The Cost of Providing an Adequate Education to ELLs

What Does the Literature Say?
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

In 2009, more than 11 million school-age children between the ages of 5 and 17 spoke a language other than English at home. These students represent 21% of all school-age children and 11% of all public school enrollments nationally. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, public schools are mandated to provide the academic and fiscal resources to help English Language Learners (ELLs) overcome language barriers and gain English fluency. English Language Learners is the fastest growing demographic and arguably the most complex to fund and educate, yet limited research has focused on how to fund this group to improve their educational trajectory.

The Politics of District Instructional Policy Formation

Compromising Equity and Rigor
Commentary author
Tina M. Trujillo
Summary

School districts are complicated. Their leaders must implement state mandates, fashion new policies, and mediate between schools and the broader public. But their staff are rarely unified in their thinking about how to do all of this. Different philosophies of education can undercut district policy-making efforts if individuals approach the problems of teaching and learning from different angles. Indeed, views on instruction and the purposes of education are deeply rooted in technical, normative, and political notions of what constitutes ideal learning experiences. Thus, district policymakers need fluency not just in the technology of instruction, but in the norms and beliefs that condition educators’ receptivity to change.

Voter Distaste for Sacramento Could Sink Education Initiatives

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

California voters understand that their schools are in trouble.  Forty-two percent of voters give the state’s schools a grade of D or F, while fewer than 15 percent give them an A or B.  Fifty-seven percent of voters believe that California schools have gotten worse in the past few years, and only 7 percent believe that they have gotten better.

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.

Five Steps Ahead

A Fellow Researcher’s Take on Tierney and Hallett’s New Chapter
Commentary author
Peter Miller
Summary

Willam Tierney and Ronald Hallett’s chapter entitled, “Homeless Youth and Educational Policy: A Case Study of Urban Youth in a Metropolitan Area” provides a much-needed contribution to the field of research and practice relating to the service of students who experience homelessness. As a scholar whose interests lie in the same area, I am always eager to read what others are learning about this burgeoning group of kids. Five specific aspects of the Tierney and Hallett chapter stood out to me.

Educational Experiences of Homeless Youth in Los Angeles

Commentary authors
Ronald Hallett
William Tierney
Summary

In 2007 we began researching the educational experiences of homeless youth in Los Angeles. Practitioners, policymakers and researchers had known for decades that homeless youth achieve at low levels and drop out of school at high rates, but minimal research existed at the time concerning how these students understood and engaged with the educational process. Our study gave youth the opportunity to share their experiences and identify educational barriers.

AVID at Community Colleges Offers New Opportunities to Reach High-Need Students

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

American community colleges have become the largest sector of higher education, enrolling 46% of all U.S. undergraduates, including 47% percent of undergraduates who are African American and 55% who are Hispanic. These are the higher education institutions of choice for many members of groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. The cultural beliefs of a community college often resemble a hybrid of those found in secondary schools and of those found in four-year post-secondary institutions. 

Mental Health Services

A Cost-Effective Option for Increased Learning
Commentary author
Summary

California has the lowest elementary school counselor-per-student ratio of any state; the majority of California’s elementary and middle schools do not offer any counselors.

Technical Assistance Can Play a Key Role for Poorly-Performing Schools

Commentary authors
Summary

High-stakes accountability policies such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) hold schools and districts responsible for student achievement. However and whenever the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is reauthorized, it is clear that schools and districts will continue to be held accountable for student performance. Although research and media attention has focused largely on the punitive aspects of accountability policies, there is more to these policies than just consequences for failure. 

RAND Study Consistent with LAO Surveys

Commentary author
Rachel Ehlers
Summary

For the past three years—2010, 2011, and 2012—the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has gathered information from California school districts regarding how recent state actions have affected their budgets and operations. Similar to the RAND findings, our survey responses indicated that districts have taken considerable advantage of recent categorical flexibility provisions. 

