Monthly Archives: May 2011


Deregulating School Aid in California: How 10 Districts Responded to Fiscal Flexibility, 2009-2010

In a new report, “Deregulating School Aid in California: How 10 Districts Responded to Fiscal Flexibility, 2009-2010,” Bruce Fuller, Julie Marsh, Brian Stecher and Tom Timar detail how leaders in 10 California school districts are responding to the deregulation of $4.5 billion in education funding. Sacramento policymakers have freed local educators from the specific guidelines that previously regulated spending on 40 categorical-aid programs. These program funds became entirely flexible in 2009, and local school boards could decide how to allocate these resources.

This decentralization of fiscal authority is the latest episode in a four-decade-old debate in Sacramento over who is best qualified to allocate public dollars to improve student achievement. This study illuminates what happened to these 40 programs (referred to as Tier 3 resources subject to categorical flexibility) in 10 diverse districts, how budget decisions were made by district leaders, and what local factors explain the various ways in which districts responded to this flexibility. The study was conducted by researchers from the RAND Corporation; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Davis; and San Diego State University.

Diregulation of School Aid in California

May 16 Video and Podcast: The Road Ahead for State Assessments

A panel of education researchers and policy experts convened in Washington DC on May 16 to explore the findings of a new report that makes the case for bold new student testing models that are fairer and more valid than their predecessors. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, was released by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). Student assessment is a timely topic, since most states are currently in the process of adopting the new Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts and are considering how to gauge students’ progress toward those standards.

State education systems rely heavily on the use of large-scale assessments to evaluate and improve student performance. Given the stakes, ensuring accurate measurements is paramount. Flaws in current assessment systems, however, blur the true picture of achievement for many students. For example, there has been considerable debate about how best to measure the progress of students with special needs or limited English proficiency toward uniform academic standards, and whether they should be provided accommodations for taking the tests, or excluded altogether.

Click here to view the video of this discussion panel.

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To view a copy of slides used by Robert Linquanti,  click here.
To view a copy of slides used by Mark D. Reckase, click here.
To view a copy of slides used by Jody Clarke-Midura and Chris Dede, click here.

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The Road Ahead for State Assessments

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) have jointly produced a report that offers policy guidance for a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, aims to inform the work of the two U.S. Department of Education-funded consortia charged with developing a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards presents states across the nation with an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the educational opportunities they provide students. States that have adopted the Common Core State Standards are now in the early stages of revising curriculum frameworks, adopting new instructional materials, developing new systems of assessment, and providing professional development for teachers to prepare them to deliver instruction aligned to the new standards.

This process has the potential to fundamentally transform public education for the majority of U.S. students. It is therefore essential that policymakers and education leaders take full account of the issues and challenges that lie ahead as early as possible in the implementation process. This report includes three papers that address critical “next generation” issues in assessment policy that can help guide the choices made about system design: computer adaptive assessments, assessment of English learners and assessing science. These three papers describe some of the critical attributes of a fairer and more accurate assessment system. The common conclusion in all three papers is that assessment policy will have to take full advantage of new technologies to provide useful and timely information to students and teachers about the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning. The authors’ provide a vision of new assessments that goes beyond the horizon of current practice.

The Road Ahead for State Assessments

Two new PACE Publications

PACE announces two new publications:

The Road Ahead for State Assessments:

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) have jointly produced a report that offers policy guidance for a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, aims to inform the work of the two U.S. Department of Education-funded consortia charged with developing a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The adoption of the Common Core State Standards presents states across the nation with an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the educational opportunities they provide students. States that have adopted the Common Core State Standards are now in the early stages of revising curriculum frameworks, adopting new instructional materials, developing new systems of assessment, and providing professional development for teachers to prepare them to deliver instruction aligned to the new standards.

