With a Sept. 13 deadline looming to place a school facilities bond on the March 2020 ballot, EdSource reports that state legislators, the governor, and state finance officials are still negotiating how much money to include, whether it will cover only K-12 schools or include community colleges, and how the money will be distributed. Critics contend that the current funding formula favors wealthier districts. EdSource cites a report prepared for Getting Down to Facts II, a PACE and Stanford University research project, which found inequities in school construction funding based on districts’ property values.
PACE in the News
A Los Angeles Unified School District plan to rank its schools on a 1-to-5 scale is getting pushback from some school board members who argue that school performance can’t be quantified by a single number, according to an article in EdSource. The article cites a 2019 voter poll of California’s revised School Dashboard, conducted by PACE and the USC Rossier School of Education. It found that Californians prefer the Dashboard’s system of using multiple measures to assess schools.
About 75 percent of all California high school seniors enrolled in a math class in 2016, 2017 and 2018, but only 47 percent of those students were enrolled in advanced math courses above Algebra 2, a study from Policy Analysis for California Education shows. White, Asian and high-income students were much more likely to take advanced math in their senior year, compared with African American, Latino and low-income students.
The Fillmore Gazette
The Fillmore Unified School District is calling on state lawmakers to increase California public school funding to at least the national average by next year, and equal to or higher than the top 10 states in per pupil funding by 2025. The Fillmore Gazette reports that the school board of the Ventura County district unanimously approved the resolution, which refers to the series of financial reports in Getting Down to Facts II to support its claim that “California’s investment in public schools is out of alignment with its wealth.”
The Willits News
School accountability is a fact of life, but the pressure to improve student achievement and school culture often leads to a quick succession of reforms that don’t last. Continuous improvement, a data-driven, systemwide strategy (getting a huge influx of funding from the Gates Foundation), shows strong results when done properly, writes Michelle Hutchins, Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools in The Willits News. Hutchins says two PACE reports, prepared for Getting Down to Facts II, provide “some fundamental steps California school districts need to take if we are to affect long-term change.”
Using a PACE report and new statewide school data system, the Central Valley’s Sun-Gazette newspaper found that nearly two-thirds of Tulare County students enrolled in college within 12 months of high school graduation.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spotlighted a continuous improvement grant to the CORE Districts, a network of California school districts, and its research partnership with PACE at its school improvement showcase in Baltimore this week, reports EdSource. The CORE Districts received $16 million from Gates’ year-old Networks for School Improvement initiative, which will provide about $1 billion in funding for research-based school improvement work across the country, over five years.
The California Department of Education (CDE) released a first-of-its-kind report examining college enrollment among public high school graduates and what factors influence their choice of schools. PACE researchers at UC Davis had early access to the new data through a partnership with the CDE. Their report, “Where California High School Students Attend College,” provides a detailed look at college enrollment for all public high school students in the state by gender, income, race, ethnicity, and where students live.
San Francisco Chronicle
Governor Gavin Newsom’s pledge to increase access to quality, affordable preschool for California’s three- and four-year-olds is off to a good start on access and affordability, but could put quality on a “faster schedule,” writes Stanford University Education Professor Deborah Stipek in an OpEd for the San Francisco Chronicle. Stipek is former dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and a current faculty director at PACE, where she was lead author of the early childhood report prepared for the Getting Down to Facts II research project. She agrees that some quality issues need more study, but says investing in higher salaries should begin right away.
The California Board of Education has replaced the four-year graduation rate with a combined four- and five-year graduation rate to give schools an extra year to help students earn their diplomas. Last spring, 25,000 seniors “were still enrolled in school but didn’t have enough credits to graduate,” reports EdSource. Schools that help them graduate within five years will get credit on the California school dashboard. Russell Rumberger, professor emeritus of education at UC Santa Barbara and co-author of a PACE study on California’s graduation rates, told EdSource that while he supports the five-year rate, he’s concerned that mixing graduation rates “muddies the water.”