CCEE Connection (July 2022)

News & Announcements
Community Engagement Initiative

As the Community Engagement Initiative enters its 4th year, we are excited to announce that our community of participating districts is growing from 17 to 46; representing the entire geography of the state, as well as county offices of education, charter schools, and rural single-school districts. Follow the CEI on Twitter for upcoming introductions to these new partners in our work.

In Case You Missed It

System of Support Updates (June & July 2022)

Friday 5 – Parent Resources to Promote Summer Learning at Home (7/8/22)

July Resources
Microlearning Modules

CCEE is partnering with content experts and experienced educators to develop “microlearning modules” — short videos sharing and explaining concepts, tools, and resources to support substitute teachers, paraeducators, and other instructional staff in the classroom.

Universal Design for Learning for School and District Leaders

Developed in partnership with the San Joaquin County Office of Education, this learning path provides a 30,000 ft. view of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – the why, the what, and the how to begin planning for and implementing UDL — with guidance for beginning your UDL journey as a school or district.

Assessment for Learning to Support Student Achievement

Developed in partnership with Validity Partners, this learning path introduces the “Formative Assessment (FA) Moves” framework to help teachers and students recognize, evaluate, and use “soft data” that emerges during and across a set of lessons.

It offers practical tips and tools, including video-based examples, worksheets, and templates to help users make progress — minute by minute, day by day — with assessment for learning practices rooted in research.

About the I3 Center

The Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center implements a statewide approach to improving LEA capacity by collaboratively developing, delivering, sharing, and spotlighting practices that have demonstrated the power to improve outcomes for students.

About the CCEE

The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence is a statewide leader delivering on California’s promise of a quality, equitable education for every student.

Executive Director’s Corner

By Matt J. Navo, Executive Director, CCEE

Headshot of Matt Navo

We all have something in common as educators — we want our schools to improve and innovate. Sometimes we differ on what schools should improve and innovate about. But at the end of the day, if we are not focused on improving and innovating on behalf of improved learning outcomes for all students, we might be missing the boat. 

The Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center is designed to do just that. Its focus is to support improvement and innovation for LEAs to accomplish the goals they set in the Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP). The I3 Center also provides innovative ways to help support LEAs with challenging problems. 

Below you will read about the Research-Practice Partnerships (RPPs) that are available for LEAs to support innovation and improvement, as well as the “microlearning modules” initiative, which is an innovative way to help bridge the gap between necessary knowledge for teaching and learning.


Matt J. Navo
Executive Director, CCEE

Collaborative Learning From LEA Innovations Through Research-Practice Partnerships

By Italo Ciccarelli, Program Specialist, CCEE

Headshot of Italo Ciccarelli

The focus of CCEE’s Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center is in using a statewide approach to collaboratively developing, delivering, sharing, and spotlighting practices that have demonstrated the power to improve outcomes for students.

Applying lessons learned and best practices from our previous learning network initiatives, CCEE’s Research-Practice Partnership (RPP) establishes collaborative agreements between local educational agencies (LEAs) and CCEE to support the initial implementation of an early-stage project, program, or initiative that aims to improve student outcomes. Areas of focus for proposed programs or projects can include any of the State priorities as outlined in the LEA’s Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) as long as they have the explicit goal of improving student academic performance, engagement, or social-emotional well-being. This initiative will focus on the application of continuous improvement and research processes to examine formative outcomes and support informed decision-making in the early stages of systems change.

Interested LEAs can download the RPP application on CCEE’s website. Questions can be directed to Italo Ciccarelli at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an application period or a deadline to apply for the Partnership?

Currently, there is no application cycle or an established deadline to apply for the RPP. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. CCEE will work directly with applicants LEAs to communicate on application decisions and next steps.

How long will it take for the application to be reviewed and for funds to be awarded?

The review process and the award of the funding will depend on the details specified in the application. There are many factors that will determine the timing of the approval and awarding decision. CCEE will review each application in the order in which it was received and will work in a manner to communicate with applicants on the status of the application.

How much funding is available through the RPP?

