Monthly Archives: July 2011


How Diverse Schools Affect Student Mobility: Charter, Magnet, and Newly Built Campuses in Los Angeles

In a new PACE Working Paper, Luke Dauter and Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley, explore “How Diverse Schools Affect Student Mobility: Charter, Magnet, and Newly Built Campuses in Los Angeles.” Achievement often suffers when families or students change schools. Yet pupil mobility is now encouraged in urban districts like Los Angeles, as mixed-markets of charter, magnet, and pilot schools sprout. Over 60 new facilities were opened as well during the 2002-2008 period, thanks to $27 billion in school construction mounted by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This paper reports on the likelihood that students exit their school mid-stream, before completing a grade cycle or graduating. The authors find that African American and White students were more likely to exit their school, compared with Latino, non-English speaking, and foreign-born students, yet students attending overcrowded schools – often situated in low-income Latino neighborhoods – exited at higher rates. Charter and magnet school students left their schools at much lower rates, compared with peers in regular schools, after taking into account family background. As LAUSD opened new high schools, pupil mobility slowed markedly. The authors also found that Latino students were more likely than Black or White peers to move to a newly built school, rather than entering a charter or magnet school, likely due to the district’s commitment to relieve overcrowding in L.A.’s most densely populated communities.

How Diverse Schools Affect Student Mobility: Charter, Magnet, and Newly Built Campuses in Los Angeles

Teacher Stability and Turnover in Los Angeles: The Influence of Teacher and School Characteristics

In a new PACE Working Paper, Xiaoxia A. Newton, Rosario Rivero, Bruce Fuller, and Luke Dauter, University of California, Berkeley, investigate the effects of teacher characteristics and school context on the timing of teachers’ decisions to exit schools where they teach. The two-level discrete-time survival analysis framework allows for simultaneous examinations of who exits, when, and under what conditions. Their results for a large sample of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, observed from 2002-03 to 2008-09, affirm the importance of school context, such as type of school (e.g., charter) and school organizational characteristics (e.g., teacher-students racial match) above and beyond individual teacher characteristics and qualifications. In addition, differences in the relationship between some factors and teacher turnover are observed between elementary and secondary teachers.

Teacher Stability and Turnover in Los Angeles: The Influence of Teacher and School Characteristics

Basic Skills Instruction in Community Colleges: the Dominance of Remedial Pedagogy

In the second of eleven PACE Working Papers, W. Norton Grubb et al, continue their analysis of basic skills education in California Community Colleges.

A previous working paper argued, that, to understand basic skills education, it is necessary to observe classrooms to see what the “instructional triangle” involving the instructor, students, and content is like. This working paper presents the results of observing classes in 13 community colleges. It starts with a conceptualization of instruction, distinguishing behaviorist teaching, constructivist teaching, and hybrid teaching that combines the two (as well as several other dimensions of quality), and provides various reasons why hybrid or constructivist teaching is likely to be more effective than behaviorist teaching.

One notable feature of remedial classrooms is the consistent encouragement and support of students. Sometimes this takes the form of support classes or Student Success courses, but often it is simply part of common instructional practice.

However, the majority of basic skills classes follow what we call remedial pedagogy — drill and practice on sub-skills, usually devoid of any references to how these skills are used in subsequent courses or in adult roles. Remedial pedagogy takes different forms in math, reading, writing, and ESL (where it is least common). Unfortunately, remedial pedagogy violates many of the precepts of effective instruction presented in the first section of this paper, so there are reasons to think that this approach is partly responsible for the lack of success in developmental education.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to remedial pedagogy, some of which are outlined in this paper and many of which are further developed in Working Paper 3.

Basic Skills Instruction in Community Colleges: The Dominance of Remedial Pedagogy

Understanding the “Crisis” in Basic Skills: Framing the Issues in Community Colleges

In the first of eleven PACE Working Papers, W. Norton Grubb et al, frame the issues surrounding basic skills instruction in California Community Colleges.

While increases in remedial education (or basic skills instruction or developmental education) have taken place at several levels of the education and training system, there are reasons for thinking that the issue is particularly acute in community colleges. This introductory working paper divides the problem into two. The first is the high proportion — perhaps 60 percent for the country, and 80 percent in California — of students entering colleges who assess into developmental courses. This can be explained by the pattern of dynamic inequality in American education, where inequalities among students increase as they move through the system.

The second problem arises from the evidence that students entering a remedial trajectory are unlikely to move into college-level work, so remediation has become a serious barrier to success for many students. Unfortunately, like other second-chance efforts, basic skills instructions often works under difficult conditions, and there are many hypotheses about why success rates in basic skill are not higher — most of which will be examined in this series of papers.

Since developmental education is first and foremost an instructional issue, this series of papers rests on a conceptual foundation focusing on the triangle of instruction, considering the instructor, students, and content within a set of institutional influences. The underlying research for these papers involves classroom observation, and interviews with instructors and administrators, to understand both classroom settings and the institutional setting. This framing paper then introduces the subjects for remaining papers in the series.

Understanding the “Crisis” in Basic Skills: Framing the Issues in Community Colleges