Yearly Archives: 2010


November 19 Podcast – Strategic School Funding for Results

The podcast for our November 19th seminar “Strategic School Funding for Results” is now available.

The presenters were Jay Chambers, PhD, Senior Research Fellow and Managing Director, American Institutes for Research;
Jim Brown, Senior Advisor, Pivot Learning Partners; Steve Jubb, Director of Innovation and District Redesign, Pivot Learning Partners.  The speakers were introduced by David N. Plank, Executive Director of PACE.

Since July 2009, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Pivot Learning Partners (Pivot) have successfully formed partnerships with the Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Twin Rivers Unified School Districts. The Strategic School Funding for Results (SSFR) project has these major goals: (a) to develop and implement more equitable and transparent strategies for allocating resources to schools within each district; (b) to link these strategies to systems designed to encourage innovation and efficiency; and (c) to strengthen accountability for student outcomes.

The AIR/Pivot team has made a great deal of progress in initiating the activities necessary to implement the basic policy elements of SSFR at the local level.  The team has engaged district partners in substantive discussions about how to create an incentive structure that encourages equitable distribution of teaching talent, meaningful engagement of parents and teachers in support of student learning, and more effective and efficient use of public education dollars. In the current fiscal and policy environment, it is clear that California’s school finance system needs to change significantly. At this briefing, representatives from each district joined Jay Chambers (AIR), Steve Jubb and Jim Brown (Pivot Learning Partners), and the district leads from Pivot Learning in discussing the partnership’s progress and the challenges, and offered recommendations for state policy and other districts.

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January 21st Seminar: Experiments in Deregulating School Finance

Bruce Fuller, Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Since the 1980s, the governor and legislature have tried to balance statewide educational priorities against the desire for local flexibility, frequently expanding targeted categorical aid programs. Some argue that this approach to school finance undermines local educators’ efforts to devise coherent instructional initiatives and respond to accountability pressures. In the midst of the ongoing budget crisis, the legislature suspended requirements attached to approximately 40 “Tier 3” categorical aid programs. This represents a massive experiment in deregulating school finance, with districts potentially making new choices about how to spend $4.5 billion in 2009-10 alone. The RAND Corporation, in collaboration with the University of California and San Diego State University, is conducting a 2-year study that explores district and school leader responses to the Tier 3 initiative and federal stimulus dollars. How are districts making use of this fiscal flexibility? What forces are shaping resource allocation decisions? The study team will discuss qualitative data collected at 10 districts during the spring of 2010. Initial findings suggest that after one year, the Tier 3 flexibility is playing a critical role in helping districts to backfill budget gaps as the state crisis continues. At the same time, there is evidence that some district leaders are actively reworking existing spending patterns to better align with local educational needs and make strategic spending choice.

Policy Report: Costs of California Multiple Pathway Programs

There is widespread agreement that many of California’s high schools are doing a poor job of preparing their students for college and careers.  The James Irvine Foundation is sponsoring a major initiative to develop “Multiple Pathways” –– now called the Linked Learning approach –– as a strategy for improving the performance of California high schools.  To inform this effort, the Foundation asked PACE to gather evidence on the cost of linked learning programs.  This report by Ace Parsi, University of California, Berkeley, David N. Plank, Policy Analysis for California Education and David Stern, University of California, Berkeley presents the results.

How much does a good high school education cost?  This is a hard question to answer, because we do not know whether traditional high schools are using their resources in the best possible ways.  We know how much school districts spend on their high schools to achieve their current level of performance, but we do not know to what extent achieving better results could be accomplished by using current resources better or whether improved performance would require additional resources.  This makes judgments about whether reform strategies like Linked Learning cost more than, less than, or the same as traditional high school programs difficult, because we do not have a clear baseline against which to compare costs.

Costs of California Multiple Pathways Programs

October 15 Podcast – The Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership: Lessons for Policy and Practice

A partial podcast for our October 15th seminar “The Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership: Lessons for Policy and Practice” is now available. Due to technical difficulties, we lost half of the discussion and the recording ends, abruptly, after 18 minutes.

The presenters were Mike Hanson, Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District; Vincent Harris, Executive Officer of District Accountability and Improvement, Fresno Unified School District; Chris Steinhauser, Superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District; Robert Tagorda, Assistant to the Superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District; Jim Brown, Senior Advisor, Pivot Learning Partners; and Helen Duffy, Senior Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research. The speakers were introduced by David N. Plank, Executive Director of PACE.

As California faces growing numbers of districts identified for improvement with shrinking resources to support them, policymakers are eager to identify effective alternatives to the usual external assistance models, given their uneven results. In addition, the state and other districts are interested in learning more about the ways districts are leveraging their resources in this difficult state budget climate and the one-time influx of federal dollars. Since 2008, Fresno and Long Beach Unified School Districts have been engaged in a formal district partnership designed to help the districts achieve a common a set of goals. With the generous support of the Hewlett and Stuart Foundations, the American Institutes for Research, in collaboration with Pivot Learning Partners, has been documenting the districts’ work together. This panel featured the leaders of these two districts who discussed their Partnership and its implications for policy and practice. In addition, Brown and Duffy shared findings from their documentation of the Partnership.

For more information on the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership, please read the AIR’s Special Series on the Fresno Long Beach Learning Partnership: Perspectives of District Leaders.

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**DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, WE WERE ONLY ABLE TO CAPTURE THE FIRST 18 MINUTES OF THIS SEMINAR.

