Publications

Deregulating School Aid in California: Revenues and Expenditures in the Second Year of Categorical Flexibility

Jennifer Imazeki. RAND Corporation. June 2012

California's system of school finance is highly regulated and prescriptive. A large share of state funding is allocated through categorical programs; that is, programs whose funding is contingent on districts using the money in a particular way or for a particular purpose. In 2008–09, the strings were taken off 40 of those programs, collectively known as the "Tier 3" programs, as part of a budget deal that also reduced the funding for those programs. The author gathers evidence about how districts have responded to this fiscal freedom, particularly how resource allocations are made at the district level and what specific changes districts have made in their allocations.

Getting Down to Facts: Five Years Later

. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2012

This report commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Getting Down to Facts project, which sought to provide a thorough and reliable analysis of the critical challenges facing California’s education system as the necessary basis for an informed discussion of policy changes aimed at improving the performance of California schools and students. The report focuses on the four key issues that received emphasis in the Getting Down to Facts studies: governance, finance, personnel, and data systems.

School Finance Reform – A Weighted Pupil Formula for California

. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2012

Governor Jerry Brown has called for a major overhaul of California’s school finance policies. His proposal for a weighted pupil funding system would simplify the rules that govern the distribution of funds to schools and school districts, while targeting a larger share of available resources to the schools and students with the greatest needs. In this policy report Mary Perry offers an overview and analysis of the policy change that the Governor has proposed.

California’s Early Assessment Program: Its Effectiveness and the Obstacles to Successful Program Implementation

. Policy Analysis for California Education. April 2012

The Early Assessment Program (EAP) has emerged as a national model for states seeking to design policies that increase the number of students who leave high school ready for college and careers. In addition, the two national consortia designing new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards have recognized the EAP as a model for the design of new high school assessments, which California will implement in 2014-15. The report was written by Hilary McLean of Capitol Impact, LLC.

Developmental Students: Their Heterogeneity and Readiness

Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. March 2012

When one observes many developmental classrooms, the most striking aspect is the heterogeneity of students. Some are “brush-up” students, who simply need to remember skills they have already learned. Some have been misplaced by placement exams, and similarly need very little additional instruction. Many — almost surely the majority — have failed to learn certain academic skills in many years of K-12 education, for reasons that are hotly debated. Others have learning disabilities or mental health issues, and colleges have no way of either diagnosing or treating such conditions. The result is that the developmental classroom contains many students with different needs, while the instructor has only varying instructional approaches to offer.

PROGRAMS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH: An Inventory of Existing Technology

Andrew Saultz. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2012

In this working paper, Andrew Saultz of Michigan State University inventories the current landscape of technology programs available for middle school math. The working paper is not intended as a “consumers’ guide” to technology programs, and the descriptions of some specific programs are not fully accurate or current.

Integrating Student Services with Instruction: Chaffey College’s Long Journey to Success

Robert Gabriner, Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. January 2012

Chaffey College, a three campus college with approximately 20,000 students located California’s Inland Empire, has become the destination of many community college practitioners from around the country. The reason why? Over the past ten years, the college has become nationally-known as an institution with a “risk tolerant change-oriented culture” and a signature set of student support programs that produce impressive performance outcomes for Chaffey students.

State Standards, the SAT, and Admission to the University of California

Michal Kurlaender, Eric Grodsky, Samuel J. Agronow, Catherine L. Horn. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2011

Like most other universities in the country, the University of California (UC) requires that students submit scores from either the SAT or ACT exams as part of their application package. These tests have their origins in the efforts of a handful of elite colleges and universities to expand the socioeconomic diversity and enhance the academic promise of their admissions pools; to reduce the number of tests students must take to apply to college and the burden this places on both prospective students and postsecondary institutions; and to provide a means of comparing students who attend different schools with potentially different grading standards.

State Standards, the SAT, and Admission to the University of California

Michal Kurlaender, Eric Grodsky, Samuel J. Agronow, Catherine L. Horn. December 2011

Like most other universities in the country, the University of California (UC) requires that students submit scores from either the SAT or ACT exams as part of their application package. These tests have their origins in the efforts of a handful of elite colleges and universities to expand the socioeconomic diversity and enhance the academic promise of their admissions pools; to reduce the number of tests students must take to apply to college and the burden this places on both prospective students and postsecondary institutions; and to provide a means of comparing students who attend different schools with potentially different grading standards. Despite the appeal of a nationally standardized college entrance exam, critics have asserted that standardized college entrance exams (and the SAT in particular) suffer from several important flaws.

Student Support Services: Their Possibilities and Limits

Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. December 2011

Community colleges provide a substantial array of student support services, designed to help students master basic subjects and to learn “how to be college students.” However, the use of these services by instructors and students varies substantially. Some instructors rarely or never mention the availability of such services; others make the use of some services mandatory. But the largely voluntary nature of student services means that many students do not use these services, for reasons ranging from competing demands for their time to avoidance of stigma or stereotype threat. The result is general consensus that the students who most need support services fail to get them — except where colleges have moved to portray such services as “what all good students do.”

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