With new ears in capitol, scholars push K–12 improvements

Published in September, Getting Down to Facts II combines 36 studies that explore a broad swath of K–12 policy topics central to school equity. The scholars behind the report have since been staging a series of events that bring together policymakers, researchers and practitioners to turn data into action.

“There is an important window of opportunity right now with the new governor, superintendent of instruction, state board president and many new legislators to act on some of the needs identified in our research,” says Julie A. Marsh, a professor of education at USC Rossier and the university’s faculty lead for PACE.

Coordinated by Stanford University and disseminated by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)—a non-partisan coalition of university-based researchers at the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and Stanford—the report could have wide-ranging effects, as its first iteration did in 2007.

Now, educators and researchers are talking about paths forward.

Among some of the report’s findings: Large accountability gaps persist; students are behind before they even enter kindergarten; data systems aren’t refined enough. And perhaps above all else: funding levels remain short of adequate. (While measures vary, California generally ranks near the bottom in terms of per-pupil funding by state.)

“We have to be really honest with ourselves about the need to increase funding in our public education system,” said PACE Executive Director Heather J. Hough. “You can’t have a conversation with people in school districts right now without this being the first thing they tell you.”

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