Reports in Brief

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Black foster youth in L.A. more likely to be suspended than qualify for CSU, study finds

Black foster youth in Los Angeles County face steep obstacles in school that hinder their chance of success in college and beyond, according to a study by the Black Male Institute at UCLA.

About 3,700 Black students in foster care are enrolled in K-12 schools in Los Angeles County, representing one-third of all Black foster youth statewide. According to the study, they’re far more likely than their peers to be chronically absent from school, suspended or expelled, placed in special education, and drop out of school. None enrolled in the University of California in 2018-19, the year for which researchers collected data, and only 6% enrolled in a California State University campus.

“This data shines an important light on their experiences and makes clear that Black foster youth in public schools in Los Angeles County are being disenfranchised in their educational experiences,” said Brianna Harvey, an author of the report and a Ph.D. student at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Indigenous students face inequities in discipline and health in Humboldt County, report finds

Indigenous students are more likely to face harsh discipline and lower academic outcomes than their non-indigenous peers in Humboldt County, according to a recent report from the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In particular, Native American students are nearly five times more likely to be suspended than all California students, the study shows, and experience chronic absenteeism at nearly double the rate of their non-Native peers.

The vast majority of all students in Humboldt County also attend schools that lack professional health staff, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues across the country. The report found that nearly 90% of all districts in Humboldt County do not have a school nurse, and there were no full-time social workers in any district and no psychologists in the majority of districts.

“Indigenous parents and students in Humboldt County live the reality of this report’s findings daily,” said Rain Marshall, indigenous education advocate at the Northern California Indian Development Council. “It’s time for school districts to come together with local tribes, Indigenous-led organizations, parents, and community leaders across Humboldt County to address the crisis of under-education, de facto exclusion, and the failure to invest in the tools and resources needed for indigenous students to achieve their true potential.”

California Community College study finds highest number of women leaders in state history

More women are in leadership positions within the California Community Colleges for the first time in history, according to a study from the Community College League of California. The CEO Tenure & Retention study, released Tuesday, found 59 out of 139 chancellor or president positions across the 116 campuses were held by women, as of April 2020. The colleges are led by presidents and there are chancellors who oversee districts. The system is divided into districts which can include one to many colleges.

The study also found that four of the five longest-serving community college leaders are women and 16.3% of college chief executives identified as Latino.

Distance learning amplifies need for student privacy and security online, study shows

Teachers and parents aren’t receiving enough information and support around how to protect their child’s data privacy during online learning, according to a report from the Center for Democracy and Technology. The report, which surveyed 1,009 U.S. public school teachers, found nearly half did not have any training in how to protect students’ data privacy, and only 4 in 10 parents reported that schools openly discussed data protection policies and practices.

The report offers four suggestions for how schools can better prepare for online learning including minimizing data collection and activity tracking, and “ensure that any data sharing complies with state laws and cannot be misused to limit opportunities for students or otherwise harm them,” the paper reads.

Distance learning a struggle for students with special needs in Los Angeles

Many students with disabilities in Los Angeles Unified are regressing during distance learning, according to a new survey.

The advocacy organization Speak UP surveyed more than 300 parents with special education students enrolled across the district, which is the largest district in the state. The students attend every school model in the district, including traditional district schools, affiliated charter schools, independent charter schools and magnet schools.

According to the survey, 76% of parents said their children cannot learn effectively during distance learning and 74% of parents said their children are regressing or exhibiting a loss of skills.

Additionally, more than 60% of parents said they don’t feel they have adequate support from their schools to implement sufficient at-home learning.

“I’m disappointed that the needle hasn’t moved much since the spring, and we continue to see enormous learning loss that threatens to leave our most vulnerable students behind,” Speak UP CEO Katie Braude said in a statement. .

In September, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health gave permission to schools to reopen campuses for small groups of students with disabilities and English learners, but L.A. Unified has yet to reopen campuses for those students. About half of parents surveyed said they would be willing to send their children back for small group instruction.

California’s alternative schools need more nuanced accountability measures

The state’s accountability dashboard for public K-12 public schools needs more detailed, specialized yardsticks to measure success at alternative schools, according to a report by the California Advisory Task Force on Alternative Schools.

