California’s school finance system is notoriously complex. Its critics have long advocated for simplifying funding streams and returning authority to local school boards. In 2009 the state partially acquiesced, giving districts significant flexibility over the funds from 40 categorical programs. This flexibility provides an opportunity to see how districts respond when released from categorical funds.
There is broad agreement that teacher quality is related to student achievement, but there is far less agreement about the degree to which school districts and administrators are constrained in making policies to improve teacher quality that might also affect teacher employment and working conditions. Conventional wisdom holds that state law and the collective bargaining agreements governed by state law often hamper districts’ discretion over teacher hiring, firing, evaluation, compensation, and assignment. Although California collective bargaining agreements have received some attention from researchers we know far less about whether, and to what extent, California law constrains or facilitates district-level discretion over teacher employment policies and practices. This policy brief examines that issue.
There is widespread agreement that many of California’s high schools are doing a poor job of preparing their students for college and careers. The James Irvine Foundation is sponsoring a major initiative to develop “Multiple Pathways” –– now called the Linked Learning approach –– as a strategy for improving the performance of California high schools. To inform this effort, the Foundation asked PACE to gather evidence on the cost of linked learning programs. This report by Ace Parsi, University of California, Berkeley, David N.
A new PACE policy brief by Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explores the use of value-added measures and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of value-added assessment, both as a means to assess teachers and as a means to assess schools. Current federal policies do not account for the fact that student outcomes are produced by more than just schools. As a result, they fail to follow what Douglas Harris calls the “Cardinal Rule of Accountability”: hold people accountable for what they can control.
In a new PACE Working Paper, Margaret Bridges and Bruce Fuller from the University of California, Berkeley; Andrew McEachin and Icela Pelayo, from University of Southern California; and Neal Finkelstein from WestEd, San Francisco worked together to inquire about the use of the Quality Education Investment Act funds.
In a new PACE policy brief, Jennifer Steele, Richard J. Murnane and John B. Willett assess the impact of California’s Governor’s Teaching Fellowship. During a two-year period from 2000-2002, California awarded a $20,000 Governor’s Teaching Fellowship (GTF) to 1,169 people enrolled in traditional, post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs who agreed to teach in low-performing public schools for four years after earning their licenses. Schools designated as low-performing were those that ranked in the bottom half of the state’s Academic Performance Index (API).
In 2005-06 almost half of the pupils in California’s public schools were Latinos, but Latinos only received about 15 percent of the BA degrees awarded by public and private colleges in the state. Texas has a comparable Latino population, but does significantly better than California in getting Latino students through college. The implication of this disparity is that California stands to produce too few graduates to fuel its cutting-edge high tech and high-end service economy.
PACE announces the publication of its policy book “Reforming Education in California: A Guide for Citizens and Candidates.” The goal of this briefing book is to support, in an informative and constructive manner, debates about the critical issues facing California education. “Reforming Education in California” is useful for candidates as well as for informed citizens as they evaluate proposed changes in education policies.
A new PACE policy brief reviews the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District over the past five decades, a history that reveals an organization pulled up from its early 20th Century Progressive Era roots. Decades of reform efforts have provided a lively audition for what a new institution of public education could look like. But public policy and the surrounding political system have created an atmosphere of continuing crisis rather than a new institutional stability.
A new PACE policy brief presents an overview of the current state of school leadership in California. Susanna Loeb and Jon Valant from Stanford University examine the challenges that California must overcome to recruit, hire, train, and retain strong and talented principals, with a particular focus on the limitations of current state and district policies.