Dual Enrollment Participation From 9th to 12th Grade
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This infographic, from PACE and Wheelhouse, examines participation in dual enrollment among 9th to 12th graders. The data show that about 10 percent of all California public high school students enrolled in community college courses in 2021–22, but these rates vary from zero to 97 percent depending on locality. Analysis demonstrates that dual enrollment participation is unequally distributed across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups as well as geography. The evidence demonstrates the potential of improving early access to dual enrollment in 9th grade for closing these equity gaps.

Seven Key Facts
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Chronic absenteeism has soared in California and nationally in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressing this extraordinary increase is crucial to helping students catch up academically. Using data available from the California Department of Education, this analysis examines trends in chronic absenteeism through school year 2022–23.3 Although rates of chronic absence have begun to decrease, they remain alarmingly high. Ensuring equitable opportunities to learn will require ongoing attention and action, including taking into account these seven key facts.

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In October 2023, the California Department of Education released test scores for all students in Grades 3–8 and 11 for the 2022–23 school year. These results represent an opportunity to analyze whether and to what extent student learning has rebounded after the dramatic declines in scores resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures. Despite marginal improvements from 2021–22, student cohorts in 2022–23 remain very far behind prepandemic levels.
How California Districts Create Access and Coherent Systems
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California’s ambitious investment in Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) reflects a commitment to providing access to UTK for all 4-year-olds in public schools by the 2025–26 academic year. However, the implementation of transitional kindergarten (TK) presents challenges for districts in aligning this new grade coherently with existing grade levels and prekindergarten (PK) options within the context of the mixed-delivery model. This model adds complexity to achieving coherence as students transition from PK or TK to the existing district system.
Early Insights from a CCEE School-Improvement Pilot
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Student achievement in California has not rebounded after the precipitous declines of the COVID-19 pandemic, with English language arts (ELA) and math scores remaining well below prepandemic levels. Student attendance has declined dramatically, and trauma and time away from school have led to mental health challenges, delays in social development, and behavioral issues among students. All too often, teachers work in isolation to create lesson plans and deliver instruction, with little instructional support, limited opportunities for collaboration, and unclear expectations.
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This extended infographic provides an updated look at Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway completion among California public high school graduates and at how completion patterns vary by student race/ethnicity, gender, and CTE industry sector.
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California’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program provides an additional year of schooling within the K–12 system that aims to prepare children for kindergarten. Launched a decade ago with limited eligibility, the program will be expanded to all four-year-olds by 2025–26. Little is known about TK’s longer-term impact—especially among multilingual students and students with disabilities, who might benefit from early identification. Taking stock of TK’s impact so far can help the state expand it successfully.
A TeachAI Toolkit
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TeachAI—in collaboration with Code.org, CoSN, Digital Promise, the European EdTech Alliance, James Larimore, and PACE—has launched an AI Guidance for Schools Toolkit to help school systems worldwide meet the urgent need for guidance on the safe, effective, and responsible use of artificial intelligence.It helps education authorities, school leaders, teachers, and others create thoughtful guidance to help their communities realize the potential benefits of incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in education while understanding and mitigating the potential risks.
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Declining student enrollment is leading to a loss of revenue in many California school districts. To address ongoing budget shortfalls, many districts have consolidated or shuttered schools,and others are contemplating doing so. A new report and working paper, summarized in this brief, explore the racial dimensions of school closures and how to address them.
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Enrollment in California public schools has been declining and is projected to fall even more steeply during the next decade. Because funding for school districts is largely based on average daily attendance rates, a decline in enrollment results in a loss of funding. To address budget shortfalls and align services with student counts, many districts have consolidated or closed schools, or they are contemplating doing so.
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This study investigates racial disparities in school closures both within California and nationally. Findings highlight an alarming pattern: Schools enrolling higher proportions of Black students are at significantly increased risk of closure relative to those enrolling fewer Black students, a pattern that is more pronounced in California than elsewhere in the United States. The findings underscore that school closures in California and elsewhere reflect racial inequalities that require adequate policymaking to ensure equitable and fair school-closure proceedings.
Improvement Team Leads’ Perspectives on Fitting Improvement Work to Their Sites
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This chapter in an edited book focuses on the work of two improvement network hubs in California as they tried to support participating districts and schools to improve the proportion of students “on-track” for post-secondary success. California has a particular stake in figuring out how to support districts in consistently using continuous improvement (CI) to achieve measurable gains in student outcomes because state policy (e.g., Local Control Funding Formula, California’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan) prescribes CI as the approach to improvement in its accountability system.
