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Meaningful participation among students occurs when contributions to the school and classroom environment are facilitated, rather than directed, by adults; and when learning is connected to students' personal interests and applicable to their lives. Meaningful participation at school cultivates students' autonomy; decision-making and leadership skills; and personal talents and strengths.This What Works Brief, cowritten by Meagan O'Malley, former Research Associate at WestEd, provides teachers and other school staff strategies for supporting students' meaningful participation in school, including:Volunteering to be the advisor to a student-led initiative or interest groupFacilitating an after-school, extracurricular project in a particular content areaHaving students collaborate to set class and school norms, as well as learning goalsAdding student-selected, project-based assignments to curriculaNote: Developed by the California Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) Technical Assistance Center, What Works Briefs summarize state-of-the-art practices, strategies, and programs for improving school climate.Based on the most current research, each of the ten briefs provides practical recommendations for school staff, parents, and community members and can be used separately to target specific issues (e.g., family engagement) or grouped together to address more complex, systemwide issues. What Works Briefs are organized into three sections:Quick Wins: What Teachers and Adults Can Do Right NowUniversal Supports: Schoolwide Policies, Practices, and ProgramsTargeted Supports: Intensive Supports for At-Risk Youth
One of the benefits to California schools participating in CalSCHLS is that a district/school can compare local results with those from other districts/schools and to county and state norms. Such comparisons can help in interpreting trends and guiding program decisions by placing the results in a larger context of what is happening elsewhere. By participating you also contribute to a statewide dataset that can be analyzed to provide insight into broad factors affecting student success that benefit all schools.Standard district student and staff reports are produced in less than three weeks for 90% of districts when the survey is administered online. When the survey is administered in paper-and-pencil format, reports are produced in less than seven weeks after print answer forms are received at WestEd. Reports based on custom survey configurations can take longer. District reports are publicly posted to this website by the end of November of the year following administration. Parent survey results are not posted on the website.
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd;
Produced by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, this 13th annual report on the California teacher workforce takes an extended look at principals in our Golden State and their vital role in supporting teacher effectiveness.The Center provides new information on budget cutbacks to teacher professional development, declining enrollment in preparation programs, drops in the rate of newly credentialed teachers, and escalating educator retirements.The report also looks at how California's school principals perceive their role and how well-prepared they are in helping their teachers become more effective educators.In addition to research and analyses, this report offers useful recommendations. How can we improve the state's system of teacher development and evaluation in ways that strengthen the quality of classroom practice? How can we help educators prepare for the challenge of implementing the Common Core State Standards?
What Are We Doing to Middle School English Learners: Research ReportEXECUTIVE SUMMARYMiddle school students who are English Learners (ELs) quickly run out of time to develop the academic uses of English and the critical skills that will enable them to succeed in the 21st century. What are schools doing during these crucial years to promote ELs' accelerated access to academic language and grade-level, standards-based instruction? How will these students catch up and be able to compete in high school, in college, and on the job market? This study concludes that middle school programs for English Learners in California are failing students and limiting their futures in profound ways. Conducted by researchers in the Quality Teaching for English Learners program at WestEd, the study was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Interviews with 13 school districts with the highest concentration of English Learners in the state and 64 middle schools in those districts found incoherent EL programs across districts and from school to school within districts. The use of below-grade-level materials was found to be widespread in English Learner programs, remediation rather than acceleration was common, and some schools purposely decelerated students' progress through already below-grade-level materials. On California's five-level assessment of English Learners, the California English Language Development Test (CELDT), most students (56 percent) do not progress a single level in a year's time and some even regress (California Department of Education, 2008). School districts in the study identified inadequate teacher preparation for working with English Learners as the primary challenge to these students' academic success. Yet most districts did not provide professional development that would even begin to address teachers' needs. The study also found that schools did not have mechanisms for addressing challenges that they identified. Schools identified teachers of ELs' and EL students' lack of motivation as primary challenges, yet, only six schools reported a focus on student engagement as a support they offered; none reported having a focus on teacher engagement and motivation. Similarly, lack of parental involvement was identified as a major challenge by school interviewees, but only two schools reported having a focus on involving parents. Case studies were developed from classroom observations and interviews in five middle schools that were selected by triangulation of student data (substantially higher than average EL performance on standardized measures), survey responses, and district nominations. These case studies contextualize the study findings— the major challenges schools still face and the promising practices that were found. Practices in one school especially were notable, a small, autonomous district school organized with a focus on targeted grade-level support for students, concerted outreach to parents, and ongoing collegial professional development for teachers.
This report examines the assessment and course placement practices across California's community colleges for incoming students and recommends strategies for overall improvement.Community colleges have processes in place for new student orientation, counseling, assessment, and course placement. Nonetheless, students, by and large, view their matriculation process as a one-shot deal—an isolated event that happens one day with minimal to no advance information.Yet the assessment and placement process involves very high stakes for students and can negatively impact their future success. Course placement affects not only how quickly students can earn a certificate or degree—a factor affecting the cost of their program of study—but also their likelihood of completing a credential at all.Drawing from quantitative analyses and interviews with counselors and students, the authors uncover substantial variance in assessment and placement policies statewide, as well as confusion among both students and counselors about the policies. The authors provide recommendations directed toward making assessment and placement part of overall diagnostic and learning processes that span high school and college.
Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research;
IN PREVIOUS RESEARCH, we found that one in five California community college (CCC) students who are seemingly eligible for federal Pell Grant funds do not receive them.1 While the reasons students forgo these funds are not entirely understood, the consequences are quantifiable: Eligible CCC students pass up $130 million in financial aid in one semester alone. The amounts of forgone Pell Grants vary significantly by student characteristics and by college campus, suggesting that campus financial aid policies and practices may play an important role in whether or not students receive awards. Eligible students can receive as much as $6,095 in Pell funds each year. Because many low-income CCC students receive a state fee waiver that covers tuition, the Pell Grant can help them cover food, rent, transportation, and other expenses, thus allowing them to focus on school. To dive deeper into the phenomenon of forgone aid, we conducted a statewide survey of CCC campus financial aid directors. We sought to learn more about these administrators' perceptions of students' challenges in seeking aid, their general orientation as either conduits or gatekeepers of aid, and also about their institutions' policies and procedures, including methods of outreach to students who are flagged for a verification process that can pose significant challenges for students.
PropelNext is an intensive cohort-based, capacity-building program designed by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) to enhance the performance of promising nonprofits that serve America's disadvantaged youth. In partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Sobrato Family Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation, EMCF launched the second cohort in 2015 comprised of 14 nonprofits in Southern and Northern California. PropelNext stands out from other capacity-building initiatives with the depth and breadth of support it provides to help nonprofits develop performance management practices and cultivate data-driven decision making. The supports provided by the PropelNext team include customized coaching, peer learning sessions, small group coaching workshops, and an online learning community (OLC). Through the three-year initiative, grantees sharpen their program models, develop theories of change (TOCs), implement performance management systems, and cultivate cultures of learning and continuous improvement. With a commitment to learning, EMCF partnered with Engage R+D and Harder+Company Community Research to assess the context, development, and implementation of PropelNext, as well as generate timely insights to refine the model. The developmental evaluation also captures baseline information that can be used to assess the impact of this work over time. The evaluation synthesizes data from a multitude of sources and perspectives using mixed methods that include surveys, interviews, focus groups, site visits, meeting observations, and document review. Findings clearly demonstrate that PropelNext has provided a solid foundation for learning and growth and is catalyzing organizations to a new level of performance and sophistication. While grantees acknowledge the road ahead will likely be full of bumps and detours, they have acquired new knowledge, skills and capabilities to weather the ride. This executive summary, and the full report, highlight key results and insights about the challenges, facilitators, and nuances of building a learning organization.
Coastal upwelling ecosystems around the world are defined by wind-generated currents that bring deep, nutrient-rich waters to the surface ocean where they fuel exceptionally productive food webs. These ecosystems are also now understood to share a common vulnerability to ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH). In the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), reports of marine life die-offs by fishers and resource managers triggered research that led to an understanding of the risks posed by hypoxia. Similarly, unprecedented losses from shellfish hatcheries led to novel insights into the coastal expression of ocean acidification. Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) scientists and other researchers in the CCLME responded to the rise of OAH with new ocean observations and experiments. This work revealed insights into the expression of OAH as coupled environmental stressors, their temporal and spatial variability, and impacts on species, ecological communities, and fisheries. Sustained investigations also deepened the understanding of connections between climate change and the intensification of hypoxia, and are beginning to inform the ecological and eco-evolutionary processes that can structure responses to the progression of ocean acidification and other pathways of global change. Moreover, because the severity of the die-offs and hatchery failures and the subsequent scientific understanding combined to galvanize public attention, these scientific advances have fostered policy advances. Across the CCLME, policymakers are now translating the evolving scientific understanding of OAH into new management actions.
We analyzed coastal sediments of the Santa Barbara Basin, California, for historical changes in microplastic deposition using a box core that spanned 1834–2009. The sediment was visually sorted for plastic, and a subset was confirmed as plastic polymers via FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectroscopy. After correcting for contamination introduced during sample processing, we found an exponential increase in plastic deposition from 1945 to 2009 with a doubling time of 15 years. This increase correlated closely with worldwide plastic production and southern California coastal population increases over the same period. Increased plastic loading in sediments has unknown consequences for deposit-feeding benthic organisms. This increase in plastic deposition in the post–World War II years can be used as a geological proxy for the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene in the sedimentary record.
Frontiers in Marine Science;
Low-cost, portable, observation-class, underwater remotely operated vehicles (microROVs), which can be transported and operated by a single user, are increasingly common tools in scientific, industrial, commercial, and recreational ocean application. Over the last decade, the use of microROVs has boomed; four microROV manufacturers were poised to ship over 10,000 "underwater drones" in 2018 (Thaler, personal observation). This nascent industry provides an affordable underwater observation solution for marine science, conservation, education, and citizen science programs, as well as community groups and other stakeholders wishing to conduct independent marine environmental surveys and provides users with an opportunity to view marine wildlife with minimal disturbance (Figure 1).
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation;
California's recent wildfires, exacerbated by extreme weather conditions, have focused the nation's attention on the problem of managing fire at the wildland urban interface. With the goal of understanding how new or re-imagined technologies could improve early fire detection and response, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation hosted a "Fire Immediate Response System" workshop (April 24 -26, 2019). The workshop identified the following priorities and recommendations, which are described in detail in the report.* Develop a shared, integrated platform for diverse sources of data, intelligence and information* Conduct new wildfire risk assessments with high-resolution mapping technologies* Improve scientific understanding of "megafires" through retrospective analysis* Enhance fire behavior models and associated inputs for real-time prediction* Perform a cost-benefit analysis of investment in solutions vs. reactive management* Target investments in the development and adoption of new technologies* Expand multi-stakeholder dialogue, collaboration and action
S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation;
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation invests in capacity building to enhance the effectiveness of our water and land grantees and enhance the systems and structures surrounding their work.The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation envisions a California that manages, stewards, and conserves its water and land to support a resilient environment and healthy communities. This snapshot, prepared as the Foundation nears conclusion in 2020, documents a core strategy within its Environment Program.