We anticipate that a typical short-cycle project may receive funding  ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. CCEE reserves the right to consider and accept proposed projects for varying timeframes and amounts based on its review of the LEA’s application pursuant to the criteria specified.

How many LEAs will be identified for a Partnership?

At this time, CCEE has not set a specific number of LEAs that will be identified for a Partnership. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. CCEE will communicate any changes to the procedure and updates on the RPP webpage.

Is there a limit to the number of applications an LEA can submit?

Currently, there is no limit to the number of applications an LEA can submit. However, it is recommended to follow the application guidelines to ensure the projects follow the specified parameters in order to be approved and receive available funding. CCEE reserves the right to consider and accept proposed projects for varying timeframes and amounts based on its review of the LEA’s application pursuant to the criteria specified.

Tips and Tools at Your Fingertips: Microlearning Resources by Educators for Educators

By Sujie Shin, Deputy Executive Director, CCEE

Headshot of Sujie Shin

The Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center is excited to announce the launch of our microlearning modules, brief 5-8 minute video learning tools designed to support substitute teachers, paraeducators, and other instructional staff who may not have access to more robust professional learning opportunities. These modules showcase master teachers from across the state, sharing immediately applicable tips, strategies, and tools in a brief video with downloadable handouts, instructions, and other supplemental materials and resources. 

CCEE has partnered with the California Subject Matter Projects (CSMP) and master teachers from each of the nine projects in the CSMP network to develop microlearning modules that provide quick tips, tools, and guidance in the key areas of classroom management, instruction, assessment, and social-emotional well-being.  Learn more about our partnership and access the resources developed with the subject matter teams on our CSMP microlearning modules collection page.

Center for Assessment logo
Partner Spotlight
Accelerating Student Learning with Formative Assessment Practices

CCEE is also proud to continue partnering with innovative, equity-minded leaders in the assessment and accountability space, like the Center for Assessment.

The Center for Assessment, in conjunction with CCEE, has developed microlearning courses aimed at introducing formative assessment processes. These microlearning courses provide new and aspiring educators with the knowledge and skills necessary for gathering information about what students know and can do so that instructional decisions support and accelerate student learning. These micro-courses can also provide experienced educators, instructional coaches, and administrators an opportunity to reflect on formative assessment practices used throughout all classrooms.

Learn more about our partnership with the Center for Assessment and access all the modules on this webpage.

CCEE Connection (May 2022)

News & Announcements
2021-22 CCEE Independent Study Professional Learning Network (ISPLN)

Join CCEE and participating districts for solution-oriented discussions focused on a problem of practice around independent study.

Community Engagement Initiative

Interested in enhancing and expanding your district’s community engagement efforts? Applications to join the Community Engagement Initiative (CEI)’s Cohort III Peer Leading and Learning Network (PLLN) are due next week, Tuesday, May 17, 2022 by 9:00am. This is the last time this initiative will be bringing on a Cohort of new district teams!

Interested districts can view FAQs, detailed application instructions, and a recorded information session at

Unable to join but still interested? Make sure you follow us on Twitter for news, updates, and resources!

Looking Ahead

California Elementary Literacy Conference – The Sacramento County Office of Education, California Department of Education, and CCEE are coming together on June 16th, 2022 to share evidence-based early literacy instructional practices.

Reflection Brings Rejuvenation – As the end of the year is approaching, take some time to reflect. This National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) blog offers tips on how to reflect and rejuvenate while protecting your mental health.

In Case You Missed It

System of Support Updates (May 2022)

Learning Acceleration Evaluation The CCEE and its Administrative Agent, the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE), issued a Request for Proposals for Independent Evaluation Services for the Learning Acceleration System (LAS) Grant on January 31, 2022. On April 4, 2022, the CCEE posted a Notice of Intent to Award identifying Education Northwest as recipients of grant funding.

May Resources

California AfterSchool Network training webpage – Explore this Expanded Learning opportunity happening Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 9:00am – 3:00pm. Visit their webpage for additional event and registration details.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Find ready-use lesson plans, student activities, guides, and research aids in this selection of resources for teachers.