California’s 1,030 alternative and continuation schools primarily serve students who’ve been expelled or are at risk of not graduating from traditional high schools. Because those students often lag significantly behind their peers academically, standardized test scores are not an accurate way to measure alternative schools’ success, the report concluded.

Better options include: measuring students’ academic progress over shorter periods of time, beginning when they enroll in the school; lowering the minimum size of student subgroups from 30 to 15, because alternative schools typically have smaller enrollments; and tracking graduation rates only among 12th-graders, rather than the four-year cohort, because very few students at alternative schools spend four years there.

The report also recommends that the state include college and career readiness — such an internship programs and job training — when evaluating alternative schools.

“This will help make the accountability system for alternative schools more visible, and create metrics that will allow us to distinguish between schools that are struggling and schools that are hitting it out of the park,” said Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, deputy director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities at Stanford University, which compiled the report in conjunction with the California Department of Education.

Black students miss more instructional time due to suspensions

California has made progress in school discipline reform, but some school districts are still suspending disproportionate numbers of Black students — and costing them valuable instructional time in the classroom, according to a report released Oct. 12 by researchers at UCLA.

The report, by the Civil Rights Project, looked at in-school suspension data from every district in the U.S. for the 2015-16 school year, the most recent data available through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Breaking down the data by race, gender and disability, researchers found that Black high school students nationwide lost nearly five times the number of instructional days that white students did due to out-of-school suspensions.

“We wanted to look at suspensions from an educational perspective,” said Dan Losen, co-author of the report and director of UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies. “What we learned is that suspension is a non-intervention. Nothing will happen except a loss of instructional time.”

California fared better than most other states in the UCLA report. In California, Black students lost 57 days of instruction per every 100 students in 2015-16. Missouri had the highest rate, with Black students losing 198 days of instruction.

Families in Los Angeles face hunger, income loss, unreliable internet access

Many families of children in Los Angeles public schools have experienced hunger, loss of income and other challenges during the pandemic, while also lacking reliable access to the internet during distance learning, according to a new survey.

The survey of 1,100 families with school-aged children enrolled in L.A. Unified Schools was a collaboration between the University of Southern California and the Partnership for LA Schools. The families surveyed live in three Los Angeles neighborhoods: Boyle Heights, South Los Angeles and Watts. The Partnership for LA Schools is a non-profit organization that manages 19 L.A. Unified district schools in those neighborhoods.

More than three-quarters of families surveyed said they have dealt with a loss of income since the pandemic started, and 72% said they have experienced food insecurity in that time. Additionally, 25% of families said they do not have broadband internet access at home — 17% have no internet access at all and 8% can only access the internet on mobile devices.

“These findings should challenge all of us to spend more time listening to our families and grappling with how we can honor their voices and experiences in the work we do together in service of students,” Joan Sullivan, CEO of the Partnership for LA Schools, said in a statement.

Bilingual children in California more often lost child care than others

Children who speak a language other than English at home were more likely to have lost their child care, due to the coronavirus, than other children, according to a new survey by the nonprofit organization Early Edge California and the American Institutes for Research.

More than a third of early learning programs in California were closed for in-person care as of June or July of this year, and those that were open were operating with reduced enrollment. During this time, 78% of children overall lost care, while 89% of children who speak a language other than English at home lost care.

The survey found that programs that closed face significant barriers to reopening, and will require significant support, including funding to support operating expenses to compensate for programs’ reduced enrollment, access to and funding for health and safety supplies, outreach to families that speak languages other than English and support for priority enrollment for those children, and clear guidance on the implementation of new requirements.

English learners left out of most school districts’ distance learning plans

Most California school districts did not include best practices for English learners in their distance learning reports last spring, according to an analysis of 79 school districts’ COVID-19 Operations Written Reports, conducted by the nonprofit organization Californians Together.

The organization reviewed how well districts included English Language Development, live interactive instruction, efforts to bridge the digital divide, family collaboration, social-emotional support, and early education for children who speak a language other than English at home.

In fact, in the districts with the largest number and/or largest percentage of English learners, nearly 4 in 10,  provided little to no information about what they did to ensure that these students received English Language Development instruction, as required by law. Even when districts did report having offered English Language Development, it was unclear what was offered or how many students attended. More than half of the reports revealed little to no evidence that schools regularly delivered live instruction to their students, which is important for English learners. Only 12 out of 79 districts guaranteed daily live interaction in the spring.

