CCEE discusses transformative systems center and its initiatives

The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence convened on Feb. 3 to delve into the agency’s new structure with a spotlight on transformative systems.

CCEE’s new organizational structures were highlighted by Executive Director Matt Navo, who was appointed to the position in summer 2021. While Navo and his team were hopeful that there would be minimal changes during the transition in leadership, it became apparent though engagement efforts with education partners that people needed more clarity from the CCEE amid the pandemic, refined focus areas and new ways to engage with the entity.

In response to these needs, the organization was restructured into three centers: teaching, learning and leading; innovation, instruction and impact; and transformative systems.

According to Navo’s report, each center has the following goals:

  • Teaching, learning and leading: Build capacity and support for local educational agencies currently receiving and in need of targeted assistance to effectively address the systemic and instructional needs of students historically underserved.
  • Innovation, instruction and impact: Implement a statewide approach to LEA capacity by collaboratively developing, delivering, sharing and spotlighting research-based practices that demonstrate the power to improve outcomes.
  • Transformative systems: Facilitate the development of a shared vision for implementation of the Statewide System of Support that develops coordinated actions resulting in equitable educational student outcomes.

Each center has three initiatives associated with it that can be viewed in the report.

“What we’re trying to do is being intentional about the idea that there is intentionality about these centers overlapping. We don’t want to create a siloed system within the CCEE,” Navo said. “The thing that holds us together is the primary cause of what the CCEE was created to do, which is helping to support county offices and LEAs to achieve the goals set forth in their Local Control and Accountability Plan [LCAPS].”

Transformative systems

Transformative systems for equitable outcomes were the focus of the day as Chris Hartley, deputy executive director of System of Support and Operations, and his team covered the strength, opportunities, aspiration and results (SOAR) of the center as well as three of its projects.

This center’s strength is having a student-centered team with diverse experiences and an understanding of the differences between systems and people and how they interact. For opportunities, there is a chance to increase coherence and cohesion within the Statewide System of Support to increase the visibility of technical assistance and resources available to LEAs. The aspiration is to “identify data sets that demonstrate the impact of the state’s investments and the Statewide System of Support network that highlight approaches that improve practice so that all students receive what they need to be successful,” said Hartley. And for results, creating the data systems needed to measure the efficacy of the center’s work, LEAs’ needs, and progress toward goals were listed.

The center’s Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) was explained by Steven Sterling Mitchell, assistant director of CEI and System of Support. Convened in the fall of 2018, the CEI was tasked with convening four to six exemplary districts across the state by May 2019 help with the effort.

That first cohort was made up of Anaheim Union High School District, East Side Union HSD, Azusa Unified School District, Cajon Valley USD, Ontario-Montclair School District and Oxnard SD.

According to Mitchell, the group leveraged their experiences with the power of civic engagement, elevating student voice, building partnerships and deepening relationships to make authentic community engagement possible.

In 2020, the CEI was set to expand to a second cohort, but the pandemic delayed its rollout. A second cohort of 12 districts was launched in January 2021.

“Participating in CEI as a part of cohort one and now facilitating in cohort two has impacted not only my personal practices but those of my district,” said Joe Carmona, director of Special Programs at Anaheim Union HSD.

In addition to developing close bonds with the original cohort, community and family engagement practices locally have improved. The effort impacted the district’s work around career preparedness and professional learning for staff as well.

“One of the most impactful changes for my district to come out of our work with CEI is a greater recognition of the importance of teacher participation as part of family and community engagement,” Carmona said. “We’ve long had phenomenal staff dedicated to family and community engagement but now we have a clear vision for our secondary teaching staff as well, from improving their abilities to communicate directly with parents to now co-leading the development of a district community school with our teacher leaders.”

Recruiting for a third cohort is currently underway with applications due by May 17.

“The two things that we would say to any district that’s coming in new is 1) are you ready to have difficult conversations? and 2) are you ready to be vulnerable?” Mitchell said.

SELPA and supporting small districts

Work on the State Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and Small Schools Initiative are also taking place under the center.

SELPA system improvement leads El Dorado County, Riverside County and West San Gabriel Valley, as well as content leads Imperial County, Marin County, Placer County and San Diego County, have been diligently working with SELPAs on areas including improving outcomes for English learners with disabilities; the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network; open access: learning and participation for all; and equity, disproportionality and design.

“There’s about 18 months left in these grants both for the improvement and content leads and so now the next step is how do we take the amazing resources that have been developed to ensure improved outcomes for students with disabilities and make that more universal and accessible,” said Mindy Fattig, senior advisor of System of Support.

In Imperial County, for example, the California Practitioners’ Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities served as a foundational resource when it came to supporting the population.

Additionally, the Small School Initiative was discussed with a focus on how to support time- and resource-crunched administrators in those LEAs as they implement expanded learning opportunities, universal transitional kindergarten and the community school partnership.

A recording of the meeting will be available to view on the organization’s YouTube page. The CCEE is set to gather next, possibly in-person, at 8:30 a.m. on June 16.