Agency Focuses on School Improvements

Less focus to be put on standardized tests

According to a report released Jan. 20 by Stanford Graduate School of Education scholars, a new state agency, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), will begin to play a critical role in improving California’s education system.

The CCEE was established as one of the elements in a new effort to create a comprehensive school finance legislation, which aims to allocate more of California’s school funds to schools that need the most financial support.

The state’s new legislation will also give more control to local state districts when it comes to choosing how to spend funds.

Another goal of the new agency aims to shift California schools towards examining its students based on traits such as cooperation and adaptability, rather than simply on their test-taking abilities.

Sophomore Daniel Li believes that these new goals of the CCEE are important steps to be taken in order to improve California’s education system.

“I think that the CCEE is doing a good thing by aiming to test students in aspects other than test scores” Li said. “I also feel like it’s important that districts have the right to choose how to spend funds independently”

While the CCEE has great potential to help and improve California schools by giving financial aid to those that most need extra funding and supporting other schools for continuous improvement, there have been concerns with the CCEE’s progress thus far.

David Plank, a co-author of the report published by Stanford detailing the CCEE’s capability to help California’s education system, recognizes that the CCEE has not yet fulfilled its role in reforming the school districts around California.

“We wanted to start the conversation about CCEE’s significance in California’s move to a more decentralized, locally-controlled education system, backed up by support from the state,” Plank said to Stanford News. “Up until now, the CCEE has been an unclaimed though potentially powerful resource.”

Stanford’s report, written by Plank and co-author Linda Darling-Hammond, who is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford, suggests that in order for the CCEE to become successful in helping California schools gain improvement, the agency will need to  hire expert professionals.

Additionally, the CCEE’s lack of funding to cover the neeeded resources is preventing the agency’s from enabling local schools and districts to improve, according to Darling-Hammond.

“The CCEE is supposed to be a cornerstone of this new accountability system,” Darling-Hammond said to Stanford News. “While the CCEE is responsible for ensuring that the state’s troubled schools get useful assistance — and other schools have support for improvement, there has been virtually no public discussion of what the CCEE should look like,and how it should carry out these tasks.

Despite its lack of progress and planning to improve California schools thus far, the five members of the new agency’s board are planning to meet for the first time in February.

Then, the board will plan to discuss its policies detailing the staffing of the CCEE, the operations it will hold and the role it will play in helping school districts in the coming years.