Jewish American Heritage Month – The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society.

Haitian Heritage Month – Learn more about Haitian culture and history on National Today’s website celebrating Haitian Heritage Month.

Mental Health Awareness Month – National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) supports and educates the public on mental health.

CDE Mental Health – CDE’s mental health page provides various resources for mental health support.

Center for Safe and Resilient Schools and Workplaces – During times of stress and crisis, they provide training and consultation to promote safety, resilience, and recovery.

National Foster Care Month – Learn more about foster care and find resources on the Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

About the CCEE

The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence is a statewide leader delivering on California’s promise of a quality, equitable education for every student.



Executive Director’s Corner
Making School Transformation Happen!
Headshot of Matt Navo

School transformation is expensive. It costs time, resources, and funding to turn around a school, much less a district. People ask, “How much time does it take to turn around a school?” The answer is: it takes as long as it takes. The Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center (TLLC) is charged with addressing school transformation by advising and assisting school improvement. The TLLC is also overseeing the Learning Acceleration System Grant, an initiative to disseminate evidence-based learning acceleration strategies to educators across California. If you have a school/district that needs support or simply wants to learn about the Systemic Instructional Review (SIR) process and Learning Acceleration, then you are in the right place. To find out more, read this May newsletter from TLLC.


Matt J. Navo
Executive Director, CCEE

Journey to Systemic Improvement with CCEE
Finding Coherence with CCEE Improvement Coaches
By Dr. Stephanie Gregson, Deputy Executive Director of the Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center, CCEE
Headshot of Stephanie Gregson

Executive Director, Matt Navo, said it well, school improvement takes as long as it takes. Our team within the Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center at CCEE works in alliance with local educational agencies to understand their assets, needs, and aspirations to begin the journey of effective school improvement and positively impacting students’ experiences. Within Direct Technical Assistance or our Facilitated Instructional Review process, a road map is co-created through an instructional review process. Our team are trained improvement coaches that will work with your team in understanding the process of how to get better at getting better. We utilize Fullan and Quinn’s elements from their Coherence Framework as the foundation of our work: focusing direction, creating a collaborative culture, securing accountability, deepening learning, and building leadership at all levels.

Throughout this newsletter there will be examples of elements highlighted through the Direct Technical Assistance and Systemic Instructional Review process. You will learn how recommendations and resources can be connected together through the quality improvement process. You will also hear from our partners in the Learning Acceleration System Grant, a grant to build a statewide infrastructure of professional learning in literacy, language development, and mathematics. We are all working together towards an educational experience where every student is inspired and prepared to thrive as their best self in the world.

Salinas Union High School District
Engaging in Improvement through Direct Technical Assistance
By Alma Pio-Garcia, Special Projects Director, Salinas Union High School District
Headshot of Alma Pio-Garcia
Salinas Union High School District (SUHSD) has partnered with CCEE since 2019. The district focuses on these students groups:
  • English Learners
  • Students Experiencing Homelessness
  • Students with Disabilities
Below, Alma Pio-Garcia shares SUHSD’s experience collaborating with CCEE.

The Salinas Union High School District is committed to creating environments within our organization where families/caregivers feel like they belong and their voices matter. During the past five years, we have increased parent participation in workshops, conferences, and committees, and yet based on our 2019-20 Systemic Instructional Review (SIR) recommendations, this was not enough for parents to feel like they were true partners. Thus, we were thrilled to be selected to be part of the Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) along with 18 other CA school districts so that we could learn about the best researched-based family engagement practices.

As a result of being part of this cohort, our CEI team has been able to identify a problem of practice through the Plan-Do-Study-Act process that is in direct alignment with our SIR recommendations. Our team engaged in a fishbone activity to identify our problem of practice: focusing on increasing ongoing, authentic communication with parents/caregivers, which will support their sense of belonging. Our journey has just begun, and we will continue working with the various educational partners representing our diverse community to increase genuine family engagement. We are currently working on identifying our research-based strategies and developing metrics to measure our implementation. The alignment between CEI and the SIR recommendations has been critical to us building coherence for our families.

