Basic Skills Instruction in Community Colleges: the Dominance of Remedial Pedagogy

Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. July 2011

A previous working paper argued, that, to understand basic skills education, it is necessary to observe classrooms to see what the “instructional triangle” involving the instructor, students, and content is like. This working paper presents the results of observing classes in 13 community colleges. It starts with a conceptualization of instruction, distinguishing behaviorist teaching, constructivist teaching, and hybrid teaching that combines the two (as well as several other dimensions of quality), and provides various reasons why hybrid or constructivist teaching is likely to be more effective than behaviorist teaching.

Understanding the “Crisis” in Basic Skills: Framing the Issues in Community Colleges

Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. June 2011

While increases in remedial education (or basic skills instruction or developmental education) have taken place at several levels of the education and training system, there are reasons for thinking that the issue is particularly acute in community colleges. This introductory working paper divides the problem into two. The first is the high proportion — perhaps 60 percent for the country, and 80 percent in California — of students entering colleges who assess into developmental courses. This can be explained by the pattern of dynamic inequality in American education, where inequalities among students increase as they move through the system.

Deregulating School Aid in California: How 10 Districts Responded to Fiscal Flexibility, 2009-2010

Bruce Fuller, Julie A. Marsh, Brian M. Stecher, Tom Timar. May 2011

In a new report, “Deregulating School Aid in California: How 10 Districts Responded to Fiscal Flexibility, 2009-2010,” Bruce Fuller, Julie Marsh, Brian Stecher and Tom Timar detail how leaders in 10 California school districts are responding to the deregulation of $4.5 billion in education funding. Sacramento policymakers have freed local educators from the specific guidelines that previously regulated spending on 40 categorical-aid programs. These program funds became entirely flexible in 2009, and local school boards could decide how to allocate these resources.

The Road Ahead for State Assessments

. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2011

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) have jointly produced a report that offers policy guidance for a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, aims to inform the work of the two U.S. Department of Education-funded consortia charged with developing a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC

The Quality Teacher and Education Act: First Year Report

. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2011

In June 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed the Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA) with a 69.8% majority, authorizing the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to collect $198 per parcel of taxable property, indexed annually for 20 years. Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, and David Plank of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District, have documented the passage of this policy and are now engaged in a three-year evaluation (starting in 2009-10) of the implementation and effect of QTEA, focusing on the elements that directly affect the teacher workforce (teacher compensation, support, and accountability).

Teacher Employment and Collective Bargaining Laws in California: Structuring School District Discretion over Teacher Employment

William S. Koski, Aaron Tang. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2011

There is broad agreement that teacher quality is related to student achievement, but there is far less agreement about the degree to which school districts and administrators are constrained in making policies to improve teacher quality that might also affect teacher employment and working conditions. Conventional wisdom holds that state law and the collective bargaining agreements governed by state law often hamper districts’ discretion over teacher hiring, firing, evaluation, compensation, and assignment. Although California collective bargaining agreements have received some attention from researchers we know far less about whether, and to what extent, California law constrains or facilitates district-level discretion over teacher employment policies and practices. This policy brief examines that issue.

Effective Basic Skills Instruction: The Case for Contextualized Developmental Math

W. Charles Wiseley. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2011

Recent research on students entering California community colleges found that less than one in ten students who enter at the basic arithmetic or pre-algebra math level successfully complete college-level math. Students entering at the next higher level of math (elementary algebra) are only slightly more likely to succeed in college-level math. Yet, college-level math skills are required for success in nearly all college programs including most occupationally-focused certificate programs.

Deregulation of School Aid in California: Revenues and Expenditure in the First Year of Categorical Flexibility

Jennifer Imazeki. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2011

California’s school finance system is notoriously complex. Its critics have long advocated for simplifying funding streams and returning authority to local school boards. In 2009 the state partially acquiesced, giving districts significant flexibility over the funds from 40 categorical programs. This flexibility provides an opportunity to see how districts respond when released from categorical funds.

Policy Report: Costs of California Multiple Pathway Programs

David N. Plank, David Stern, Ace Parsi. Policy Analysis for California Education. November 2010

There is widespread agreement that many of California’s high schools are doing a poor job of preparing their students for college and careers. The James Irvine Foundation is sponsoring a major initiative to develop “Multiple Pathways” –– now called the Linked Learning approach –– as a strategy for improving the performance of California high schools. To inform this effort, the Foundation asked PACE to gather evidence on the cost of linked learning programs. This report by Ace Parsi, University of California, Berkeley, David N.

Value-Added Measures of Education Performance: Clearing Away the Smoke and Mirrors

Douglas N. Harris. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2010

A new PACE policy brief by Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explores the use of value-added measures and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of value-added assessment, both as a means to assess teachers and as a means to assess schools. Current federal policies do not account for the fact that student outcomes are produced by more than just schools. As a result, they fail to follow what Douglas Harris calls the “Cardinal Rule of Accountability”: hold people accountable for what they can control.


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