A Progress Report One Year After Getting Down to Facts II
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The 2018 Getting Down to Facts II research project drew attention to California’s continued need to focus on the achievement gap, strengthen the capacity of educators in support of continuous improvement, and attend to both the adequacy and stability of funding for schools. Based on the nature of the issues and the progress made in 2019, some clear next steps deserve attention as 2020 unfolds.

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Community engagement remains one of the most challenging expectations of California’s Local Control Funding Formula, so much so that state leaders have funded an initiative to support regional networks focused on engagement. This brief shares insights from a session where a lead administrator from the San Bernardino County Office provided an update on that initiative. Other speakers shared their on-the-ground experiences working with educators, parents, and students to create the relationships needed for community stakeholder engagement to be consistent, meaningful, and productive.
Evidence from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Voter Poll
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Late in 2018, the California Department of Education rolled out an updated version of the California School Dashboard. This revision altered the look and feel of the Dashboard and added new indicators based on newly available data. This brief updates a 2018 analysis of the Dashboard. First, I examine whether the state’s revisions are in line with the suggestions made in the 2018 report. I find that the state has made some improvements to the system, but that there is room for continued improvement. Second, I use data from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier poll to characterize use of and support for...

Evidence to Inform Policy
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Governor Newsom’s first Budget Proposal increases funding for education in California. There are areas of substantive overlap in the Budget Proposal and research findings from the Getting Down to Facts II (GDTFII) research project, released in September 2018, which built an evidence base on the current status of California education and implications for paths forward. As the Budget moves from proposal to reality, it is critical that the evidence from GDTFII continues to inform the policy process.

Views from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Poll
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With a new governor, state superintendent and legislators in Sacramento and a diminished federal role in education, there is an opportunity for California’s leaders to take stock of recent educational reforms and make necessary improvements. There are also a host of new and looming issues in K-12 and higher education. As California’s leaders confront these and other issues, where do California voters, including parents, stand on education and education policy? The newest edition of the USC Rossier/PACE Poll shares voter perspectives on a wide range of education issues.
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California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which highlights accountability for student success, has identified the progress of special education students as an area of particular concern. Statewide, the LCFF outcome data show that students with disabilities perform at particularly low levels. Special education addresses the needs of students with disabilities to help them succeed in school. Federal and state laws play a major role in shaping how districts identify and serve students. Federal and state budgets also include significant annual appropriations to help districts pay for...

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When California became the second state to authorize charter schools in 1992, the state’s system for authorization, oversight, and renewal of charter schools was in many ways a bold experiment. The concept was new, and the impacts on both student learning and the public school system writ large were unknown. That first law authorized the creation of 100 charter schools, a modest beginning compared to the charter school sector today. In 2017-18, California had more than 1,200 charter schools serving 620,000 students, about one out of every 10 of the state’s public school students. Charter...

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California’s education policy agenda, in particular the near-simultaneous implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), has created challenges and opportunities for the state. Coming on the heels of the Great Recession of 2008, these enormous shifts—the demands for substantially new teaching practices required by the CCSS and the fundamental shift from a state-controlled education finance system to locally determined priorities and resource allocation—require new infusions of support to help school districts realize these policies’ ambitious...

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California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), signed into law in 2013, represents a substantial investment in school districts serving disadvantaged students and a modest relaxation of restrictions on district expenditures. The policy came at a time when the state was able to increase K-12 funding, thereby restoring cuts made a few years earlier. Through the LCFF, the state distributed a large portion of those increased funds based on the proportion of disadvantaged students in each school district—those who qualify for free or reduced-price meals, have limited English proficiency, or are...

What Do We Know?
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The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on July 1, 2013, represents the first comprehensive change in the state’s education funding system in 40 years. The LCFF eliminates nearly all categorical funding streams, shifts control of most education dollars from the state to local school districts, and empowers districts, through a process of stakeholder engagement, to shape resource allocation goals and priorities to meet local needs. KEY FINDINGS: What does research reveal about the LCFF after four years of implementation? The LCFF enjoys substantial support...

A Work in Progress
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California state leaders are asking new things of school leaders, teachers, and students. The past decade has been a time of significant education reform. The transition began with the adoption of new academic standards for English language arts and mathematics based on the Common Core State Standards, and then later for science based on the Next Generation Science Standards. The state also passed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which dramatically changed how school districts are funded and held accountable for their performance. With California’s newest academic standards...

School Finance and Governance in California
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Getting Down to Facts is the largest independent investigation ever of how California governs and funds public education. It was commissioned at the request of a bipartisan group of California leaders, including the governor’s Advisory Committee on Educational Excellence, the president protem of the California Senate, the speaker of the California Assembly, the superintendent of public instruction, and the state secretary of education. The purpose of this unprecedented project was to describe California’s school finance and governance systems, identify aspects of those systems that hinder the...
The Case of California
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Governance is widely believed to be an important determinant of the effectiveness of educational systems. Yet there are few systematic evaluations of the linkages between educational governance and student outcomes, or cogent frameworks for evaluating the effectiveness of governance arrangements in a way that can guide potential policy changes. This article attempts to provide such a framework by identifying indicators of effective educational governance systems drawn from previous research and more than forty interviews with stakeholders at all levels in California, the nation’s biggest...
Acquisition, Deployment, and Barriers
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The principal's leadership is viewed as pivotal under a variety of reform models. Policies that aim to raise efficiency by moving discretion down to principals, limiting labor contracts, or awarding fresh resources to schools and/or districts rest on principals' capacity to deploy fungible dollars and human resources. However, little is known about the range of monetary and human resources that principals acquire and influence, how they allocate these resources, and what barriers they confront in acquiring and deploying resources inside their schools. This study attempts to provide a better...

What Are Their Effects, and What Are Their Implications for School Finance?
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This work was conducted for the California school finance and governance project, Getting Down to Facts: A Research Project to Inform Solutions to California’s Education Problems. California and states across the nation are attempting to meet the challenge of staffing classrooms with high quality teachers. Each state has designed and implemented a web of policies targeted at teachers—from regulations on teacher education programs and certification to salary structures and recruitment and retention incentives. Despite the plethora of teacher policies, little is known about the variation in the...