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Newcomers represent a large and understudied subgroup of students in California. The Oakland Unified School District has been disaggregating data on newcomer status for the last 7 years, providing a basis for analyzing graduation outcomes for newcomer compared to non-newcomer students. The data highlight the variance in outcomes based on program placement and design. Drawing from analysis of Oakland Unified’s data and practices, the authors make programmatic recommendations for districts with newcomer students.
Lessons From Oakland International High School
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Oakland International High School, winner of the 2017 National Community School Award, supports its recently arrived immigrant students by integrating academic, social, mental health,and material supports into the school day and beyond. Its community school model incorporates a Wellness Center, a tiered system of support and engagement, external partnerships, specialized staffing, and a collaborative culture of continuous improvement that promotes agency and belonging for both students and staff.
Promising Practices
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This case study identifies promising practices for newcomer education implemented in San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD), one of 12 local educational agencies (LEAs) funded under the California Newcomer Education and Well-Being (CalNEW) project between 2018 and 2021. This report was developed through a partnership between PACE and the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
Creating a School for Newcomer Youth
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This study highlights the collaborative efforts undertaken to create a temporary school called Futuro Brillante in San Diego County, California, to provide educational services for more than 3,000 unaccompanied undocumented minors who had newly arrived in the U.S. The study describes the compelling trajectory of the school’s development, its multisector community partnerships, its core facilitating organizational conditions, and the key curriculum strategies that facilitated the school’s success.
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Completing the A–G course sequence is the standard pathway to college for CA high school graduates; however, findings indicate substantial variation in A–G enrollment and completion rates across student subgroups and schools. This brief describes the distribution in access to and success in A–G courses as well as strategies local leaders could consider to increase these rates among the students they serve. Drawing on case studies of nine public school districts with exemplary A–G completion rates, we highlight best practices to broaden A–G access for students and ease barriers to completion.
Insights and Strategies From Exemplar School Districts
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This resource guide addresses a key problem that many district and school leaders in California face: how to increase student enrollment and success in A–G courses to reduce equity gaps in college eligibility. Developed from a qualitative research study that examined the policies and practices of nine school districts in California with A–G completion rates surpassing the overall statewide rate, the guide presents strategies, tools, and resources to address challenges with A–G course alignment, counseling, and scheduling.
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California prioritizes post-COVID-19 education equity through investments in community schools. Districts must lead by strengthening system-level support, infrastructure, and sustainable resources. They should foster shared governance, robust data systems, and organizational learning. Supporting coordinators, improving data access, recognizing successful practices, and scaling innovations are crucial. A cohesive, districtwide approach ensures the success of community school transformation.
What Districts Need to Fulfill Its Promise
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California's Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) faces challenges as districts prioritize meeting state requirements, hindering focus on quality. To address this, the state can incentivize districts by setting a vision, establishing goals, and measuring progress based on enrollment, implementation features, and student outcomes. It should align resources and support for widespread high-quality UTK implementation, while ensuring public communication of key aspects and outcomes to empower communities to monitor district performance.
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Every year, 150k-200k new immigrant students in California need specialized instruction and social services to succeed, but many districts struggle to provide them, resulting in dropouts and poor outcomes. Inaccessible instruction and lack of basic necessities hinder progress. The PACE report recommends developing data, instruction, and social support services to improve newcomer outcomes in California.
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This report finds that improving school attendance is crucial, especially with the increase in chronic absence. Data on unexcused absences should be used to create a more preventive, problem-solving, and equitable response to poor attendance. Labeling absences as unexcused affects how students and families are treated and can lead to punitive measures that may not improve attendance. Overuse of the unexcused-absence label could undermine efforts to partner with students and families to improve attendance.
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Access to and success in advanced math courses are not equal among high school students, with only about half of California seniors enrolling in these courses. To address this, six partnerships between university faculty and high school math specialists developed Advanced Innovative Math (AIM) courses. This report highlights the benefits of these partnerships and their common features of successful intersegmental partnerships, supplemented by case studies of each partnership.
An Updated Look at High School Math Course-Taking in California
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This infographic presents updated research on high school students' access to rigorous and inclusive math curricula that prepare them for college and career success. The data shows troubling disparities in access to and success in advanced math courses, which highlights the need to diversify high school math pathways. The descriptions provided can help inform efforts to increase access and equity in math education.
CORE’s Approach
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Educators face a dilemma of staying up-to-date with evidence-based practices while dealing with superficial ideas. Continuous improvement methods can help in testing new ideas but if seen as add-ons, they may not yield sustained improvement. This brief describes the CORE Districts’ five-driver model that deepens educators’ ownership and sustains improvement over time.