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CTA’s Quality Education Investment Act gains steam LEFT: Students at John Muir Elemen- tary in Merced excelled in the past two years because QEIA funding pro- vided smaller class sizes and time for teacher collaboration. BELOW: This classroom bull’s-eye shows the API goal of another QEIA school, Martin Elementary in Santa Ana. packed a hotel conference room. “We have a real opportunity to build on the right reforms that you will hear about today — proven reforms like smaller class sizes, better training and collab- oration time for teachers, addi- tional counselors and parental involvement.” QEIA’s reforms are lifting up learners, and about 85 percent qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The scope of the landmark re- inner-city elementary school has made in the face of many chal- lenges — and she’s hopeful about its future. Despite a lower-income student O population and a campus in a high- crime part of Oakland, promising new data shows that New High- land Academy is making impres- sive gains because of proven re- forms funded by the CTA-spon- sored Quality Education Invest- ment Act (QEIA) of 2006. “The smaller class sizes and col- laboration time provided by QEIA are critical for us,” says Palacios, akland educator Julie Pala- cios is rightfully proud of the academic progress her who is a member of the Oakland Education Association. “We have time to make decisions about pro- fessional development and how to deal effectively with the needs of all of our students.” New Highland Academy had an outstanding Academic Perfor- mance Index (API) growth of 108 points to 735 over the past two years, the time that QEIA has been fully implemented. The API is de- termined largely by test scores, and the highest possible API score is 1,000. The state has an API goal of 800 or above for all schools. Pala- cios feels that’s within reach at New Highland, where two-thirds of the students are English language 18 California Educator | DECEMBER 2010 • JANUARY 2011 form QEIA law is unprecedented. As a result of a settlement of a Proposition 98 dispute between CTA and Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2006, nearly 500 low-performing California schools with about a half-million students are sharing $3 billion in extra resources over eight years. The funding goes for proven reforms such as smaller class sizes, more counselors, better training for teachers and princi- pals, and allowing vital collabora- tion time to foster effective teach- ing practices. Symposium sets the tone Palacios was one of nearly 200 California teachers, educa- tion experts and legislative staff members who took part in a Nov. 30 CTA symposium on QEIA in Sacramento — the largest public ed- ucation reform pro- gram of its kind in the nation. “California has to stop playing the blame game with our public schools and start do- ing what’s best for our children’s future,” CTA President David A. Sanchez told the crowd that our at-risk students, he said. “And if early indications hold true, QEIA is an investment that will continue to generate benefits for these schools, communities and California well into the future.” State Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Tom Torlakson, who authored the QEIA legisla- tion, was loudly applauded when he asked the audience, “Isn’t it time to put a spotlight on the pos- itive things going on in California schools?” He added, “Isn’t it time we stop blaming teachers, and time to point to the success?” New research shows results A new QEIA research report unveiled at the symposium high- lights that success. It shows that this teacher-led reform law is helping to close achievement gaps and supporting at-risk students so they can make gains in the face of chal- lenges from pov- erty, language and diversity. For example, during the second year of QEIA im- plementation, the average API growth of QEIA schools was nearly 50 percent higher than that of similar, non-QEIA schools. The report, “Lessons From the Photo by Dave Monley

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