November 19 Seminar: Strategic School Funding for Results

Strategic School Funding for Results
Jay Chambers
, PhD, Senior Research Fellow and Managing Director, American Institutes for Research
Jim Brown, Senior Advisor, Pivot Learning Partners
Steve Jubb, Director of Innovation and District Redesign, Pivot Learning Partners
Since July 2009 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Pivot Learning Partners (Pivot) have successfully formed partnerships with the Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Twin Rivers Unified School Districts. The Strategic School Funding for Results (SSFR) project has these major goals: (a) to develop and implement more equitable and transparent strategies for allocating resources to schools within each district; (b) to link these strategies to systems designed to encourage innovation and efficiency; and (c) to strengthen accountability for student outcomes.

The AIR/Pivot team has made a great deal of progress in initiating the activities necessary to implement the basic policy elements of SSFR at the local level. The team has engaged district partners in substantive discussions about how to create an incentive structure that encourages equitable distribution of teaching talent, meaningful engagement of parents and teachers in support of student learning, and more effective and efficient use of public education dollars. In the current fiscal and policy environment, it is clear that California’s school finance system needs to change significantly. At this briefing, representatives from each district will join Jay Chambers (AIR), Steve Jubb and Jim Brown (Pivot Learning Partners), and the district leads from Pivot Learning in discussing the partnership’s progress and the challenges, and offer recommendations for state policy and other districts.

Value-Added Measures of Education Performance: Clearing Away the Smoke and Mirrors

A new PACE policy brief by Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explores the use of value-added measures and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of value-added assessment, both as a means to assess teachers and as a means to assess schools. Current federal policies do not account for the fact that student outcomes are produced by more than just schools. As a result, they fail to follow what Douglas Harris calls the “Cardinal Rule of Accountability”: hold people accountable for what they can control.

In this policy brief, Douglas Harris explores the problems with attainment measures when it comes to evaluating performance at the school level, and explores the best uses of value-added measures. These value-added measures, Harris writes, are useful for sorting out of school influences from school influences or from teacher performance, giving us overall better performance measures. Value-added measures provide summative assessments of teacher performance. They indicate whether teachers are doing well or not, on one important measure of student performance. But value added is often criticized for not providing information about how to improve. Thus, Harris explores the strengths and limitations of value-added measures and provides guidelines for best uses and practices.

Value Added Measures of Education Performance

October 15 Seminar: "The Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership: Lessons for Policy and Practice"

October 15, 2010
The Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership: Lessons for Policy and Practice
Mike Hanson
, Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District
Vincent Harris, Executive Officer  of District Accountability and Improvement, Fresno Unified School District
Chris Steinhauser, Superintendent, Long Beach Unified School DistrictRobert Tagorda, Assistant to the Superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District
Jim Brown, Senior Advisor, Pivot Learning Partners
Helen Duffy, Senior Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research.

As California faces growing numbers of districts identified for improvement with shrinking resources to support them, policymakers are eager to identify effective alternatives to the usual external assistance models, given their uneven results. In addition, the state and other districts are interested in learning more about the ways districts are leveraging their resources in this difficult state budget climate and the one-time influx of federal dollars.  Since 2008, Fresno and Long Beach Unified School Districts have been engaged in a formal district partnership designed to help the districts achieve a common a set of goals.  With the generous support of the Hewlett and Stuart Foundations, the American Institutes for Research, in collaboration with Pivot Learning Partners, has been documenting the districts’ work together.  This panel will feature the leaders of these two districts who will discuss their Partnership and its implications for policy and practice.  In addition, Brown and Duffy will share findings from their documentation of the Partnership.

21st Century Assessments: Implications for California

21st Century Assessments: Implications for California
A policy forum co-sponsored by SCOPE and PACE

The United States’ shrinking graduation rates and slipping ranking on international assessments have prompted the Obama administration to encourage states to develop different student assessments — ones that reliably measure the higher-order thinking that will keep our students competitive in the 21st Century global economy.

A panel of leading education researchers, administrators, educators, funders, and community partners convened for a daylong forum to discuss assessment policies and practices that support improved student achievement in California.

This forum took place in Sacramento, and was sponsored by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). Featured speakers included SCOPE Co-Director Linda Darling-Hammond and PACE Executive Director David N. Plank.


Welcome and Introduction

David Plank, Executive Director, Policy Analysis for California Education

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Keynote “Overview of Assessments and Standards”
Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education, Stanford University and Co-Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education

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To view a copy of the slides used for this presentation, click here.

Panel 1: “Experiences Beyond California: International and State Perspectives”

  • Practices in Canada and Internationally: Carol Campbell, Executive Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.  View slides.
  • Practices in Singapore: Lay Choo Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Examination and Assessment Board. View slides.
  • Practices in England: Jeffrey Goodwin, Independent Consultant, Assessment, Curriculum, Research. View slides.
  • The Costs of Assessments: Lawrence Picus, Professor, USC Rossier School of Education. View slides.

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Panel 2: “Assessments in California”

  • David Plank, Professor, Stanford University, and Executive Director, PACE (Chair)
  • Bob Lenz, Chief Education Officer and Co-founder, Envision Schools. View slides.
  • Monica Martinez, President, New Tech Network. View slides.
  • Edys Quellmalz, Director of Technology Enhanced Assessments & Learning Systems, WestEd. View slides.
  • Susan Schultz, Associate Director for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Stanford University. View slides.

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Panel 3: “Policy Strategies: Bringing Effective Assessment to the Classroom”

  • David Plank, Professor, Stanford University, and Executive Director, PACE (Chair).
  • Geno Flores, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education (effective July 1, 2010).
  • Gary Hoachlander, President, The California Center for College and Career (ConnectEd).
  • Maggie Mejia, Former Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District.
  • Gerry Shelton, Chief Consultant California State Assembly, Education Committee.

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Concluding Remarks.
Linda Darling-Hammond and David Plank

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