SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading education policy researchers on Monday released Getting Down to Facts II (GDTF II), a major PreK-12 education report that reveals California is generally on the right track due to recent reforms but that major system-wide funding challenges and significant gaps in student achievement remain.
[National Report Release call scheduled for Monday, September 17th at 9:30 a.m. PDT. Researchers will discuss findings and conduct Q&A. Call/Webinar details: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/stanford-university-pace-to-release-getting-down-to-facts-ii-report-on-california-prek-12-education-300710873.html?tc=eml_cleartime]
The findings contained in the report comprise 36 studies and 19 research briefs on the effects of reforms adopted over the past decade in California's PreK-12 education system. Led by Stanford University and disseminated by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), the GDTF II report serves as a sequel to the 2007 Getting Down to Facts report which compelled sweeping changes to the state's K-12 system.
"We found that over the last decade California made positive strides in public education by advancing K-12 academic standards and adopting a new funding model, but schools face a great need for policies that address system weaknesses and build capacity," said Dr. Susanna Loeb, principal investigator of GDTF in 2007 and GDTF II 2018. "Educators and other practitioners must have the skills, information and materials they need so California's 6.2 million students can succeed."
The four areas of study in GDTF II include student success, governance, funding and personnel. More than 100 researchers from across the nation examined a variety of reforms including the state's revamped academic standards, transformed models for education funding and accountability, and localized flexibility in finance and overall student success. Researchers were tasked to identify what is working well in the system and where adjustments and investments are still needed in order to best serve California students and close achievement gaps.
Loeb, formerly with Stanford University and now Director of the Annenberg Institute and professor of international and public affairs and education at Brown University, said the findings from GDTF II are intended to provide data and analysis to inform policy experts and lawmakers as they determine how to continue to improve the nation's largest K-12 public education system for 6.2 million children.
Some of the reports' key findings include:
- California still lags the nation in achievement in reading and math, even when accounting for income and racial/ethnic differences, though the state's students have been performing better over time.
- Initial research provides evidence that Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)-induced increases in school spending led to increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among low-income and minority students.
- Aid for instructional improvement and alignment of aid with standards has improved, but educators have difficulty assessing quality and selecting the best available options. The California Department of Education does not currently have the capacity to address this need.
- The state's education data system is now richer, with information on student learning over time and mobility across districts; however, access to data is severely limited and, as a result, not used to support school improvement.
- Funding for schools in California improved but remains inadequate given the goals of state policies.
- Funding reforms left critical issues unresolved: pensions, special education, and facilities each have the potential to destabilize the system or worsen inequities if not addressed.
- The shortage of resources combined with high salaries has resulted in California having far fewer adults in schools than most other states.
- California has greater disparities among student groups than other states: in more affluent California districts, student achievement levels are similar to the average performance in affluent communities nationally, but students in non-affluent districts score, on average, nearly a full grade level behind their national counterparts.
- Part of the inequalities found stem from unequal education in K-12 schools, where schools serving less advantaged students tend to have more difficulty filling teaching positions and employ fewer experienced and appropriately credentialed teachers and principals. Moreover, many English learners in California do not have equitable access to grade-level core content instruction.
- Much of the achievement gaps are evident when students enter kindergarten, pointing to the importance of early childhood education. Yet, California has a complex, unequal and poorly funded early education system.
PACE Executive Director Heather Hough stressed the importance of GDTF II to the future of California education policy development. "The election this fall will dictate the governance and leadership of this state, and this report we release today contains the facts policy leaders need to determine what is next for California schools and students.
"California educates 6.2 million students, which means lot is at stake now and in the years to come as we educate new generations of students, " Hough added. "Given the magnitude and pace of changes to education policies and the number of topics deserving deeper analysis, we hope these types of studies are a regular feature of an improving school system."
The leading education researchers involved in Getting Down to Facts II include, among others, include Dr. Eric Brunner from the University of Connecticut, Dr. Jennifer Imazeki of San Diego State University, Dr. Rucker Johnson of UC Berkeley, and Dr. Cory Kodel of the University of Missouri on finance; Dr. Linda Darling Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute and Dr. Katharine Strunk from Michigan State University on workforce; Dr. Susan Moffitt from Brown University on implementation of current reforms; Dr. Christopher Edley Jr. of the Opportunity Institute and UC Berkeley and Dr. Sean Reardon of Stanford University on equity; Dr. Deborah Stipek of Stanford University on early childhood education; Dr. Lucrecia Santibanez of Claremont and Dr. Ilana Umansky of the University of Oregon on English learners; Dr. Margaret Raymond of Stanford and Dr. Martin West of Harvard on charter schools; Dr. Meredith Phillips of UCLS, Dr. Sarah Reber of UCLA, and Jesse Rothstein, of UC Berkeley on information systems.
A full report overview as well as all 36 reports contained in GDTF II are available on the GDTF II research project website. Photos are available for download and use by news media. Newsletters and resources can be found there as well.
Getting Down to Facts II was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, Haas, Jr. Fund, Heising Simons Foundation, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation and Stuart Foundation.
SOURCE Stanford University