Monthly Archives: October 2010


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.