Contact SUHSD
Introducing the Learning Acceleration System Grant Team
By Stacey Wedin, Assistant Director, CCEE
Headshot of Stacey Wedin

Section 152 of Assembly Bill 130 (2021) appropriates funding to the CCEE to administer, in partnership with selected county offices of education, “…evidenced-based professional education for educators that can support learning acceleration, particularly in mathematics, literacy, and language development.” The CCEE is honored to be partnering with Lake COE, San Diego COE, and Santa Clara COE as selected grantees under the Learning Acceleration System Grant. Each county has partnered with institutes of higher education to build or expand professional learning across content areas to benefit educators and students. Below, our partners reflect on opportunities and aspirations as this important work begins.

Learning Acceleration System Grant-Mathematics
Kim Ferguson, Grant Lead, Lake COE
Headshot of Kim Ferguson

“Learning Acceleration is based on inclusivity and the foundational idea that all students can become powerful math learners. Learning Acceleration allows every student to increase their mathematics proficiency through asset-based high-quality instruction, engaging open-ended tasks focused on the Big Ideas in the Common Core State Standards, and targeted interventions.”

Contact LCOE 
California Literacy Elevation by Accelerating Reading (Project CLEAR)
Dr. Shannon Baker, Senior Director, San Diego COE
Headshot of Dr. Shannon Baker

“Project CLEAR is built on the premise that learning acceleration for diverse student populations will occur through the implementation of Reading Recovery or Descubriendo la Lectura as the content and pedagogy in the course focuses on supporting educators to teach the skills that help them reach grade-level literacy outcomes.”

Contact SDCOE 
California Collaborative for Learning Acceleration (CCLA)
Dr. Yee Wan, Project Director, Santa Clara COE
Headshot of Dr. Yee Wan

“CCLA is honored to collaborate with regions across California to build educator capacity through evidence-based professional learning in the areas of mathematics, literacy, and language development. Our collective goal is for every TK-12 student to develop their content knowledge and agency within their learning environments to accelerate their learning.”

Contact SCCOE 
Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center (TLLC)

Our team works in alliance with educators to improve teaching, learning, and leadership so every student is inspired and prepared to thrive as their best self.


Meet Our TLLC Team Members!

Stephanie and Rocio are valued leaders on our TLLC team! Read more on them below.

Headshot of Stephanie Gregson
Stephanie Gregson, Ed.D.
Deputy Executive Director

Stephanie leads the Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center (TLLC) overseeing TLLC’s efforts focusing on school turnaround centering on improving teaching and learning within districts and schools aimed at equitable access, opportunity, and outcomes for students.

Fun Fact: Stephanie has recently completed over half of the California section of the Pacific Crest Trail showing that women, and not just people like Bear Grylls, can take on the wild.

Headshot of Rocio Gonzalez-Frausto
Rocio Gonzalez-Frausto
Assistant Director

Rocio provides Direct Technical Assistance support to district, charter, and county teams where they engage in continuous improvement practices to enhance instructional practice and strategy, so they can positively affect student outcomes. Internally, she collaborates and provides guidance on the implementation of the Direct Technical Assistance process. 

Fun Fact: Rocio is a level 2 archery coach.

Professional Development: An Investment in Yourself

California’s System of Support would not be complete without an investment in the professional development (PD) of educators who work directly with the students we serve. In a time when educators may feel lost in a storm of competing initiatives, the California Coalition for Inclusive Literacy (CCIL) provides shelter under the umbrella of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.In the same way that the UDL framework provides multiple options to meet the needs of a wide range of learners, the free resources developed by CCIL strive to meet the many needs of educators who, every day, must address a range of demands such as accelerating learning and nurturing the social-emotional resiliency of students. 

“Amazing. I haven’t heard UDL spoken like this ever. You truly understand the struggles we teachers feel daily. Thank you so much for what you are teaching us today.”

With empathy toward these pulls on educators’ stamina and time, CCIL provides Four Ways to Engage with inclusive literacy and UDL in thematically-linked packages every month. 