The reports’ authors urge districts to focus on English learners’ needs this fall. “These students have historically faced systemic biases and opportunity gaps throughout the state’s public education system. If local education leaders do not prioritize EL students’ needs now, amidst a historically unprecedented crisis, they are ensuring that these opportunity gaps will further widen,” reads the report.

 

Students from immigrant families need additional support during pandemic

A new brief looks at how schools can best serve students from immigrant families during the coronavirus pandemic. Immigrant communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in terms of loss of employment, representation among frontline and essential workers, and rates of illness, and they tend to have lower access to resources at home that can support their learning.

The researchers suggest schools should use culturally relevant communications with students and families in multiple languages and formats, provide extracurricular support to complete at-home learning, provide assignments that don’t require as much computer use or parent involvement. They also recommend schools provide information and guidance for families about immigrants’ legal and educational rights and available services, and address concerns around privacy and immigration status that may arise because of distance learning.

After-school programs can help students during pandemic

Community-based organizations that run after-school and summer programs in schools can offer crucial support to help avoid learning loss and meet safety requirements during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the Partnership for Children and Youth. The report says these programs can offer important social-emotional support to students from trusted adults with experience working with students. In addition, the programs can provide additional learning time and support to students, especially low-income and English learner students who have been most negatively affected by the pandemic. When schools reopen, the staff from after-school programs may also be able to help schools meet new guidelines for having smaller group sizes, according to the report.

Small group interactions key for quality distance learning

Live online class time is most effective when it is built around small-group peer interactions and direct teacher-to-student feedback, according to a new research brief. The researchers also found that students need reserved time to connect socially for increased engagement, and teachers will need additional planning time and training to redesign instruction, for high-quality distance and blended learning. Strategies to avoid, according to the researchers, include asking students to watch multiple hours of video instruction every day, or punishing students who are not meeting expectations for attendance or engagement.

California community college leaders share racism they experience on campuses

A survey of 41 California community college presidents found only six had not experienced racism or bias directed to them and 17 reported experiencing direct acts of racism, according to a report from the Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the University of California, Davis, School of Education. Most of the presidents surveyed described barriers to rooting out racism and bias within the system.

Amid coronavirus pandemic, community college leaders face uncertain future

The shift to distance learning has proved challenging for some community college leaders who worry about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on low-income, first-generation, Black and Latino students according to a report from the Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the University of California, Davis, School of Education. However, the leaders believe the pandemic could provide an opportunity to re-train workers and rebuild California’s economy.

U.S. colleges trying to keep international students but worries persist

Based on a survey of U.S. colleges and universities, the report by the leading international education exchange organization outlines challenges to keeping full enrollment of international students during the pandemic. Even if students accept enrollment in fall 2020, the question remains whether they will be able to come to the United States by the start of the academic semester or face travel restrictions and visa problems. Institutions are offering alternative options for international students to take classes online or to defer enrollment until spring. Meanwhile, programs that send American students abroad are widely canceled for fall 2020 but colleges plan to revive them fully in the near future.

California schools are among the nation’s most underfunded

California spends significantly less per student than most other states, with Black and Latino students disproportionately affected, according to a report released July 22 by the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. The study found that California spends about $6,000 less per pupil than the national average. It also found that four of the country’s 10 districts with the largest funding gaps per pupil are in California and are majority Latinx: Fresno ($13,224 gap), Compton ($13,196), San Bernardino ($13,023), and Santa Ana ($12,937).

Crime in schools is mostly steady, but shootings are up

The number of overall crimes in K-12 schools did not increase significantly last year, but the number of school shootings hit their highest recorded level, according to a federal report released July 15. The overview of crime in K-12 schools and colleges showed that elementary and high schools saw 99 shootings in 2018-19, up from 78 the previous year. Those shootings resulted in 101 casualties, including 30 deaths. Overall crime, including theft and incidents of violence, was slightly higher than 2017-18 but down significantly since the 1990s. In 2018-19, schools reported 33 victimizations per 1,000 students ages 12-18, a decline of more than 80% since 1992.

