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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...
How the First Semester Matters for Community College Students’ Aspirations and Persistence
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A new PACE Policy Brief by Anne Driscoll of the University of California at Davis explains why California must do more than expand access to community college if our state is to prepare the workforce needed to remain economically competitive in the 21st century. Beyond Access: How the First Semester Matters for Community College Students’ Aspirations and Persistence shows that fewer than half of the young high school graduates who entered California community colleges with the goal of transferring to four-year colleges in 1998 made it through their first semester with their goals intact. One...
Options for California
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A PACE Policy Brief by W. Norton Grubb and David Stern. Career-technical education (CTE) is back in the policy spotlight, as Governor Schwarzenegger and key legislators seek strategies to strengthen California’s much-criticized high schools. Some forms of CTE that integrate academic with occupational content could usefully be expanded to provide high school students with multiple pathways to college and careers. This strategy, which we call “CTE/multiple pathways,” is more feasible and desirable for California high schools than other approaches to CTE — including the traditional vocational...
Options for California
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Career-technical education (CTE) is back in the policy spotlight, as Governor Schwarzenegger and key legislators seek strategies to strengthen California’s much-criticized high schools. Some forms of CTE that integrate academic with occupational content could usefully be expanded to provide high school students with multiple pathways to college and careers. This strategy, which we call “CTE/ multiple pathways,” is more feasible and desirable for California high schools than other approaches to CTE—including the traditional vocational education of the past century, the “dual” systems developed...
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In its 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, California became the first state to adopt an explicit public policy extending college opportunity to every adult who could benefit from it. The primary responsibility for implementing this vision was assigned to the California Community Colleges, a system that has since become the foundation of college opportunity in the state. Too few people realize the critical role that the community colleges have played in making California’s tripartite higher education system a national and world leader for over four decades. Although the equality of...
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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...
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...
Second-Year Results from Replications of the California Peninsula Academies
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This paper reports results from the first two years of an effort in 10 high schools to replicate the California Peninsula Academies. The Academy model combines the core academic curriculum with technical instruction in a particular occupational field. Local employers representing that field participate in various ways. The program is intended to improve the school performance of students who would otherwise be likely to drop out. Evidence presented here indicates that Academy students generally have compiled better grades and more course credits than students in comparison groups at the same...
Recent Changes and Prospective Trends
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California's increased high school graduation and college entrance requirements have changed course-taking patterns among California high school students. Enrollment has increased in all levels of math, science, and foreign language instruction. More students are enrolled in advanced placement classes. In addition, California's new state frameworks for math, science, and foreign language contain state-of-the-art instructional guidance for district curriculum leaders and teachers. These accomplishments reflect the goals of recent school reforms and address the belief that in order to be...
1986–87 Evaluation Report
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The School-to-Work and Academy Demonstration programs, funded under the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation's "Programs for Disadvantaged Youth," attempt to improve school retention and transitions to work for high school students in seven cities. This evaluation of the School-to-Work and Academy Demonstration programs entails both process and outcome components. The process component relies upon a case study description of each program, including a summary of its setting, design, management structure, and target group. Information for this segment of the evaluation derives from site visits, staff...
A By-Product of Reform
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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...
California's Community Colleges in the Post-Proposition 13 Period
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The experience of California's community colleges in coping with the crisis created by the passage of Proposition 13 suggests critical elements necessary for recognizing problems and mitigating chaos. As Paul Valery so succinctly put it, "The problem with our times is that the future isn't what it used to be." There are many of us who would relish the notion of going back to simpler, less chaotic, more predictable futures. That is purely wishful thinking, particularly for those of us who toil in the community college vineyard. The future promises to be more, not less, complex. The major...
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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...
A Critical Linkage
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The adoption of new CSU admission requirements closely parallels other state-level action over the last few years, calling for a more coherent pattern of academic course work in California high schools. Cumulatively, these multiple forces have produced significant pressures on high schools to increase academic offerings and to meet the new standards. Although the proposed changes were generated from an array of sources, they are remarkably consistent and send a set of reasonably clear signals to schools. The pressure for change combined with a substantial influx of state dollars has resulted...
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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...
Vocational Education in California Public Secondary Schools
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Eleventh and twelfth grade students in California comprehensive high school and Regional Occupational Centers/Programs (ROC/ROPs) collectively spend about one million hours a day on vocational education. This represents a large investment of student time and public money, yet vocational education has potential that far exceeds its present performance. California students spend more than twice as much time in high school vocational classes as in ROC/ROPs. Most vocational programs are offered in both places, though possibly at a more advanced level in ROC/ROPs. California students who took a...