Got a Minute?

Understanding that time is an educator’s kryptonite, these flexible learning modules offer teachers, coaches, administrators, and staff with options to engage independently or collaboratively during a staff meeting or from the comfort of their home in 10-, 20-, and 45-minute increments.

Monthly Webinar Series: Universal Design for Inclusive Literacy

Literacy is an act of power and freedom. It includes making meaning from text but also encompasses the ability to critique the thinking of others and advocate for oneself. Literacy and content-area knowledge are intertwined and must be fostered in inclusive environments.

This 9-part series is especially relevant as we welcome students back to classrooms. Educators grappling with accelerating learning in the face of pronounced barriers and student variability will find this series timely and relevant. Learn how to support literacy for all students in inclusive and equitable learning environments through the lens of the UDL framework.

Top Tips!

Aligned with the monthly theme, this one-page document offers strategic support at your fingertips. Top Tips is designed to jog thinking, spark conversation, and encourage deeper learning.

Featured Resource from Learning Designed

CAST, Inc.—the creators of UDL—hosts this online community platform, which includes a curated library of more than 500 vetted resources related to universal design. Each month, CCIL highlights a high-leverage, quality resource for educators who are interested in Learning Designed, but might not have the time to peruse or navigate all the resources. Check out this month’s featured resource—The Assessment Playbook!

These supports, provided by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) $4.9M Educator Workforce Investment Grant (EWIG), are a venture and testament to the value of those in the field supporting students. Taking the time to grow yourself is an act of self-care. As teachers nourish the love of learning in students, they must also nourish that love for themselves. We hope you find a source of support in these resources, as described by a recent PD attendee: “Amazing. I haven’t heard UDL spoken like this ever. You truly understand the struggles we teachers feel daily. Thank you so much for what you are teaching us today.”

Click here to contact or learn more about the CCIL Team.


Elise Yerkey, Implementation Specialist, CAST


Students Soar to New Heights in the Bob Hoover Academy: Unique Partnerships Create Unique Opportunities for Student Success

Note: This article was featured in the February 2022 edition of the CCEE Connection. Read it here!

Monterey County Office of Education’s Alternative Education Program is working to create unique pathways for students that build skill sets that will help students reach their college and career goals. One example is the SAFE Flight Program that enrolls at-promise students that leave the streets to enter the classroom and ultimately into the sky. The SAFE Program is a career technical education program that utilizes the AOPA themed curriculum to teach required coursework. The county office partners with the Bob Hoover Academy (BHA), a non-profit that funds the ground school instructor and the flight instructors that support the students to earn their commercial pilot’s license. The public private partnership has been a strong partnership since 2016. While the program’s theme is aviation, it is not about making pilots. It is about providing the students with inspiration, success, hope and opportunity through flight. 

Student poses in front of Bob Hoover aircraft

The program’s academic instructors are funded through the Monterey County Office of Education while flight instructors are funded through the Bob Hoover Academy nonprofit organization. The partner­ship is a great example of the public and private sectors coming together to provide opportunities for students who need them the most. BHA is the brainchild of aviation legend and virtuoso air show performer, Sean D. Tucker, who is best known for his airshow performances in the Oracle Challenger. The aerobatic specialist named the program and his nonprofit after his mentor and aviation great, R. A. “Bob” Hoover, who valued education, humility, dig­nity and optimism.

Students are provided with computers, social and emotional support, internship opportunities, hands-on courses and more. On a typical day, students are provided both traditional coursework in English, math, history and science as well as advanced flight training.  Students hop from a traditional desk to a cockpit in a training simulator.  Once there, aviation mentors demonstrate flight controls and aviation concepts to prepare students for their eventual move into the BHA plane for their flight lessons. With each milestone, students find out more about themselves and what they can achieve with practice and commitment. The program is in the process of expanding to include aviation mechanics where students will learn how to build and repair aircraft.

Students who graduate from the program have the opportunity to continue these pathways at Gavilan College.


