Building Systems Knowledge for Continuous Improvement: Early lessons from the CORE districts

Michelle Nayfack, Vicki Park, Heather Hough, Larkin Willis. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2017.

In California, recent policy shifts have created a high degree of local control with the expectation that school districts will think differently about school and district improvement. However, many districts lack the individual expertise and organizational capacity to support these changes at scale. In large part, this is due to a lack of a shared understanding of the routines, structures, and supports needed for school systems to develop and implement change ideas that dramatically improve student outcomes.

Continuous Improvement in Practice

Heather Hough, Jason Willis, Alicia Grunow, Kelsey Krausen, Sylvia Kwon, Laura Steen Mulfinger, Sandra Park. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2017.

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 brief helps to define continuous improvement both in theory and in practice.

The Antelope Valley: Over the hill and out of sight

Laura Steen Mulfinger, Allison Carter, Hannah Melnicoe. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2017.

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.

Surprising Strengths and Substantial Needs: Rural District Implementation of Common Core State Standards

Thomas Timar, Allison Carter. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2017.

In August 2010, the California State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Three years later, the president of the State Board, Dr. Michael Kirst, noted that CCSS “changes almost everything,” including what teachers teach, how they teach, and what students are expected to learn (Kirst, 2013). Echoing his sentiments, Dr.

Paving the way to equity and coherence? The Local Control Funding Formula in Year 3

Daniel C. Humphrey, Julia E. Koppich, Magaly Lavadenz, Julie A. Marsh, Jennifer O'Day, David N. Plank, Laura Stokes, Michelle Hall. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2017.

This report seeks to help policymakers and others better understand ways in which LCFF implementation is changing fundamental aspects of resource allocation and governance in California’s K-12 education system. The LCFF provides all districts with base funding plus supplemental and concentration grants for low-income students, English learners, and foster youth.

Using Surveys of Students' Social-Emotional Skills and School Climate for Accountability and Continuous Improvement

Heather Hough, Demetra Kalogrides, Susanna Loeb. Policy Analysis for California Education. March 2017.

This report and accompanying policy brief show that there is good reason to pursue the measurement of social-emotional learning (SEL) and school culture/climate (CC) as a way to better understand student and school performance. Using data from California's CORE districts, we show that SEL and CC measures demonstrate reliability and validity, distinguish between schools, are related to other academic and non-academic measures, and also illuminate dimensions of student achievement that go beyond traditional indicators.

An Effective Teacher for Every Student: Developing a Research Agenda to Further Policy Change

Katharine Strunk, Julie A. Marsh, Paul Bruno. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2017.

In nearly every state across the country there has been recent legislative or judicial activity aimed at amending policies that shape the quality of the teacher labor force (e.g., Marianno, 2015). At the heart of this recent legislative and judicial action is the desire to attract and retain a high-quality teacher for every classroom. That good teachers are critical to student success is not up for debate; over the last decade, research has shown that a high-quality teacher is the most important school-based input into students’ achievement and long-term outcomes.

LCFF: How Can Local Control Keep the Promise of Educational Equity in CA?

. Policy Analysis for California Education and The Opportunity Institute. October 2016.

Funding, resources, and effective teachers have been inequitably distributed across American schools for decades — contributing to vast opportunity and achievement gaps between high-need students and their more privileged peers.

Prek-3 Alignment in California's Education System: Obstacles and Opportunities

Rachel Valentino, Deborah J. Stipek. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2016.

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.

Two Years of California's Local Control Funding Formula: Time to Reaffirm the Grand Vision

Julia E. Koppich, Daniel C. Humphrey, Julie A. Marsh. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2015.

California ended 40 years of reliance on categorical funding for schools when Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law on July 1, 2013. LCFF intends to enhance services for high-needs students through new flexibility, targeted student funding, and local accountability. Two years into LCFF implementation, our research in 18 districts and more than half of the state’s County Offices of Education (COEs) uncovers both reasons for optimism and a few concerns.


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