Abundant Hopes, Scarce Evidence of Results: Executive Summary
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Summary
It’s difficult to find anyone who is happy with public education. From your neighbor to our political leaders, everyone is eager to reform the schools. Polls show that even if we are satisfied with our elementary school down the street, we are distressed about the quality of public education overall. This is where the consensus begins and ends. Contention arises immediately over the next question: What’s the best strategy for improving the public schools? What policies and long-term institutional changes can be implemented that will steadily boost children’s learning? This PACE report focuses...
Abundant Hopes, Scarce Evidence of Results
Published
Summary
It's difficult to find anyone who is happy with public education. From your neighbor to our political leaders, everyone is eager to reform the schools. Polls show that even if we are satisfied with our elementary school down the street, we are distressed about the quality of public education overall. This is where the consensus begins and ends. Contention arises immediately over the next question: What's the best strategy for improving the public schools? What policies and long-term institutional changes can be implemented that will steadily boost children's learning? This PACE report focuses...
A Reappraisal
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Summary
Two stylized facts dominate current educational policy thinking in the U.S. The first is that public schools are ineffective. The second is that they are ineffective because they are not accountable for producing high academic achievement. At one extreme, these stylized facts are interpreted to mean that public education cannot be made more efficient. According to this view, the public sector is structurally incapable of delivering high quality educational services to the diverse student populations in schools. It is too bureaucratic, too unionized, and a monopoly. Improving schooling requires...
How Do Local Interests and Resources Shape Pedagogical Practices?
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This reports argues that much of what actually occurs in bilingual education depends on the discourse and resulting policies at the school district level, and that is one reason why the construction of "bilingual education" varies so greatly and can be seen so positively or so negatively by the very clientele it is supposed to serve. Not surprisingly, within each school district the very definition of second language education centers on interpretations of bow to deliver it—specifically on whether and how to recruit bilingual teachers and whether to implement curricula that are at all oriented...
California Families Face Gaps in Preschool and Child Care Availability
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This report details stark inequities in how preschool and childcare opportunities are distributed among four California counties, across communities situated within these counties, and among the state's 200 localities with the most families receiving welfare benefits. Despite spending $1.2 billion each year on preschool and childcare programs, no single state agency has been able to assess the overall supply of these programs or the distribution of supply. Over half of California's 3.3 million preschool-age children (age 0–5 years) live in households with a working mother. Half these...
Standards and Assessments
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Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, March 24, 1997 (revised April 1, 1997). This case study traces the evolution of California's curriculum-related reforms, especially those which have influenced mathematics and science, and examines such reforms within the larger framework of the state's shifting political and policy context. Central to this study is the question of what role the California Department of Education played in relation to other state agencies and actors in developing curriculum policies. Although...
Results of the PACE 1996 Poll
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Summary
In February 1996, PACE conducted a statewide poll on Californians' views on and expectations for the public schools. In particular, the poll was designed to gain insight into the alignment of the public's views with current directions in education policy. Conducting a poll among Californians is especially relevant because no comprehensive public poll has been conducted in recent memory and because poll results can serve to inform the wide range of policy discussions underway at the state level. State policymakers, for example, are in the process of redesigning a statewide assessment system (AB...
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This is the ninth edition of Conditions of Education in California. In this volume, PACE has compiled information on current critical issues in state education policy and presented them within the context of major policy developments. "Evolving Context" introduces the current issues in the state and sets the stage for the remaining chapters, which are Assessment and Achievement, Finance, Teachers and Teaching, Integrated Children's Services, Child Care and Development Services, and School-to-Work.
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It is difficult to envision a people more preoccupied with performance than Americans. Keeping records, shattering records, breaking world records, setting national records, establishing personal records, or being the first, the best, or the most are all the "stuff" of our national obsession with measuring individual and institutional performance. Almost every U.S. city, whether it be a metropolis or a hamlet, lays some claim to a record. It somehow possesses the largest, oldest, longest, heaviest, slowest, tallest, greatest, smallest, tastiest, deepest, quietest, fastest, highest, or...
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This is the seventh edition of Conditions of Education in California. Since 1984, PACE has endeavored to compile a continuing picture of education in the state by analyzing data about enrollment trends, student achievement, fiscal conditions, human resources, education governance, and the politics of education. These analyses have been limited to comparisons of California with itself over time. The 1991 version represents a shift. Beginning with this edition of Conditions of Education, PACE will analyze California education dimensions by placing California state­ specific data within multi...
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After taking a back seat to education reform pro­grams during the 1980s, school finance is again in the forefront. With the re­cent sweeping state supreme court deci­sions overturning school finance struc­tures in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Tex­as, and with active or planned cases in 23 additional states, education finance liti­gation, fiscal inequities, and school fi­nance reform have rebounded to high places on state education policy agendas. This article discusses the changing contours of school finance through the 1970s and 1980s and outlines the key is­sues in school finance for the 1990s...
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Conventionally, educational evaluation has concentrated on measuring individual student achievement, appraising instructional methods and materials, and assessing program perfor­mance. Major issues in the field have been scholarly and methodological. The central career orientation of educational evaluators has been toward academic colleagues and practicing educators. However, contemporary education reform efforts aimed at using schooling to en­hance national economic development are altering this conventional orientation. Managerial expectations are replacing professional relations as the...
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Allegations about the low performance of U.S. students compared to their counterparts in other nations repeatedly surface in the media. For example, in a recent sur­vey by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achieve­ment (IEA), the U.S. ranked 15th in science in a field of 17 nations. This low showing internationally is now accepted by policy makers and repeated as part of the conventional wisdom. Business lead­ers point with alarm to the declining skills of the labor force and proclaim that the U.S. economy will lose out to Asian and European competitors. There may...
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Many of the major problems faced by California's education system originate outside the schoolhouse walls. Public schools are pinned inside an iron triangle of shifting demographics, declining economics, and intensifying poli­tics. The historic escape route of local decision initiatives and property taxation has been substantially narrowed by popu­list initiatives such as Proposition 13 and the Gann limit. Examples of excellence and professional commitment persist in various local school districts and previously enacted state initiatives. Under current circumstances, however, it is unlikely...
The Need for Analysis
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Educational indicator systems have become a major "business" in the United States. Although its intellectual roots are found in the social indicators movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, its focus today is clearer; its linkages to policy issues are much stronger; and both technicians and policymakers want educational indicator systems to be developed. Educational indicators ap­pear to be something that will remain on the American educational landscape for some time to come. This article covers five major issues related to educational indicators. First, it makes general comments on what...
Connecting Labor Relations and School Reform: A Report on Year Two of the Trust Agreement Project
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Since September 1987, twelve California school districts and their teachers' unions have been experimenting with a new form of labor accord called an Educational Policy Trust Agreement. The Trust Agreement Project is designed to enable teachers, as represented by their union, and school management to develop agreements on professional issues which fall outside the traditional scope of collective bargaining or which appear better negotiated in this new setting. The project is a cooperative effort of the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Boards Association, the California...
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This is the fifth edition of Conditions of Education in California. Over time, the content and format have changed in keeping with suggestions made by readers. This publication is based upon compilations and syntheses of information collected by other agencies and individuals. These sources are noted throughout the text. We wish here to express our appreciation to these others upon whose efforts we depend so heavily. Also, PACE undertakes a substantial amount of original data collection and analysis. We make specific mention of this throughout the text.