Working Papers

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

    Edward J. Cremata. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

  • Self-Management Skills and Student Achievement Gains: Evidence from California’s CORE Districts

    Susana Claro, Susanna Loeb. Policy Analysis for California Education. September 2019

    Existing research on self-management skills shows that measures of self- management predict student success. However, these conclusions are based on small samples or narrowly defined self-management measures. Using a rich longitudinal dataset of 221,840 fourth through seventh grade students, this paper describes self-management gaps across student groups, and confirms, at a large scale, the predictive power of self-management for achievement gains, even with unusually rich controls for students’ background, previous achievement, and measures of other social-emotional skills.

  • The Properties of Non-Academic School Performance Measures

    Rachel S. White, Morgan S. Polikoff. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2019

    Although there is a robust body of literature studying targets for academic indicators within school quality systems few studies explore target setting for non-academic indicators. Focusing on elementary schools within the CORE districts, we investigate how moving performance targets for non-academic indicators affects school quality ratings.

  • Measuring School Contributions to Growth in Social-Emotional Learning

    Hans Fricke, Susanna Loeb, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice, Libby Pier, Heather Hough. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

  • Charter Competition and District Finances: Evidence from California

    Paul Bruno. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2019

    Charter schools enroll a growing share of public school students, leading to concerns about the financial implications of charter schools for traditional public schools. Using detailed expenditure data for school districts in California, this paper exploits variation in charter school enrollment across time and between districts to evaluate how district spending and overall financial health change as nearby charter sectors expand.

  • Trends in Student Social Emotional Learning: Evidence from the CORE Districts

    Martin R. West, Libby Pier, Hans Fricke, Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    Mounting evidence demonstrates that social-emotional skills are important for students’ academic and life success, yet we have limited evidence on how these skills develop over time and how this development varies across student subgroups. In this study, we use the first large-scale panel survey of social-emotional learning (SEL) to describe how four SEL constructs—growth-mindset, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness—develop from Grade 4 to Grade 12, and how these trends vary by gender, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity.

  • Measuring Students’ Social-Emotional Learning Among California’s CORE Districts: An IRT Modeling Approach

    Robert H. Meyer, Caroline Wang, Andrew B. Rice. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    With an increased appreciation of students’ social-emotional skills among researchers and policy makers, many states and school districts are moving toward a systematic process to measure Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). In this study, we examine the measurement properties of California's CORE Districts’ SEL survey administered to over 400,000 students in grades 3 to 12 during the 2015-16 school year.

  • School Effects on Social-Emotional Learning: Findings from the First Large-Scale Panel Survey of Students

    Susanna Loeb, Michael S. Christian, Heather Hough, Robert H. Meyer, Andrew B. Rice, Martin R. West. Policy Analysis for California Education. May 2018

    Measures of school-level growth in student outcomes are common tools used to assess the impacts of schools. The vast majority of these measures are based on standardized tests, even though emerging evidence demonstrates the importance of social-emotional skills (SEL). This paper uses the first large-scale panel surveys of students on SEL to produce and evaluate school-level value-added measures by grade for growth mindset, self-efficacy, self-management, and social awareness.

  • Developmental Students: Their Heterogeneity and Readiness

    Norton Grubb. Policy Analysis for California Education. March 2012

    When one observes many developmental classrooms, the most striking aspect is the heterogeneity of students. Some are “brush-up” students, who simply need to remember skills they have already learned. Some have been misplaced by placement exams, and similarly need very little additional instruction. Many — almost surely the majority — have failed to learn certain academic skills in many years of K-12 education, for reasons that are hotly debated. Others have learning disabilities or mental health issues, and colleges have no way of either diagnosing or treating such conditions. The result is that the developmental classroom contains many students with different needs, while the instructor has only varying instructional approaches to offer.

  • PROGRAMS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH: An Inventory of Existing Technology

    Andrew Saultz. Policy Analysis for California Education. February 2012

    In this working paper, Andrew Saultz of Michigan State University inventories the current landscape of technology programs available for middle school math. The working paper is not intended as a “consumers’ guide” to technology programs, and the descriptions of some specific programs are not fully accurate or current.

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