The policy papers included in this collection of essays address various facets of the complexities involved in measuring the performance of schools. Guy Benveniste of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Education explores the underlying issue of accountability and describes the implications of different types of accountability measures. In “New Directions for State Education Information Systems,” Michael Kirst of Stanford University’s School of Education argues for a state “Information Czar who would coordinate and integrate the various data streams” that are currently collected and disseminated in a fragmented fashion. An argument for identifying and rewarding merit schools, rather than merit teachers, is presented by Walter I. Garms, of the University of Rochester. Garms discusses methods of measuring merit and specific indicators of merit and argues that schools need freedom to manipulate resources to achieve desired results. Gene Dawson of the School of Education at Berkeley describes how data are collected for the California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) and offers suggestions for improving their reliability. Edward Haertel of Stanford University discusses general problems of measuring the effects of reform, and analyzes three proposed indicators of quality: SAT test scores, course enrollments, and hours of homework or number of writing assignments completed. Finally, David Stern, of the University of California at Berkeley, further explores the merit school concept and discusses issues related specifically to California’s new “quality indicators” program. Taken together, these papers constitute a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex issues involved in measuring the performance of schools and should be a valuable source of guidance as policy on accountability measures is formed.
In “Some Reflections on the Honorable Profession of Teaching” (PACE, March 1984), authors Trish Stoddart, David J. Losk, and Charles S. Benson of the University of California, Berkeley explore the teaching profession in California, examining issues of credentialing, compensation, professional structure and career structure. This paper also offers recommendations as to how the State of California could improve the quality of teaching in its schools suggesting change in three main areas: certification, professional training and career structure.
The 1984 edition of “Conditions of Education in California” is the first edition of PACE’s signature publication. The primary purpose of this and subsequent publications in the series is to provide public officials, professional educators, and private citizens with a thorough, objective, and regular assessment of the performance of California’s schools. This initial, 1984, report was particularly significant. In 1983, California launched an ambitious and comprehensive education reform effort. (The reform policies are contained in Senate Bill 813.) The prescribed changes were directed at dozens of education matters such as high school graduation requirements, employee salaries, length of school day and year, secondary school counseling, and teacher licensing. The intent was to render California’s schools more productive both for individual students and the state as a whole. In future years it will be important to assess the extent to which reform efforts have been successful. By providing data on a number of school related dimensions, this report can serve as a baseline against which to judge future statewide educational outcomes.
The information was compiled from a spectrum of federal, state, and local sources. The report concentrates on kindergarten through twelfth grade public schools. However, a few data and conclusions are included regarding non-public and post-secondary education matters as well. Information in this document was compiled in substantial measure by Richard Pratt, John Parsons, and Ralph Brott. Judy Snow prepared the manuscript.