Recent news headlines have drawn attention to budget cuts that districts pursue in response to the state’s revenue shortfalls. But policymakers and state agencies need to consider more than episodic revenue declines or relative rankings of districts. Instead, policymakers need to consider how state fiscal conditions are changing a given district’s performance over time. The state’s volatile tax base and centralization of school finance are associated with long-term unpredictability in state aid in California.
Our most recent seminars have been recorded and are available for streaming or download. Older seminars are also listed, although audio is not available prior to November 2008. Upcoming seminars can be found on the Seminars page.
Since 2009 the Department of Education has allowed local school boards to reallocate $4.5 billion in previously regulated categorical aid, now folded into the Tier 3 ‘block grant’. The UC-RAND research team reported earlier on case studies of 10 districts’ response to flexibility. This second PACE seminar will feature the results of their statewide survey of district chief financial officers and their analysis of statewide expenditure data. To what extent were Tier 3 dollars swept into district general funds? Which programs were hit hardest as re-allocations occurred?
To improve the preparation of California high school students for postsecondary education and careers, in 2006 the James Irvine Foundation launched a major initiative to develop what is now called the Linked Learning approach. The Foundation asked PACE to inform this effort by gathering evidence on the cost of Linked Learning programs. This seminar presents the results.
Educational assessment policy must produce measures of performance that are fair and accurate for all students in order to convey clear and helpful information to educators, parents, and the students themselves. Achieving these objectives is especially challenging when it comes to the nation’s 5 million K-12 public school English learners (ELs). English learners are linguistic-minority students not sufficiently proficient in English to be able to benefit adequately from regular classroom instruction and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities using English.
The career technical education (CTE) mission of the California Community Colleges is a vital part of the agenda to increase college completion and shore up economic competitiveness; yet this area of college academic programming gets too little emphasis and support. There is growing evidence of high market value of certificate and associate degree programs in select areas. There is also evidence that career-oriented programs can increase student motivation and improve outcomes, helping to meet workforce, equity, and productivity goals for California postsecondary education. Yet the attention given to CTE has not matched that given to the junior college transfer mission or to developmental education.
At this event, Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield, Co-Directors, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA and Kimberly King, Assistant Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, presented research findings on a series of reports designed to analyze the impact of fiscal cutbacks on opportunity for higher education in the California State University system (see article on the research series in Diverse Issues in Higher Education).
A panel of education researchers and policy experts convened in Washington DC on May 16 to explore the findings of a new report that makes the case for bold new student testing models that are fairer and more valid than their predecessors. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, was released by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).
Recognition of the importance of school leadership has led to increased attention to recruiting and preparing school leaders. Yet, principal preparation and development programs tend to emphasize the role of principals as instructional leaders. In this seminar, Professor Susanna Loeb, Executive Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis program at Stanford University, discussed the findings of her leadership studies that highlight the importance of organizational leadership and the development of organizational structures for improved instruction. Strong organizational managers, the studies have found, are effective in hiring and supporting staff, allocating budgets and resources, and maintaining positive working/learning environments. Schools that have demonstrated academic improvement are more likely to have effective organizational managers.
In July of 2008 the State Board of Education passed a motion to make the Algebra I CST the sole 8th grade math test of record for federal accountability purposes, increasing the policy pressure for schools to place more students into that course in 8th grade. That decision was put on hold by the courts, leaving districts and schools without clear direction. With all good intentions, many more schools are placing all their students in Algebra I to ensure equal access, regardless of their prior math preparation. Yet other schools and districts take a more customized approach to placement.
Despite increasing awareness on the part of educators about the importance of addressing the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs), there has been almost no systematic attention to supporting school and district leaders. Instructional strategies for addressing the language and content needs of ELLs has been working itself steadily into the mainstream – through teacher preparation standards, teacher induction program standards, and various prominent professional development programs.