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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...
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...
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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...
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...
Collective Bargaining and Student Achievement
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Despite a statutorily narrow scope of bargaining, the scope of topics of union-management discussions has widened over the last 20 years, resulting in the birth of reform, or professional, unionism. But over the last half decade, professional unionism has waned. School management often refuses to see unions as partners; politicians fail to view unions as legitimately speaking for education change; and unions themselves are reluctant to assume added responsibility. This article advocates a change in labor law, requiring union and management to negotiate student achievement goals as a way of...
New Education Policy Center's Goal Is to Be Information Resource for Policymakers and Michigan Educators
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For years, the Michigan State University College of Education made outreach to lawmakers and educational leaders a priority. But earlier this year, the college took an important step forward in its outreach efforts when it established the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, a nonpartisan institution that has as its goal to provide those who make decisions about the state’s educational system with accurate and timely research-based information. It marks the college’s most ambitious and formalized effort to date in its long history of playing an important role in improving the...
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The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides an opportune occasion to take a fresh look at the federal role in teacher professional development. Funds designed to improve teachers' professional prowess are currently tucked into a number of federally funded programs—programs, for example, for students living in poverty, for children with little or no Eng­lish language proficiency, and for schools engaged in so-called whole school reform. The largest federal professional development appropriation, and the only federal effort devoted entirely to this purpose...
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The history of intergovernmental relations in educa­tion policy has been dominated by regulations, categorical programs, and technical assistance by higher levels of government to stimulate or require lower levels to make changes in policy and practice. There have been many metaphors to depict education pol­icy within intergovernmental relations including marble cake or picket fence. The marble cake metaphor recognizes that the federal, state, and local levels are not distinct, and policy spills over from one level to another. The picket fence metaphor is based on categorical programs like...
Increasing Teacher Salary Options
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Classrooms across the country are losing many of their best teachers in their first few years of teaching. One of the primary reasons given by teachers for leaving teaching is low salaries. Although teacher pay has increased nearly 20% over the last decade, it still remains lower than for many other professions requiring a similar level of preparation. And because of shifting demographics and a recession-hit economy, it is not likely to rise dramatically in the near future. One option for raising teachers' salaries within the confines of restricted state and local budgets is an extended...
A New Strategy for Linking Research and Practice
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The need to bring research to bear on the problems of educational practice has never been greater. U.S. schools face a number of critical challenges in the years ahead. Two of the most cited examples are incorporat­ing increasing numbers of educationally disadvantaged students into the educa­tional mainstream and preparing students for an increasingly competitive and techno­logically advanced work environment. In order to meet these challenges, a vari­ety of reform efforts are under way at the local, state, and federal levels. Research should play an important role in meeting these challenges...
Lessons from the California School Leadership Academy
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Current thinking about reform in American education emphasizes the need for school principals to serve as instructional leaders. Support for this position is derived from several research bases: site-based management and restructuring; school change; school improvement; policy implementation; staff development; the administrator as instructional leader; and school/district effectiveness. A common element in these bodies of research is the potential power of the administrator as a significant force in the improvement of the organizational conditions and instructional forces that affect student...
What Schools Must Do
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This article contends that school-linked services and education reform efforts are integrally related. Successful implementation of school-linked services requires new roles and responsibilities for all levels of school personnel. Drawing on general experience and citing specific examples from the New Beginnings experi­ence in San Diego, the article outlines these new roles and responsibilities for school superintendents, board members, principals, and teachers. It describes the plan­ning process involved, a process that includes an initial feasibility study and commu­nity needs assessment; a...
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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...
Recruiting and Preparing Teachers for an Urban Context
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Alternative routes into teaching have been widely criticized by the teacher education community as "quick fix" solutions to teacher short­ages, an approach which recruits substandard teachers, provides inade­quate professional education, and results in a decline in the quality of instruction in the public schools. Paradoxically, such programs often represent an attempt on behalf of states and school districts to upgrade teaching standards already downgraded by teaching shortages that result in the use of emergency credentialed and misassigned teachers. For at least 20 years, traditional...
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A comprehensive inventory of formal staff development activity and costs in 30 California districts yields a portrait of locally organized opportunities for teachers and reveals the policy stance taken by districts toward teachers and their professional development. Present patterns of resource allocation consolidate the districts' role as the dominant provider of teachers' professional development; other sources, including the university or the larger professional community of teachers, are less visible. Expenditures reflect a conception of professional development based almost exclusively on...
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This article addresses two conflicting trends in U.S. education. On one hand, there is a considerable expansion of statewide controls of education, including new statewide accountability schemes. On the other, there is a resurgence of interest in the professionalization of teaching. These trends are conflicting—at least for the moment­—because state accountability has tended to bureaucratize education and not pay sufficient attention to its impact on the professional dimension of teaching. This article was originally published in Education and Urban Society by SAGE Publications.
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The California State Department of Education is developing a multipurpose data system on California education that contains basic information on staff, enrollment, finance, facilities, curriculum, and community demography related to public elementary and secondary schools. The California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS), part of the larger multipurpose data system, collects information on staff members and students at the county, school district, and classroom levels. These data are collected once a year in October on "Information Day," then converted to file form. Subsequently, the data...
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An adequate supply of qualified teachers is central to improving education. Supply and demand projections indicate that teacher shortages will be concentrated in certain subject and geographic areas. The shortages may undermine recent educational improvements. If substantial changes in pupil/teach­er ratios and teacher certification requirements, such as those evaluated in this report, are seriously contemplated, strong incentives will be necessary to recruit enough qualified teach­ers. If class sizes and teacher certification requirements remain unchanged, an average annual shortfall of...