California is one of the few states that implemented a school-based accountability system prior to No Child Left Behind. The Public School Accountability Act of 1999 created the Academic Performance Index (API) that includes ELA, mathematics, science, history/social studies, and writing, as well as high school graduation. This puts California ahead of many other states that are now trying to move beyond the NCLB measures. Like these other states, California is seeking to improve the API by including measures of student growth, readiness for college and careers and other important academic and social goals.
The Imperative of Arts-based Education and Research with Language 'Minority' and Other Minoritized Communities
Sharon Verner Chappell
In our article, “No Child Left with Crayons: The Imperative of Arts-based Education and Research with Language “Minority” and Other Minoritized Communities,” we observe that since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, public discourse on “failing schools” as measured by high-stakes standardized tests has disproportionately affected students from minoritized communities (such as language, race, class, dis/ability. This discourse emphasizes climates of assessment at the expense of broader, more democratic, and creative visions of education. As advocates of the arts in education and multicultural-multilingual learning for all, we express concern about the ways in which the “crayons” have started to disappear from public school learning and/or are solely included as handmaidens to improved academic achievement.
In recent years, budget cuts have caused increases in class size in states across the nation. Between 2009 and 2010, the pupil-teacher ratio in the U.S. increased by more than half a student for the first time since the Great Depression.
English language learners (ELLs) continue to outpace the non-ELL population in K-12 school enrollment, with the largest increases observed in regions with traditionally low numbers of ELLs. These ELL enrollment increases collide with a long-standing shortage of bilingual and ESL teachers nationwide, and particularly in regions where ELL enrollment is high. As budgetary constraints impact school support for professional development, ELLs are routinely placed in mainstream classrooms, full-time or for the majority of their school day, with teachers who have little or no ELL preparation.
Approximately one in five students in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home, with the majority concentrated in early elementary grades and approximately 70% speaking Spanish as their native language. Despite the dramatic growth of Latino English learners over the past several decades, these students continue to be taught disproportionately by less qualified teachers. To be in compliance with Titles I and III of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001), however, schools must use instruction that is supported empirically and demonstrate adequate yearly academic progress among English learners.
The recognition that school-entry academic skills of poor children lag well behind those of their more advantaged peers has focused attention on early childhood education (ECE) as a potential vehicle for remediating early achievement gaps. The proliferation of high quality evaluations of ECE programs can yield important information about differences in the effectiveness of particular program models, but only if we understand the context of ECE research and are confident that divergent findings reflect meaningful differences in program effectiveness rather than technical differences in study design.
California’s efforts to raise the high school graduation rate appear to be paying off. On April 9 the California Department of Education released figures showing in 2011-12 the state’s dropout rate declined from the previous year while the high school graduation rate increased.
The status of science education, particularly in elementary schools in the U.S., is weak. National standards specify that science education should begin in the early grades, yet the amount of instructional time spent on science has declined over the past decade. Elementary teachers report feeling less qualified to teach science than other academic subjects, in terms of both content and subject-specific pedagogy. Until science is a central component of classroom instruction, we cannot anticipate improved student learning in science. Reform strategies in science education increasingly focus on teacher professional development as a central component for promoting change.
Most students use textbooks in the classroom every single day. It stands to reason that the choice of which curriculum materials to adopt is one of the more important choices that educational administrators make. But did you know that only one state in the entire country, Florida, currently collects information about the curriculum materials being used in schools? As surprising as it sounds, despite the mountains of data we are collecting in the arena of public education we generally do not know which textbooks are being used in which schools.
Governor Brown’s proposal includes weights for student poverty and English Learners. It also retains a small number of categorical programs but all other funding streams are folded into the core formula. Even if the LCFF is ultimately adopted in something like its current form, one question that will likely continue to be debated is whether other cost factors should also be explicitly included/funded. Almost all states provide additional, differential funding for at least a few programs, either through weights or adjustments to the base formula or through separate categorical streams. However, there is a great deal of variation in what other factors are included. In general, the options fall into three areas: student needs, demographics and resource costs.
The most common categories of student need that states include in their school funding formulas are special education, at-risk students, generally meaning low-income but may also mean any needing remedial education, and English learners (ELs). In many states, the amount allocated for these higher-cost students is determined through pupil weights, set as a percentage of the base allocation. If a student falls into multiple need categories, the weights might be added together, or not cap the total weight that can be assigned to an individual student.
In a foundation formula, base revenue per pupil is typically equal or very similar across districts but the majority of states also distribute additional funding to compensate for differences in the cost of education in different districts. The cost of education can be defined as the minimum amount of money that a school district must spend in order to achieve a given educational outcome, such as reading at a grade-appropriate level. Costs generally differ across school districts for reasons that are outside the control of local school boards or state governments, such as the number of children with “special needs”. In reforming California’s system to rationally address differential district needs, the key issues for policymakers are how to incorporate cost factors into the formula, which factors to include, and how large the adjustments should be.
