PACE in the News

  • When my family immigrated to the United States and settled in Southern California over 20 years ago, I was identified as an English Leaner (EL) when I enrolled in elementary school. As a fourth grader, I and about a dozen other students sat in the back of the class and worked with a Spanish speaking teacher’s aide, while the rest of the class focused on the teacher at the front of the class conducting the lesson in English. My first two years in the California school system are a blur. I have scattered memories of flashcards with a picture and a descriptive sentence that the teacher’s aide would make us recite daily. I remember seeing a long string of C’s and D’s on my progress report cards at parent-teacher conferences.

  • It looks as though the day of reckoning is finally at hand. (See here for background). Governor Brown is set to issue his budget revise next Monday, and then the dogs will be off the leash. In his campaign the Governor promised not to raise taxes without a vote of the people. But Republicans have refused to assent to a referendum on tax extensions, which leaves an all-cuts budget as the Governor’s opening move in negotiations with the Legislature.

  • The current rhetorical convention to describe what we want students to know and be able to do asserts that students should leave high school “ready for college and careers.” There is some agreement about what it means to be ready for college (see here and here) but far less about what it means to be ready for careers, and little or none about how career readiness should be measured. This is a problem in itself, but it is also symptomatic of a more fundamental disagreement that lies behind much of the policy discussion about assessment.

  • This blog post is part 2 of 3. For part one click here; for part three click here.

    In framing the legal responsibility of districts to provide language access and protect the rights of English Learners to an equal educational opportunity, the Lau v. Nichols Supreme Court decision stated:

    Any system employed to deal with the special language skills needs of national origin minority group children must be designated to meet such language skills needs as soon as possible and must not operate as an educational dead-end or permanent track.

  • In California in 1985 a first-class stamp cost $0.20, a dozen eggs cost $1.19, and motorists gasped when the price of a gallon of gas hit $1.20. Three top-selling albums that year were Wham!, Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required, and the Soundtrack to Miami Vice (

  • Two of the gurus of the Internet age have written a charming, compelling, and ultimately romantic book about what learning could be.

    In the opening pages of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown lay out the dimensions of “arc of life” learning “which comprises the activities in our daily lives that keeps learning, growing, and exploring” (p. 18). (The book is self-published and available exclusively at

  • Last week, I attended two conferences that led me to give serious thought to the issue of educational access for English Learners. It started with a brilliant research presentation by Professor Kenji Hakuta at the California Association for Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA) Conference in Fresno, CA, followed by a series of engaging papers and symposia at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference in New Orleans, LA. I noticed two major themes across all the research I heard: 1) renewed concerns about the validity and reliability of identification practices of English Learners (EL), and 2) the low reclassification rates of EL students to Fluent English Proficient (FEP) despite having been born in the U.S. and having spent most of their K-12 schooling in English Language Development (ELD) courses. My interest in this topic was further heightened after reading Laurie Olsen’s recent report entitled, Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for California’s Long Term English Learners.

  • I had a nice time at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting last week in New Orleans. For the uninitiated: AERA is a yearly conference in which over 12,000 researchers, educationalists, and policymakers descend on some North American city for five days to discuss their work, deliver papers, and talk about the current state of education. Given that it also happened to be the weekend of the annual French Quarter Music Fest, I may have learned a bit less this time around, but possibly have had more fun…

  • For more than 50 years education reformers have worried that American students were falling behind—successively—the Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporeans, and Finns in their mastery of mathematics. The passage of NDEA was spurred by the fear that the U.S. was falling behind in the space race, and the proposed remedy was improvement in math and science instruction.

  • The recent release of the Interim Status Report on the financial health of districts can’t be surprising to anyone. 13 districts received a negative certification, meaning the “district will be unable to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current year or for the subsequent fiscal year.” Another 97 districts were determined to be in danger of failing to meet financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years, earning them a qualified certification.


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