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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-36
May 1, 2018
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Announces
New Equity Grants to Narrow the Achievement Gap

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) awarded $2.5 million in grants to narrow the achievement gap for students whose performance lags behind other groups.

Torlakson worked closely with Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, to get funding for the grant program, which the Legislature and the Governor approved last year. The grants will help make progress on one of Torlakson’s top priorities—reducing the lingering achievement gap, particularly for Latino and African American students.

“This is a small but important step in our efforts to reduce the pernicious and persistent achievement gap,” said Torlakson. “I applaud educators who put together the innovative programs that won grants. With these grants, educators can refine promising ideas that, if proven successful, can be shared with educators across the state.”

The San Diego County Superintendent of Schools and the Santa Clara County Office of Education will receive the funds to focus on English learners, African American students, and students with disabilities, who rank lower in test scores, high school graduation rates, and other measures.

“I am pleased to increase support for the important work these education agencies are doing for students who need help,” said Torlakson. “We need to do more, and we need to do better. By reducing the achievement gap, we can help all of our students achieve their dreams of 21st century careers and college.”

The funding is part of the state budget and authorized CDE to award grants to education agencies that can build the capacity of school districts and public schools to promote equity and increase opportunities for underserved students.

The San Diego County Superintendent of Schools and the Santa Clara County Office of Education will disseminate information on effective equity practices; develop and provide trainings, conferences, and workshops; and work with targeted student groups. Information will be shared statewide.

California has been making progress in closing the achievement gap, but some student groups still fall behind state averages. High school graduation rates reached an all-time high in California last year of 83.2 percent. For African American students, the graduation rate reached a record high of 72.6 percent, up more than 12 percentage points from 2010. For Hispanic or Latino students, the graduation rate climbed to a record high of 80 percent, up nearly 12 percentage points from 2010.

The San Diego County Superintendent, in partnership with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, will implement an “Educational Equity for African American and English Learners Project” which will build school site teams’ capacity to assist targeted students groups.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education created the “California One: Highway to Success for All” project for students with disabilities, English Learners, and African American students. The grant will increase the knowledge and skills of administrators, teachers, and school staff so that they can incorporate equity and inclusion at their school sites. Technical assistance and coaching will be offered to schools in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties.

Since being elected eight years ago, Torlakson has placed a top priority on reducing the achievement gap. Since then, test scores have increased, high school graduation rates improved, Advancement Placement (AP) participation soared, and college admission eligibility went up, but Torlakson said important work remains to be done.

Information is available on the CA Equity Performance and Improvement Program Web page, or contact the Improvement and Accountability’s Regional Support and Awards Office at 916-319-0836 or

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, January 14, 2020
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