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As California’s elementary schools reopen after prolonged physical closure due to COVID-19, attention to healing the school community will be essential. Although there is wide variation in the timing and formats with which schools plan to reopen, it is clear that when students reenter school buildings they will be eager to reconnect with friends and teachers. Because elementary school-aged children learn and grow through play, recess is an ideal time to support healing and to prepare students to return to the classroom ready to learn. When students are allowed to reenter school buildings...
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The use of the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to improve early childhood education program quality is based in part on assumptions that the quality of programs can be measured and that quality ratings are associated with meaningful differences in learning outcomes for children. This report reviews all of the state QRIS validation studies that examined associations between individual rating elements and child outcomes as well as other research that exists on four elements of the California QRIS, referred to as Quality Counts California: teacher qualifications, program environment...
A Summary of the PACE Policy Research Panel
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More than 725,000 of California’s K-12 students qualified for special education services in 2018-19, but they entered a system that is often ill-equipped to serve them. This brief summarizes the findings from the PACE Policy Research Panel on Special Education: Organizing Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities in California. We find opportunities for improvement in early screening, identification, and intervention; transitions into and out of special education services; educator preparation and ongoing support; and availability of mental and physical health services. Comprehensive...
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Only about 10 percent of eligible infants and toddlers with developmental delays nationwide receive early intervention services, which are widely agreed to reduce delays and lessen the adverse effects of risk factors and disabilities on learning and development. California serves fewer children than the national average. Challenges arise from spotty screening; tenuous linkages to referral and evaluation; and the intricacies of crossing multiple agencies—sometimes without knowledge of English—for families. In Massachusetts, a unified early childhood data system and robust interagency linkages...
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California continues to fall below national averages in identifying and serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental disabilities. The transition between infant/toddler services, administered by the Department of Developmental Services, and preschool services for 3- to 5-year-olds, administered by the Department of Education, is fraught with several factors that hinder progress. The process lacks, among other things, a systematic screening and child tracking system; a data monitoring system for tracking progress of children; interagency and policy coordination; and...
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This brief identifies the steps necessary to realize an integrated system of care, reviews two current approaches, and makes recommendations—including specifying policy reforms that would promote interagency collaboration, integration, service delivery, and improved outcomes for California’s children, both with and without disabilities. As a full commitment from the state administration is necessary to realize the proposed solutions at scale, this brief recommends the formation of a statewide interagency leadership council that has legitimacy, decision-making authority, and accountability...
Views from the 2020 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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In the run-up to 2020 elections, where do California voters stand on key education policy issues? This report examines findings and trends from the 2020 PACE/USC Rossier poll. Key findings include rising pessimism about California education and elected officials, continued concern about gun violence in schools and college affordability, and negative opinions about higher education. However, there is substantial support for increased spending, especially on teacher salaries.

A Progress Report One Year After Getting Down to Facts II
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The 2018 Getting Down to Facts II research project drew attention to California’s continued need to focus on the achievement gap, strengthen the capacity of educators in support of continuous improvement, and attend to both the adequacy and stability of funding for schools. Based on the nature of the issues and the progress made in 2019, some clear next steps deserve attention as 2020 unfolds.

Challenges and Opportunities in California
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This PACE study found the depth and strength of California districts’ preK–3 alignment efforts to vary considerably. As preK–3 alignment is not an explicit state priority, districts do not feel obligated to focus on it in the face of many other demands. Divergent beliefs among districts about the role and purpose of preschool can enhance or inhibit alignment efforts, as can the formal roles of district preK directors and elementary principals who have preKs on their campuses. Different licensing requirements for preK and elementary teachers as well as the complicated web of regulations...
Evidence from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Voter Poll
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Governor Gavin Newsom campaigned on a “cradle to career” education strategy that identified childcare and early education as key priorities. The Governor’s 2019 Budget Proposal follows through with the inclusion of several initiatives aimed at increasing support for children five and younger. Despite strong evidence that high-quality early education programs can have a powerful impact on children’s future success in school, college, and the workforce, California voters rank new investments in prenatal and early childhood services below other educational priorities, including improving the...

What It Takes
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Access to affordable preschool programs is a crucial issue for improving kindergarten readiness for 3- to 5-year-olds, but research shows that the quality of teaching and learning in those programs is just as essential. Across the country, states are boosting preschool policy standards and strengthening educational requirements for preschool teachers. California has not been at the forefront of this effort. But newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom is making preschool quality a signature issue of his administration. He, along with the legislature and other policymakers, are calling for more...
Evidence to Inform Policy
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Governor Newsom’s first Budget Proposal increases funding for education in California. There are areas of substantive overlap in the Budget Proposal and research findings from the Getting Down to Facts II (GDTFII) research project, released in September 2018, which built an evidence base on the current status of California education and implications for paths forward. As the Budget moves from proposal to reality, it is critical that the evidence from GDTFII continues to inform the policy process.

