Making Observation Count: Key Design Elements for Meaningful Teacher Observation

Jennifer Goldstein. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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:

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.

CCSESA Common Core Leadership Planning Guide

. The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. October 2013

California has a unique opportunity to improve public education by strengthening instruction, providing targeted support for English learners and struggling learners, preparing students for the demands of the technology reliant 21st century, and expanding pathways for students to college and career. This opportunity is made possible by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which are designed to increase expectations to the level of other highperforming countries, go deeper into subjects, are based on research, and provide for a more active curriculum.

Can a District-Level Teacher Salary Incentive Policy Improve Teacher Recruitment and Retention?

Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

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.

Fixing the Academic Performance Index

Morgan S. Polikoff, Andrew McEachin . Policy Analysis for California Education. 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 Californians Feel about Public Education: Results from the PACE/USC Rossier August 2012 Poll

Dominic J. Brewer, David N. Plank, Michelle Hall. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2012

California has long been viewed by the rest of the nation as leader in many areas, including education. The state’s K-12 and higher education systems were once the envy of other states. Of late, though, the news from the Golden State has not been so rosy. For the last three decades California has faced increased demands on public services while suffering through economic cycles that have had exaggerated effects on the state budget. The result has been increased competition for limited resources, budget uncertainty and steadily eroding state dollars for a local schools.


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