Session deadline looms, gov rejects bill to change lowest-performing list

A bill that would have revised how the dropout rate would be used for identifying the lowest achieving schools was shot down by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week.

Meanwhile, lawmakers approved legislation that would add pupil attendance and absentee data to the state's student longitudinal data system as well as a bill that would subject charter schools to the same open records, meetings and conflict-of-interest laws as public schools.

With the deadline for the end of the 2010 legislative session set for next Tuesday, legislators in both houses are working overtime to bring bills forward and on to the governor's desk.

And the governor is working just as hard giving his approval or his veto as quickly as possible.

One education bill rejected by Schwarzenegger this week was AB 2083, a measure that resurrected disagreement born out of the Race to the Top competition.

In an effort to improve the state's chances in the competition during the first round, the governor and Legislature agreed to a bill that called on the State Superintendent of Schools to develop a list of California's lowest-achieving schools. After the bill was approved, federal officials ordered the state to use a different methodology for developing the list.

AB 2083 would have changed how the dropout rate would have been used to develop the lowest-performing list, an attempt to bring state law into consistency with federal law.

Although the bill passed out of both houses without dissent, the governor refused to sign it saying the list of lowest-performing schools has already been created and approved and thus the bill was unnecessary.

Meanwhile, heading to the governor's desk is SB 1357, a bill that would require the state's education department to add quarterly pupil attendance rates to the mix of data collected on students.

The bill, approved Wednesday by the state Assembly and authored by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would require that California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System be capable of issuing to local educational agencies periodic reports on district, school, class, and individual pupil rates of absence and chronic absentees, as defined.

Also pending is AB 572 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, a measure that will require charter schools to meet the same open records, meetings and conflict-of-interest laws as public schools.

The bill mandates that charter schools follow the California Public Records Act, the Brown Act, Government Code conflict of interest laws, and the Political Reform Act. It has been approved by the state Senate and is expected to be taken up today in the Assembly

AB 2178 by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, has been sent to the governor. It calls on local educational agencies such as school districts to share academic data for school day attendance, standardized testing scores with after-school programs.

According to Torlakson's office, the bill is needed to expand the conversation between school districts and after-school providers" because after-school programs tend to be provided at school districts with a higher percentage of English learners.

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