 

Low-income mothers not using San Francisco’s paid parental leave

A new study finds that the San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, the first in the U.S. to provide parental leave with full pay, is not being used by low-income mothers. Fewer than 2 percent of lower-income mothers had accurate information about the policy. In addition, the policy excludes small employers. The study found that the law increased fathers’ use of parental leave in San Francisco by 13 percent, but there was little change in leave among mothers.

California has second-highest population of students disconnected from internet at home

California ranks second in the nation behind Texas for having the highest population of students and teachers lacking adequate internet connection and devices at home, according to a recent report by Boston Consulting Group and Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that researches and advocates for safe technology use for kids. Nearly a quarter of California’s K-12 students lack connection to the internet, 17% lack laptops or other devices at home, and 8% of teachers in California are not able to connect to the internet from home.

“States like California and others are working hard to address this problem, but our new data and analysis — which reveals a distance learning digital divide that is even worse in California then was previously reported — further highlights the urgency for policymakers, educators, and private companies to do more to address this basic educational equity issue that affects kids, not just in this state, but in every state,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense.

The Covid-19 slide: What summer learning loss can tell us about the potential impact of school closures on student academic achievement

As millions of students shelter in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, seasonal learning patterns, such as how much students retain over summer, can provide one idea of how learning may be impacted during the current health crisis, according to a recent study from NWEA, a national nonprofit that conducts research and creates adaptive preK-12 assessments.

Researchers estimate that students will return in fall 2020 with about 70% of the learning gains in reading compared with a regular school year. In math, researchers suggest that students will return with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, “nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions,” the study reads.

Child care programs losing income, laying off workers in California

Early education programs need financial support, cleaning supplies, and health resources to avoid collapse, according to a survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, based at UC Berkeley. More than 2,000 licensed child care centers and family child care homes responded to the survey. More than half of the programs have lost income due to low attendance or families not paying. Over three-quarters have laid off workers or eliminated benefits. Close to two-thirds of the programs that are still open reported they would not survive a closure of one month or longer, and about 1 in 7 of those already closed said they could not survive closure beyond the end of May. “The answer to this financial devastation is not rushing to reopen child care, it’s providing the financial and health resources that enable programs to be closed and reopen when it is safe to do so,” reads the brief.

 

Mixed review of governor’s higher education proposals

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office produced its annual review of the governor’s spending plans for higher education in California. A wide range of topics are covered, including community colleges, public universities, technical education, financial aid and even support for animal shelter reforms headed by UC Davis. The analysis supports some of the plans but questions the vagueness of others and calls for more details. For example, the report notes that the proposed state revenue increases of $199 million for the California State University (CSU) and $169 million for the University of California (UC) does not have “clear, specific state spending priorities.”  This budgetary approach “is fraught with problems—leaving the Legislature not knowing how CSU and UC will spend the proposed augmentations (including how many students they will serve), whether the universities’ budget priorities will be aligned with legislative interests, or whether the proposed augmentations are too little or too much to meet state objectives,” the Legislative Analyst study says.

K-12 teachers face new expectations, more demands

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds that additional teacher preparation and training, and a more diverse teacher workforce would help educators meet increased demands and expectations from parents, students, employers and policymakers. Over the last 20 years the profession of teaching has changed. Teachers now must know more about the content they teach, create supportive environments for students from more diverse backgrounds and learning needs, teach to new curriculum and spend more time communicating with families while working with fewer resources.

Students who are parents need accurate college cost estimates

The study says the online calculators used to estimate college costs are far from accurate for students who are parents. In many cases, these federally-required calculators underestimate true costs for those students by several thousands of dollars a year per child, the report says. To adequately plan for college, student parents need accurate estimates of their total cost, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation, as well as the additional expenses related to parenting. In California, where the cost of living is high, such omissions may prevent student parents from accurately assessing the true cost of attendance, the study says. The report suggests ways to improve the estimates for this part of the population.

Fear of immigration enforcement hurts academic achievement

Immigration enforcement policies are causing behavioral problems, absenteeism, and hurting academic achievement among students, according to a survey of teachers across the country. Almost 85 percent of teachers surveyed reported that students are afraid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intervening in their lives. Nearly 80 percent of teachers reported observing emotional and behavioral problems among immigrant students. Almost two-thirds reported an impact on academic performance and more than half reported increased absenteeism.

