Issues and Options for Early Childhood Programs
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The growing demand for compensatory education and for child care has generated a rash of federal legislation; many states have enacted new early childhood programs, most of them located within schooling systems, and many others are considering their options. This article examines the basic policy issues governments confront in early childhood education, including the content of programs, their financing, and the inevitable trade-off between cost and quality. The final section of the article outlines the available policy options. This article was originally published in the American Journal of...
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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...
Third-Year Results from Replications of the California Peninsula Academies
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This paper reports 1987–88 results from an evaluation of 11 academy programs in California high schools. Academies are schools within schools, combining academic and vocational courses in a program designed to reduce dropout rates. The evaluation used a matched comparison group for each cohort of academy students at each site. Results for in-school outcomes were generally positive. Focusing on one grade-level cohort for which graduation rates are available, the number of dropouts saved was estimated, along with the costs and economic benefits to society. The estimated net benefit from dropout...
An Exploration of the Debate on School District Size
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Like a lady "of a certain age," school districts of a certain size have sometimes been considered to be, well, not the most desirable. The "wrong" size, for the last half century at least, has been size small. How small? That depended on the researcher: some felt that a thousand was big enough; some preferred ten thousand; and some never quite specified. But for a long time in America, the only good school districts were said to be large school districts. As with most educational issues, the pendulum is swinging back on the subject of district size. During the period from World War II to the...
Looking Backward and Forward
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The first wave of school reform has crashed upon the education beach, but are other waves now forming out at sea? The year 1983 is generally regarded as the beginning of the current cycle of state education reform. The Nation at Risk report was released that year, but many states had sponsored education legislation before the report came out. The last states to engage in legislation on education—Washington, Indiana, and Iowa—joined in 1987. The spread of this reform is very impressive, and its consistency in concept qualifies it as one of the hallmarks in state policymaking. The 1986 report of...
Second-Year Results from Replications of the California Peninsula Academies
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This paper reports results from the first two years of an effort in 10 high schools to replicate the California Peninsula Academies. The Academy model combines the core academic curriculum with technical instruction in a particular occupational field. Local employers representing that field participate in various ways. The program is intended to improve the school performance of students who would otherwise be likely to drop out. Evidence presented here indicates that Academy students generally have compiled better grades and more course credits than students in comparison groups at the same...
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Can broad state-level initiatives for school reform actually improve local schools? Using data collected in California, this article answers that question affirmatively—but it also reminds readers that successful local implementation of state-level initiatives depends on several factors. Since 1983, when publication of A Nation at Risk touched off a national desire to reform education, many states have enacted comprehensive legislation intended to improve their schools. Such legislation typically increases high school graduation requirements, encourages a more substantive curriculum, defines...
A By-Product of Reform
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Following the enactment of S.B. 813, the omnibus reform law of 1983, Michael Kirst of Stanford University and James Guthrie of the University of California, Berkeley, started the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) Proj­ect. One of the goals of PACE was to provide policy makers with a "nonparti­san, objective, independent body" of information on public education. PACE also operates centers at the University of Southern California, headed by Allan Odden, and in Sacramento, headed by Gerald Hayward. Since it was estab­lished, PACE has published more than 20 papers and reports that...
Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Research
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People in Education Evaluation and Research (PEER), prepared by the Phi Delta Kappa Center on Evaluation, Development, and Research, introduces Kappan readers to individu­als who make exemplary contributions to research, or who make effective, practi­cal applications of research in the ad­ministration of public schools. Michael Kirst is featured in this PEER column be­cause of the exemplary way in which he is bridging the gap between policy and research in California. With his colleague James Guthrie, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Kirst created and now co­directs...
California's Community Colleges in the Post-Proposition 13 Period
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The experience of California's community colleges in coping with the crisis created by the passage of Proposition 13 suggests critical elements necessary for recognizing problems and mitigating chaos. As Paul Valery so succinctly put it, "The problem with our times is that the future isn't what it used to be." There are many of us who would relish the notion of going back to simpler, less chaotic, more predictable futures. That is purely wishful thinking, particularly for those of us who toil in the community college vineyard. The future promises to be more, not less, complex. The major...
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Two years ago, in the midst of a heated debate in the California legislature over whether to eliminate the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, a proponent of the proposal stood up, waved a red, white, and blue publication, and declared: "PACE says eliminate this." Leaping to his feet, a supporter of the commission waved his own copy of the re­port and shouted: "No it doesn't!" The incident exemplifies the growing role that PACE—Policy Analysis for California Education—has played in the often vigorous debates waged on school issues in California since its creation in 1983. At a time when many...
