California Educator

May / June 2016

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president's message A S T H E S C H O O L Y E A R comes to a close, I look back on the past months with great pride. Not only did we accomplish many of our advocacy and organizational goals, but you — our fantastic educators — continued to teach and inspire students every single day. In many ways it's been an extraordinary, wonderful year, and I applaud all of you. Our work continues, of course. While new laws such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are now in place, we must be prepared to work at the state and local levels to make sure our voices are heard and our students and schools get what they need and deserve. With ESSA we have a real opportunity to redefine what student achievement looks like. We know that an overemphasis on stan- dardized test scores is not what they need. It's not one test score on one day that we've spent too much time prepping students for. No, it takes multiple measures to assess what a student knows and has yet to master. e new federal law asks states and local school districts to define those measures. Right now, educators in California have an opportunity to develop a system of accountability that places learning over test- ing, that values teachers' observations, and that doesn't label and punish, but seeks to understand and improve. I served as co-chair of the California Department of Education's Advisory Task Force on Accountability and Continuous Improve- ment this past year. Our mandate was to review "A Blueprint for Great Schools Version 2.0," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson's plan to provide children with a world-class edu- cation, and make recommendations on what this system should be and how to achieve it. Here's what we discovered: • We need an accountability system that focuses on continued student improvement based on multiple measures, not just a single statewide test score — one that focuses on equity and performance. It's like the dashboard of a car : You need several gauges that together give you critical information as you drive. • Similarly, multiple factors are important to student learning and focusing on the whole child, factors such as teacher-devel- oped tests, classroom work, attendance, graduation rates and advanced classes. ere's also school climate, which includes class size, access to technology, teachers, parent involvement, support of school counselors and nurses, and after-school pro- grams. So many factors shape how a student learns. • Finally, we must support and advocate for equity, access and opportunity for all students. We have to fight to get the resources for students who need more help, more time, and an equal opportunity to succeed. If we learned anything from No Child Left Behind, it's that a l l st a ke h o l d e r s , including lawmak- ers, should share responsibility for students' success. You can't institute an absolute system designed for failure and then blame those who can't achieve "perfection." is work is just one of the ways CTA members are leading our profession — a focal point of CTA's long-term strategic plan. In this all-important election year, the plan is a critical tool as we move forward with purpose and clarity. It outlines how we must continue to build an organizing culture within CTA, engage our communities, and solidify strong, effective coalitions to advance public education and protect students. With these strengths, we can ensure the success of initiatives such as the California Children's Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016, which temporarily extends taxes on the wealthy to prevent billions of dollars in funding cuts for public education and other vital services. We can ensure that smart and humane people are elected to office. We can continue to transform our profession. This year and into the future, it's vital that we all step up as leaders — in the classroom and in schools, of course, but also in our districts and communities. We must make sure we have a place at the table when decisions are being made; we must speak up and take action. We can do it. We will do it. I can't wait to see what the next year brings. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins Eric Heins speaks at a May 4 rally at Forest Park Elementary School in Fremont, marking the National Day to Reclaim Our Schools. Assessing what matters 5 May / June 2016

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