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Cesar Chavez Elementary Making Great Strides with QEIA

QEIA Cesar Chavez ElementaryHigh-poverty Cesar Chavez Elementary in Alum Rock Union School District is worth watching for its strong academic gains after struggles in the past – progress that’s come with the help of proven reforms funded by the state’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006, stakeholders said at a news conference today. The noon event was one of several CTA events held as part of a national day of awareness about public school needs in America – and about solutions that are working. QEIA uses reforms like smaller class sizes and better training to target low-income students. New research is showing that QEIA – the largest turnaround program of its kind in the nation, currently helping some 400 at-risk California schools– is also offering ideas about reforms that all schools can use to change practices.

“QEIA funding has provided Cesar Chavez Elementary with resources needed to provide an optimal learning environment where students are challenged through the use of innovative technology and rigorous instruction,” said Rene Sanchez, the director of state and federal programs for the Alum Rock district and former principal of the school. “Structured collaboration and professional development opportunities for teachers, provided by the instructional coach, were essential in creating an environment where there was a clear focus in addressing learning gaps and accelerating student achievement. It truly has been a collaborative effort in maximizing our students’ potential through good teaching.”

Laura Solis Mora, a teacher at Chavez for 14 years and pictured above being interviewed by Telemundo TV, said smaller class sizes from QEIA have made a huge difference. QEIA-supported schools must have no more than 20 students in K-3 classrooms, and an average of 25 in the 4-12 grades. “Before QEIA, I had 42 fourth-graders in my classroom,” Mora said. “After QEIA, I had 25. Smaller class sizes helped our students to learn, and now teachers can also assess and collaborate.”

The latest research report, based on data from stakeholders at 10 QEIA-supported schools, reveals several key pathways to change. These include smaller class sizes, leveraging collaboration time, responding to student needs by changing school structures, building accountability among all stakeholders, publicly rewarding student gains, using student data to intervene, and strengthening school leadership.

The QEIA law demonstrates CTA’s support for our students of greatest need, and that discoveries at QEIA schools can offer ideas for Local Control Funding Formula spending by school districts that must target the same at-risk students.

"CTA believes, as I am sure all of you here today do, that public schools are community institutions that benefit most from locally-driven reforms that stress collaboration,” said Fremont educator Greg Bonaccorsi, who represents Bay Area teachers on the NEA Board of Directors. “That’s why CTA crafted a solution, and sponsored the school reform law called the Quality Education Investment Act of 2006.

Added Alum Rock Educators’ Association President Jocelyn Merz, “Today, we are saying yes to investing in our children’s future, yes to community collaboration and partnerships, and yes to education solutions that work."

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