Investing in Education Facilities and Stronger Communities
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California is midway through one of the grandest public infrastructure projects ever attempted. Over the coming decade school officials will complete an $82 billion effort, building new schools and renovating old facilities, supported by taxpayers and private investors. But are state officials and local planners building schools mindfully to advance educational quality and lift local communities?
Preschool and K–12 Finance Reform in New Jersey and Texas
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In a PACE Working Paper, Co-Director Bruce Fuller and Joseph Wright offer policy and implementation lessons from two states—New Jersey and Texas—that have moved to advance preschool and K–12 finance reform in tandem. These states have assembled the puzzle pieces in differing ways, but both states are determined to widen access for families who can least afford quality preschool. The policy experiences of these states over the past quarter century yield notable lessons for current policy debate on pre-school and education finance reform in California.
Crafting Standards to Track Quality
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This paper, stemming from a PACE seminar, examines the idea of crafting opportunity to learn (OTL) standards—how the state might collect and analyze indicators of school quality that are predictive of student achievement. The idea is not new. Such standards were put forward by Congress over a decade ago. However, questions remain regarding which quality indicators can be feasibly monitored and which are empirically related to achievement gains. Developing, implementing, and monitoring such a system would be challenging. But, as the PACE seminar participants discussed, a well-designed OTL...
California Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options
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PACE’s statewide survey of 439 directors of community preschools, those funded outside of school districts, inquired about basic facts and their perceptions of long-term issues. Preschool access and quality remain unfairly distributed among California’s diverse communities. Persisting questions examined include how to grow more plentiful and higher quality preschools, and how to ensure a robust balance between organizations run by schools or community organizations. Despite rising interest among policy makers, we know little about how preschool directors themselves understand and evaluate...
District Efforts to Raise Achievement across Diverse Communities in California
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In California, policymakers and educators had already turned their attention to addressing inequities in student achievement with the passage of the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) in 1999. PSAA provided a framework for learning with curriculum standards, and set expectations for improvement through the Academic Performance Index (API). For the first time, schools were responsible for meeting achievement targets not just school-wide, but for racial/ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups of students. As a result, many educators became increasingly aware of gaps in their students’ achievement...
The Reliability of How States Track Achievement
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Debate is well under way regarding the efficacy of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, including whether this bundle of federal rules and resources is prompting gains in student achievement. Spirited conversation will intensify as the Congress discusses how to adjust and reauthorize this ambitious set of school reforms. Both state and federal gauges of student achievement will inform this debate.
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development
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Previous research has demonstrated that attending center care is associated with cognitive benefits for young children. However, little is known about the ideal age for children to enter such care or the "right" amount of time, both weekly and yearly, for children to attend center programs. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), this paper asks whether there are optimal levels of center care duration and intensity and whether these levels vary by race or income. The paper considers pre-reading and math skills as measured by assessments administered at the...
Ideals, Evidence, and Policy Options
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The evidence is quite clear—after a half-century of research—that many children benefit from quality preschooling in terms of cognitive growth. Over 60% of California’s four-year-olds now attend a preschool center at least part-time. Yet enrollment rates lag behind for children from poor and working-class households—especially those from Asian, Latino, and non-English speaking families. Earlier research also reveals uneven quality among preschools, with middle-class families often confronting low-quality programs and high tuition costs. Recent calls for a universal preschool system are...
How Do We Assure an Adequate Education for All?
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Today, California's schools rank 44th in the nation in education spending. Per pupil spending for education in California amounted to $6,659 in fiscal year 2001–02 when adjusted for regional cost differences across the states. This figure represented 86.1 percent of the national average of $7,734 per pupil. Worse, only six-tenths of one percent of school children went to school in districts that spent more than the national average. Looking at these figures another way, California only spent 3.5 percent of total taxable resources on education, ranking 39th out of the 51 states and the District...
Who Gains, Who Loses?
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Over the past 30 years, a combination of court rulings, legislative enactments, and voter initiatives has made dramatic changes in the landscape of education governance in California. The presumption of local control, a system based on local electoral accountability, has been superseded by a system of centralized, administrative accountability. Among the most sweeping changes are those that affect the way in which the state’s public schools are financed. Until 1980, paying for elementary and secondary education was largely a local matter. Local property taxes paid most of the bills. The state...
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PACE presents three working papers on the inadequacies and difficulties of successful transition from high school to college. These papers are derived from The Bridge Project, a six-state study of K–16 issues. These three papers do not attempt to cover all aspects of K–16 and transition issues. Consequently, the policy implications at the end are based solely on these studies. While the media has focused a disproportionate amount of its attention on the highly selective University of California system, these studies provide fresh perspectives on the issues of college preparation, transition...
Year 2 Qualitative Implementation Study (QIS)
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This report on the second year of the implementation of San Francisco County’s CARES program (SF CARES) as a childcare retention–incentive program describes perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders regarding several components of the program’s structure, implementation, and effects. These findings are drawn from focus group data: group interviews were conducted with program planners and funders, program staff, stipend recipients, and other members of the early care and education (ECE) community in San Francisco county. In addition to detailing perspectives on the implementation and...
Year 2 Qualitative Implementation Study (QIS)
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This report on the second year of the implementation of Alameda County’s Child Development Corps (the Corps) as a childcare retention–incentive program describes perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders regarding several components of the program’s structure, implementation, and effects. These findings are drawn from focus group data: group interviews were conducted with program planners and funders, program staff, stipend recipients, and other members of the early care and education (ECE) community in Alameda county. In addition to detailing perspectives on the implementation and...
