Publications

  • Leadership that Supports Continuous Improvement: The Case of Ayer Elementary

    Kate E. Kennedy, H. Alix Gallagher. Policy Analysis for California Education. October 2019

    Ayer Elementary School in Fresno is an exemplar of leadership practice necessary for successfully building and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement. This case study examines the leadership practices that teachers say allowed them to undertake the challenging work of using data for evidence-based changes that are steadily improving student outcomes in this ethnically diverse, high-poverty school. The report offers insights into how leaders can foster a culture of risk-taking, teacher agency, and collective efficacy. It also raises questions about how to support more principals in learning the leadership skills necessary to support the desired spread of continuous improvement in California.

  • 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. More students opting out could significantly impact some accountability measures in use in California, but the CORE districts’ growth measure is largely unaffected, as it reports the impact of schools on individual students’ achievement. In contrast, accountability metrics that track student achievement by cohort are at risk of becoming biased even with relatively low absolute levels of opting out. This brief suggests that districts should consider explicitly adjusting for the characteristics of the students who actually sit for tests when designing school accountability systems.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 12th Grade Course-taking and the Distribution of Opportunity for College Readiness in Mathematics

    Minahil Asim, Michal Kurlaender, Sherrie Reed. Policy Analysis for California Education. August 2019

    In this report we explore the patterns in mathematics course-taking among California public high school seniors. We describe what courses students are enrolled in and how course participation varies by key student characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and performance level on the state’s 11th grade assessments. We also explore course-taking patterns for students eligible for California’s public four-year colleges—California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC), and for applicants and admitted students at the CSU and UC.

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

    Michal Kurlaender, Sherrie Reed, Alexandria Hurtt. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

  • Approaches to Reducing Chronic Absenteeism

    Mary Perry, Michael A. Gottfried, Kiarah Young, Cecelia Colchico, Kathy Lee, Hedy Chang. Policy Analysis for California Education. July 2019

    Acknowledging the importance of students simply being in school, California has made student attendance part of its accountability system. This brief covers a session in which it was pointed out that using chronic absenteeism as an accountability measure is new and its underlying causes are not well understood. Even as many schools face the expectation that they take action to address high rates of absenteeism, myths about school attendance persist.

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

    David N. Plank, Deborah J. Stipek. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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. Policy Analysis for California Education. 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.

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