Supporting Principals

Commentary authors
Tomika Romant
Summary

When the pandemic hit in 2020, school principals had to pivot, navigating the virtual world of engagement and instruction as well as the physical and mental toll of COVID-19 on students and staff. 2021–22 was supposed to be better, but for many principals, it was worse. Schools went back in person, but staffing shortages created daily challenges to covering even the basics, and COVID testing and tracing became additional urgent demands on already overwhelmed staff. Educators were emotionally and sometimes physically exhausted due to COVID.

Strong, Collaborative Labor–Management Relations Can Move Postpandemic Education Forward

Commentary author
Summary

As we move into fall and the beginning of a new school year, districts are facing myriad decisions, the consequences of which will determine how quickly and effectively they are able to recover from the effects of the pandemic and move education into a new era. This PACE commentary focuses on the kinds of decisions districts and unions are confronting together as well as on the ways in which collaborative labor–management relations can contribute to a stronger education system designed to meet all students’ needs.

Utilizing COVID-19 Recovery Funds to Serve English Learners in California

Commentary author
Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos
Summary

This commentary provides California’s K–12 education leaders 10 recommendations for utilizing COVID-19 recovery funds to serve English learner students. It is important for leaders to act boldly and innovatively to begin to reimagine K–12 education, in particular for English learners, whose learning has been yet more negatively affected by the pandemic than that of their English-speaking peers.

Environmental Education and Nature-Rich Experiences

Essential for Youth and Community Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
Commentary authors
Nicole M. Ardoin
Alison W. Bowers
Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic, which presents critical threats to education overall, also presents specific, potentially irreversible, and long-term threats to environmental education—an essential field that provides numerous cognitive, affective, and health-related benefits.

COVID-19’s Impact on English Learner Students

Possible Policy Responses
Commentary author
Summary

As an immensely diverse group of students, English learners (ELs) will have widely varying experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus a broad range of educational, physical, and mental health-related needs. This commentary offers recommendations for how policy can support ELs whether education is online, in person, or both.

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.

A Bargain Half Fulfilled

Teacher Autonomy and Accountability in Charter and Public Schools
Commentary author
Zachary Oberfield
Summary

Public charter schools are theorized to succeed more than traditional public schools because of a bargain struck between schools and charter-granting entities: charter schools are given greater autonomy from the standard rules and regulations and, in return, are held more accountable. Early theorists expected that this dynamic would operate in two ways. At the system-level, charter schools would have the latitude to experiment with new approaches to education. If they performed well, they could maintain their charters; if they did not, they could lose them.

Monetary vs. Non-Monetary Incentives for Program Participation

An Experiment with Free Middle School Tutoring
Commentary authors
Matthew G. Springer
Brooks Rosenquist
Walker A. Swain
Summary

One of the less prominent provisions of No Child Left Behind was one that set aside funds to allow low-income students in low-performing schools free access to tutoring, termed Supplemental Education Services (SEdS).  While estimates of SEdS benefits for students have varied by location and provider one finding has been consistent—low attendance. In a recent randomized experiment, researchers at the National Center for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development set out to test whether eligible students would attend more regularly for money or praise.

For Aligned Instruction, State Must Have Aligned Standards, Assessments

Commentary author
Summary

Standards-based reform has been the law of the land in California and nationwide for over a decade. For student achievement to rise, the reform says, teachers must improve their instruction by aligning it with rigorous content standards. These content standards are just part of what is supposed to be a coherent policy system including aligned achievement tests and stringent accountability measures. Although many researchers have investigated whether standards-based reform and accountability ultimately improve student achievement, few have explored the ways in which these reforms have actually played out in the states.

This Could Be the Start of Something Big—Or Just Another Audition

Commentary author
Summary

For the first time since the eclipse of the LEARN reforms at the turn of the millennium, Los Angeles has hosted a broad scale education summit designed to bring the city together around support for public education. “There had been a lot of what I call ‘silo’ conversations. We needed to make sure the whole community was here,” said Elise Buik, president of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which organized the program. Buik’s intent, and that of the United Way board, is to use the half-day event to kick off a longer more substantive discussion of the future of public education. 

Reflecting on Contemporary Trends of Diversity in Education

Commentary author
Brad Olsen
Summary

'Difference' is the idea that not everything—or everyone—is the same. The central question related to diversity in education is this: How do we treat difference? Lament and try to eradicate differences among teachers and students seems to have been the melting pot solution in early U.S. history—and, of course, the reference measure was the white, male, middle-class Anglo. Though there are still some who advocate this approach, fortunately it is considered anachronistic by most. In the 1980s we made what were considered big strides by recommending tolerance.

Another Response to the Daunting Challenge of Teacher Evaluation

Commentary author
Summary

Alan’s post illuminates some of the critical but vexing questions that surround the evaluation of individual teachers, but it also casts light on the current policy controversy surrounding the question of what it means to be a “highly qualified” teacher.

A Response to the Daunting Challenge of Teacher Evaluation

Commentary author
Alan Daly
Summary

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.

The Scarlet Letter as an "F" Not an "A"

Commentary author
Brad Olsen
Summary

The L.A. Times publication in August of a value-added analysis of teacher effectiveness, based on student scores on math and ELA tests, has sparked national debate about the ethics of publicly ranking individual teachers. Educators and researchers questioned the usefulness of student scores on standardized tests as teacher effectiveness measures, the merits of teacher performance-pay systems, and whether journalist-researchers should be allowed to conduct studies that university Human Subjects boards would flatly reject.

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.