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This paper argues that the components of educa­tional provisions which satisfy private demands, mythology aside, almost invariably win out over the public goods components. If true, this leads, on the one hand, to a diminished supply of social benefits, and, on the other, to a stifling of social mobility. Insofar as these arguments are correct, they also may apply in most coun­tries of the world, whether capitalist or socialist. This article was originally published in the Journal of Education Finance by the University of Illinois Press and Journal Storage (JSTOR).

The Next Needed Education Reform
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The quest for equality of educational opportunity, which dominated education policy agendas in the U.S. from 1955 to 1980, has now receded in the face of rising national concern for greater school productivity. Early returns from a few states suggest that the recent reform efforts are having a positive effect. Although no dramatic increases in student achievement have been recorded and dropout rates remain unacceptably high, more students are now enrolled in academic courses, pub­lishers are feeling pressure to develop more rigorous textbooks, and many institutions of higher education have...
Evaluating Omnibus Education Reforms in the 1980s
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In this study, the authors investigate curricular changes in California compre­hensive high schools from 1982–83 to 1984–85. During this period, a number of educational reforms occurred, all aimed at bolstering the academic demands of secondary schools. Senate Bill 813 mandated more extensive statewide graduation requirements for high schools, while California state universities and the University of California altered their entrance requirements. In addition, a number of na­tional reports found U.S. high schools lacking in academic rigor. Although it is difficult to ascertain the precise...
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Until about 1980, the issues surrounding public school finance remained the same. They were fiscal in nature and included spending inequalities related to differences in school district property wealth per pupil; technicalities related to various state equalization formulas; funding structures that recognized higher costs for special student populations; and, in some in­stances, state/local tax levels and burdens by income class. The major concern was how equitably to finance education in general. Stimulated largely by legal action mandating change, school fi­nance reform with respect to these...
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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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States can play substantive and important roles in helping local schools. The article in this section, which stems from a study by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), document those elements of the change process that work to transform schools into more effective organizations. Since the late 1970s, well before the start of the current re­form movement in education, the states have been actively en­gaged in helping districts and individual schools to implement research findings on effective schools, effective teach­ing, and the processes of educational change. This article re­ports...
The Link Between Assessment and Financial Support
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Public school policy mak­ing is embedded in a complex societal matrix. It is not possi­ble to consider the future of U.S. schools without examining the size and distribution of future populations; the future state of the economy and its ef­fect on funds available for the schools; and the political context within which decisions will be made. The public school system is a "dependent variable" of larger social and economic forces. This article was originally published in the Phi Delta Kappan by Phi Delta Kappa International and Journal Storage (JSTOR).
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Less than three years have elapsed since the release of A Nation at Risk and the accom­panying calls to improve U.S. public schools. Yet a number of state legislatures have already acted on the basic recommendations of that and oth­er, similar reports. Indeed, the educa­tion reform movement has moved faster than any public policy reform in modem history. All the states have expanded their school improvement programs; nearly all have increased high school graduation requirements; most have stiffened college admission require­ments; many are deepening the content of course offerings; and many...
A Rising Tide or Steady Fiscal State?
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Rising national demands to improve public K–12 education are expected to boost financial support for schools; state education reform programs (especially those funded by tax increases) are commonly perceived to increase education funding dramatically. Analysis of changes in education funding across all 50 states during the 1980s shows that education revenues per pupil are neither increasing nor decreasing overall, but are staying constant after adjusting for en­rollment increases and inflation. While recent funding increases have halted the drop in the real level of resources per pupil that...
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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...
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Accountability became fashionable in the 1960s. In the 1970s, there was a heated discussion about the pros and cons of ac­countability. We discussed the need for accountability. We also discussed problems and limitations. During the 1960s and 1970s state account­ ability systems began to emerge. For ex­ample, Michigan, Florida, and New York instituted statewide accountability sys­tems. These varied in philosophy, empha­sis, and effectiveness. What is new today is a widespread recognition that increased state funding of public education will inevitably trigger new calls for state ac...
Their Influence on State Policy Making
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This study analyzes an overlooked influence on state policymaking, particularly the early phases of "agenda setting" and interstate diffusion of policy innovations. This influence is designated "policy issue networks." A recent review of the early stages of decision-making concludes that relatively little research on issue network has been conducted. Though an extensive literature on policy communication, diffusion of innovations, and networks theory exists, there are scant empirical data concerning the role played by state policy issue networks. Little is known about the character­istics of...