Our Children’s Education Should be a Priority as California Recovers from Coronavirus

Commentary author
Summary

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed California and the nation into uncharted waters, especially with the impact on our schools. With the economy in decline and unemployment on the rise, school funding is likely to dip, triggering cuts across the system. This financial impact will come when our schools need more money, not less, to serve our state’s children. As we look toward recovery, Californians should make the kind of significant investments in our public schools that reflect their true importance to our students, families and future.

Evidence to Inform Recovery

PACE’s Response to COVID-19
Summary

The closing of California’s physical learning spaces has significant implications for educational equity and access. In the coming weeks and months, PACE’s efforts will be focused on supporting real-time crisis response and helping the state build toward recovery. This commentary, the first in a new series designed to raise up evidence quickly to inform crisis response and recovery, details our approach.

Determinants of Graduation Rate of Public Alternative Schools

Commentary authors
Masashi Izumi
Jianping Shen
Jiangang Xia
Summary

The United States has been struggling with the phenomenon of high school dropout, and public alternative schools are one of the strategies to solve the issue, specifically for at-risk high school students. Such schools play an important role in educating students who are expelled or suspended from regular schools due to their at-risk behaviors and placed in such schools to continue their learning. However, each alternative high school has its own school structure and process, which could be important factors for the effects on at-risk students.

Charting the Course to Postsecondary Success

Commentary authors
Matthew Gaertner
Katie McClarty
Summary

High school graduation rates in California recently topped 80 percent – the highest they’ve ever been. It’s an accomplishment that has earned California educators some well-deserved praise. Unfortunately, in California and across the U.S., high school graduation is not yet a reliable indicator of postsecondary readiness. For example, 68 percent of students who successfully graduate high school and enter the California State University system still require remediation before they’re ready for entry-level, credit-bearing college coursework.

Examining the Evidence Behind High School Dropout Interventions

A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature
Commentary author
Jennifer Freeman
Summary

The issue of high school dropout is a serious concern for educators, policy makers, and the public.  The economic and social consequences for those who do not complete high school have continued to climb as the demands for a more educated workforce have increased.  Young adults who do not complete high school are more likely to be unemployed, welfare recipients, and when employed, make less money on average than their peers who did complete high school.  High school dropouts are also more likely to suffer from depression or other mental health issues, join gangs or be involved in other criminal activities, and serve time in jail.  These outcomes are a serious concern at the individual level and carry a large “social cost”.

Hispanic Student Performance on Advanced Placement Exams

Cause for Concern
Commentary authors
Bevan Koch
John R. Slate
George W. Moore
Summary

Accelerated learning options such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses are represented as exemplars of challenging curricula that prepare students for collegiate coursework.  Although gaps exist in the participation rates of ethnic minority students in accelerated learning options, few researchers have compared the performance of underrepresented student groups in these programs from one state to another. 

Consequences of Mandated Mathematics and Science Course Graduation Requirements

Commentary authors
Andrew Plunk
William Tate
Summary

In 1981, the National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE) examined the relationship between college admission requirements and student achievement in high school, reporting serious concerns with the preparation of high school graduates for college. Within a year twenty-six states had raised graduation requirements in response to the NCEE report. Mathematics and science were areas of particular concern and by 1989 forty-two states increased high school course graduation requirements (CGRs) in mathematics, science, or both.

Does Education Pay for Youth Formerly in Foster Care?

Comparisons of Employment Outcomes with a National Sample
Commentary authors
Nathanael J. Okpych
Mark E. Courtney
Summary

Over the past 15 years, several federal and California state laws have been enacted to support older adolescents in foster care with completing a high school credential and gaining access to higher education.  Promoting educational attainment is particularly important for these young people.  Since they often do not have the same level of family support and resources to rely on as they enter adulthood, completing a high school or college degree could be a deciding factor in finding stable employment and establishing self-sufficiency. 

Effects of an Out-of-School Program on Urban High School Youth’s Academic Performance

Commentary author
Summary

There is substantial interest in increasing high school graduations rates, yet youth from low-income families and communities experience greater academic challenges and the achievement gap between children from low- and high- income families has been growing.  Students who live in poverty are significantly more likely to have lower grades, standardized test scores, and high school completion rates than their more affluent peers.  It has been suggested that out-of-school programs can contribute to better educational outcomes but few evaluations at the high school level have been completed. 

Mitigating Summer Melt

Commentary authors
Ben Castleman
Lindsay Page
Summary

With high school graduation only months away, seniors in California may already be eagerly anticipating the relaxation of summer before they transition into college or the workforce. For students who have planned and worked hard to pursue postsecondary education immediately after high school, however, a series of unanticipated financial and procedural hurdles may loom on the horizon that have the potential to derail their college aspirations.  

Class or Race

How Does Socioeconomic Diversity Affect Cross-Racial Interactions?
Commentary author
Summary

Questions concerning class diversity in higher education generally focus on the point of enrollment versus what actually happens once students get there. In a recent research study, titled “Does Socioeconomic Diversity Make a Difference? Examining the Effects of Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity on the Campus Climate for Diversity,” Julie J. Park (University of Maryland, College Park), Nida Denson (University of Western Sydney), and Nicholas Bowman (Bowling Green State University) consider whether any educational benefits are associated with attending a socioeconomically diverse institution.

Can High Schools Reduce College Enrollment Gaps with a New Counseling Model?

A Summary of a Research Study
Commentary authors
Jennifer L. Stephan
James E. Rosenbaum
Summary

State and federal policymakers are striving to improve four-year college attendance for disadvantaged students. Despite a dramatic increase in the opportunity to attend college, disadvantaged students often enroll at higher rates in two-year colleges, which are associated with lower educational attainment and earnings. Successfully navigating the complex and unpredictable procedures of four-year college applications and financial aid requires students to make plans and take actions that in turn depend on college knowledge and assistance, which many students cannot get from their parents.

California’s Increasing Graduation Rate Outpaces the Nation

Commentary author
Summary

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. 

Measuring Career Readiness

Commentary author
Summary

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.

Does California Need a High School Exit Exam?

Commentary author
Summary

Research by Sean Reardon and Michal Kurlaender shows that CAHSEE has had none of the positive effects anticipated when the exam was put in place, and that it in fact damages the prospects of a significant number of young people. Moreover, CAHSEE sets a very low bar for student performance, requiring students to demonstrate mastery at only the 7th or 8th grade level in mathematics, and at the 10th grade level in English. The policy question is whether California needs an exit exam at all, and if the answer is yes then what is the appropriate level of performance that should be required for students to pass it? These are complicated questions.

The California Diploma Project

A Big Step Forward
Commentary author
Summary

For the past year or so, PACE has been the home of the California Diploma Project, which brings together eight signatories representing the multiple segments of California’s fragmented education system to work on strengthening alignment and coherence across levels and institutions. In April, the signatories endorsed a statement recognizing satisfactory performance on the augmented 11th grade CST that is part of the Early Assessment Program as a common indicator of readiness for non-remedial, credit-bearing baccalaureate-level work in all of California’s colleges and universities.

Welcome to Conditions of Education in California

Commentary authors
Summary

For nearly 30 years PACE has worked to sponsor a productive conversation about the education policy choices facing California, by bringing academic research to bear on the key policy questions and challenges facing our state. We have done this in traditional ways, by publishing policy briefs and convening seminars and conferences in Sacramento and throughout California. For years PACE’s signature publication was Conditions of Education in California, which provided an annual compendium of data and analysis on the current state of California’s education system.