Policy Briefs

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.

Education Technology Policy for a 21st Century Learning System

Charles Taylor Kerchner. May 2013.

Internet-related technology has the capacity to change the learning production system in three important ways. First, it creates the capacity to move from the existing batch processing system of teaching and learning to a much more individualized learning system capable of matching instructional style and pace to a student’s needs.

Second, technology can help make the learning system smart. Adaptive software responds to student activity, providing options, assistance, and challenges. It can also provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to intervene and adjust.

The Common Core Meets State Policy: This Changes Almost Everything

Michael Kirst. April 2013.

The full policy implications of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics and English Language Arts K-12 are just beginning to unfold across the 45 states (and DC) that are working to implement them. The CCSS will impact almost all key state education policies in fundamental ways. As we learned from the 1990-2005 era of systemic state standards-based reform, when academic standards change, so do policies related to student assessment and school accountability.

Making it Real: How High Schools Can Be Held Accountable for Developing Students' Career Readiness

Svetlana Darche, David Stern. March 2013.

College and career readiness is the stated goal of the common core standards that have now been adopted by almost all the states. The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2013 included a new name for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act: “college and career ready schools.” There is widespread agreement on the goal of preparing every high school graduate both for postsecondary education and for a lifetime of fulfilling work.

Fixing the Academic Performance Index

Morgan S. Polikoff, Andrew McEachin . January 2013.

The Academic Performance Index (API) is the centerpiece of California’s state assessment and accountability system. With the recent passage of SB1458 and the pending reauthorization of both state and federal accountability legislation, there is now an unprecedented opportunity to improve the API for next generation accountability in California. In this policy brief Morgan S.

How Next-Generation Standards and Assessments Can Foster Success for California’s English Learners

Robert Linquanti, Kenji Hakuta. August 2012.

California cannot afford to ignore or postpone questions of how to support the academic success of English Learners (ELs) in the state’s K-12 education system. Language-minority students already represent more than 40 percent of the state’s K-12 public education students, and their share of enrollment is growing. How well California serves these students will help determine the vitality of the state’s economy and society in the years ahead.

New Schools, Overcrowding Relief, and Achievement Gains in Los Angeles – Strong Returns from a $19.5 Billion Investment

William Welsh, Erin Coghlan, Bruce Fuller, Luke Dauter. August 2012.

Aiming to relieve overcrowded schools operating on multiple tracks, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has invested more than $19 billion to build 130 new facilities over the past decade. In a new PACE policy brief, William Welsh, Erin Coghlan, Bruce Fuller, and Luke Dauter from the University of California – Berkeley analyze the effects on student achievement of this massive initiative. Tracking thousands of students who moved from overcrowded to new facilities over the 2002-2008 period, the authors discovered robust achievement gains for many students.

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