Policy Briefs

Continuous Improvement Series: Accountability for Alternative Schools in California

Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, Daisy Gonzales. February 2017.

California’s alternative education options for youth vulnerable to dropping out of school have been established at different historical points and for different student age and target populations. For purposes of this brief, we define an “alternative school” as belonging to one of six legislatively authorized types of public (non-charter) schools that meet the definitions of the Alternative School Accountability Model (ASAM). These schools are operated by different local agencies – school districts, county school boards, or juvenile justice agencies and the courts –and governed by overlapping and sometimes legislatively superseded or otherwise inoperative portions of the state Education Code. Currently, the California Department of Education (CDE) is considering the development of a new accountability system for alternative schools that aligns with Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) for all public schools.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Improving the Opportunities and Outcomes of California's Students Learning English: Findings from School District-University Collaborative Partnerships

Ilana M. Umansky, Sean Reardon, Kenji Hakuta, Karen D. Thompson, Peggy Estrada, Katherine Hayes, Hilda Maldonado, Susan Tandberg, Claude Goldenberg. October 2015.

In this policy brief Ilana Umansky and her co-authors review research findings from three university school district research partnerships and present recommendations for changes in policy and practice to expand opportunities for EL students. They draw three main conclusions. First, California must improve the ways in which students who need language supports are classified and reclassified, in order to improve alignment across districts in the state, and alignment between classification and services. Second, state and local officials must become more systematic in how data on ELs are collected and used, by tracking students’ progress over longer time periods and by including all students who were ever ELs in accountability metrics.

Supporting Continuous Improvement in California's Education System

Linda Darling-Hammond, David N. Plank. January 2015.

California’s new accountability system originated in the radical decentralization of power and authority from Sacramento to local schools and their communities brought about by the Legislature’s adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013. Under California’s previous accountability policies and the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, the state set performance targets for schools and districts based almost entirely on students’ standardized test scores.

Bumpy Path Into a Profession: What California's Beginning Teachers Experience

Julia E. Koppich, Daniel C. Humphrey. July 2014.

In California as elsewhere, state policy anticipates that aspiring teachers will follow a uniform, multistep path into the profession. It assumes they will complete a preparation program and earn a preliminary credential, take a teaching job and be assigned probationary status, complete a two-year induction program (the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment System, or BTSA), earn a Clear Credential, and receive tenure following two years of satisfactory evaluations.

Making Observation Count: Key Design Elements for Meaningful Teacher Observation

Jennifer Goldstein. December 2013.

Teacher evaluation has emerged as a potentially powerful policy lever in state and federal debates about how to improve public education. The role of student test scores and “value-added” measures in teacher evaluation has generated intense public controversy, but other approaches to evaluation including especially classroom observations of teaching are certain to remain as essential features of any evaluation system.

In this policy brief Jennifer Goldstein lays out four key design principles that should guide the observation-based assessment of teaching:

Can a District-Level Teacher Salary Incentive Policy Improve Teacher Recruitment and Retention?

Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb. August 2013.

In this policy brief Heather Hough and Susanna Loeb examine the effect of the Quality Teacher and Education Act of 2008 (QTEA) on teacher recruitment, retention, and overall teacher quality in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). They provide evidence that a salary increase can improve a school district’s attractiveness within their local teacher labor market and increase both the size and quality of the teacher applicant pool. They also provide evidence that targeted salary increases can increase the quality of new-hires.

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