CCEE struggles to clarify its role to LEAs; aims to strengthen Statewide System of Support

The Aug. 31 meeting of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) focused on discussions of how to improve awareness of what CCEE does in the field, ways to better measure progress made in providing direct technical assistance, how to provide easier access to the resources it provides, and how to improve collaboration between the state agency and local educational agencies it is serving. Also provided was an update on professional learning networks launched by the Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center.

Executive Director Matt Navo spoke about a “turning point” for the organization, where objectives are evolving from just a collaboration model to the goal of transforming systems. He said the Statewide System of Support (SSOS), which aims to provide a quality, equitable education to every student, “is not a system yet.”

“It’s not interdependent on one another,” Navo said. “It works in isolation, and we need to figure out how [different agencies] work together in a thoughtful way. There are still many lanes the CCEE has. There is a lack of understanding about what you are doing and what authority you have to be there. We have talked as a team about being unapologetic as to why we are there.”

Navo spoke about the punitive framing of direct technical support and a need to reframe their work to truly be a SSOS “or it’s going to funnel into another statewide agency focused on compliance and accountability.”

Board member and San Diego County Superintendent Paul Gothold said a change in mindset is needed to accomplish the goal of supporting every student to succeed. He shared that superintendents in his county are asking him how to “get out” of differentiated assistance.

“We need to shift the conversation differently,” Gothold said. “We’ve got to get out of this mindset of, you’re here because you have to be. This is an opportunity for us to leverage resources and time together to tackle those things in your district that are preventing all kids from being successful in your schools. I think when we get to that point where we are defining ‘system of support,’ the work that needs to transpire is systems work, not creative solutions to the symptoms that are occurring because of that [system].”

Teaching, Learning, and Leading Center update

Staff from this center gave an update on direct technical assistance (DTA), currently being provided to 41 districts. DTA involves CCEE partnering with a district, its county office of education and other expert resources to build the capacity of individual LEAs. Using an integrated, highly collaborative approach, teams focus on key areas, and provide whatever form of assistance is called for — from analyzing and addressing existing challenges to helping identify and develop new opportunities.

Senior advisor for the center Matthew Roberts shared glimpses of the work and challenges happening in districts receiving DTA. “We have learned that, while in some districts, a check list of action items is necessary, it is always insufficient when considering continuous improvement and what is needed to support the continued development and support of adults for sustainable, positive impact for student outcomes. Moving from a check list of to-dos allows the space for intentional coaching on implementation of goals to move a district from a constant state of planning to action and improvement.”

An update was also shared about the center’s Intensive Assistance Model, which is just entering the second of three years of practice. During the 2022–23 school year, CCEE established a partnership between school districts, COEs and service-provider Solution Tree to develop and expand Solution Tree’s Professional Learning Communities at Work® process within select schools. Based on a thorough needs assessment at the beginning of the identified school’s project, each identified school will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessment practices, and proven instructional strategies. The plan will be collaboratively developed between CCEE, LEA and school representatives.

Innovation, Instruction, and Impact (I3) Center update on learning networks

In the 2022–23 school year, CCEE joined with select LEAs and partner organizations to facilitate learning networks across the state, focusing on problems of practice identified by the LEA as an area of high need. Areas of focus included African American student success; data review, analysis, and visualization; and chronic absenteeism.

Supporting this work across 12 districts and five county offices of education, the reach of the learning networks includes a total of 137 LEAs and 1,191,700 students served by those districts and county offices of education.

The African American Student Success Network is a partnership with the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAASA). In 2022, eight participating LEAs met for a series of in-depth discussions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their ongoing work to improve outcomes for Black students. The results of these sessions were summarized in a brief released in June 2022.

With the launch of CCEE’s Research-Practice Partnership initiative, five of the original learning network partners have rejoined the African American Student Success Network. Facilitated in collaboration with CAAASA, this network is focusing on testing systems change processes to improve learning, achievement and educational attainment outcomes for Black students. Further updates about the work of this network will be provided at the CCEE’s next meeting on Dec. 14.