Views from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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With a new governor, state superintendent and legislators in Sacramento and a diminished federal role in education, there is an opportunity for California’s leaders to take stock of recent educational reforms and make necessary improvements. There are also a host of new and looming issues in K-12 and higher education. As California’s leaders confront these and other issues, where do California voters, including parents, stand on education and education policy? The newest edition of the USC Rossier/PACE Poll shares voter perspectives on a wide range of education issues.
Challenges and Possibilities
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In recent years, California has invested in improving early childhood education programs. Research shows the importance of high-quality early childhood education, but the disconnect from K–12 education threatens its long-term benefits. If the early grades do not build on the gains made in preschool, they likely will be lost. This brief, based on a longer technical report , describes the challenges facing pre-K–3 alignment and offers promising practices and policy recommendations.
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More than 24 million children ages 5 and younger live in the United States, and about one in eight of them—a little over 3 million—lives in California. Compared to the rest of the country, California has about twice as many children ages 5 and under who are first- or second-generation immigrants and live in families in which the adults are not fluent in English. About one in five of all children ages 5 and younger in California live in poverty, and nearly half of California’s children live in households that are at or near the poverty level. While their parents are at work or in school, about...

Obstacles and Opportunities
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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.
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This article focuses on California's efforts to improve the alignment between K–12 and postsecondary schooling through the Early Assessment Program (EAP). Implemented in 2004, EAP was designed to give high school students information about their academic preparedness for postsecondary education and to encourage teachers to teach for college readiness. The article describes the EAP and its evolution and presence at California's community colleges. It then matches EAP and other test score data for California high school juniors to administrative data from California community colleges to...
School Finance and Governance in California
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Getting Down to Facts is the largest independent investigation ever of how California governs and funds public education. It was commissioned at the request of a bipartisan group of California leaders, including the governor’s Advisory Committee on Educational Excellence, the president protem of the California Senate, the speaker of the California Assembly, the superintendent of public instruction, and the state secretary of education. The purpose of this unprecedented project was to describe California’s school finance and governance systems, identify aspects of those systems that hinder the...
Preschool and K–12 Finance Reform in New Jersey and Texas
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In a PACE Working Paper, Co-Director Bruce Fuller and Joseph Wright offer policy and implementation lessons from two states—New Jersey and Texas—that have moved to advance preschool and K–12 finance reform in tandem. These states have assembled the puzzle pieces in differing ways, but both states are determined to widen access for families who can least afford quality preschool. The policy experiences of these states over the past quarter century yield notable lessons for current policy debate on pre-school and education finance reform in California.
California Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options
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PACE’s statewide survey of 439 directors of community preschools, those funded outside of school districts, inquired about basic facts and their perceptions of long-term issues. Preschool access and quality remain unfairly distributed among California’s diverse communities. Persisting questions examined include how to grow more plentiful and higher quality preschools, and how to ensure a robust balance between organizations run by schools or community organizations. Despite rising interest among policy makers, we know little about how preschool directors themselves understand and evaluate...
Issues, Evidence, and Resources
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Proposition 82 would provide at least $23 billion over the coming decade to enroll about 70% of the state’s four year olds in half-day preschool programs at no direct cost to parents. This brief sketches what’s known about California’s existing network of preschool centers, which children benefit, and the key issues prompted by Proposition 82. PACE’s role—as an independent research center—is to clarify relevant evidence which informs education policy options. In 2005, PACE published a review of enrollment patterns and policy options related to equalizing access to, and improving the quality of...
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development
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Previous research has demonstrated that attending center care is associated with cognitive benefits for young children. However, little is known about the ideal age for children to enter such care or the "right" amount of time, both weekly and yearly, for children to attend center programs. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), this paper asks whether there are optimal levels of center care duration and intensity and whether these levels vary by race or income. The paper considers pre-reading and math skills as measured by assessments administered at the...
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Development Nationwide
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Young children, at least among those from poor families and within the domains of cognitive growth and school readiness, benefit from exposure to preschool or childcare centers. Carefully controlled experiments, exemplified by the Perry Preschool or the Abecedarian Project, have long shown sustained effects on cognitive growth for children from poor Black families. Even beyond these so-called “boutique programs,” larger public initiatives, such as the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, show encouraging results, as do center programs of naturally varying quality spread across different states. What...
PACE Research and Policy Options
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Universal Preschool? Wider Access, Stronger Quality PACE researchers are studying the effects of early care and education in California and nationwide, working with the Language Minority Research Institute. We also are illuminating policy alternatives and evidence that advocates might consider. Universal preschool? Ideals, evidence, and policy options (2005) by Fuller, Livas and Bridges. PACE working paper 05-02. Preschool for California’s children: Promising benefits, unequal access (2004) by Bridges, Fuller, Rumberger and Tran. PACE policy brief 04-9 (technical report also available)...
Ideals, Evidence, and Policy Options
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The evidence is quite clear—after a half-century of research—that many children benefit from quality preschooling in terms of cognitive growth. Over 60% of California’s four-year-olds now attend a preschool center at least part-time. Yet enrollment rates lag behind for children from poor and working-class households—especially those from Asian, Latino, and non-English speaking families. Earlier research also reveals uneven quality among preschools, with middle-class families often confronting low-quality programs and high tuition costs. Recent calls for a universal preschool system are...