Publications

  • Trends in Student Social Emotional Learning: Evidence from the CORE Districts

    Martin R. West, Libby Pier, Hans Fricke, Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    Mounting evidence demonstrates that social-emotional skills are important for students’ academic and life success, yet we have limited evidence on how these skills develop over time and how this development varies across student subgroups. In this study, we use the first large-scale panel survey of social-emotional learning (SEL) to describe how four SEL constructs—growth-mindset, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness—develop from Grade 4 to Grade 12, and how these trends vary by gender, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity.

  • Measuring Social Emotional Learning Through Student Surveys in the CORE Districts: A Pragmatic Approach to Validity and Reliability

    Hunter Gehlbach, Heather Hough. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    As educational practitioners and policymakers expand the range of student outcomes they assess, student perception surveys—particularly those targeting social-emotional learning—have grown in popularity. Despite excitement around the potential for measuring a wider array of important student outcomes, concerns about the validity of the inferences that might be drawn from student self-reports persist. One of the most ambitious attempts to incorporate student perception surveys into a larger assessment framework has occurred through CORE—a consortium of school districts in California. Pulling from CORE’s data and their use within these districts, we summarize the evidence for validity and reliability of CORE’s student-report surveys on social-emotional learning through a pragmatic approach.

  • Enacting Social-Emotional Learning: Practices and Supports Employed in CORE Districts and Schools

    Julie A. Marsh, Susan McKibben, Heather Hough, Michelle Hall, Taylor N. Allbright, Ananya M. Matewos, Caetano Siqueira. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2018

    Social-emotional learning refers to the beliefs, attitudes, personality traits, and behaviors that students need to succeed in school and life. Our study looks closely at ten “outlier schools” in California’s CORE districts whose students report strong social-emotional learning outcomes compared to other, similar middle schools.

  • Predicting College Success: How Do Different High School Assessments Measure Up?

    Michal Kurlaender, K.A. Kramer, Erika Jackson. Policy Analysis for California Education. March 2018

    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.

  • How Stakeholder Engagement Fuels Improvement Efforts In Three California School Districts

    Daniel C. Humphrey, Julia E. Koppich, Magaly Lavadenz, Julie A. Marsh, Jennifer O'Day, David N. Plank, Laura Stokes, Michelle Hall. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2018

    California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was signed into law in 2013, and represents the most significant change in California education finance and governance in 40 years. It moves additional funds to districts with students in poverty, English language learners, and foster youth. The LCFF sends supplemental funds to districts based on unduplicated counts of these target student groups and concentration funds to districts with high proportions (over 55%) of these same students. In addition, the LCFF eliminates nearly all categorical funding and pushes decision-making about how best to allocate resources to the local level. The LCFF also requires districts to develop a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with meaningful local community engagement of parents, community members, students, and educators.

  • Summer Learning - A Smart Investment for California School Districts

    Mary Perry, Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, Katie Brackenridge. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2018

    Summer learning loss contributes significantly to the achievement gap between low income students and their more affluent peers. That makes high quality summer learning programs a smart investment for school districts concerned about success for all students. Such investments have become easier thanks to the flexibility built into the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

    The most promising programs are not traditional summer school. Instead, they look and feel like summer camp while incorporating learning goals aligned with district priorities. Summer learning programs:

  • Community Collaboration in Teacher Recruitment and Retention

    Sherrie Reed. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2018

    High quality instruction delivered by effective teachers is the key to student success. Hiring, developing and retaining good teachers are therefore the most important tasks of our public schools. The tasks of teacher recruitment and retention have traditionally been delegated to the human resource department within school districts, but leaving these critical responsibilities to a single office is no longer sufficient. The ability to find, support, and keep good teachers is a community challenge, which demands innovative solutions collaboratively developed by diverse stakeholders.

  • 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.

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