Supporting Continuous Improvement in California's Education System

Linda Darling-Hammond, David N. Plank. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

Californians and Public Education: Results from the Fourth PACE/USC Rossier Poll

Morgan S. Polikoff, Julie A. Marsh, David N. Plank, Michelle Hall, Tenice Hardaway, Tien Le. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2014.

California is in the middle of a nearly unprecedented period of change in the state’s education system. Following voter approval of Proposition 30 in 2012, the Legislature adopted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013. The LCFF upended the way California funds schools, redistributing revenues toward schools and school districts facing the greatest challenges and shifting control over the allocation of revenues from Sacramento to local educators and their communities.

Toward a Grand Vision: Early Implementation of California's Local Control Funding Formula

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

California has taken the first steps down an historic path that fundamentally alters how its public schools are financed, education decisions are made, and traditionally underserved students’ needs are met. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), passed with bipartisan legislative support and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 1, 2013, represents the most comprehensive transformation of California’s school funding system in 40 years. The LCFF significantly loosens the reins of state control over education.

Implementing Common Core State Standards in California: A Report from the Field

Milbrey McLaughlin, Laura Glaab, Isabel Hilliger Carrasco. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2014.

California’s State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in August of 2010. The CCSS have been adopted by 45 states across the country. They aim to articulate consistent, clear standards for what students are expected to learn and be able to do in mathematics and English Language Arts from kindergarten through Grade 12, and to focus educators’ attention on “fewer, higher, and deeper standards.”

Mathematics from High School to Community College: Using Existing Tools to Increase College-Readiness Now

Louise Jaffe. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2014.

The adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in mathematics are intended to provide all students in California with the knowledge and skills required to transition from high school to college-level coursework. This implementation will take time.

2020 Vision: Rethinking Budget Priorities Under the LCFF

PACE. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2014.

After years of painful budget cuts, new revenues will begin to flow to California school districts in 2014. Thanks to the voters’ approval of Proposition 30 and the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), nearly all districts can expect budget increases over the next several years. Districts that educate the most challenging students will see the largest gains. When the LCFF is fully implemented many schools and districts will receive 50 to 75 percent more revenue per pupil than they do now.

Getting to the Core: How Early Implementers are Approaching the Common Core in California

Brentt Brown, Merrill Vargo. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2014.

California has embarked on a major new wave of curriculum reform with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the new English Language Development (ELD) standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The adoption of the CCSS builds a legacy of standards-based education reform in California that began with the development of curriculum frameworks in the 1980s and continued with the adoption of the California State Standards and the approval of the Public School Accountability Act.

Designing, Leading and Managing the Transition to the Common Core: A Strategy Guidebook for Leaders

Brentt Brown, Merrill Vargo. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2014.

The Common Core provides districts an opportunity to renew their focus on teaching and learning. But it also poses a number of design and implementation challenges for school districts, including how to:

How Californians View Education Standards, Testing and Accountability: Results from the Third PACE/USC Rossier Poll

David N. Plank, Dominic J. Brewer, Morgan S. Polikoff, Michelle Hall. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2013.

California is in the midst of sweeping education changes. The state is rolling out the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and a new system of assessments. Voters approved a temporary statewide tax increase that will provide additional funding to schools after years of spending cuts. The Legislature adopted a new system for funding schools (the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF) that shifts resources to school districts that enroll lots of poor students and English learners, while granting local districts tremendous control over their budgets and spending.

School Finance Reform: Can It Support California’s College and Career-ready Goal?

Mary Perry. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2013.

For decades, when California’s state leaders have wanted to see local school districts respond to shifts in policy and expectations they relied on the state-controlled school finance system to leverage local change. Through the use of categorical programs and earmarked funding, they created incentives for districts that complied and penalties for those that did not. The result: a school finance system that has been roundly criticized as irrational, inequitable, excessively complicated, overly centralized, and inefficient at allocating resources.


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