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The recent approval of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) changes the landscape for evaluating school success. In addition to requiring student testing in math and reading for all students in Grades 3–8, a major component of the new law mandates that all states determine, and schools and school districts demonstrate, “adequate yearly progress” toward state proficiency goals. All students—regardless of race or socioeconomic status—must be held to the same academic expectations, and all students—regardless of race or socioeconomic status—must have their academic progress measured using a newly...
National Disparities in Funding, Teacher Quality, and Student Support
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Early proponents of charter schools, over a decade ago argued that these human-scale organizations would help close the achievement gap. Liberated from downtown bureaucracy and voluminous state rules, charter schools would craft crisp educational missions, respond to diverse parents, and create tighter communities to strengthen motivation among students and teachers alike. Underlying these hopeful claims is the assumption that charter schools can avoid the wide differences in financing, teacher quality, and student support that beset the nation’s disparate public schools. Unless charter...
Which Families to Serve First? Who Will Respond?
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Several states are extending access to preschool for a widening range of families. Georgia has made dramatic progress toward providing preschool slots for all three and four year old children. Illinois, New Jersey, and New York have taken steps to broaden access, slowed by the economic recession and shifting government priorities. California may be joining these states. Two blue-ribbon panels have urged the state to create a plan for moving toward universal preschool (UPS), focusing first on low-income families. The proposed master plan for education, recently translated into legislation...
Assessing Balance and Substance
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Calif. Recall News Built Largely on Schwarzenegger’s Campaign, UC Study of Media Coverage Finds Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger benefited from lopsided media attention in the opening weeks of his campaign to unseat Gov. Gray Davis, just before his popular support climbed, according to a University of California study of news reporting to be released today. The New York Times reported on Schwarzenegger in 87% of the 164 stories that ran over the frenzied two-month campaign to unseat Gov. Gray Davis. The actor’s wife, Maria Shriver, was discussed more than Green Party candidate, Peter...
Which Families Use Subsidies and Home-Based or Center Care?
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Public spending on childcare and preschool has grown dramatically in recent years, rising nationwide from $6.8 to $14.3 billion between 1995 and 2000. In California, the childcare and early education budget has almost quadrupled, from $800 million in 1996 to $3.1 billion in the current fiscal year. Yet the share of low-income families who actually draw public child care support—for preschool or school-age programs—remains highly variable across states and communities. And little is known about the characteristics of families who are more likely to use child care subsidies, especially after...
The Early Impacts of Welfare Reform for California's Children, 1998–2000
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In 1996, the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which included the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. TANF altered the structure of the welfare system nationwide and prodded millions of welfare recipients into jobs or welfare-to-work activities. California’s reform program, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act, known as CalWORKs, was enacted in 1997. The TANF and CalWORKs welfare reform initiatives included significant changes in the work support systems for parents...
Descriptive Findings from the Child Care Subsidy Interview
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The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and PACE have been involved in an effort to understand the impact of welfare reform and the implementation of the CalWORKs program on childcare supply and demand in California. As part of this project, CDSS and PACE conducted a telephone interview of current and former CalWORKs participants. The survey was conducted in three counties: Kern, Orange, and Santa Clara, and in three languages, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. A total of 1,974 interviews were completed between May 1 and June 30, 2001: 673 (34.1%) in Kern County; 797 (40.4%) in...
Findings from the Child Care Providers Focus Groups
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As part of the CDSS-PACE Child Care Planning Project, PACE set out to learn how California’s childcare subsidy system and the CalWORKs program affects licensed and license-exempt childcare providers. PACE also wanted to understand the day-to-day issues facing providers as well as their opinions about the system within which they work. This report represents the findings from this study, and hopefully offers some insight into the lives and experiences of these crucial persons who care for the state’s young children. During the spring and summer of 1999, and again during summer 2000, PACE...
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In January 2000, the California Children and Families Commission embarked on an effort aimed at expanding the availability and quality of early care and education programs available to families. The State Commission contracted with PACE to act as the lead agency for the initiative, which is focused on: recruiting and training early care and education providers where shortages exist; improving the professional preparation and in-service training of new center staff and family childcare providers to enhance their effectiveness in working with children; and implementing strategies designed to...
Policy Success, Remaining Gaps
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The basic availability of preschools and centers remains unevenly distributed between affluent and lower-income communities. Yet policy initiatives mounted over the past 35 years have markedly equalized supply in some states, including California. This paper advances the knowledge of the distribution of center-based programs by asking three questions: What levels of quality are observed among preschools and centers situated in diverse lower-income communities? Does quality vary depending upon the richness or scarcity of center-based programs inside neighborhoods? Do gains in supply thin out...
Focusing on San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties
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The Growing Up in Poverty (GUP) Project aims to learn from the diverse families who are entering new welfare programs and to explore variability across their neighborhoods. The earlier national report, Remember the Children (2000), detailed how the overall quality of center-based care selected by welfare-poor mothers in California was significantly higher than the quality of care selected by corresponding samples of women in Connecticut and Florida. The quality of home-based care, however, was quite uneven within all three states. Since 1996, millions of single mothers with preschool-age...
Spinning Out the Implications of the 'New' School Finance
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Educational resources have been the subject of endless political battles, including efforts to expand resources and to equalize them. However, the connections between resources and outcomes remain obscure: real spending per pupil has increased steadily without any obvious effect on learning; reform efforts often cost more without any corollary effects; and there is a great deal of evidence that additional resources do not have substantial effects on learning except under special conditions. This paper presents the “new” school finance, one that—in contrast to most discussions about funding...