Policy Briefs

Promising Practices in School District Budgeting Under LCFF

Mark Murphy. October 2017.

The implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula presents local education leaders with the power and flexibility to use resources in new and different ways. Taking full advantage of this opportunity requires leaders to adopt budgeting practices that highlight the tradeoffs among system goals and facilitate the reallocation of scarce resources to support their top priorities. In this brief Mark Murphy reviews the experiences of three California school districts with budget tools that increase their ability to meet their students’ needs.

Expanding Learning: A Powerful Strategy for Equity

Katie Brackenridge, Jessica Gunderson, Mary Perry. October 2017.

The disparity in educational outcomes between student populations is one of the most serious challenges facing our public education system. Gaps in test scores, graduation rates, and college readiness pose  a fundamental problem that school officials must solve.

Exploring Improvement Science in Education: Promoting College Access in Fresno Unified School District

Jorge Aguilar, Michelle Nayfack, Susan Bush-Mecenas. 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.

Building Intersegmental Partnerships

Elizabeth Friedmann. June 2017.

California’s education system is highly fragmented. K-12 schools, community colleges, and the two university systems (CSU and UC) operate under entirely separate governance structures, and rely on distinct sources of funding. As a result these different "segments" of the education system generally operate independently of one another, developing policies and practices to serve their own students with little or no effort to consult with other segments. In fact, however, addressing many of the educational issues that face our state successfully will require action by more than one segment.

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.

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