Category Archives: podcast


October 7th Podcast: The Case for Increasing the Priority of Community College Career Technical Education Programs

Nancy Shulock, Executive Director; Colleen Moore, Researcher; Jeremy Offenstein, Researcher; Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy (IHELP), Sacramento State.

The career technical education (CTE) mission of the California Community Colleges is a vital part of the agenda to increase college completion and shore up economic competitiveness; yet this area of college academic programming gets too little emphasis and support. There is growing evidence of high market value of certificate and associate degree programs in select areas. There is also evidence that career-oriented programs can increase student motivation and improve outcomes, helping to meet workforce, equity, and productivity goals for California postsecondary education. Yet the attention given to CTE has not matched that given to the junior college transfer mission or to developmental education.

This session reviewed the evidence produced to date in a multi-year research agenda on community college CTE. IHELP researchers documented the high student interest in CTE along with the very low numbers of certificates and associate degrees awarded. They summarized the results of a system-wide inventory of CTE programs, by college, that suggests the need for far more attention to developing coherent program structures that deliver value to students and employers. They also discussed some of the challenges facing the colleges presented by the organizational structure around the CTE and workforce development mission and drew some contrasts with other states that have assigned a higher priority to the CTE mission.

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June 15 Podcast – The CSU Crisis and California’s Future

At this event, Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield, Co-Directors, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA and Kimberly King, Assistant Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, presented research findings on a series of reports designed to analyze the impact of fiscal cutbacks on opportunity for higher education in the California State University system (see article on the research series in Diverse Issues in Higher Education). CSUs educate a greater number of Latino and African American students, enroll a much larger undergraduate student body than the University of California system overall, and many CSU students are first-generation college students struggling to get an education in difficult times. Representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California Senate, and Postsecondary Education Commission open the discussion pertaining to the  impact upon students and the future of the State; improving access by removing barriers to CSU education; meeting the financial needs of aid-eligible students; and understanding the impact to CSU faculty and staff.

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May 6th Podcast – Organizational Management for Instructional Improvement

Recognition of the importance of school leadership has led to increased attention to recruiting and preparing school leaders. Yet, principal preparation and development programs tend to emphasize the role of principals as instructional leaders. In this seminar, Professor Susanna Loeb, Executive Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis program at Stanford University, discussed the findings of her leadership studies that highlight the importance of organizational leadership and the development of organizational structures for improved instruction. Strong organizational managers, the studies have found, are effective in hiring and supporting staff, allocating budgets and resources, and maintaining positive working/learning environments. Schools that have demonstrated academic improvement are more likely to have effective organizational managers.

Strong instructional leadership is essential for a school to be successful. However, one must be careful about how instructional leadership is defined. Defined narrowly with a focus on curriculum and classroom instruction only, instructional leadership is unlikely to result in increased student learning or other school outcomes of interest. The studies discussed in this seminar have found that growth in school outcomes is more likely to be related to organizational management for instructional improvement. School leaders are more likely to influence teachers’ classroom practices, and consequently student learning, by supporting teachers and fostering effective teaching and learning environments, rather than focusing narrowly on classroom instruction alone.

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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 Jody Clarke-Midura and Chris Dede, click here.

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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.

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To view a copy of slides used by Catherine Bitter and Jennifer O’Day, click here.

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March 18th Podcast – English Language Learners and School Improvement Supports: What we can Learn from District Practices and Implications for Policy.

Despite increasing awareness on the part of educators about the importance of addressing the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs), there has been almost no systematic attention to supporting school and district leaders. Instructional strategies for addressing the language and content needs of ELLs has been working itself steadily into the mainstream – through teacher preparation standards, teacher induction program standards, and various prominent professional development programs. However, the components of effectively educating ELLs cannot exist in a systemic vacuum, most particularly without the support of the leadership structure of districts. In this seminar, Professor Kenji Hakuta, School of Education, Stanford University, and Rich Smith, Deputy Superintendent at Sanger Unified
discussed their work on how districts and school leaders can play an active role in structuring and supporting appropriate programs for ELLs, and the policies necessary to improve the educational achievement of ELLs.

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February 18th Podcast – Teacher Employment and Collective Bargaining Laws in California: Structuring School District Discretion over Teacher Employment

A great deal of recent attention has been focused on policies that affect the employment relationship between school districts and teachers. Although there is broad agreement that teacher quality is related to student achievement, there is far less agreement about the degree to which school districts and administrators are constrained in making policies that affect the employment and working conditions of teachers. In this seminar, William S. Koski, Professor of Law and Director of the Youth and Education Law Project at Stanford University, discusses the extent to which California law and the collective bargaining agreements governed by state law, constrains or facilitates district-level discretion over teacher employment policies and practices. The speaker is introduced by David N. Plank, Executive Director of PACE.

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January 21st Podcast – Experiments in Deregulating School Finance

The podcast for our January 21st seminar, “Experiments in Deregulating School Finance”  is now available.  The presenters were Bruce Fuller, Professor of Education and Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Jennifer Imazeki, Professor of Economics, San Diego State University; Brian Stecher, Acting Director of Education Research, RAND Corporation; and Thomas Timar, Professor of Education and Director of  the Center for Applied Policy in Education, University of California, Davis.  The speakers were introduced by David N. Plank, Executive Director of PACE.

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 2009-2010 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 discussed 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 choices.

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