A for fairness, F for effort: How California ranks in state spending

Providing more fuel for the debate over proposals for higher taxes for education, California ranks 34th among states in per-student spending, according to a report by the New Jersey-based Education Law Center. Using regional cost adjustments, the center reported that California spent $11,376 per student in 2017, the most recent data available, which put it $2,310 below the national average. The report, which explains the methodology in clear language, also grades states by funding fairness (“A” for California) and effort — how much of its resources goes to K-12 (“F” for California).

California counties struggle to build new preschool classrooms

New buildings are needed in order to provide early education to more of California’s children. California legislators have approved over $700 million in the past two years to expand or renovate preschool and kindergarten buildings. This study looks at efforts to build new preschool centers or renovate classrooms in four counties: San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, and Contra Costa. The authors recommend that the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care target counties and neighborhoods with fewer early education programs, and that the state offer incentives to builders and cities to include preschool centers in new developments, partner with financial intermediaries to design facilities, encourage school districts to provide more preschool programs, and make it easier for community-based organizations to purchase facilities.

Black, Latino students underrepresented in California’s gifted programs

Black students are underrepresented in elementary school gifted and talented programs by 29 percent, according to a new tool and report from the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the achievement gap. Similarly, Latino students are underrepresented in these programs by 31 percent, the tool shows. The state-by-state analysis looks at enrollment in gifted and talented programs in elementary school, 8th grade Algebra and Advanced Placement in high school.

California needs to work harder to connect pre-K to early elementary

California districts continue to struggle to align pre-K programs with early elementary grades, to make sure that students build on the progress they make in preschool. This report finds that a third of districts studied were not engaged at all in coordinating curriculum, standards and teachers’ professional development across pre-K to 3rd grade. Different licensing requirements, salaries, job expectations, and multiple funding streams are some of the challenges faced by districts. The authors recommend the state offer incentives for districts to engage in alignment work, require training on early childhood education in order to receive an administrative credential, and streamline pre-K licensing requirements.

African American and Latina early educators make far less than white peers

African American and Latina teachers and aides in early education programs make less than their white counterparts, according to a new analysis from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley. The study found that even when they have the same level of education as white early educators, African American educators still earn an average of 78 cents less per hour, which means $1,622.40 less per year for a full-time, full-year worker. Hispanic early educators are more likely than white teachers to work as assistants in center-based programs, particularly in California.

State can help pay UC, CSU’s pension costs, legislative analyst says

A report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office says some of the state’s $7 billion revenue surplus should help the University of California and the California State University reduce unfunded pension liabilities looming in the future. The universities have billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities relating to pensions and facilities, the study says. “Accelerating pay down of these liabilities would reduce the burden on future generations to pay these costs and improve the fiscal health of the state and the university systems,” it says. While population trends suggest that more enrollment growth is not warranted next year, the Legislature may wish to grow enrollment at high-demand campuses. Pressures also will continue to provide more funding for food, housing and mental health programs along with initiatives to improve graduation rates and hire more faculty.

California’s paid family leave program can be expanded

California’s paid family leave program allows many workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member, but many workers, especially those with low wages, cannot participate. This report looks at how California can expand paid family leave to 12 weeks and increase the wages for low-income workers on leave to 100 percent of their usual wages.

UC, CSU leaders call for more climate change education in K-12 schools

Scientists and education experts from California’s public universities are calling on state government leaders to make climate change education in K-12 schools a priority. A report from the Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Project and Summit, a partnership between policymakers, researchers and faculty at the University of California and California State University, recommends that the California Department of Education create a task force charged with promoting environmental and climate change literacy throughout the state.

Immigration policies hurting young children

Federal immigration policies have increased fear among immigrant families, and that has a detrimental effect on young children, according to a new report by The Children’s Partnership and Early Edge California. Preschool teachers, pediatricians, home visitors and other professionals working with immigrant families who have young children have reported a drop in participation of these families in essential programs and services, including preschool and childcare, nutrition assistance, preventive health care (like immunizations), in addition to frequent absences from school. This report suggests strategies for early childhood programs to help immigrant families with young children feel safe, healthy, and ready to learn.

Undocumented youth have little access to legal representation

Ten years of online legal screenings of almost 3,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide finds that about a third were eligible for some kind of permanent pathway toward citizenship, but 55 percent had not previously received legal help, primarily because of the cost. The report recommends that legal organizations partner with middle schools, high schools and community colleges to offer legal help to undocumented immigrants earlier, before they reach 18, so that they do not lose some opportunities.

