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Technical Assistance Programs

Technical assistance meets the needs of districts, businesses and organizations. Assisting districts with benchmark assessments, conducting focus groups for the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI), or designing lessons for Disney's Planet Challenge are examples.

Disney Planet Challenge (

Disney Planet Challenge (DPC) is a project-based environmental competition for students in grades 4-6. The program inspires students to be good stewards of the environment and empowers them to make a difference in their school, at home and in the local communities. Among Disney's most significant inspirational initiatives, the program has been available in a growing number of regional markets as Disney's Environmentality ChallengeTM and is now nation-wide as Disney Planet Challenge.

DPC was developed in collaboration with the K-12 Alliance and the California Department of Education to provide an educationally-sound curriculum complete with a series of learning plans that foster excellence in education. The K-12 Alliance developed customized lesson plans for each state that address state standards and the goals of DPC. The K-12 Alliance, in conjunction with the National Teachers Association (NSTA) has designed the scoring rubric and judging process.

Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI)
The goal of the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) is to increase environmental literacy for California's kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) students by teaching science and history-social science academic content standards to mastery within an environmental context.

Established as a result of a landmark education law, EEI has developed K-12 instructional units that address one or two academic content standards (either science or history/social science, while supporting English language arts standards). The replacement units can be used as a substitute for adopted instructional materials and thus are integral, not additional, to instruction.

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) jointly manage EEI, and work in cooperation with the State Board of Education (SBE), the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, Office of the Secretary for Education, the Department of Education, and the Resources Agency.

In spring 2009 California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) engaged the K-12 Alliance/WestEd to conduct focus group to elicit information regarding district adoption policies and practices for instructional materials and to gather ideas for professional development and dissemination. Two hundred seventy-three people were invited to participate. Fifty-eight participated in person and 23 participated through a written survey. Of the 81 people who participated, 49 were district related (19 classroom teachers, 18 representatives from the district curriculum and instruction units, 8 principals, 4 assistant superintendents); 20 were from the County Offices of Education; and 3 were California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) coordinators. Nine representatives from informal science programs such as the Aquarium of the Pacific, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Lawrence Hall of Science also participated. The results of the focus groups are being incorporated into EEI's plans for dissemination and professional development.

Enhancing Education Through Technology (
How might a teacher combine smart boards, podcasts, PowerPoints, beakers, mixtures, and solutions in an effective lesson for students? In Temecula Valley Unified School District and Rialto Unified School District teachers are participating in the K-12 Alliance's Teaching Learning Collaborative (TLC), but with a technology twist.

In both districts, 4th and 5th grade teachers received professional development in science content and technology use in the classrooms. Teachers applied their learning by co-designing and team teaching lessons in each other's classrooms. Part of the professional development included a debrief of the lesson, noting the impact of technology on student learning.

These professional development programs are made possible though the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. The California Department of Education (CDE), Education Technology Office oversees the EETT Competitive and Formula Grant Program under Title ll, Part D, of the No Child Left Behind Act. Funds from this grant are used to assist eligible districts to utilize technology to enhance teaching and promote learning. Funds are distributed on an equal basis to the EETT Competitive and Formula programs.

District-Specific Programs.
The K-12 Alliance works with districts to design specific professional development programs to meet district needs. In Escondido, elementary and middle school are enhancing their content knowledge and learning to use a variety of pedagogical strategies such as manipulatives like algebra tiles, cuisinaire rods, and fraction strips to help students better understand mathematics. In Carpenteria and Santa Barbara, teacher leaders are augmenting instructional units and designing authentic assessments guided by personnel from the K-12 Alliance. Teachers from seventeen high schools in San Diego participated in the Using Data Project to enhance their work in their professional learning communities.