Policy Briefs

Reforming Education in California: A Guide for Citizens and Candidates

. April 2010.

PACE announces the publication of its policy book “Reforming Education in California: A Guide for Citizens and Candidates.” The goal of this briefing book is to support, in an informative and constructive manner, debates about the critical issues facing California education. “Reforming Education in California” is useful for candidates as well as for informed citizens as they evaluate proposed changes in education policies.

There's Lots to Learn from L.A.: Policy Levers for Institutional Change

. January 2010.

A new PACE policy brief reviews the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District over the past five decades, a history that reveals an organization pulled up from its early 20th Century Progressive Era roots. Decades of reform efforts have provided a lively audition for what a new institution of public education could look like. But public policy and the surrounding political system have created an atmosphere of continuing crisis rather than a new institutional stability.

Leaders for California’s Schools

Susanna Loeb, Jon Valant. September 2009.

A new PACE policy brief presents an overview of the current state of school leadership in California. Susanna Loeb and Jon Valant from Stanford University examine the challenges that California must overcome to recruit, hire, train, and retain strong and talented principals, with a particular focus on the limitations of current state and district policies.

Effects of the California High School Exit Exam on Student Persistence, Achievement, and Graduation

Sean Reardon, Michal Kurlaender. September 2009.

A new PACE policy brief summarizes the findings from a study investigating the impact of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on California’s lowest performing students. Utilizing longitudinal data from four large urban school districts, Sean Reardon from Stanford and Michal Kurlaender from UC-Davis compare students scheduled to graduate just before (2005) and after (2006-07) the exit exam became a requirement for graduation from California high schools.

The Quality Teacher and Education Act in San Francisco: Lessons Learned

Heather Hough. July 2009.

This policy brief, Heather Hough from Stanford University reviews the recent experience of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) with the development and approval of Proposition A. Proposition A (also known as the Quality Teacher and Education Act, or QTEA) included a parcel tax mainly dedicated to increasing teachers’ salaries, along with a variety of measures introducing flexibility to the current salary schedule and strengthening accountability for teacher performance.

The Development of a Teacher Salary Parcel Tax: The Quality Teacher and Education Act in San Francisco

Heather Hough. April 2009.

In June 2008 San Francisco voters approved Proposition A, a parcel tax initiative dedicated to improving teachers’ salaries in the San Francisco Unified School District. Proposition A also provided funding for a number of innovative teacher compensation programs, including extra pay for teachers in difficult-to-staff schools and difficult-to-fill subject areas.

Collective Bargaining Agreements in California School Districts: Moving Beyond the Stereotype

Katharine Strunk. February 2009.

In a new PACE Policy Brief, Katharine Strunk from the University of California-Davis analyzes the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) negotiated between school districts and local teachers’ unions in 464 California school districts. She shows that CBAs vary widely across districts, which suggests that school boards and unions are taking advantage of the flexibility inherent in contract negotiations to develop creative solutions to specific local problems.

Learning What Works: Continuous Improvement in California’s Education System

Susanna Loeb, David N. Plank. August 2008.

In a new PACE Policy Brief, Susanna Loeb and David N. Plank argue that to raise student performance and satisfy public expectations California’s education system must be transformed into a continuously improving system that encourages innovation, carefully measures the impact of different policies and practices, and—most importantly—learns from experience. Loeb and Plank identify the essential features of a continuously improving system, which include clear and specific goals, timely and reliable data, strong capacity to support change, decision-making flexibility, and aligned incentives.

Reshaping Teacher Policies to Improve Student Achievement

Julia E. Koppich. March 2008.

In this PACE Policy Brief, Julia E. Koppich puts forward a set of policy recommendations aimed at improving the quality of teaching in California’s schools. She argues that California can help to bring about sustained improvement in teaching and learning by experimenting with new policies in several areas, including professional development, evaluation, compensation, and the structure of teachers’ careers. Her policy brief includes descriptions of innovative programs in each of these areas that are now being implemented in school districts across the U.S.

Meeting the Challenge: Performance Trends in California Schools

Jennifer Imazeki. February 2008.

Jennifer Imazeki of San Diego State University analyzes recent performance trends in California’s education system in Meeting the Challenge: Performance Trends in California Schools, a new PACE Policy Brief. Imazeki shows that California students have generally held steady or improved their academic performance across grades and subject areas in recent years, in spite of growing financial and demographic challenges in the state’s schools.

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