Policy Briefs

  • Advancing Equity Through the Local Control Funding Formula: Promising Practices

    Julia E. Koppich. December 2018.

    California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) ushered in a new era for California education policy. Enacted in 2013, the LCFF shifted control of most education dollars from the state to local school districts, allowing them to determine how to allocate their resources to best meet the needs of the students in their community. The LCFF also made it a matter of state policy to shine a spotlight on educational inequities and try to give districts the wherewithal to level the playing field for students who too often are left behind.

  • Fostering Pre-K to Elementary Alignment and Continuity in Mathematics in Urban School Districts: Challenges and Possibilities

    Cynthia Coburn, Elizabeth Friedmann, Kelly McMahon, Graciela Borsato, Abigail Stein, Natalie Jou, Seenae Chong, Rebekah LeMahieu, Megan Franke, Sonia Ibarra, Deborah J. Stipek. November 2018.

    In recent years, California has invested in improving early childhood education programs. Research shows the importance of high-quality early childhood education, but the disconnect from K–12 education threatens its long-term benefits. If the early grades do not build on the gains made in preschool, they likely will be lost. This brief, based on a longer technical report , describes the challenges facing pre-K–3 alignment and offers promising practices and policy recommendations.

  • Using Surveys of Students' Social-Emotional Skills and School Climate for Accountability and Continuous Improvement

    Heather Hough, Demetra Kalogrides, Susanna Loeb. March 2017.

    This report and accompanying policy brief show that there is good reason to pursue the measurement of social-emotional learning (SEL) and school culture/climate (CC) as a way to better understand student and school performance. Using data from California's CORE districts, we show that SEL and CC measures demonstrate reliability and validity, distinguish between schools, are related to other academic and non-academic measures, and also illuminate dimensions of student achievement that go beyond traditional indicators.

  • Continuous Improvement Series: Accountability for Alternative Schools in California

    Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, Daisy Gonzales. February 2017.

    California’s alternative education options for youth vulnerable to dropping out of school have been established at different historical points and for different student age and target populations. For purposes of this brief, we define an “alternative school” as belonging to one of six legislatively authorized types of public (non-charter) schools that meet the definitions of the Alternative School Accountability Model (ASAM). These schools are operated by different local agencies – school districts, county school boards, or juvenile justice agencies and the courts –and governed by overlapping and sometimes legislatively superseded or otherwise inoperative portions of the state Education Code. Currently, the California Department of Education (CDE) is considering the development of a new accountability system for alternative schools that aligns with Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) for all public schools.

  • Local Control in Action: Learning from the CORE Districts' Focus on Measurement, Capacity Building, and Shared Accountability

    Julie A. Marsh, Susan Bush-Mecenas, Heather Hough. October 2016.

    California and the nation are at the crossroads of a major shift in school accountability policy. At the state level, California’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) encourages the use of multiple measures of school performance used locally to support continuous improvement and strategic resource allocation. Similarly, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reinforces this local control, requiring more comprehensive assessment of school performance and a less prescriptive, local approach to school support. These changes represent a major cultural shift for California schools and districts.

  • Identity crisis: Multiple measures and the identification of schools under ESSA

    Heather Hough, Emily Penner, Joe Witte. August 2016.

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) makes sweeping changes to the way school performance is measured. Using the innovative measurement system developed by the CORE Districts in California, the authors explore how schools can be identified for support and improvement using a multiple measures framework.

  • Making Students Visible: Comparing Different Student Subgroup Sizes for Accountability

    Heather Hough, Joe Witte. May 2016.

    With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, California state policymakers are tasked with determining the subgroup threshold for school-level reporting. To inform this decision, this policy brief explores the implications of utilizing various subgroup sizes using data from the CORE Districts. The authors find that the 20+ subgroup size presents clear advantages in terms of the number of students represented, particularly in making historically underserved student populations visible.

  • Using Chronic Absence in a Multi-Metric Accountability System

    Heather Hough. April 2016.

    With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, California must integrate additional measures of student and school performance into the state-wide accountability system. To support the conversation as policymakers consider if/how to include chronic absenteeism data in the state’s accountability system, PACE has conducted an analysis of the CORE Districts’ student chronic absenteeism data.

  • Improving the Opportunities and Outcomes of California's Students Learning English: Findings from School District-University Collaborative Partnerships

    Ilana M. Umansky, Sean Reardon, Kenji Hakuta, Karen D. Thompson, Peggy Estrada, Katherine Hayes, Hilda Maldonado, Susan Tandberg, Claude Goldenberg. October 2015.

    In this policy brief Ilana Umansky and her co-authors review research findings from three university school district research partnerships and present recommendations for changes in policy and practice to expand opportunities for EL students. They draw three main conclusions. First, California must improve the ways in which students who need language supports are classified and reclassified, in order to improve alignment across districts in the state, and alignment between classification and services. Second, state and local officials must become more systematic in how data on ELs are collected and used, by tracking students’ progress over longer time periods and by including all students who were ever ELs in accountability metrics.

  • Supporting Continuous Improvement in California's Education System

    Linda Darling-Hammond, David N. Plank. January 2015.

    California’s new accountability system originated in the radical decentralization of power and authority from Sacramento to local schools and their communities brought about by the Legislature’s adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013. Under California’s previous accountability policies and the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, the state set performance targets for schools and districts based almost entirely on students’ standardized test scores.

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