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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Preparing all students, including students with disabilities, for life after high school is a critical responsibility for California’s education system. Engaging students and their families in discussions regarding careers, employment, and the pre-requisites for postsecondary education, training, and employment must start early and continue throughout their educational experiences. While there are programs in California that benefit students as they explore career opportunities, students with disabilities are seldom included in these programs. Three essential actions drive the development and...
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One of the key purposes of public education is to prepare young people to reach their full potential as independent adults and engaged citizens. This transition to adulthood may be especially challenging for youth with disabilities. Students enrolled in special education often need additional supports and coordinated planning to prepare for employment, postsecondary education, and community living. Previous research has documented effective practices—such as family involvement, inclusion in general education, work-based learning, and interagency collaboration—that can help support the...
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.

California’s College Readiness Standards and Lessons from District Leaders
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During the past decade, education leaders and policymakers have made significant investments to better align California’s K-12 and postsecondary education systems and to address persistent disparities in educational attainment by race and socioeconomic status. This report distills important lessons emerging from these efforts, integrating the analysis of statewide quantitative data used by policymakers, education leaders, and higher education systems to evaluate students’ postsecondary readiness and interviews of district leaders about their specific efforts to improve students’ college...
A Research Summary and Implications for Practice
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Given the importance of a college degree for both individual and societal economic prosperity, policymakers and educators are focused on strengthening the path to college beyond college entry. In this report, we synthesize the existing literature on four factors key to educational attainment—aspirations and beliefs, academic preparation, knowledge and information, and fortitude and resilience—and the implications of each.
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.
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For as much as we know about the economic benefits of a college degree, California policymakers and educators have little information about the college destinations of high school graduates. To fill this information gap, we assembled a unique data set of three recent cohorts of public high school students matched with college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse. This report, a product of a partnership with the California Department of Education, details where California public high school students attend college and how college attendance and destinations vary by county...
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Public education in California is a study in contrasts. By many measures, schools are improving and students are doing better. But look deeper and there are significant differences in educational opportunities and, therefore, outcomes based on race, ethnicity, family income, and language. These reports describe the gaps that still exist among schools and among districts in the state. One study provides the first comprehensive comparison of patterns in educational outcomes between California and the rest of the country. These five reports examine both the challenges and the promising efforts to...

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The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) have jointly produced a report that offers policy guidance for a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, aims to inform the work of the two U.S. Department of Education-funded consortia charged with developing a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced...
Examining the Effect of the Early Assessment Program at California State University
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This paper investigates how participation in the Early Assessment Program (EAP), which provides California high school juniors with information about their academic readiness for college-level work at California State University campuses, affects their college-going behavior and need for remediation in college.
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A new PACE policy brief summarizes the findings from a study investigating the impact of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on California’s lowest performing students. Utilizing longitudinal data from four large urban school districts, Sean Reardon from Stanford and Michal Kurlaender from UC-Davis compare students scheduled to graduate just before (2005) and after (2006-07) the exit exam became a requirement for graduation from California high schools. They find that the CAHSEE requirement had no positive effects on students’ academic skills, and a large negative impact on...
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...
Understanding California's High School Dropouts
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Six of California’s largest urban school districts have joined together in the Partnership for Urban Education Research (PUER), to address the most pressing issues in urban education. The six PUER districts have agreed to work together to increase data availability, enhance internal research capacity, and promote collaboration and information sharing across district lines for the benefit of their students. PUER seeks to build a partnership in which participating districts can use their collective research capacity to carefully evaluate their own instructional programs and practices. In a new...
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PACE presents three working papers on the inadequacies and difficulties of successful transition from high school to college. These papers are derived from The Bridge Project, a six-state study of K–16 issues. These three papers do not attempt to cover all aspects of K–16 and transition issues. Consequently, the policy implications at the end are based solely on these studies. While the media has focused a disproportionate amount of its attention on the highly selective University of California system, these studies provide fresh perspectives on the issues of college preparation, transition...
New Education Policies
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Senior slump is part of American high school culture. High school seniors, from the top of the class to the bottom, view much of senior year as a time they have "earned" for nonacademic pursuits, including fun, internships, and paid work. For the best-performing students, senior slump may begin in the fall, the day after they are accepted to college under early admissions. For other college-bound students, senior slump often begins soon after they have filed their college applications. For students not planning to attend college immediately after high school, senior slump may begin the moment...
Remembering the "Forgotten Half"
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In recent years, we have re­peatedly been forced to confront a troubling picture of declining knowledge and skills among the young people of the U.S., particularly those who do not attend college. These youths, who come increasingly from the poor and minority populations, were christened the "forgotten half" in the 1988 report released by the William T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Fami­ly, and Citizenship. The commission char­acterized the forgotten half as "the young people who build our homes, drive our buses, repair our automobiles, fix our tel­evisions, maintain and serve our...
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Allegations about the low performance of U.S. students compared to their counterparts in other nations repeatedly surface in the media. For example, in a recent sur­vey by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achieve­ment (IEA), the U.S. ranked 15th in science in a field of 17 nations. This low showing internationally is now accepted by policy makers and repeated as part of the conventional wisdom. Business lead­ers point with alarm to the declining skills of the labor force and proclaim that the U.S. economy will lose out to Asian and European competitors. There may...
Third-Year Results from Replications of the California Peninsula Academies
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This paper reports 1987–88 results from an evaluation of 11 academy programs in California high schools. Academies are schools within schools, combining academic and vocational courses in a program designed to reduce dropout rates. The evaluation used a matched comparison group for each cohort of academy students at each site. Results for in-school outcomes were generally positive. Focusing on one grade-level cohort for which graduation rates are available, the number of dropouts saved was estimated, along with the costs and economic benefits to society. The estimated net benefit from dropout...
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Vocational education in California is experiencing increasing criticism and significant enrollment declines. Between 1982–83 and 1984–85, for example, industrial arts enrollment dropped 16 percent and home economics enrollment declined 21 percent. While associating declines in these courses with the increased academic offerings and requirements for high school graduation and college entrance that occurred simultaneously bears further study, vocational education enrollment began decreasing shortly after Proposition 13 in 1978, long before new academic standards were imposed. This substantial...
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This survey and analysis is part of a larger study, "A Study to Determine How to Organize and Expand Public School Programs to Reduce Dropout Rates for High Risk Students: Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents," undertaken by the California Senate Office of Research and funded in part by the National Conference of State Legislators and the United States Office of Educational Research and Improvement. The Senate Office of Research contracted with PACE to examine existing secondary sources, such as available records of the California State Department of Education and the California State Department...