News

  • The California Teachers Association has released preliminary findings from their ongoing evaluation of the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA). The initial findings are generally positive, but their release is an occasion for disappointment rather than celebration, for two reasons.

  • An article in the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend makes it clear just how hard it will be to make the distribution of resources in California’s education system more equitable. The article describes a controversy in the Albany USD, where the three elementary schools are raising money from parents to supplement the funds that the state provides. The poorest of the three schools raises the least money, and spends much of what they raise to provide more lunch-time supervision. The other schools raise more and spend it on supplemental instruction in art, music, and other subjects.

  • Polling on public education almost invariably reports the same pattern of responses when participants are asked to evaluate schools. Respondents give their local schools relatively high grades, but they give much lower grades to the public school system as a whole. In other words, citizens trust the schools they know, where they send (or sent) their own children, but they are doubtful about schools elsewhere.

  • Let’s get assessment policy right. California has recently adopted new standards for what children should know and be able to do at every grade level. To ensure that these new standards support improvement in the performance of schools and students, tie them to assessments that provide timely, accurate, and useful information for teachers and parents about whether and how students are progressing toward mastery. Two national assessment consortia funded by the federal government will do some of the work, but most of it will have to be done in California.

  • Approximately 25% of California K-12 students are English Language Learners. Despite our best efforts, less than 60% of ELLs are English proficient after 6 years. In addition, their achievement levels are well below their English proficient counterparts. One of Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial goals is to reduce the messy number of categorical funding formulas and thus increase funding for English Language Learners and low income families.

  • Last week PACE and Pivot Learning Partners co-hosted a conference in southern California that focused on teacher evaluation. The conference brought together teams of administrators, teachers, and union leaders from more than 30 school districts to discuss how to evaluate teachers’ performance in smarter, more effective ways.

  • An article published in the LA Times reports that according to a recent poll of likely voters conducted by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint, 48% of Californians said immigrants are a benefit to the state, and 59% said undocumented workers who have held a job here for two years should be allowed to stay. Overall, the poll finds that California voters hold positive views about undocumented immigrants.

  • Can we talk? As it turns out, we can’t. We can yell, finger point, and mutually disparage, but we are incapable of talking about what matters most in public education: how the resources we have are best allocated to produce the student achievement results we need.

  • The L.A. Times publication in August of a value-added analysis of teacher effectiveness, based on student scores on math and ELA tests, has sparked national debate about the ethics of publicly ranking individual teachers. Educators and researchers questioned the usefulness of student scores on standardized tests as teacher effectiveness measures, the merits of teacher performance-pay systems, and whether journalist-researchers should be allowed to conduct studies that university Human Subjects boards would flatly reject.

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