The 2022 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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The 2021–22 academic year was profoundly challenging for California schools. Eight critical issues emerged as serious threats to student learning, the operation of schools, and even the very institution of public education: (1) gun violence, (2) politicization of and support for public education, (3) controversy over what is taught in schools, (4) student learning and well-being, (5) declining enrollment, (6) teacher shortages, (7) college affordability, and (8) long-term funding inadequacy and instability. These issues also present a threat to equity because they disproportionately affect the...

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California’s Assembly Bill 705 has affected the way that English learners (ELs) access English and English as a second language (ESL) coursework, requiring that degree- or transfer-seeking students have the right to enroll in English or ESL courses, and community colleges are responsible for implementing initial placement practices and designing curricular structures that maximize gateway English completion. We found that ELs who graduated from a US high school and then enrolled in a community college experienced much higher throughput rates when allowed to enroll directly in transferable...
Evidence from the 2021 PACE/USC Rossier Annual Poll
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The 2021 PACE/USC Rossier poll provides key insights into Californians’ perceptions of higher education issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically equity and affordability. A large percentage of Californians acknowledge that college affordability is an important educational issue, and they generally express support for increased access to courses through remote options, increased funding for community colleges, loan forgiveness, and equitable admissions practices. However, public opinion on these issues is more nuanced; for example, Californians are concerned that increased access to...
Dual Enrollment is Growing Among California High School Students
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Research tells us that high school students who take college courses while they are still in high school benefit from the experience in both systems. To capitalize on the benefits of this dual enrollment, California and other states have moved to increase high school students’ access to college courses. Because California lacks an integrated state data system to connect information from K–12 to higher education, researchers have been hampered in their efforts to understand to what extent the state’s high school students participate in dual enrollment. UC Davis researchers with the Wheelhouse...
A Promise to What, for Whom, and Where?
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This brief describes the types of college promises that exist in the state of California. In doing so, we summarize existing research on this topic. Furthermore, we provide a framework to study the California Promise Program in community colleges in California. We use publicly available data to highlight key aspects of our proposed framework: What are we promising, to whom, and where? We end our brief by providing key recommendations to ensure that the promise extends to the most vulnerable groups of students to help in closing equity gaps in college degree and completion in California.
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.

The Scale and Distribution of Community College Participation Among California High School Students
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Research shows that dual enrollment—a practice in which high school students take college courses while they are still in high school—has multiple benefits for student success in both systems. This brief, produced in partnership with Wheelhouse, breaks new ground by matching high school and community college datasets to provide a clearer picture of college course-taking among California public high school students statewide. The authors find that nearly 13% of high school students took a course at a California Community College at some point during their high school years. However, 82% of...

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...