Three affordable, quality programs to prepare early childhood teachers

As California seeks to expand and improve the quality of its early childhood education programs, one challenge is recruiting and preparing teachers. This report looks at three programs that prepare early childhood educators in California in a way that is affordable and accessible for diverse students, offer foundational knowledge in child development, and provide sustained, mentored classroom experience. The programs are the Family Child Care Apprenticeship, Skyline College’s Education/Child Development Program, and EDvance at San Francisco State University.

 

Understanding teacher shortages in California

California is experiencing a teacher shortage that is affecting more than 80 percent of its school districts, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a Palo Alto-based education research organization. The result is a dramatic increase in the number of individuals hired without the proper preparation to teach. To better understand how the teacher shortage is impacting schools, the Learning Policy Institute has launched an interactive map that allows readers to click on a school district or county to learn more about the qualifications and demographics of the teachers at these schools.

Students are no match for political websites designed to mislead them

“Young people will be easy marks to rogues of all stripes” if they cannot credibly judge information on the internet,  concludes a report that studied high school students’ ability to judge the accuracy of campaign and political  websites. What researchers with the Stanford History Education Group found was “troubling.” A cross-section of 3,446 high school students were asked to assess six sites. Nearly all were fooled.

State-by-state breakdown on the status of America’s rural students

The latest edition of the nonprofit Rural School and Community Trust’s 50-state report on rural education reveals that nearly 1 in 6 of the nation’s 7.5 million students living in rural areas lives below the poverty line; 1 in 7 qualifies for special education, and 1 in 9 has changed residences in the previous year. “Why Rural Matters 2018-2019: The Time is Now” includes extensive data, with a state-by-state breakdown on education outcomes, disparities in funding and demographic information.

 

Encouraging National Board Certification could help close the teacher gap

To help ensure that accomplished teachers reach the students who need them the most, California should incentivize National Board Certified Teachers to teach in high-needs schools, says a report that lays out the strategy for its recommendation. National Board Certification is a voluntary credential offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. It signifies teachers are instructional experts after completing a lengthy process that includes videotaping instruction, submitting student work samples, and providing analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of their teaching.

High school students’ support for First Amendment varies by gender, race

High school student support for the First Amendment has increased slightly over the past 15 years overall, but varies depending on the race and gender of a student and where they reside, according to a study by the Knight Foundation. “High school student views on the First Amendment: Trends in the 21st Century” analyzed seven surveys of students conducted between 2004 and 2018. Beginning in 2011, researchers began to see a gap between what white students and boys thought about First Amendment protections and what girls and students of color believed. That year slightly more girls and students of color said First Amendment protections went too far, while slightly more boys and white students supported First Amendment protections.

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher pension benefits: Social Security vs. CalSTRS in California

In California and 14 other states, plus the District of Columbia, public school teachers do not pay into Social Security. They’re not required to under a federal law that permits non-participation as long as state pension benefits are higher. But a new analysis by Chad Aldeman, senior associate partner with the policy analysis nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners, found that the rule holds true for teachers who remain in one pension system, like CalSTRS, for their entire career, but it fails to protect short- and medium-term teachers.

High school students need multiple math pathways

High school math pathways have historically filtered many black and Latino students out of STEM opportunities, so some districts are redesigning their math course sequences and offerings to create multiple options to prepare all students regardless of what field they are pursuing, according to a new report from Just Equations, a project of the nonprofit Opportunity Institute, which analyzes and advocates for equity in education. The report highlights how districts such as Escondido Unified have removed practices that they discovered where limiting opportunities for black and Latino students, such as math tracking, which divides and places students into different math course sequences based on their previous performance.

 

Homeless youth less likely to attend college

Homeless young people are less likely to attend a four-year college, and those who do often continue to struggle with homelessness, according to a report by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The report, ninth in a series of research briefs on homeless youth in the U.S., also found that young people without a high school degree or general education diploma are more likely to become homeless. The authors recommend that schools do a better job identifying and supporting homeless students so their educations are disrupted as little as possible, and colleges collect information from applicants about their housing needs, so dormitories and other resources can be made available to students who need it.

