News

  • In PACE’s view, one key principle for lasting reform in California’s education system is policies that target resources to the students and schools who need them most. How hard is this to do? A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (authored by Jon Sonstelie, Margaret Weston, and Heather Rose) suggests some grounds for pessimism.

  • In his second public forum on the state’s budget crisis Governor Brown focused on California’s education system. The clear message, after three years of cuts that have fallen disproportionately on schools, is that things will get worse—probably a lot worse—before they get better. The forum also illuminated the formidable obstacles that confront any effort to reform California’s education system. The most challenging of these is the declared confidence of a substantial majority of Californians that we can have an elite education system while severely limiting taxes.

  • California education policy in recent publications:

  • In his posting "The Daunting Challenge of Teacher Evaluation" David Plank rightly suggests that the challenge of teacher evaluation is indeed daunting and an important topic in many public and private conversations related to educational reform. One of the most discussed and debated arguments related to this conversation has to do with how states/districts measure the amount of value a teacher adds to the achievement of a student, and ultimately how teachers may be sorted, selected, and rewarded based on those measures.

  • When education folks in California talk about the need for state-wide data, they are generally referring to CALPADS (California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System), which has been in the news again lately after the Governor cut funding for the system through a line-item veto. Although it may not be the sexiest topic, a well-functioning data system is critical to the success of any other education policy reform; after all, how can we determine what works and what doesn’t if we aren’t keeping track of the data?

  • Cross-posted from The Sacramento Bee. Published: Thursday, Decebmer 12, 2010

    By David N. Plank and Scott Hill

    On the football field, a talented quarterback often calls the option play, holding off on the decision to run or pass to the last possible moment. This gives him time to survey the field and choose the best option for moving the ball forward.

    Policymakers have options, too. Given the chance, they can wait and watch before making a key decision. When it comes to testing in California's education system, this is a great time to call the option play.

  • The California Teachers Association has released preliminary findings from their ongoing evaluation of the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA). The initial findings are generally positive, but their release is an occasion for disappointment rather than celebration, for two reasons.

  • An article in the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend makes it clear just how hard it will be to make the distribution of resources in California’s education system more equitable. The article describes a controversy in the Albany USD, where the three elementary schools are raising money from parents to supplement the funds that the state provides. The poorest of the three schools raises the least money, and spends much of what they raise to provide more lunch-time supervision. The other schools raise more and spend it on supplemental instruction in art, music, and other subjects.

  • Polling on public education almost invariably reports the same pattern of responses when participants are asked to evaluate schools. Respondents give their local schools relatively high grades, but they give much lower grades to the public school system as a whole. In other words, citizens trust the schools they know, where they send (or sent) their own children, but they are doubtful about schools elsewhere.

  • Let’s get assessment policy right. California has recently adopted new standards for what children should know and be able to do at every grade level. To ensure that these new standards support improvement in the performance of schools and students, tie them to assessments that provide timely, accurate, and useful information for teachers and parents about whether and how students are progressing toward mastery. Two national assessment consortia funded by the federal government will do some of the work, but most of it will have to be done in California.

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