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.

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This article examines how district administrators’ conceptions of equity relate to the implementation of finance reform. The authors use sensemaking theory and four views of equity—libertarian, liberal, democratic liberal, and transformative—to guide a case study of two districts, finding evidence of two conceptions of equity: (1) greater resources for students with greater needs, and (2) equal distribution of resources for all students. One district demonstrated an organization-wide belief in the first conception, whereas the other conveyed individual-level understandings of both conceptions...
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In fall 2018, the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative (LCFFRC) conducted surveys of stratified random samples of California superintendents and principals. Superintendent results were published in June 2018 in Superintendents Speak: Implementing the Local Control Funding Formula. This report, Principals’ Perceptions: Implementing the Local Control Funding Formula, is the companion account of principal survey results.

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California is experiencing one of its most severe teacher shortages1 in two decades. Budget cuts and layoffs resulting from the recession contributed to a steep decline in the number of teachers in California, falling from a high of 310,362 teachers in the 2007-08 school year to 283,836 four years later. Recent efforts, including Proposition 30 and the Local Control Funding Formula, which, respectively, raised taxes for public education and transformed the state’s school finance method, have helped to regrow California’s teacher workforce. However, with sharp decreases in the supply of new...

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California has a keen interest in ensuring the effectiveness of the teachers in its classrooms. The quality of teaching affects student learning and has a lasting impact on students’ success in school and in the labor market. Improving the quality of teaching is a crucial linchpin in California’s efforts to address many of its pressing education challenges. This brief takes up the dual topics of teacher preparation and teacher evaluation. Understanding both how well-prepared teachers are when they enter the classroom and how evaluation of practice during teachers’ careers can enhance their...

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There is a common theme around California education, and leadership development is no exception. The state used to have nationally recognized model programs of professional development for principals and superintendents, but many were defunded and dismantled during the recession, when California schools also cut their administrative staffs by 19%. Since then, the number of administrators has rebounded; but in 2016, the latest year data are available, California still ranked 47th out of all states in the number of pupils per administrator. On top of that, California principals, on average, have...

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High quality instruction delivered by effective teachers is the key to student success. Hiring, developing and retaining good teachers are therefore the most important tasks of our public schools. The tasks of teacher recruitment and retention have traditionally been delegated to the human resource department within school districts, but leaving these critical responsibilities to a single office is no longer sufficient. The ability to find, support, and keep good teachers is a community challenge, which demands innovative solutions collaboratively developed by diverse stakeholders. In this...
Developing a Research Agenda to Further Policy Change
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In nearly every state across the country there has been recent legislative or judicial activity aimed at amending policies that shape the quality of the teacher labor force (e.g., Marianno, 2015). At the heart of this recent legislative and judicial action is the desire to attract and retain a high-quality teacher for every classroom. That good teachers are critical to student success is not up for debate; over the last decade, research has shown that a high-quality teacher is the most important school-based input into students’ achievement and long-term outcomes. Having a bad teacher rather...
What California's Beginning Teachers Experience
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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. Developed primarily during the 1990s and early 2000s, California’s policies for beginning teachers were designed to enhance...
Key Design Elements for Meaningful Teacher Observation
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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: Use standards-based instruments for...
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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. QTEA salary increases did not affect teacher retention...
The Magnitude of Student Sorting Within Schools
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Large urban school districts serve increasingly diverse student bodies. Although many studies have described racial segregation among schools, and the causes and consequences of such segregation, far fewer have examined the extent to which students are sorted across classrooms within schools by race and ethnicity, or by family income or achievement. Attendance at the same school does not ensure that students from different backgrounds will share classrooms or have equivalent educational experiences. In this study, we examine patterns of sorting across classrooms within schools in three large...
Teacher Characteristics and Class Assignments
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Although prior research has documented differences in the distribution of teacher characteristics across schools serving different student populations, few studies have examined the extent to which teacher sorting occurs within schools. This study uses data from one large urban school district and compares the class assignments of teachers who teach in the same grade and in the same school in a given year. The article finds that less experienced, minority, and female teachers are assigned classes with lower achieving students than their more experienced, white, and male colleagues. Teachers...
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In the context of today's standards-based education reforms, where the goal is for students to achieve to high-performance standards, effective professional development is critical. In order for students to learn more, teachers must change what and how they teach. Though typical professional development has had little impact on teacher practice or student performance, effective professional de­velopment is considered by most a critical strategy for accomplish­ing today's ambitious student achievement goals. Research is beginning to link the key features of professional development programs...
The Influence of Teacher and School Characteristics
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In a new PACE Working Paper, Xiaoxia A. Newton, Rosario Rivero, Bruce Fuller, and Luke Dauter, University of California, Berkeley, investigate the effects of teacher characteristics and school context on the timing of teachers’ decisions to exit schools where they teach. The two-level discrete-time survival analysis framework allows for simultaneous examinations of who exits, when, and under what conditions. Their results for a large sample of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, observed from 2002-03 to 2008-09, affirm the importance of school context, such as type of school...
First Year Report
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In June 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed the Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA) with a 69.8% majority, authorizing the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to collect $198 per parcel of taxable property, indexed annually for 20 years. Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, and David Plank of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District, have documented the passage of this policy and are now engaged in a three-year evaluation (starting in 2009-10) of the...
Structuring School District Discretion over Teacher Employment
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There is broad agreement that teacher quality is related to student achievement, but there is far less agreement about the degree to which school districts and administrators are constrained in making policies to improve teacher quality that might also affect teacher employment and working conditions. Conventional wisdom holds that state law and the collective bargaining agreements governed by state law often hamper districts’ discretion over teacher hiring, firing, evaluation, compensation, and assignment. Although California collective bargaining agreements have received some attention from...
Assessing the Impact of the California Governor’s Teaching Fellowship
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In a new PACE policy brief, Jennifer Steele, Richard J. Murnane and John B. Willett assess the impact of California’s Governor’s Teaching Fellowship. During a two-year period from 2000-2002, California awarded a $20,000 Governor’s Teaching Fellowship (GTF) to 1,169 people enrolled in traditional, post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs who agreed to teach in low-performing public schools for four years after earning their licenses. Schools designated as low-performing were those that ranked in the bottom half of the state’s Academic Performance Index (API). GTF regulations specified that...
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The quality of teaching in a school results from a range of factors, including available resources, curriculum, and instructional leadership, but it is also driven by the individuals who teach in each classroom. The staffing of teachers in schools, in turn, is a product of both recruitment and retention practices. This article describes how the choices of teachers and the actions of schools and districts influence who enters the profession and who stays. It then identifies common policy approaches for advancing recruitment and retention goals and summarizes the current research, discussing the...
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What is a good teacher? Do good teachers make a difference in improving student achievement? While these are simple questions, the answers are more complex. Policymakers and educators are searching for strategies to improve student outcomes. In the U.S., the 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that all classroom teachers be highly qualified. The assumption is that highly qualified teachers will produce higher measured student achievement. NCLB has set certain criteria for determining the credentials that such teachers must have, but it does little to define the characteristics...