In recent years, postsecondary co-enrollment has become a noteworthy attendance pattern among many college students. Co-enrollment at the postsecondary level refers to simultaneous enrollment in two or more colleges during the same academic term. Many colleges and universities now offer such co-enrollment programs and options. In California, for example, if students decide to attend any of the state’s community or four-year colleges, they can enroll simultaneously at any UC or CSU campus without going through a typical admissions process. This means that undergraduate students at UC-Riverside may enroll at another UC institution during the same academic session as long as they meet UCR's college enrollment and academic performance requirements.
Research consistently shows that schools serving large proportions of disadvantaged students tend to have teachers with weaker credentials. Because teacher credentials, such as more years of experience, higher licensure test scores, and National Board Certification, are predictive of higher student achievement, this uneven distribution of teachers across schools is detrimental to the learning of disadvantaged students.
Access to education in visual art, music, theatre, and dance is varied and unequal across public schools in the United States. Yet the extent of this inequality is largely undocumented. In a recent report from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the committee concluded that policymakers lack a basic understanding of access to arts education because there is no required data collection of the courses schools offer. We know that the students with the least opportunity to study the arts are low-income students or students of color, but how access varies from state to state remains unclear.
A major concern among opponents to charter schools is whether these schools will serve all students. Some have raised concerns that charter schools will “push out” low-performing students in hopes of improving the schools’ academic profile while minimizing costs by educating fewer challenging students In an article published in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal, we used data from an anonymous major urban school district with a large number of charter schools to examine whether we see exit patterns consistent with the claim that charter schools are more likely to push out low-achieving students than are traditional public schools.
Are California’s Teachers Ready for the Common Core?
Sobering statistics have repeatedly shown that many middle and high school students in the U. S. struggle with reading, prompting the declaration of an adolescent literacy crisis. The role teacher preparation can play in addressing the crisis remains unclear; however, there is intensifying demand for secondary preservice teachers to be knowledgeable of and prepared for the extensive and varied developmental reading needs of adolescents. The instructional focus in secondary English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms shifts from mastering literacy skills to mastering literature concepts, despite rising concern with the reading achievement of adolescents. The ELA classroom experience is crucial to an adolescent’s literacy development and yet research has suggested that secondary teachers are often unprepared, or even averse, to addressing the developmental reading differences present in their classrooms
School districts are spending millions on tutoring outside regular school day hours to increase the achievement of economically and academically disadvantaged students. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act sought to introduce greater choice, flexibility and accountability in public education by allowing parents of children in persistently low-performing schools to choose providers of out-of-school-time tutoring (known as Supplemental Educational Services or SES) for their children. Importantly, the law also required state and local educational agencies to assess provider effectiveness in increasing student achievement and to use this information to withdraw approval from ineffective SES providers. The benefits of choice in a competitive market can only be realized, however, if the purchasers (i.e., parents) also have sufficient information to make good choices of providers for their children.
It is quite common for children in the United States to change schools. School changes result from many factors, including grade-to-grade transitions, residential moves associated with financial or family upheaval, or dissatisfaction with the current school. Changing schools can be stressful and disruptive for mobile students as well as their peers, teachers, and schools, so mobility is often problematic. Furthermore, because mobility is most prevalent among low-income students, racial/ethnic minorities, and those with limited English proficiency, it contributes to educational inequality.
More than a decade ago, states began using “student proficiency” classifications as a primary method of holding schools accountable for providing high-quality instruction. In recent years, many states have moved beyond considering student proficiency at a single point in time and started using “growth models” to show whether students are making progress towards greater academic proficiency from grade to grade. There are several models currently in use by various states to capture this growth. Although the validity and fairness of these growth models have been evaluated for the general population, the impact of the models for English learner (EL) students had not been previously studied.
The impact of school socioeconomic segregation on educational equity has been documented by research dating at least as far back as 1966 when the Coleman Report found the socioeconomic composition (SEC) of the student body at schools had the strongest association with student achievement of any school factor. Since then, a substantial body of research has accumulated mostly supporting Coleman’s findings on student achievement. In comparison, very little research has examined the effects of school segregation on student attainment outcomes, such as high school graduation and college enrollment. This gap in the research literature is particularly noteworthy because attainment is associated with many important life outcomes such as economic prosperity, health, and participation in society.
With the passing last year of California’s Proposition 30, the California Community College (CCC) system received a small reprieve from years of grueling budget cuts exacerbated by soaring student demand. Consequently, the number of course sections being offered is on the rise, and the number of waitlisted students per college has dropped from an average of 7,157 in 2012 to 5,026 this fall 2013. Unfortunately, too many students still are unable to pursue their educational goals in California’s community colleges—a result of the current state of de facto “seat rationing,” which threatens the capacity of the colleges to continue their foundational open-access policies.
Examining Correlates of Four-Year College-Going Rates
High school counselors play a critical role in college attainment but historically they have remained in the shadows. The Pathways to College Act, bipartisan legislation proposed initially in the 111th Congress, highlights the unique and important role that counselors play in both academic achievement and college access and is reflective of the changing times. Unfortunately, most schools do not have a systemic means of distributing college and financial aid information to students, and even fewer help students understand the relevance of academic preparation in the college process.
Generally speaking, research does not support the practice of grade retention: studies have shown that being retained can have negative effects on students, both academically and developmentally. And yet, while these effects of retention on retained students are fairly well documented, very little work has examined how retention might also have an effect on other, non-retained students in the same classroom.
