CORE-PACE Research Partnership 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.

  • School Effects on Social-Emotional Learning: Findings from the First Large-Scale Panel Survey of Students

    Susanna Loeb, Michael S. Christian, Heather Hough, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice, Martin R. West. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    Measures of school-level growth in student outcomes are common tools used to assess the impacts of schools. The vast majority of these measures are based on standardized tests, even though emerging evidence demonstrates the importance of social-emotional skills (SEL). This paper uses the first large-scale panel surveys of students on SEL to produce and evaluate school-level value-added measures by grade for growth mindset, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness.

  • Measuring Students’ Social-Emotional Learning Among California’s CORE Districts: An IRT Modeling Approach

    Robert H. Meyer, Caroline Wang, Andrew B. Rice. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    With an increased appreciation of students’ social-emotional skills among researchers and policy makers, many states and school districts are moving toward a systematic process to measure Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). In this study, we examine the measurement properties of California's CORE Districts’ SEL survey administered to over 400,000 students in grades 3 to 12 during the 2015-16 school year.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Using Surveys of Students' Social-Emotional Skills and School Climate for Accountability and Continuous Improvement

    Heather Hough, Demetra Kalogrides, Susanna Loeb. Policy Analysis for California Education. March 2017

    This report and accompanying policy brief show that there is good reason to pursue the measurement of social-emotional learning (SEL) and school culture/climate (CC) as a way to better understand student and school performance. Using data from California's CORE districts, we show that SEL and CC measures demonstrate reliability and validity, distinguish between schools, are related to other academic and non-academic measures, and also illuminate dimensions of student achievement that go beyond traditional indicators.

  • Local Control in Action: Learning from the CORE Districts' Focus on Measurement, Capacity Building, and Shared Accountability

    Julie A. Marsh, Susan Bush-Mecenas, Heather Hough. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2016

    California and the nation are at the crossroads of a major shift in school accountability policy. At the state level, California’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) encourages the use of multiple measures of school performance used locally to support continuous improvement and strategic resource allocation. Similarly, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reinforces this local control, requiring more comprehensive assessment of school performance and a less prescriptive, local approach to school support. These changes represent a major cultural shift for California schools and districts.

  • Identity crisis: Multiple measures and the identification of schools under ESSA

    Heather Hough, Emily Penner, Joe Witte. Policy Analysis for California Education. August 2016

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) makes sweeping changes to the way school performance is measured. Using the innovative measurement system developed by the CORE Districts in California, the authors explore how schools can be identified for support and improvement using a multiple measures framework.

  • Making Students Visible: Comparing Different Student Subgroup Sizes for Accountability

    Heather Hough, Joe Witte. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2016

    With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, California state policymakers are tasked with determining the subgroup threshold for school-level reporting. To inform this decision, this policy brief explores the implications of utilizing various subgroup sizes using data from the CORE Districts. The authors find that the 20+ subgroup size presents clear advantages in terms of the number of students represented, particularly in making historically underserved student populations visible.

  • Using Chronic Absence in a Multi-Metric Accountability System

    Heather Hough. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2016

    With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, California must integrate additional measures of student and school performance into the state-wide accountability system. To support the conversation as policymakers consider if/how to include chronic absenteeism data in the state’s accountability system, PACE has conducted an analysis of the CORE Districts’ student chronic absenteeism data.


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