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Good Schools For All by Voice of San Diego

Good Schools for All is a podcast about education. Hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn from the Education Synergy Alliance cut through the jargon and debate to get to the news and ideas that matter. Good schools are at the heart of our democracy and economy. We are about good schools for all kids.
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Good Schools For All by Voice of San Diego
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Now displaying: September, 2016
Sep 22, 2016

When it comes to giving students with disabilities the best education possible, early intervention and early detection are crucial – but not all families are equipped to access the resources they need.

On this week’s podcast, Shana Cohen, assistant professor of education studies at UC San Diego, joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about how children from different cultures sometimes receive varied levels of services for developmental disabilities.

"A lot of times, it's an issue of advocacy," Cohen said. "So a lot of white middle-class families, they know where to go to get the services that their child needs. A lot of Latino families or African-Americans families might not know where to go."

There's also an information gap when it comes to looking out for symptoms of developmental disability, Cohen said.

Seth Schwartz, an attorney who works with families of children with disabilities, also joined the podcast, and Lewis and Kohn discuss a study by the National Center on Education Outcomes that found special education students can perform at grade level with adequate accommodations.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

12 percent: The percentage of K-12 students in San Diego County receiving special education services, an increase from 10 percent over the past five years.

What’s Working

Healthy Development Services, through the American Academy of Pediatrics, sends providers to engage with San Diego County families and identify and treat children with mild to moderate disabilities.

Sep 8, 2016

A couple years ago, the state got rid of the California Standards Tests and opted for a new way to check in on student progress.

On this week’s podcast, Steve Green, senior director for assessment, accountability and evaluation at the San Diego County Office of Education, joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, the state's new standardized testing system. The test aligns with Common Core Standards and is more rigorous than the older California Standards Tests, Green said.

"The standards we had before and the way we were assessing was through multiple choice," he said. "The new assessment really does get at critical thinking and application. There are open-ended items where students have to write a response in. There's the performance task, which is very sophisticated. That's where students are truly demonstrating what they know and are able to do."

Since implementing the new assessment standards, San Diego County increased student performance in math and English language arts and literacy at a rate matching the rise seen across the state. The county is ahead of the state in overall performance, Green said.

Lewis and Kohn also discuss achievement gaps between high- and low-income students and between different racial groups.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

62 percent and 49 percent: The percentages of Chula Vista Elementary School District students who met or exceeded English and math standards, respectively, on recent standardized tests. The district outscored San Diego County and the state.

What’s Working

EdSource is a California news and research organization focused on education. Their online source provides snapshots of academic performance data for schools and districts across the state.

Sep 1, 2016

High school graduation rates are up – but students' access to quality courses still varies from school to school.

Last school year, the San Diego Unified School District touted a 92 percent high school graduation rate – an increase despite the district's new, tougher graduation requirements. The new standards mean students must successfully complete the same high school courses required for admission into California State University and University of California schools.

But it seems not all students in the district receive equal support to succeed within and beyond the new standards.

On this week’s podcast, Andrea Guerrero, executive director at Alliance San Diego, a social justice organization, joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about education inequity across San Diego Unified and how her organization pushes the district to raise expectations for more students.

"Your ZIP code is not your destiny and we needed the school district to understand that," she said. "There's still a disparity in AP and IB course offerings ... these are the courses that go beyond making you eligible for the UC and CSU [colleges], these are the courses that make you competitive. You can have a high-performing school ... look inside and understand that not all of the students are getting the same kind of access to programs."

English-learners and refugee students are most at risk, Guerrero said.

Lewis and Kohn also discuss the pros and cons of measuring school success by graduation rates.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

952: That's the number of students last school year who passed San Diego Unified School District's multilingual test as an alternative to the requirement of passing two years of language courses –four times more students than the previous year.

What’s Working

California State University San Marcos signed an Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education, which guarantees admission to students from 10 school districts who meet admissions requirements. San Diego State University offers a similar admissions guarantee to local students.

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