Across the country, the primary goal of most state finance systems is to promote equalization, particularly in states where locally-financed school systems have faced court challenges. Certain formulas achieve this goal better than others. As noted in my post yesterday, both California’s current revenue limit system and Governor Brown’s proposed formula are versions of a traditional foundation state-aid formula. Typically, in a foundation system, the state assumes (or requires) that each district levies a minimum tax rate. If local revenue raised at that rate is less than the foundation amount, then state aid makes up the difference.
In the debate around Governor Brown’s proposed “Local Control Funding Formula” (LCFF), a number of issues have been raised that school finance researchers (and policymakers in other states) have been discussing for years. Over the next several posts, this ‘School Finance 101’ series will highlight what we know – and what we don’t know – about some of these issues.
Despite our knowledge of poor educational outcomes for youth in foster care, the literature on methods or models for addressing the needs of this vulnerable group of students remains extremely limited.
In a forthcoming article titled “Gifted Education: Robin Hood or the Sheriff of Nottingham,” I examine the issue of gifted and talented education (GATE) from the perspective of public policy. In times of tight budgets, as California has experienced for the last several years, many districts can be tempted to abandon funding for GATE programs. For example, when categorical funding for GATE was ‘flexed’ in 2007, many schools dramatically scaled back gifted programs.
Although a stunning success in many ways, California’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education has been a conspicuous failure in one respect: California ranks near the bottom of the states in the proportion of its college-age population that attains a baccalaureate degree. California’s poor record of B.A. attainment is an unforeseen consequence of the Master Plan’s restrictions on access to 4-year baccalaureate institutions. In a cost-cutting move, the framers of the Master Plan restricted eligibility for admission to the University of California and the state colleges to the top eighth and top third, respectively, of the state’s high school graduates.
The combination class, in which students from two adjacent grades are grouped within one classroom under one teacher, is a tool that school administrators can use to manage uneven class sizes and conserve scarce facility and personnel resources. If combination-class membership has a nonnegative effect on student outcomes, offering them could be an attractive strategy for schools looking to save money without sacrificing educational quality.
California’s state budget woes have led to reduced enrollment at state colleges. One source estimates that enrollment at public colleges in California dropped by 165,000 over the 2010–2011 academic year. At the same time, state and national leaders proclaim the need for more college graduates, including those with sub-baccalaureate awards. And Californians themselves want better higher education.
he work of teaching is complex and multifaceted, and preparing individuals to be effective teachers is a challenging endeavor without a universally agreed-upon methodology. University-based teacher preparation in particular has been challenged to prove its relevance and effectiveness in preparing teachers. California recognizes that initial teacher preparation is only the first step in a continuum of lifelong learning but there is a need for better information about what works and what doesn’t in the state’s credential programs.
In our chapter, “Planning, Changing, and Leading a Community of Professional Practice: Lessons Learned from an Innovative Urban School Leaders Preparation Program in Southern California”, we examine the ongoing planning and changing of the Urban School Leaders (USL) program at California State University Dominguez Hills. Supported by a five-year federal grant from the US Department of Education, the innovative Urban School Leaders program (USL) is the result of a partnership with four Local Districts within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). The program is intended to prepare, place, and retain leaders for high-needs schools and provide staff development to these leaders with the ultimate outcome resulting in student achievement gains.
Recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that seventy-nine percent of eighth graders in large cities in the United States are reading below proficient levels (National Center of Educational Statistics, 2010). Research provides multiple explanations to account for this trend. Some scholars point to a disjuncture between the school culture and the students’ own culture, often impacting educators’ beliefs about student capacity. Meanwhile, some contend that schools, even in the midst of instructional improvement efforts, disregard the technical craft of teaching and learning.
The inclusion of multicultural education has become a major goal of California’s leaders within the past five years. California’s leaders recognize the importance of serving the state’s increasingly diverse student population and preparing students to be successful in a competitive global society. The Academic Senate, the major faculty body in California, stated that ‘‘the underlying principles of multicultural curriculum apply to all disciplines and that efforts to better serve [our] underrepresented students will contribute to the success of all students as they learn to function in the multicultural world of the 21st Century’’ In fact, infusing multicultural education across the curriculum was one of the major goals of the Senate’s 2005–2006 strategic plan.
In The Power of Institutional Partnership in the Development of Turn Around School Leaders, Stephen Davis, Ronald Leon and Miriam Fultz describe the strategies used by educational leadership faculty members at Cal Poly Pomona and officials from the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) to collaboratively establish and operate the Great Leaders for Great Schools Academy (GLGSA), California’s first accredited experimental principal preparation program (funded by a School Leadership Development Grant from the United States Department of Education). Success required strong interagency collaboration and was dependent on the willingness of each party to subordinate traditional practices of institutional autonomy to a mutually-derived program vision and shared responsibility for program oversight, content, functions, and outcomes.