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School Board Wants a Head Start: Approves Program With Venice Family

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will begin participating in the Early Head Start program in January 2011.

Eight Early Head Start children (ages 0-3) will receive services in the District in a full day setting. According to the contract the School Board approved at their January 4 meeting the District will receive $64,000 from the Venice Family Clinic (VFC) in exchange for providing comprehensive child development and support services to the eight students from January 2011 to September 30, 2011.

Early Head Start is a federal grant program that has for many years provided services to young children and families that have incomes at or below the poverty level. The contract includes funding for personnel costs, fringe benefits, supplies, and other miscellaneous costs.

The Board also approved having the District submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of the state’s effort to secure Race to the Top (RTTT) funding from the U.S. Department of Education. If the funding were received it would provide additional revenue to help support the District’s programs. The entire State of California would receive up to $700 million in federal education dollars.

Several areas are addressed in the MOU. According to the District staff report California under RTTT will be changing its state standards and assessments. California is “proposing a five-year timeline in which to adopt the common core standards, review curriculum frameworks, adopt new instructional materials, and review state assessments. The state also intends to develop and adopt a new accountability model that will b e based on individual year-to-year student achievement gains.”

Another area the MOU addresses is the use of data systems. California plans to establish and maintain an articulated data system. The District must commit to use this new data system and “use formative assessments to determine pupil progress.” Another change by the State is to implement a growth model to determine student achievement rather than the currently used model which is called the Adequately Yearly Progress system.

Also part of the MOU is having the District “commit to annual evaluations of both teachers and principals” that will include student performance data.

RTTT also would require that the District implement one of four models for schools that are persistently low achieving. The turnaround model is when the District replaces a school’s principal and up to 50 percent of its staff. A restart model is when the District either converts or closes a school and then reopens it as a charter school, a charter management organization, or an education management organization. A school closure model would permit a school to be closed and have its students sent to District schools that are higher achieving. Lastly, a transformation model could be used to improve student achievement by the use of specific strategies that are laid out in the MOU. These strategies would include removing the principal, rewards for school leaders, teachers and staff who improve achievement, providing professional development, and financial incentives designed to recruit, place and retain staff.

Contact Hannah Heineman


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