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...

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...
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In this report we explore the patterns in mathematics course-taking among California public high school seniors. We describe what courses students are enrolled in and how course participation varies by key student characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and performance level on the state’s 11th grade assessments. We also explore course-taking patterns for students eligible for California’s public four-year colleges—California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC), and for applicants and admitted students at the CSU and UC.
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.
How Do Different High School Assessments Measure Up?
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The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC), implemented in California in 2014–15 as part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, is designed to evaluate students’ levels of college and career readiness. Student scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment are currently used for both accountability and school improvement purposes. Aligned with Common Core State Standards for college readiness, student performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment may also predict students’ success in college in a manner similar to other commonly used assessments for predicting college...
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...
Implementing the Local Control Funding Formula
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This report, the next in a series by the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative (LCFFRC) , presents survey responses from a statewide representative sample of California superintendents. The survey complements the LCFFRC’s four years of in-depth case study work examining the implementation of the LCFF and provides a broad picture of superintendents’ views of and experiences with the law. As with previous LCFF research, this survey is designed to help policymakers and others better understand ways in which the LCFF is affecting resource allocation and governance in California’s K...
How Do Different High School Assessments Measure Up?
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Note: See March 2019 report for updates data and analysis from this March 2018 version. In 2014, the state of California implemented the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in order to align state assessment and accountability policies with the newly adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS). At the heart of the new performance and accountability system is the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is designed to evaluate a student’s full range of college- and career-readiness as defined by the CCSS. Three years after the implementation of...
Report 3 of a 3-Part Series
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There is growing concern that the remedial math courses taken by most community college students unnecessarily divert some students from earning a degree. Anecdotes of students who thought they had completed their math requirements in high school only to have remedial courses delay their progress through college are common. In addition, research has shown that African American and Latino students are disproportionately affected, frequently facing three or four remedial math classes. Redesigning the placement policies that assign students to these sequences could be as important as redesigning...
Report 2 of a 3-Part Series
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The conventional algebra-intensive math curriculum commonly dictates students’ options for entering and completing college, including their ability to transfer from two-year to four-year institutions. The assumption that higher-level algebra is necessary for college success has led some equity advocates to promote algebra for all students. Nearly half of states require two years of algebra for high school graduation, and the Common Core State Standards being implemented in the majority of states have a similar emphasis. While the intent has been to raise achievement, the hidden underbelly of...
Report 1 of a 3-Part Series
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Since the mid-20th century, the standard U.S. high school and college math curriculum has been based on two years of algebra and a year of geometry, preparing students to take classes in pre-calculus followed by calculus. That pathway became solidified after the 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik motivated reforms in U.S. science and engineering education to boost the nation’s technological prowess. Students’ math pursuits have been differentiated primarily by how far or how rapidly they proceed along a clearly defined trajectory that has changed little since then. But evolutions in...
Using Existing Tools to Increase College-Readiness Now
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The adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in mathematics are intended to provide all students in California with the knowledge and skills required to transition from high school to college-level coursework. This implementation will take time. Concurrent with these efforts, policymakers and educators can begin to increase college-readiness now, especially for community college-bound students, by using two existing tools – the California High School Exit Exam in mathematics and the Academic Performance Index to identify 10th-graders who...
Can It Support California’s College and Career-ready Goal?
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For decades, when California’s state leaders have wanted to see local school districts respond to shifts in policy and expectations they relied on the state-controlled school finance system to leverage local change. Through the use of categorical programs and earmarked funding, they created incentives for districts that complied and penalties for those that did not. The result: a school finance system that has been roundly criticized as irrational, inequitable, excessively complicated, overly centralized, and inefficient at allocating resources. In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown proposed to...
Its Effectiveness and the Obstacles to Successful Program Implementation
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The Early Assessment Program (EAP) has emerged as a national model for states seeking to design policies that increase the number of students who leave high school ready for college and careers. In addition, the two national consortia designing new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards have recognized the EAP as a model for the design of new high school assessments, which California will implement in 2014-15. The report was written by Hilary McLean of Capitol Impact, LLC.

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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...
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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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...
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...
A Synthesis of Evaluations
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This report by PACE was commissioned by the University of California to inform deliberations of the Outreach Task Force on strategies to enhance university participation by students who are disadvantaged or from groups that have been historically underrepresented. The report reviews evaluations of current outreach programs, identifies effective practices, and makes recommendations for the improvement of programs and of the methods used to evaluate programs. The report presents an analysis of what has been learned about outreach programs in order to inform deliberations relative to the...
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...
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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...