In any given year, California alone has typically accounted for roughly half of total enrollment in year-round school calendars nationally. It is likely that this school policy option was so widely embraced in California due to the fact that the state experienced school crowding issues and that year-round school calendars often appear to be a promising solution. Year-round calendars redistribute the same number of school days more evenly across the year. A particular type of year-round calendar, multi-track, does this in a way that supports a larger student body in the same school facility. The multi-track year-round calendar has therefore gained the reputation of being a cost-saving remedy to school crowding.
With the passage of the Student Success Act of 2012, leaders of higher educational institutions in California are grappling with how to comply with its new requirements. One of the main recommendations of the Student Success Task Force was to restructure the way student support services are delivered to increase the quality of assistance students receive early in their college careers. Our randomized-controlled evaluation of a guidance program implemented at South Texas College (STC) in McAllen, Texas, may hold some lessons for policy-makers and practitioners in California, and for their counterparts around the country.
Professional development has been used by schools and districts as a major support for teachers to successfully implement rigorous content standards, develop new curriculum, and change classroom instruction in ways that improve student learning. In California, as in many other states, demand for high-quality professional development is rising, especially with the adoption of the new Common Core State Standards. The increasing demand, coupled with continued tight state budgets in education, calls for more effective ways of designing teacher professional development. Better evidence about mechanisms by which teachers can learn best from professional development could contribute to the design and implementation of more effective professional development programs.
In California, low-income children continue to lag behind their wealthier peers in reading achievement; in 2012, 46.3% of economically disadvantaged students scored proficient or above on state reading tests, compared to 76.5% of advantaged students. Although there are many underlying causes of income-based disparities in reading, low-income children are particularly at risk of falling behind their classmates in reading during the summer months and summer literacy programs may help prevent summer slide for low income students.
Advantages, Disadvantages, and Policy Considerations
Students with disabilities in the United States are guaranteed a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). While the IDEA improves education access and quality for students with disabilities by requiring that school districts provide the services and supports necessary to meet their individual needs, the costs of educating students with disabilities are generally higher than the costs of educating other students. At a time when many states are facing tight budgets and growing special education costs, a new policy brief describes a method that several states, including California, have adopted for allocating special education aid among school districts to help contain special education costs.
Recent research has demonstrated the potential for teacher professional development to enhance teacher learning, improve instruction, and increase student achievement. Nevertheless, research examining the relationship between state and local policies and teachers’ participation in professional development is sparse. This connection between policy environments and teacher-based outcomes becomes increasingly important as educational reforms place new demands on teachers. Since professional development is a key mechanism to improving teachers’ instruction and students’ achievement, we address the extent to which state and school policy environments are associated with teachers’ participation in content-focused professional development.
In a new study, Nicholas Hillman and Erica Lee Orians review the most recent and rigorous research on the role financial aid plays in improving college completion rates. With tuition rates consistently outpacing inflation and family incomes, along with the slow growth in educational attainment rates, the need for reforming state financial aid programs is becoming increasingly urgent to state policymakers. What can be done to reform state aid in ways that help increase college completion rates?
When English Learners (ELs) demonstrate English language proficiency they are reclassified as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP). At any particular grade level and across grade levels, evaluating the progress of “English Learners” might include current English Learners (ELs), those who have been reclassified (RFEPs), and the combination of the two, which includes all students initially classified as ELs (IELs = ELs + RFEPs). A recent study demonstrates the importance of evaluating the progress of all three groups and illustrates a simple but often unrecognized Catch-22. Among all the students who are initially classified as English Learners (IELs), those who are most successful—those who develop and demonstrate proficiency in English and are reclassified (RFEPs)—typically do not factor into evaluations of English Learner progress.
There’s an old adage that states “what gets tested, gets taught.” However, my research has shown that adage probably needs to be revised to “what gets tested, and included in school accountability calculations, gets taught.” It’s not as succinct, but it is more accurate. Specifically, even though there has been a tremendous national fervor to promote science education, science has taken a backseat to reading and math during the No Child Left Behind years. While reading and math were required to be included in school accountability calculations, science has been optional—and it is an option that was rarely chosen.
As millions of Californian students enjoy their summer break, an important reality is that in the fall, many students will not return to their previous school with their classmates but instead will attend a brand new one. Such non-promotional student mobility has negative consequences for mobile students themselves, but it also challenges educators, who must meet the learning needs of these students despite instructional discontinuity.
Questions concerning class diversity in higher education generally focus on the point of enrollment versus what actually happens once students get there. In a recent research study, titled “Does Socioeconomic Diversity Make a Difference? Examining the Effects of Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity on the Campus Climate for Diversity,” Julie J. Park (University of Maryland, College Park), Nida Denson (University of Western Sydney), and Nicholas Bowman (Bowling Green State University) consider whether any educational benefits are associated with attending a socioeconomically diverse institution.
State and federal policymakers are striving to improve four-year college attendance for disadvantaged students. Despite a dramatic increase in the opportunity to attend college, disadvantaged students often enroll at higher rates in two-year colleges, which are associated with lower educational attainment and earnings. Successfully navigating the complex and unpredictable procedures of four-year college applications and financial aid requires students to make plans and take actions that in turn depend on college knowledge and assistance, which many students cannot get from their parents.
Career and technical education (CTE) has long remained on the fringe of school reform. Unfairly saddled with the stereotype as a “dumping ground” for low achieving students from an earlier era when vocational coursework consisted primarily of shop class and home economics, CTE still struggles to maintain a foothold in the national dialogue on school improvement which, for better or for worse, remains narrowly focused on proficiency in academic topics and the assessment of those proficiencies.