Potential Benefits of School Funding Flexibility Mitigated by Budget Crunch

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

California faces hard decisions about how to allocate funds to its schools. Some argue for targeting funds to particular programs—a practice known as categorical funding. Others advocate giving schools and districts flexibility in using their funds. Yet there is no clear evidence about the outcomes from either approach. In 2007–08.

Welcome to Conditions 2.0!

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

Welcome back to PACE’s blog, Conditions of Education in California! Our goal, as always, is to support an informed discussion of the policy challenges facing California’s beleaguered education system. To accompany the resigned PACE website, we have ‘re-booted’ the blog, with a more specific focus on new research that addresses critical issues in California education, along with expert commentary on the research and its implications for education policy in our state.

Getting Serious About Teacher Evaluation

A Fresh Look at Peer Assistance and Review
Summary

You can hardly open a newspaper or major magazine today without finding a story about another incarnation or overhaul of teacher evaluation. But underlying nearly all these detailed descriptions of state and local programs is a near-unanimous and long-standing assumption: Whoever is in charge of improving teachers shouldn’t also be in charge of evaluating them. 

CA Education Policy News Update 07/2011

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

After Governor Brown’s veto of the first proposed state budget two weeks ago, he assured Democrats and the public that he would be able to negotiate with Republicans in passing his new budget proposal, including his tax extensions. However, according to the L.A. Times and the Southern California Public Radio, Brown gave up on such negotiations with Republicans soon after his claims. As a result, Brown and state Democrats produced another budget plan on Monday, June 27th that was similar to the first proposed budget plan that had little support from state Republicans.

CA Education Policy News Update 06/2011

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

After the unexpected veto from Governor Brown last week, state policymakers continued to struggle this week negotiating for a budget that allows for an election regarding the tax extensions. In response to Brown’s veto, Democrats have been waiting for Brown to garner the appropriate number of Republican votes, as reported by the KQED Capital Notes blog. On Tuesday, Brown announced his intentions to consider an alternative budget proposal

Students are the Real Workers in the Education System

The Elements of Learning 2.0
Commentary author
Charles Taylor Kerchner
Summary

Most education reforms start with the premise that adults need to work harder so students will learn more. But ultimately, maybe quickly, that premise is self-defeating. Regardless of the pedagogy used, who governs the school, or how long teachers toil, students are the real workers in the system. Building around that reality is one of the five key elements to bring about Learning 2.0, the next full-scale version of public education. 

AB18

Great Start But Not a ‘Weighted Student Formula’ (Yet)
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) has been trying for several years now to implement the advice of the numerous committees, plans and studies that have said California’s school finance system needs structural reform, not just tinkering around the edges. 

New and Better Assessments

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

Following up on an earlier post, the debate on assessment policy turns on the question of how much information we really need or even want to have about student performance. At the level of rhetoric, of course, we want as much information as we can get, and we want that information to be as accurate as possible. As a practical matter, though, information has costs, and we are prepared to settle for a lot less than we would ideally like to have. The real question for policy is how much less. 

Access for English Learners

Revising Identification and Reclassification Policies - Part 3
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

This blog post is part 3 of 3. For part one click here; for part two click here. 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. 

Fiscal Inferno (Remix)

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

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 proposed cuts for schools will be brutal, requiring further reductions in the time that children spend in school, abandonment of limitations on class size, and additional layoffs of teachers and administrators. The proposed cuts for post-secondary education will if anything be worse, shutting out huge numbers of otherwise eligible students from enrollment in college. 

Measuring Career Readiness

Commentary author
PACE
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.

Access for English Learners

Revising Identification and Reclassification Policies - Part 2
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

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 New Culture of Learning

Dewey Redux
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

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."

Access for English Learners

Revising Identification and Reclassification Policies - Part 1
Commentary author
PACE
Summary

This blog post is part 1 of 3. For part two click here; for part three click here. Last week, I attended two conferences that led me to give serious thought to the issue of educational access for English Learners. 

The New Latin

Commentary author
PACE
Summary

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. Current reformers express similar fears.