’s Blue Ribbon Schools

Congratulations to the 26 California public schools that were announced this week by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that close achievement and opportunity gaps and achieve high learning standards. Read the CDE 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools news release about the award.

CDE Director Featured in CSBA Newsletter for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Alesha Moreno-Ramirez, Director of the CDE Multilingual Support Division, was featured in the California School Boards Association’s September newsletter to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. Moreno-Ramirez discussed the benefits of embracing students’ heritage and culture and engaging their families and best practices to help districts do this authentically. Read the entire Engaging Students Starts with Embracing Families article External link opens in new window or tab. on the CSBA blog.

Important Dates and Deadlines

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Since the pandemic began, students have experienced intense stress and some of the biggest challenges they may experience in a lifetime. We must ensure that we prioritize the mental and emotional health of students who will likely be entering a very different school environment this fall. During Suicide Prevention Week (September 5–11), World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2021), Suicide Prevention Month (the month of September) and throughout the year, schools are encouraged to use the following resources to engage students, staff and the larger school community: the CDE Mental Health Resources web page, the CDE Help for Students in Crisis web page, the LivingWorks Online Training web page External link opens in new window or tab. for middle and high school staff and students, and the Back to School: Mental Health Thrival Kit External link opens in new window or tab. from the Suicide is Preventable website External link opens in new window or tab..

National Hispanic Heritage Month

The CDE encourages you to annually recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Learn more at the National Archives Hispanic Heritage Month website External link opens in new window or tab..

Digital Citizenship Week

The CDE encourages you to recognize October 17–23, 2021, as Digital Citizenship Week. This event is one of many efforts in California to build capacity for students and families to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world. Digital Citizenship Week is recognized on the third week of October each year. Read more on the CDE Digital Citizenship web page.

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CDE is committed to improving communications with more than 1,000 school districts and county offices and 10,000-plus school districts. If you have any feedback about this publication or would like to see information on particular topics, please email

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Last Reviewed: Friday, September 24, 2021
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