The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) in partnership with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools was awarded a $1.25 million grant from the California Department of Education (CDE) to implement efforts that will support and accelerate learning for students who are English learners and African American students.
"This is an important step for our county's students and for the County Office of Education and our commitment to ensuring that all of our students graduate fully prepared to be successful in college and career," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold.
The California Equity Performance and Improvement Program is designed to help make progress reducing the academic performance gap for underrepresented students, according to the CDE.
SDCOE will be working with schools in the Escondido Union High, Grossmont Union High, La Mesa-Spring Valley, and San Diego Unified school districts to build the capacity of teachers and school leaders to increase equity for students by improving the school systems.
In collaboration with Kern County, SDCOE will implement a Continuous Improvement Equity Model geared toward improving outcomes for students who are African American and those learning English.
"Providing educational opportunities and supports so that all students are successful is one of our board goals, and this grant helps confirm that equity is a priority for this organization," said San Diego County Board of Education President Guadalupe González.
The Santa Clara County Office of Education was awarded the second grant for $1.25 million through the equity program. It created the California One: Highway to Success for All project for students with disabilities, English learners, and African American students.
Both grantees will disseminate information on effective equity practices; develop and provide trainings, conferences, and workshops; and work with targeted student groups. Information will be shared statewide.
"I am pleased to increase support for the important work these education agencies are doing for students who need help," Torlakson said. "We need to do more, and we need to do better. By reducing the achievement gap, we can help all of our students achieve their dreams of 21st century careers and college."
The funding is part of the state budget and authorized CDE to award grants to education agencies that can build the capacity of school districts and public schools to promote equity and increase opportunities for underserved students.
California has been making progress in closing the achievement gap, but some student groups still fall behind state averages. High school graduation rates reached an all-time high in California last year of 83.2 percent. For African American students, the graduation rate reached a record high of 72.6 percent, up more than 12 percentage points from 2010. For Hispanic or Latino students, the graduation rate climbed to a record high of 80 percent, up nearly 12 percentage points from 2010.
Since being elected eight years ago, Torlakson has placed a top priority on reducing the achievement gap. Since then, test scores have increased, high school graduation rates improved, Advancement Placement (AP) participation soared, and college admission eligibility went up, but Torlakson said important work remains to be done.
Information is available on this CDE web page, or by contacting the Improvement and Accountability's Regional Support and Awards Office at 916-319-0259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.