Policy Briefs

  • Learning and Practicing Continuous Improvement: Lessons from the CORE Districts

    H. Alix Gallagher, Benjamin W. Cottingham. October 2019.

    Continuous improvement has become a leading method of changing the way schools and districts foster better student learning and success. As part of the CORE-PACE Research Partnership, PACE spent a year studying the CORE Districts’ approach to implementing continuous improvement with a focus on two key questions: 1) What do we know about how to support educators in learning continuous improvement? 2) What conditions support continuous improvement in districts and schools? The findings are presented in a report that provides an overview of lessons learned in building a successful continuous improvement culture, and three detailed case studies exploring key factors to that success, including leadership, systems of support, and structures and processes.

  • On Growth Models, Time for California to Show Some Improvement

    Morgan S. Polikoff. September 2019.

    California is one of just two states (with Kansas) that does not use a student-level growth model to measure school performance. This brief lays out a number of common beliefs about growth models and provides evidence that these beliefs are inaccurate or unsupported. In so doing, the brief makes a positive case that the state should adopt such a model and replace the current "change" metric in the California School Dashboard.

  • How Would Test Opt-out Impact Accountability Measures? Evidence from the CORE Districts and the PACE/USC Rossier Poll

    Edward J. Cremata. September 2019.

    The number of students opting out of standardized tests has grown in recent years. This phenomenon poses a potential threat to our ability to accurately measure student achievement in schools and districts. This brief documents the extent to which opting out is observed in the CORE districts and models how higher opt-out levels could affect various accountability measures.

  • Improving College Readiness: A Research Summary and Implications for Practice

    Michal Kurlaender, Sherrie Reed, Alexandria Hurtt. August 2019.

    Given the importance of a college degree for both individual and societal economic prosperity, policymakers and educators are focused on strengthening the path to college beyond college entry. In this report, we synthesize the existing literature on four factors key to educational attainment—aspirations and beliefs, academic preparation, knowledge and information, and fortitude and resilience—and the implications of each.

  • Making Early Education a Priority: Evidence from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Voter Poll

    David N. Plank, Deborah J. Stipek. June 2019.

    Governor Gavin Newsom campaigned on a “cradle to career” education strategy that identified childcare and early education as key priorities. The Governor’s 2019 Budget Proposal follows through with the inclusion of several initiatives aimed at increasing support for children five and younger.

  • College Affordability in Every Corner of California: Perspectives from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Poll

    Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, Michal Kurlaender, Austin Lyke, Teresita Martinez. June 2019.

    California voters ranked college affordability as the second most important education policy issue in the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier poll, a concern reflected in Governor Gavin Newsom’s first budget proposal and in a number of bills currently progressing through the state legislature. Though desire for making college affordable is high among the average voter, California’s geographic and socio-economic diversity demand that lawmakers consider local contexts when designing and implementing new reforms.

  • Supporting Continuous Improvement at Scale

    Kathryn Baron, Christine Roberts, Sujie Shin, Yee Yang. June 2019.

    Continuous improvement is a holistic and research-based approach to education grounded in the belief that every system is designed to achieve the results it gets; therefore, change must be systemwide, not piecemeal. California is a national leader in the continuous improvement movement that is spreading throughout local school districts as well as state and county offices of education. At its annual conference in February 2019, PACE convened a panel of California educators working on the cutting edge of continuous improvement. In this brief, they share their stories and lessons learned.

  • Quality Teaching and Learning in Pre-K Classrooms: What It Takes

    Kathryn Baron, Deborah J. Stipek, Beth Meloy, Anna Arambula, Vickie Ramos Harris, Lisa Guernsey. June 2019.

    Access to affordable preschool programs is a crucial issue for improving kindergarten readiness for 3- to 5-year-olds, but research shows that the quality of teaching and learning in those programs is just as essential. Across the country, states are boosting preschool policy standards and strengthening educational requirements for preschool teachers. California has not been at the forefront of this effort. But newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom is making preschool quality a signature issue of his administration.

  • Measuring School Contributions to Growth in Social-Emotional Learning

    Hans Fricke, Susanna Loeb, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice, Libby Pier, Heather Hough. May 2019.

    School value-added models are increasingly used to measure schools’ contributions to student success. At the same time, policymakers and researchers agree that schools should support students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) as well as academic development. Yet, the evidence regarding whether schools can influence SEL and whether statistical growth models can appropriately measure this influence is limited.

  • Voter Awareness, Support, and Participation in California’s Local Control Funding Formula

    Taylor N. Allbright, Julie A. Marsh. March 2019.

    In this brief, we update previous research on the implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) with the results from a 2019 poll of California voters. Results show that while public awareness of the LCFF has increased, more than half of voters remain unfamiliar with this state finance and accountability policy. However, voter support for the policy remains high, though it has decreased since last year. Participation in LCFF engagement has increased, but remains low, despite a majority of voters reporting desire to be involved in decisions about local education.

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