Dr. Deneen Guss, Superintendent, Monterey County Office of Education

Deenan Gray Headshot Round

California’s Historic State Budget: Now What?

Extraordinary levels of funding in the 2021-22 state budget require coordinated efforts to build capacity, develop programs, and facilitate communications across various California education systems. CCEE is providing technical assistance to ensure educational leaders have what they need to successfully access funds and implement programs to support all students. Below are a few examples of CCEE’s collaborative support for county offices of education and school districts across the state.

Collaborating with CCEE, Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY) has developed a variety of resources to support school districts as they plan for Summer 2022. Leaders can read about and see best practices for re-engagement, reconnection, and reimagined summer learning from Summer 2021. PCY is also offering a series of webinars to help districts “Make Your Summer Game Plan.” The first Summer Learning Roundtable provided K-12 leaders, educators, and community partners with new technical assistance opportunities, resources, and on-the-spot coaching on pressing challenges to get ready for Summer 2022. Missed it? Click here to access the archived session resources and to register for upcoming workshops!

CCEE is also partnering with Turnaround for Children to offer their Whole Child Design Series. Created using the Whole Child Design Principles, the series of four 2-hour workshops (1/18, 2/1, 2/15, 3/1 from 3:30-5:00 pm) includes support to understand and apply strategies to strengthen student engagement, and develop positive relationships, and create supportive environments. Representing a mix of curriculum and instruction, student support services, expanded learning providers, school leadership and teaching roles, district teams of 3 to 10 staff are currently being recruited. Learn with experts, access implementation resources, dialogue with colleagues, and receive two hours of technical assistance and consultation for each team. Interested? Email Katie Brackenridge ([email protected]) now to reserve space for your team!

Finally, CCEE is working with the Small School Districts Association (SSDA) to provide targeted technical assistance for the three largest state initiatives—the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, Universal Transitional Kindergarten, and the California Community Schools Partnership Program. On December 8, 2021, these initiatives were launched with a webinar, Transforming Education in CA: 2021 Budget Act Investments and Opportunities, which included strategies for how to implement and maximize the opportunities and resources for students, families, and communities in small and rural school agencies. Missed it? Click here to access the archived resources!


Roni Jones, Ed.D., Assistant Director, System of Support, CCEE



Upcoming Webinars

Perspective of a Student Board Member

Note: During CCEE’s Governing Board Meeting on December 2, 2021, Kaleena Fowler, who currently serves as a student board member in Mt. Diablo USD, shared her voice and thoughts on the road ahead for students. CCEE has been providing technical assistance support to Mt. Diablo USD since 2020.

This article was featured as part of the December 2021 edition of the CCEE Connection. 

Could you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Kaleena Fowler. I am a senior at College Park High School and also the student board member for the Mount Diablo Unified School District this year (MDUSD). I am the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at College Park for about two years now, and have worked with the Boys and Girls of Contra Costa County and the Yellow Heart Committee, both great non-profit organizations. I am also an active member of the California Student Board Member Association (CSBMA) serving as the Director of Partnerships on the Executive Board. CSBMA is a student-led association of school district Student Board Members from across California that works together to better represent their constituents, allow for statewide youth advocacy, and provide support in the effort to expand Student Board Members across the state. My passion is advocating and speaking up for underserved and underrepresented communities.

My role as the student board member is to represent all 30,000 students in the district. I speak for all the elementary, middle and high school students. I am at every board meeting, I sit with all the other governing members, and I stay as late as they do. My voting status is preferential, meaning my vote does not influence the outcome of policies being passed, but it does influence the other governing members’ votes. I think that having the student board member position being created last year was extremely beneficial because almost everything the board passes is for the students. Having a student voice on the committee to give that perspective that none of the other board members have is extremely crucial. For instance, I remember when the new technology plan, Chromebooks, were being implemented for all middle and high schools. I asked, “Where are the middle schoolers going to put their Chromebooks, since they do not have a locker? How are we going to ensure the integrity of the Chromebooks will stay safe?”

Could you share some of your experiences as a student board member?

