California Board of Education touts then approves Distance Learning Guide

By Michael Hernandez 

SACRAMENTO—The California Board of Education unanimously approved today a new statewide Distance Learning Guide that had been in development after schools were closed by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order on March 13 of last year. The motion for adoption was made by state board member Haydee Rodriguez and seconded by board member Patricia Rucker.

The “Return to Learn” tracker developed by the American Enterprise Institute reports that only 42 percent of more than 8,500 school districts in the nation have returned to full in-person instruction. In California, 39 percent of school districts have no option for in-person learning.

SB 98 directed the Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools and Sacramento County Office of Education to develop the distance learning curriculum and instructional guidance for mathematics, English Language Arts and English Language Development for adoption by the State Board of Education. The project was funded with a $750,000 appropriation from the California General Fund to the California Department of Education.

Also recommended by the California Department of Education was a name-change for the developed document to: “California Digital Learning Integration and Standards Guidance.”  Final editing authority was also given to the State Board of Education Executive Director Brooks Allen along with California Department of Education staff to align the document to the 2021 “Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve” and to make any necessary revisions.

The distance learning 541-page document (177,413 words) has 16 chapters and three major sections: Section A (Chapters 1-3) on Research-Based Digital Learning Practices; Section B (Chapters 4-9) on Standards Guidance for Mathematics; Section C (Chapters 10-16) on Standards Guidance for English Language Arts, Literacy and English Language Development. The guidance document concludes with glossary, references and four appendices: Literature Review; Digital Tools Matrix; Section Resources; and Mathematics Rubric Samples.

“We wish to prepare teachers to use technology effectively and guide them in effective digital teaching and learning to rethink digital citizenship: especially for younger students; for students with disabilities; for engaging students; and to use the technology to transform their learning,” said distance learning presenters who highlighted (chapter 3) which provides social emotional learning supports for “equitable outcomes.”

The distance learning document was developed with representatives from five other county offices of education (besides Sacramento): El Dorado, Imperial, Kern, San Bernardino, and San Diego and two school districts: Madera Unified and Modesto City and input from teacher unions (California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers); the California Charters Schools Association and the California State Parent Teacher Association and three educational organizations (Policy Analysis for California Education, The Education Trust-West, and Californians Together).

Also giving input was the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association’s Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, the International Society for Technology in Education and Computer-Using Educators as well as Californians for Justice and Families in Schools.

Approximately 10 individuals gave public comments which were moderated by Board President Linda Darling-Hammond during a 15-minute comments period allocated after the distance learning presentation was made to the 11 state board members.

“We want to make sure we not only include learning vignettes that shows what success look like but what struggles look like and what we can learn?” said board member Patricia Rucker.

“I want to point out two things in the document: understanding foster children and the assessments for learning,” said board member Haydee Rodriguez.

“This will become a tool in teacher education, professional development and in the classroom. I am excited to have it,” said Board President Darling-Hammond before the board vote to approve the distance learning document.

Plans for Phase 2 which consists of releasing the distance learning document include:

  • Creating PDF documents;
  • Organizing the content by sections;
  • Creating an e-book version;
  • Developing a website organized by subject area and grade level; and
  • Creating videos

State board secretary and executive officer is California Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond. 

(Editor’s Note: To go to the California Board of Education May 12-13 agenda go to:

https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr21/agenda202105.asp. The distance learning document is Item 2 and the presentation went to10:12 a.m. To review go to:

https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr21/documents/may21item02a1.docx.)

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families—is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor now living in Redding (Shasta County). He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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