Publications

  • Educating California’s Disadvantaged Children: Lessons from Colombia

    Tom Luschei. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2017

    Despite California’s great wealth, child poverty places a drag on the state’s educational performance. Disadvantaged children—including English learners, foster children, and the poor—do not receive the educational attention and services that they require to be successful. Although California’s Local Control Funding Formula recognizes this challenge, schools and districts have struggled to identify effective solutions to educate disadvantaged children.

  • Building Systems Knowledge for Continuous Improvement: Early lessons from the CORE districts

    Michelle Nayfack, Vicki Park, Heather Hough, Larkin Willis. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2017

    In California, recent policy shifts have created a high degree of local control with the expectation that school districts will think differently about school and district improvement. However, many districts lack the individual expertise and organizational capacity to support these changes at scale. In large part, this is due to a lack of a shared understanding of the routines, structures, and supports needed for school systems to develop and implement change ideas that dramatically improve student outcomes.

  • Continuous Improvement in Practice

    Heather Hough, Jason Willis, Alicia Grunow, Kelsey Krausen, Sylvia Kwon, Laura Steen Mulfinger, Sandra Park. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2017

    Calls for “continuous improvement” in California’s K-12 education system are central to current discussions about school improvement in the state. Yet, definitions of continuous improvement vary, and knowledge of what continuous improvement looks like in practice is limited. To advance the conversation, this brief helps to define continuous improvement both in theory and in practice.

  • Promising Practices in School District Budgeting Under LCFF

    Mark Murphy. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2017

    The implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula presents local education leaders with the power and flexibility to use resources in new and different ways. Taking full advantage of this opportunity requires leaders to adopt budgeting practices that highlight the tradeoffs among system goals and facilitate the reallocation of scarce resources to support their top priorities. In this brief Mark Murphy reviews the experiences of three California school districts with budget tools that increase their ability to meet their students’ needs.

  • The Antelope Valley: Over the hill and out of sight

    Laura Steen Mulfinger, Allison Carter, Hannah Melnicoe. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2017

    The typical image of California is one of coastal cities and urban centers. But this picture leaves out much of the state and many of its residents. For large numbers of policymakers, foundations, and education leaders, these parts of our large and diverse state are “invisible.” Over the past two decades, however, these communities have emerged as some of the fastest growing and neediest parts of our state.

  • Challenges and Choices: A Multidistrict Analysis of Statewide Mandated Democratic Engagement

    Julie A. Marsh, Michelle Hall. American Educational Research Journal. October 2017

    This article seeks to deepen our understanding of the nature and quality of democratic participation in educational reform by examining the first-year implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) mandating civic engagement in district decision-making. Drawing on democratic theory, empirical literature, and data from 10 districts, we find that even when district leaders committed to involving stakeholders in decision-making, achieving this vision was often constrained by power imbalances, deeply engrained institutional habits, and limited capacity.

  • Expanding Learning: A Powerful Strategy for Equity

    Katie Brackenridge, Jessica Gunderson, Mary Perry. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2017

    The disparity in educational outcomes between student populations is one of the most serious challenges facing our public education system. Gaps in test scores, graduation rates, and college readiness pose  a fundamental problem that school officials must solve.

  • Surprising Strengths and Substantial Needs: Rural District Implementation of Common Core State Standards

    Thomas Timar, Allison Carter. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2017

    In August 2010, the California State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Three years later, the president of the State Board, Dr. Michael Kirst, noted that CCSS “changes almost everything,” including what teachers teach, how they teach, and what students are expected to learn (Kirst, 2013). Echoing his sentiments, Dr.

  • Building Intersegmental Partnerships

    Elizabeth Friedmann. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2017

    California’s education system is highly fragmented. K-12 schools, community colleges, and the two university systems (CSU and UC) operate under entirely separate governance structures, and rely on distinct sources of funding. As a result these different "segments" of the education system generally operate independently of one another, developing policies and practices to serve their own students with little or no effort to consult with other segments. In fact, however, addressing many of the educational issues that face our state successfully will require action by more than one segment.

  • Exploring Improvement Science in Education: Promoting College Access in Fresno Unified School District

    Jorge Aguilar, Michelle Nayfack, Susan Bush-Mecenas. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2017

    California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) requires districts to report multiple measures of student performance that reflect success in the goal of preparing students for college, career, and citizenship. As they engage in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process, they are expected to use state and local indicator data from California’s School Dashboard to monitor student progress.

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