As the student board member, I have got the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) up and running with the help of Cherise Khaund, the President of the MDUSD Governing Board. The SAC is basically a group of pupils, from each individual school, on their student site council. We come together once a month, and bring policies, solutions, input, and more to the board. I should also mention middle school students are a part of the committee as well, which is amazing! It’s great to hear their perspectives. The topics we are discussing this year are the availability of COVID vaccination sites, a district-wide event for each big club (BSU, GSA, Latino Club, Interact, etc.), diversifying the English curriculum and novels, and more.

Within the BSU, Dr. Clark, the superintendent of the district, has come to meetings. One last year, one this year. The previous meeting he came to, he talked about the Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) program in the district. He pointed out that this policy was made because the homeless, foster, and African American/Latinx population were being underserved in the district. He talked about the stakeholders meeting he had with the African American parents, and students in the BSU were beyond happy to hear this plan. During and after the meeting, many students expressed how grateful they are to have this plan in place.

I am also working with district representatives to diversify the novel list for the English curriculum. I want the students of color to connect with what they are learning in school, and I feel like we do not have enough of that in the district.

What do think students need the most right now?

In September, I had the opportunity to speak at the capitol, on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club and the Yellow Heart Committee, regarding how COVID-19 has impacted students’ mental health. It was a nerve-racking, but amazing experience. In my speech, I highlighted what students need right now is accommodation. Since they spent a whole year confined to little black boxes on a screen, they have forgotten how to sit in a classroom for hours. No one knows how to compromise with others anymore.

That is why the social emotional learning concept is so important during these times. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a methodology that helps students of all ages to better comprehend their emotions, to feel those emotions fully, and demonstrate empathy for others.

MDUSD created a survey designed to address social-emotional areas of development for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making. The survey is based on the CASEL (core competence areas and settings for learning) framework and is constructed from adapted survey items from peer-reviewed social and emotional research studies. All students in grades kindergarten and transitional kindergarten through grade twelve take the Social-Emotional Learning Survey. The survey is administered three times during the school year.

The suicide prevention workshops, school and community service, the social emotional education collaborative, mental health workshops, etc. are all amazing aspects of MDUSD.

What are your plans for the future?

In the future, I intend to go straight to a four-year college. I applied to a couple of Historically Black Colleges on the east coast, and many colleges in California. I will be studying political science, and then going to law school. I hope to become a human rights lawyer. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share my experience. If you would like to contact me, my email is [email protected].


Kaleena Fowler, Student Board Member, Mt. Diablo Unified School District

Staffing Classrooms in a Time of Shortage

California schools have for years contended with a shortage of fully qualified teachers. While local educational agencies (LEAs) are no strangers to meeting staffing challenges, the pandemic has put more strain on an already stretched workforce. Adding to existing waivers and flexibilities, California has taken extraordinary steps to make it easier to fill substitute vacancies, to create alternatives to high stakes testing that have kept otherwise qualified teachers from completing their credentials, and to provide nearly $1 billion of new investment in the teacher pipeline.

LEAs always have the legal responsibility to staff classrooms with well-prepared, fully credentialed teachers to the full extent possible. As the impacts of the pandemic continue to reverberate through the educator workforce, the following opportunities are available now to help LEAs meet the need for teachers and substitutes.


Short-Term Waivers: Short-Term Waivers allow local agencies to address unanticipated, immediate, short-term (one semester or less) staffing needs by assigning teachers who hold a basic teaching credential in any field to teach outside of their credential authorization, with the teacher’s consent. These waiver types need only be authorized at the local level.

Teaching Permit for Statutory Leave (TPSL): When a teacher takes certain extended statutory leaves of absence, TPSL holders may serve as temporary teacher of record for the entirety of the leave. When more than one acceptable leave is taken consecutively, a TPSL holder may continue to serve as the interim teacher of record for the entire length of those leaves.

Local Assignment Options (LAO): LEAs that are unable to fill a staffing vacancy with the appropriately credentialed teacher for an assignment have the flexibility to use LAOs. Requirements vary by assignment, but most require the teacher to hold a full teaching credential and to consent to the assignment. LAOs cover general education assignments only.


