California is in the midst of sweeping education changes. The state is rolling out the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and a new system of assessments. Voters approved a temporary statewide tax increase that will provide additional funding to schools after years of spending cuts. The Legislature adopted a new system for funding schools (the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF) that shifts resources to school districts that enroll lots of poor students and English learners, while granting local districts tremendous control over their budgets and spending.
Internet-related technology has the capacity to change the learning production system in three important ways. First, it creates the capacity to move from the existing batch processing system of teaching and learning to a much more individualized learning system capable of matching instructional style and pace to a student’s needs.
Second, technology can help make the learning system smart. Adaptive software responds to student activity, providing options, assistance, and challenges. It can also provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to intervene and adjust.
The full policy implications of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics and English Language Arts K-12 are just beginning to unfold across the 45 states (and DC) that are working to implement them. The CCSS will impact almost all key state education policies in fundamental ways. As we learned from the 1990-2005 era of systemic state standards-based reform, when academic standards change, so do policies related to student assessment and school accountability.
California has long been viewed by the rest of the nation as leader in many areas, including education. The state’s K-12 and higher education systems were once the envy of other states. Of late, though, the news from the Golden State has not been so rosy. For the last three decades California has faced increased demands on public services while suffering through economic cycles that have had exaggerated effects on the state budget. The result has been increased competition for limited resources, budget uncertainty and steadily eroding state dollars for a local schools.
This report commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Getting Down to Facts project, which sought to provide a thorough and reliable analysis of the critical challenges facing California’s education system as the necessary basis for an informed discussion of policy changes aimed at improving the performance of California schools and students. The report focuses on the four key issues that received emphasis in the Getting Down to Facts studies: governance, finance, personnel, and data systems.
The Early Assessment Program (EAP) has emerged as a national model for states seeking to design policies that increase the number of students who leave high school ready for college and careers. In addition, the two national consortia designing new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards have recognized the EAP as a model for the design of new high school assessments, which California will implement in 2014-15. The report was written by Hilary McLean of Capitol Impact, LLC.