October 16, 2023
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, California Department of Education, and Partners Unveil Plans to Drive Improvements in Statewide Student Performance and Professional Development
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California Department of Education (CDE), and partners today unveiled plans to drive improvements in statewide student performance at a press conference. Thurmond called for educators, researchers, advocates, and families to join the CDE in building a cohesive, statewide strategy for driving improvement in student performance. Thurmond also stated that legislation to fund training for educators is expected to increase student proficiency in math and reading over time.
“Oftentimes, it is hard to talk about state student performance when many of our districts are working individually, but we want to create a strategy that promotes more collective action among our districts and what we can do here at a state level to support them,” Thurmond said during the press conference. “We intend to introduce legislation in this next legislative cycle that would make a massive investment in professional development for those who teach reading and those who teach math—an investment that could total $500 million.”
The announcement comes as low scores recently reported in national measures, including ACT and National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, show that students all across the country continue to need deep support in learning acceleration to overcome learning gaps that have existed for decades and grew deeper during the pandemic.
Special guest speakers for the press conference included Dr. Karla Estrada, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction for the Los Angeles Unified School District; Jeffrey De La Torre, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Board Member; Dr. Ayanna Davis, Vice President of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees; Dr. Shaunte Knox, Director of Black Student Achievement for Compton Unified School District; Dr. Christopher Nellum, Executive Director of Education Trust—West; Gloria Corral, President and CEO of the Parent Institute for Quality Education; Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, Deputy Director of Californians Together; Erika Jones, Secretary-Treasurer of the California Teachers Association; David Schapira, Director of Government Relations for the California School Employees Association; and Juan Ramirez, Executive Vice President of the California Federation of Teachers.
“I represent a quarter-million classified school employees from across the state of California, and our members are uniquely positioned to understand the needs of our students—we are paraeducators, library aids, food service workers, and bus drivers who directly interact with students,” said Schapira at the press conference. “We appreciate this opportunity to stand side-by-side with the State Superintendent to ensure that this call is answered, and our members stand ready to answer that call.”
“In the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) data and other data that we've already started to dive deeply into, we’ve seen areas that have had growth and areas where we see some ongoing work that we must continue to be focused on,” said Estrada, speaking virtually at the press conference. “We welcome, at Los Angeles Unified, the opportunity to have collective commitment at the state and have collective action as the State Superintendent has outlined. Los Angeles Unified is committed to that as a district, and we are committed to receiving and welcoming these additional resources and using a more comprehensive approach statewide.”
“Policy change doesn't just happen by a bill being signed; it comes with a complicated, nuanced focus on implementation that the Superintendent spoke about earlier this morning, and that happens across 1,000 districts in our state,” said Nellum, speaking virtually at the press conference. “After today, we need committed action from many folks across the state, and we are eager at Ed Trust West to partner more closely with Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education and take whatever steps we can as advocates to bring people together.”
At the press conference, CDE staff also highlighted current investments in universal prekindergarten, literacy coaches and specialists, and community schools wraparound supports to address the mental health and other whole child needs of students.
Anyone who wishes to work with CDE on efforts to improve statewide student performance can get involved by emailing CAstudentperformance@cde.ca.gov.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100