Emergency Substitute Permits: To provide continuity in classrooms and reduce the total number of substitute teachers needed, California temporarily extended the length of time a substitute teacher can serve in the same classroom to 60 days. Normally, general education and career technical education substitutes may serve up to 30 days and education specialist substitutes may serve up to 20 days. This flexibility expires on July 1, 2022.

Testing Flexibilities: Looking ahead, California has begun to rethink the how it can reliably assess a teacher’s knowledge, skills, and abilities, and to expand options to recruit and prepare teachers. Recent statutory changes to the subject matter and basic skills requirements now allow credential seekers to meet these requirements through coursework in addition to existing testing options. Similarly, updates to the Reading Institution Competence Assessment (RICA) will phase out the existing exam and replace it with a performance assessment.

Grant Funding: The state is also investing directly in new teachers with nearly $1 billion in new funding for recruitment and retention grants that do not need to be paid back, for educators who commit to working in some of the highest need classrooms in the state. Together, the Golden State Teacher GrantClassified School Employee Teacher Grant, and the Teacher Residency Grant aim to credential over 43,000 new teachers in the next five years.


Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) WebsiteShort-Term WaiversTeaching Permit for Statutory Leave (TPSL)Local Assignment Options (LAO)Emergency Substitute PermitsSubject Matter & Basic Skills RequirementsGolden State Teacher GrantClassified School Employee Teacher GrantTeacher Residency Grant


Sasha Horwitz, Governmental Relations and Public Affairs Manager, Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)

System Improvement Leads: Accelerating Learning for Students with Disabilities

On February 9, 2022, six district teams from across the state came together to focus on their shared aim: accelerating learning for students with disabilities.  These educators from Shasta, San Luis Obispo, West Contra Costa, Sonoma, Irvine, and Clovis are part of a Networked Improvement Community supported by the System Improvement Leads (SIL) team. 

The network launched in September 2021 and spent the first few weeks thoroughly investigating their local contexts: what is working well for students with disabilities and what needs improvement.  Although the team’s contexts are very different (district ADA, urban/rural, single/multidistrict SELPAs), the findings were strikingly similar: inconsistent IEP process, varying understanding of the purpose of the IEP, burdensome data collection practices, and long standing disconnects between special education and general education staff.  Armed with this information, SIL’s  improvement coaches conducted literature reviews to identify evidence-based practices to address the identified challenges and teams set off testing them out in their local contexts.  Research is a critical starting point, but would the ideas work in practice? What would need to be adapted to make sure the changes worked for each team’s unique setting? 

To answer these questions, more than 25 special education teachers contributed to testing out the NIC’s change ideas. Preliminary data is promising: participating case managers have improved the quality of IEP goals, IEP teams are establishing streamlined processes to track student progress on goals, and teams are reframing IEP documents to move away from simple compliance and toward the true purpose of an IEP: to provide a free and appropriate education to each and every child.  Educators involved in the network report that they feel better supported, have access to high quality resources, and deeply value the opportunity to learn with educators around the state.  As Jeremy Sawtelle, Director of Specialized Support, Shasta County Office of Education shared, “Through the SIL NIC, I’m now connected with teachers in San Luis Obispo, administrators in Clovis, and service providers in West Contra Costa.  These are people I never would have met [but] now we analyze data together and give honest feedback.  We share ideas instead of having to invent everything ourselves.  Together, we are learning so much faster than any one of us would be on our own.” 

“It’s about a culture of collaboration and change, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve done this.  We can always improve.  Other industries do this, why not education?”-Christina Boman, Coordinator of Special Education, West Contra Costa Unified School District

The System Improvement Leads (SIL) are part of California’s Statewide System of Support.  The SIL team provides direct technical assistance to SELPA, COE, and District teams seeking to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by developing high quality resources and tools, training on improvement methodologies, and providing improvement coaching to teams. To learn more about the SIL project, please visit or email us at [email protected]


System Improvement Leads Project


By Heidi Hata, Director, System Improvement Leads Project