The Quality Teacher and Education Act: First Year Report:

In June 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed the Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA) with a 69.8% majority, authorizing the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to collect $198 per parcel of taxable property, indexed annually for 20 years. Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, and David Plank of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District, have documented the passage of this policy and are now engaged in a three-year evaluation (starting in 2009-10) of the implementation and effect of QTEA, focusing on the elements that directly affect the teacher workforce (teacher compensation, support, and accountability).

This first-year report documents the implementation of QTEA and how this affects the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, the overall improvement of the teacher workforce, and the strategic removal of less effective teachers. To study the effect of QTEA on teacher outcomes, the authors use a mixed-methods approach, combining analysis of the district’s administrative data with original data collection.

The Quality Teacher and Education Act: First Year Report

In June 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed the Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA) with a 69.8% majority, authorizing the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to collect $198 per parcel of taxable property, indexed annually for 20 years. Heather Hough, Susanna Loeb, and David Plank of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District, have documented the passage of this policy and are now engaged in a three-year evaluation (starting in 2009-10) of the implementation and effect of QTEA, focusing on the elements that directly affect the teacher workforce (teacher compensation, support, and accountability).

This first-year report documents the implementation of QTEA and how this affects the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, the overall improvement of the teacher workforce, and the strategic removal of less effective teachers. To study the effect of QTEA on teacher outcomes, the authors use a mixed-methods approach, combining analysis of the district’s administrative data with original data collection.

The Quality Teacher and Education Act: First Year Report

April 29 Podcast – 8th Grade Math Placement and Achievement: Implications for District & State Policy

In July of 2008 the State Board of Education passed a motion to make the Algebra I CST the sole 8th grade math test of record for federal accountability purposes, increasing the policy pressure for schools to place more students into that course in 8th grade. That decision was put on hold by the courts, leaving districts and schools without clear direction. With all good intentions, many more schools are placing all their students in Algebra I to ensure equal access, regardless of their prior math preparation. Yet other schools and districts take a more customized approach to placement. What’s the right thing to do? And how will the adoption of common core math standards change the state’s expectations around this issue?

To address these questions, Trish Williams and Matt Rosin from EdSource presented new findings from an analysis of longitudinal data on the 7th and 8th grade math and Algebra I CST scores of 70,000 California students. Jennifer O’Day from the California Collaborative on District Reform (CCDR) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) shared lessons and perspectives from CCDR districts on student access and success in algebra and higher level mathematics. The session then touched upon the state’s recent adoption of Common Core state standards, and what their implications are especially for 8th grade math. The session also featured Deputy State Superintendent Deb Sigman from the California Department of Education who explored implications for the state in light of the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards. The panel was introduced by David N. Plank, Executive Director of PACE.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

To view a copy of slides from this presentation, click here.
To view a copy of slides used by Deborah V.H. Sigman, click here.
To view a copy of slides used by Catherine Bitter and Jennifer O’Day, click here.

Download this audio file to your computer

May 16th Washington DC Event: The Road Ahead for New State Assessments

The Road Ahead for New State Assessments

Please join us for the release of an important policy brief examining the development of “next generation” education assessments. As schools across the country strive to implement Common Core State Standards, the creation of aligned, innovative assessments is essential to these efforts to improve student success.

The report by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education makes a compelling case for bold, innovative student testing models and identifies the challenges ahead in developing them. This brief gives special attention to the critical issues of computer adaptive technology, the needs of English language learners and the potential for new assessments to better assess knowledge in science.

Don’t miss this important discussion on the need for new assessments that drive school improvement and propel, rather than hinder, deeper learning. This new policy brief will provide valuable insights for decision makers about this unprecedented opportunity to design innovative tools that ensure genuine college and career readiness for our students.

The speakers include:

  • Jody Clarke-Midura, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Robert Linquanti, WestED
  • Jill Norton, Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy
  • David N. Plank, Policy Analysis for California Education
  • Morgan Polikoff, Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California
  • Mark Reckase, Michigan State University
  • Bill Tucker, Education Sector
  • Joe Willhoft, SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium

Please RSVP to Ali Diallo at ali@thehatchergroup.com or 301-656-0348