Monthly Archives: May 2010


April 23rd Podcast – Value-Added Measures of Education Performance: Clearing Away the Smoke and Mirrors

The podcast for our April 23rd seminar “Value-Added Measures of Education Performance: Clearing Away the Smoke and Mirrors” is now available online. The speaker was Douglas N. Harris, Associate Professor of Education Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison.

President Obama’s administration has made a priority of compensating teachers, at least in part, for their performance. One of the approaches to the assessment of teachers is using value-added measures. In this seminar, Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin at Madison discusses the strengths and weaknesses of value-added assessment, both as a means to assess teachers and as a means to assess schools. Harris identifies the strengths and weaknesses of value-added measures, and discusses the errors that are often made in using and interpreting such measures. As a part of a system including other performance measures, however, Harris concludes that value-added assessments can be used to support progress in California schools and classrooms. The speaker was introduced by PACE Executive Director David N. Plank.

Listen to the audio of this seminar:

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Do Financial Incentives Draw Promising Teachers to Low-Performing Schools? Assessing the Impact of the California Governor’s Teaching Fellowship

In a new PACE policy brief, Jennifer Steele, Richard J. Murnane and John B. Willett assess the impact of California’s Governor’s Teaching Fellowship. During a two-year period from 2000-2002, California awarded a $20,000 Governor’s Teaching Fellowship (GTF) to 1,169 people enrolled in traditional, post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs who agreed to teach in low-performing public schools for four years after earning their licenses. Schools designated as low-performing were those that ranked in the bottom half of the state’s Academic Performance Index (API). GTF regulations specified that recipients who did not fulfill their four-year teaching commitments would repay $5,000 for each year of service not completed. The GTF was a policy response to longstanding evidence from within and outside California that low income students and students of color are disproportionately taught by teachers with weak academic backgrounds and limited preparation.

The GTF’s objective was to promote a more even distribution of teacher qualifications by helping low-performing schools recruit, and keep, promising new teachers with strong academic backgrounds. Assessing the GTF’s impact is important for both state and national reasons. From a state perspective, understanding whether the GTF achieved its objectives can inform policy decisions to ensure that California students with the greatest instructional needs have access to skilled teachers. From a national perspective, estimates of the GTF’s impact can contribute to a limited body of evidence about the effectiveness of this type of incentive. We see two related lessons from our evaluation. The first is that financial incentives can be an important policy tool in attracting skilled professionals to work with underserved populations. The second is the importance of exploring whether an alternative policy design might have been equally or more cost-effective.

Leaders for California's Schools

California’s Impending College Graduate Crisis and What Needs To Be Done About It

In 2005-06 almost half of the pupils in California’s public schools were Latinos, but Latinos only received about 15 percent of the BA degrees awarded by public and private colleges in the state. Texas has a comparable Latino population, but does significantly better than California in getting Latino students through college. The implication of this disparity is that California stands to produce too few graduates to fuel its cutting-edge high tech and high-end service economy.

In this policy brief, Martin Carnoy explores the reasons why California’s education system falls short in ensuring post-secondary access and success for Latino students, and identifies six steps that the state could take to increase the number of four-year college graduates.

Leaders for California's Schools

May 6 Podcast — You Can’t Get There from Here: Postsecondary Capacity, the Master Plan, and the Role of For-profit and Private Institution

The podcast of our May 6 seminar “You Can’t Get There from Here: Postsecondary Capacity, the Master Plan, and the Role of For-profit and Private Institution” is now available online. The speaker was William G. Tierney, Ph.D., Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and Director, Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.

If California participates in President Obama’s goal of increasing participation in postsecondary education the state needs to add roughly 100,000 students a year for the next ten years. Public institutions do not have the ability to meet these needs under current fiscal and structural constraints. What might be the role of private and for-profit colleges and universities in meeting the needs of the state? Criticism of for-profit higher education, in particular, has made the state hesitant to see them as partners. Debt burden for students, and retention and graduation rates at for-profit institutions have made individuals skeptical about the fastest growing sector in higher education. Tierney first considers the criticism of this sector and then outlines the issues the state might consider to ensure students make informed choices, and the three sectors – public, private and for-profit – work together to meet the goal of increased access. The speaker was introduced by PACE Executive Director David N. Plank.

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