Reports

Surprising Strengths and Substantial Needs: Rural District Implementation of Common Core State Standards

Thomas Timar, Allison Carter. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2017.

In August 2010, the California State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Three years later, the president of the State Board, Dr. Michael Kirst, noted that CCSS “changes almost everything,” including what teachers teach, how they teach, and what students are expected to learn (Kirst, 2013). Echoing his sentiments, Dr.

Paving the way to equity and coherence? The Local Control Funding Formula in Year 3

Daniel C. Humphrey, Julia E. Koppich, Magaly Lavadenz, Julie A. Marsh, Jennifer O'Day, David N. Plank, Laura Stokes, Michelle Hall. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2017.

This report seeks to help policymakers and others better understand ways in which LCFF implementation is changing fundamental aspects of resource allocation and governance in California’s K-12 education system. The LCFF provides all districts with base funding plus supplemental and concentration grants for low-income students, English learners, and foster youth.

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.

An Effective Teacher for Every Student: Developing a Research Agenda to Further Policy Change

Katharine Strunk, Julie A. Marsh, Paul Bruno. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2017.

In nearly every state across the country there has been recent legislative or judicial activity aimed at amending policies that shape the quality of the teacher labor force (e.g., Marianno, 2015). At the heart of this recent legislative and judicial action is the desire to attract and retain a high-quality teacher for every classroom. That good teachers are critical to student success is not up for debate; over the last decade, research has shown that a high-quality teacher is the most important school-based input into students’ achievement and long-term outcomes.

LCFF: How Can Local Control Keep the Promise of Educational Equity in CA?

. Policy Analysis for California Education and The Opportunity Institute. October 2016.

Funding, resources, and effective teachers have been inequitably distributed across American schools for decades — contributing to vast opportunity and achievement gaps between high-need students and their more privileged peers.

Prek-3 Alignment in California's Education System: Obstacles and Opportunities

Rachel Valentino, Deborah J. Stipek. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2016.

Over the past several years, there has been much attention and advocacy around “PreK-3 Alignment,” both in California and nationwide. The push for alignment comes in the face of a growing body of research documenting the benefits of attending high quality preschool, along with concerns about the fading of the benefits of preschool by third grade that has been found in many studies. Supporters of preK-3 alignment note that child development is a continuous process, and that skills developed in one grade must be built upon and reinforced in later grades.

Two Years of California's Local Control Funding Formula: Time to Reaffirm the Grand Vision

Julia E. Koppich, Daniel C. Humphrey, Julie A. Marsh. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2015.

California ended 40 years of reliance on categorical funding for schools when Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law on July 1, 2013. LCFF intends to enhance services for high-needs students through new flexibility, targeted student funding, and local accountability. Two years into LCFF implementation, our research in 18 districts and more than half of the state’s County Offices of Education (COEs) uncovers both reasons for optimism and a few concerns.

DEGREES OF FREEDOM: Probing Math Placement Policies at California Colleges and Universities (Report 3 of a 3-part series)

Pamela Burdman. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2015.

There is growing concern that the remedial math courses taken by most community college students unnecessarily divert some students from earning a degree. Anecdotes of students who thought they had completed their math requirements in high school only to have remedial courses delay their progress through college are common. In addition, research has shown that African American and Latino students are disproportionately affected, frequently facing three or four remedial math classes.

DEGREES OF FREEDOM: Varying Routes to Math Readiness and The Challenge of Intersegmental Alignment (Report 2 of a 3-part series)

Pamela Burdman. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2015.

The conventional algebra-intensive math curriculum commonly dictates students’ options for entering and completing college, including their ability to transfer from two-year to four-year institutions. The assumption that higher-level algebra is necessary for college success has led some equity advocates to promote algebra for all students. Nearly half of states require two years of algebra for high school graduation, and the Common Core State Standards being implemented in the majority of states have a similar emphasis.

DEGREES OF FREEDOM: Diversifying Math Requirements for College Readiness and Graduation (Report 1 of a 3-part series)

Pamela Burdman. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2015.

Since the mid-20th century, the standard U.S. high school and college math curriculum has been based on two years of algebra and a year of geometry, preparing students to take classes in pre-calculus followed by calculus. That pathway became solidified after the 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik motivated reforms in U.S. science and engineering education to boost the nation’s technological prowess. Students’ math pursuits have been differentiated primarily by how far or how rapidly they proceed along a clearly defined trajectory that has changed little since then.

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