How does the public view California’s schools and education policy effectiveness? Do voters understand the challenges that California faces, and are they prepared to make the tough choices and tradeoffs that potential solutions entail? Annual polls conducted by PACE and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California seek to learn more about how Californians perceive and understand the challenges now facing California’s education system, and the challenges that must be addressed to move the system forward.

GDTFII provides in-depth analysis of the state education system as of 2018 and looks at what is working well and where improvement is still needed. The report’s findings are contained in 35 separate studies thoroughly researched by over 100 leading academics from top research institutions across California and the United States.

California and the nation are at the crossroads of a major shift in school accountability policy. At the state level, California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process encourage the use of multiple measures of school performance used locally to support continuous improvement and strategic resource allocation. Similarly, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reinforces this local control, requiring more comprehensive assessment of school performance and a less prescriptive, local approach to school support. Calls for “continuous improvement” in California’s K-12 education system are central to current discussions about school improvement in the state. Yet, definitions of continuous improvement vary, and knowledge of what continuous improvement looks like in practice is limited. To advance the conversation, this project seeks to define continuous improvement both in theory and in practice and support continuous improvement at all levels of the system.

In October 2015, Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and the CORE Districts launched the CORE-PACE Research Partnership. The CORE districts (Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento City, San Francisco, and Santa Ana Unified School Districts) together serve nearly a million students and utilize a unique multiple measures data system to work together to improve student outcomes. Our research aims to deepen their learning, while sharing lessons more broadly to accelerate improvement across the state.

The Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative (LCFFRC) brings together a diverse set of policy experts who, since 2014, have been documenting implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), California’s pathbreaking finance and governance system. Operating under the auspices of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), principal LCFFRC researchers are Julia Koppich (J. Koppich & Associates), Daniel Humphrey (Independent Consultant), Julie Marsh (University of Southern California), Jennifer O’Day (American Institutes of Research), Magaly Lavadenz (Loyal Marymount), and Laura Stokes (Inverness Research).

Over the past several years, there has been much attention and advocacy around “PreK-3 Alignment,” both in California and nationwide. The push for alignment comes in the face of a growing body of research documenting the benefits of attending high quality preschool, along with concerns about the fading of the benefits of preschool by third grade that has been found in many studies. Supporters of preK-3 alignment note that child development is a continuous process, and that skills developed in one grade must be built upon and reinforced in later grades. This project provides ways to improve alignment across grades in such elements as standards, assessments, curricula, and instructional strategies.

California’s education system is highly fragmented. K-12 schools, community colleges, and the two university systems (CSU and UC) operate under entirely separate governance structures, and rely on distinct sources of funding. As a result, these different "segments" of the education system generally operate independently of one another, developing policies and practices to serve their own students with little or no effort to consult with other segments. In fact, however, addressing many of the educational issues that face our state successfully will require action by more than one segment.

College and career readiness is at the heart of California’s State Standards. State policymakers have emphasized the need to better align K–12 education systems with higher education to ensure a more seamless transition for young adults between high school and college, and between high school and the labor market. In this project—in partnership with the California Department of Education—we examine many aspects of these standards, including how well they correlate with measures of postsecondary success across the State’s three segments of higher education.

The typical image of California is one of coastal cities and urban centers. But this picture leaves out much of the state and many of its residents. For large numbers of policymakers, foundations, and education leaders, these parts of our large and diverse state are “invisible.” Over the past two decades, however, these communities have emerged as some of the fastest growing and neediest parts of our state. In this project, researchers investigate the conditions and opportunities in California’s rural schools and districts.

New ways of compensating teachers in an era of ferocious budget shortfalls was the topic of discussion for about 400 school superintendents, leaders of teacher organizations and school board members from across California at conferences in Oakland and Los Angeles in 2010. This project compiled materials to support districts that are interested in exploring different ways of compensating teachers.

The California Diploma Project (CDP) works with states across the country to bring value to the high school diploma by raising the rigor of high school standards, assessments and curriculum and aligning them to the demands of postsecondary education and careers. In California, the CDP brings together the Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction with the leaders of the state’s four higher education segments and business community representatives to work together to expand the number of young people who enroll and succeed in post-secondary education and training.

School districts across California have begun working to implement the Common Core State Standards and to prepare for California’s new assessments.  Policy Analysis for California Education ( and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association ( are pleased to sponsor six regional leadership sessions on CCSS Implementation. These meetings will introduce you to a variety of strategies, tools and resources that your district can use to support successful implementation of the CCSS.


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