Publications

Identity crisis: Multiple measures and the identification of schools under ESSA

Heather Hough, Emily Penner, Joe Witte. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

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.

Using Chronic Absence in a Multi-Metric Accountability System

Heather Hough. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

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.

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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

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.

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.

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