Policy Briefs

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bumpy Path Into a Profession: What California's Beginning Teachers Experience

    Julia E. Koppich, Daniel C. Humphrey. July 2014.

    In California as elsewhere, state policy anticipates that aspiring teachers will follow a uniform, multistep path into the profession. It assumes they will complete a preparation program and earn a preliminary credential, take a teaching job and be assigned probationary status, complete a two-year induction program (the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment System, or BTSA), earn a Clear Credential, and receive tenure following two years of satisfactory evaluations.

  • Making Observation Count: Key Design Elements for Meaningful Teacher Observation

    Jennifer Goldstein. December 2013.

    Teacher evaluation has emerged as a potentially powerful policy lever in state and federal debates about how to improve public education. The role of student test scores and “value-added” measures in teacher evaluation has generated intense public controversy, but other approaches to evaluation including especially classroom observations of teaching are certain to remain as essential features of any evaluation system.

    In this policy brief Jennifer Goldstein lays out four key design principles that should guide the observation-based assessment of teaching:

  • Can a District-Level Teacher Salary Incentive Policy Improve Teacher Recruitment and Retention?

    Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb. August 2013.

    In this policy brief Heather Hough and Susanna Loeb examine the effect of the Quality Teacher and Education Act of 2008 (QTEA) on teacher recruitment, retention, and overall teacher quality in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). They provide evidence that a salary increase can improve a school district’s attractiveness within their local teacher labor market and increase both the size and quality of the teacher applicant pool. They also provide evidence that targeted salary increases can increase the quality of new-hires.

  • Education Technology Policy for a 21st Century Learning System

    Charles Taylor Kerchner. May 2013.

    Internet-related technology has the capacity to change the learning production system in three important ways. First, it creates the capacity to move from the existing batch processing system of teaching and learning to a much more individualized learning system capable of matching instructional style and pace to a student’s needs.

    Second, technology can help make the learning system smart. Adaptive software responds to student activity, providing options, assistance, and challenges. It can also provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to intervene and adjust.

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