Research Center Celebrates a Quarter Century as Leader in Legislative Policy Analysis
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When PACE was founded in the early 1980s, California's schools were in turmoil following the passage of Proposition 13, which indirectly limited public education funding. The good news is that PACE has grown significantly in size and stature since then-Graduate School of Education Professor James Guthrie (who taught in the GSE for 27 years), Stanford Professor Michael Kirst; and then-chancellor of the California Community Colleges Gerald Hayward founded PACE (originally called Policy Alternatives for California Education). And the other good news is that the independent policy center has...
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...
Continuous Improvement in California’s Education System
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In a new PACE Policy Brief, Susanna Loeb and David N. Plank argue that to raise student performance and satisfy public expectations California’s education system must be transformed into a continuously improving system that encourages innovation, carefully measures the impact of different policies and practices, and—most importantly—learns from experience. Loeb and Plank identify the essential features of a continuously improving system, which include clear and specific goals, timely and reliable data, strong capacity to support change, decision-making flexibility, and aligned incentives. They...
Data Systems and Policy Learning
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In a PACE document prepared for the Convening on California Education Policy on October 19, 2007, Susanna Loeb and David N. Plank present a set of policy recommendations aimed at supporting continuous improvement in California’s education system. Their recommendations address the essential features of a comprehensive education data system, and also the design and implementation of educational policies to support careful evaluation and organizational learning at all levels of the education system, from the classroom to the California Department of Education.
A Survey of California Teachers’ Challenges, Experiences, and Professional Development Needs
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Listening to Teachers of English Language Learners is the product of collaboration among PACE, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (the Center), and the University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute (UC LMRI). Founded in 1983 as a cooperative venture between the schools of education at UC Berkeley and Stanford University, PACE is an independent policy research center whose primary aim is to enrich education policy debates with sound analysis and hard evidence. From issues around pre-schooling and child development, to K–12 school finance, to higher education...
Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities for Improvement
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Accountability for student performance is on the minds of everyone in U.S. education—from policymakers to district administrators to principals. While the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) has claimed center stage in the national accountability debate, California’s own results-based accountability system was set in place several years prior to NCLB. In 1999, California legislators passed the Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA), establishing specific performance targets for schools, a system of rewards and sanctions for meeting those targets, and assistance for low-performing...
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The recent approval of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) changes the landscape for evaluating school success. In addition to requiring student testing in math and reading for all students in Grades 3–8, a major component of the new law mandates that all states determine, and schools and school districts demonstrate, “adequate yearly progress” toward state proficiency goals. All students—regardless of race or socioeconomic status—must be held to the same academic expectations, and all students—regardless of race or socioeconomic status—must have their academic progress measured using a newly...
Implications for Equity, Practice, and Implementation
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In July 1996, California embarked on its largest ever education reform: a nearly $1 billion class size reduction effort to improve literacy in the primary grades. Now in its second year, the Class Size Reduction (CSR) initiative provides $800 (up from $650 the first year) per student to schools that reduce class size to 20 students or fewer in first grade, second grade, and then third grade and/or kindergarten. The impetus for CSR came from several factors. A revived state economy created a revenue windfall. Under Proposition 98, a minimum amount of this surplus must be allocated to education...
A Report of the California Task Force on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
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What is the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards? What does it mean for California's more than 200,000 teachers and for the communities in which they work? How can a national system of voluntary certification give new vitality and stature to teaching? This document is an initial response to such questions. It is the product of nearly eight months of deliberation by 35 teachers, administrators, teacher educators, parents, school board representatives, and foundation officials—the California Task Force on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The task force was...
A New Strategy for Linking Research and Practice
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The need to bring research to bear on the problems of educational practice has never been greater. U.S. schools face a number of critical challenges in the years ahead. Two of the most cited examples are incorporat­ing increasing numbers of educationally disadvantaged students into the educa­tional mainstream and preparing students for an increasingly competitive and techno­logically advanced work environment. In order to meet these challenges, a vari­ety of reform efforts are under way at the local, state, and federal levels. Research should play an important role in meeting these challenges...
Overcoming Barriers, Creating New Opportunities
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Childhood is changing. More chil­dren are unhealthy—physically and mentally. More children suffer from substance abuse and child abuse, from inadequate child care, and from family disorganization. More and more students from single­ parent families and from minority and non-English­ speaking backgrounds are entering the public schools that have never done a good job of meeting the needs of non-middle-class, nonwhite, non-English-speaking children. School leaders must understand how chil­dren's educational prospects are affected by their daily lives. Childhood is changing, and schools must...