A By-Product of Reform
Michael W. Kirst
Stanford University
James W. Guthrie
Policy Analysis for California Education
Allan R. Odden
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Following the enactment of S.B. 813, the omnibus reform law of 1983, Michael Kirst of Stanford University and James Guthrie of the University of California, Berkeley, started the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) Proj­ect. One of the goals of PACE was to provide policy makers with a "nonparti­san, objective, independent body" of information on public education. PACE also operates centers at the University of Southern California, headed by Allan Odden, and in Sacramento, headed by Gerald Hayward. Since it was estab­lished, PACE has published more than 20 papers and reports that cover a range of topics, including teacher supply and demand, vocational education, high school curricular changes, school coun­seling, administrator preparation, teacher credentialing, and the use of lottery funds by local school districts.

One of the most useful PACE publi­cations is Conditions of Education in California. This document gives a year­ly overview of California's education pro­ grams in a 200-page compendium of charts, graphs, and interpretation com­ piled from various government and quasi­ government databases, as well as from PACE's own research. It has been published in 1984, 1985, and 1986. Increas­ingly, state policy makers are using the information provided in this document as a benchmark and relying on it to assist them in making future policy decisions.

In addition to the 200-page report, PACE also releases a 16-page newsprint summary that is given wide distribution among citizens and education groups in California. In the 1986–87 Conditions of Education in California, additional topics were added, including expanded infor­mation on private school enrollment, on minority enrollment, on state actions that affect education, on costs of profession­alizing teaching, on the Gann spending limit (Proposition 4 of 1979), on year­ round schooling, on teacher supply and demand, on class size, on teacher sala­ries, on credentials, and on the changing balance of power between state and lo­cal governments.

In 1987 PACE took on two additional projects that add a new layer of in-depth information about California education. The first, known as PACE-ACE, is a study financed by the California legislature to focus on 12 high schools and six middle schools that have been active in carrying out some of the initiatives of S.B. 813. For this study, a team of re­ searchers went into school districts to gather data from "beneath the surface" on the impact of legislative reform man­ dates. The report, "The Impact of S.B. 813 on California Secondary Schools," is due to be released. It will look at local factors that are associated with successful implementation of re­form.

The report will also include informa­tion on the impact of the law on the school curriculum, on the knowledge and instructional skills of teachers, and on the performance of students.

This article was originally published in The Phi Delta Kappan by Phi Delta Kappa International and Journal Storage (JSTOR)..

Suggested citationGuthrie, J. W., Kirst, M. W., & Odden, A. R. (1987, October). Data: A by-product of reform [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.