California the least affordable for infant child care

The cost of sending an infant to a child care center is less affordable in California than any other state, according to an annual report from Child Care Aware® of America. The average annual cost of center-based infant care in California is $16,542, which amounts to 17.6% of the median income for a two-parent family. The report also found that in 30 states plus D.C., the annual price of center-based child care for an infant exceeds annual in-state tuition and fees at a public university and in 39 states and D.C., the annual prices of center-based child care for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeds average annual mortgage payments.

Innovative program led by teacher leaders provides effective instruction

Since its creation in 2014, the Instructional Leadership Corps, a peer-based professional development project involving the California Teachers Association, the National Board Resource Center and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, has provided multi-session trainings in the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. An examination of four instructional teams, at Madera Unified, Conejo Valley Unified, the East Side Alliance in San Jose and a network of Orange County teacher leaders and CSU Fullerton, found that teachers valued professional learning led by their colleagues, and teacher leaders broadened their sense of professional effectiveness.

What money can buy: Comparison of high schools in San Jose, Urbana and Garfield, NJ

Researchers from the advocacy nonprofit Children Now compared high schools of the same size and demographics in Illinois, New Jersey and California (Gunderson High in San Jose Unified) to determine what difference funding makes. A lot, they found. Gunderson’s cost-adjusted per-student funding is about half of Urbana High, in Illinois, and 60 percent of Garfield High, in New Jersey. Its student-to-teacher ratio was far larger; there were fewer teachers, administrators, counselors and instruction support staff such as social workers, far fewer after-school clubs; fewer courses in math, career technology education and the arts, and fewer hours for teacher training and collaboration.

Harsher discipline for black students linked to wider achievement gaps

If black students are disciplined more harshly than white students in a school district, the gap in academic achievement between black and white students is also wider, according to a new study. The researchers also found that the reverse is true: the larger the achievement gap, the more disproportionate the discipline. The study also confirmed results of previous research, that black and Latino students are more likely to face suspension or expulsion for discipline infractions than their white peers.

“If your district is suspending students of color at higher rates compared to white students, then your district likely is also failing to meet the academic needs of students of color,” author Francis Pearman said in a press release.

The authors call for districts to continue to implement changes in discipline policies and improve their teaching for black and Latino students.

Resources and challenges for undocumented college students in California

This publication by the Campaign for College Opportunity, an advocacy organization, details all the protections and financial help that California has provided the approximately 64,000 to 86,000 undocumented students it says is a conservative estimate of the number of those students enrolled in the state’s public colleges and universities. But interviews found that resources for undocumented students are inconsistent across college campuses and that campus climates can be hostile to them. “Losing, or even underutilizing, these talented students poses a threat to our state’s workforce and economy when you consider California needs an additional 1.65 million college-educated workers by 2030,”  the report asserts.

Building a ‘growth culture’ among educators can make a big difference

Using a model successfully developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and successfully applied in industry,  Superintendent P.K. Diffenbaugh of the Monterey Peninsula Unified led an effort to improve school and district culture by applying the latest research on adult development to employees’ lives, relationships, and professional practices. The report asserts that creating a healthy culture, which includes creating a strong sense of community, establishing high levels of trust and the ability to give and receive feedback, can produce significant gains in student achievement. This 10-page case report  describes the approach,  assesses its impact and its implications for the education sector. Co-author Arun Ramanathan is the CEO of PivotLearning, an Oakland-based nonprofit that guided the effort through a grant from the Silver Giving Foundation.

Millennials Aren’t Drowning in Student Debt

This national report seeks to counter what it portrays as an alarmist narrative that college debt is ruining most young people’s lives. It argues against the across-the-board loan forgiveness some presidential candidates advocate. In fact, the study says that 66 percent of millennials have no student debt at all. That’s because they haven’t gone to college or because they managed to get through without having to borrow. And of those who do have college debt, their repayment burdens usually are not out of line with their incomes. Typical four-year-degree graduates who borrow have $28,500 in debt and that can be paid back with monthly payments of less than $200, the study says. However, the author notes that the real ones in debt trouble are borrowers who dropped out of college before earning a degree and are defaulting with loan balances below $5,000. The high rate of default among this group suggests that they are unaware of, or have had trouble navigating, the safety nets available to help them, such as income-based repayment plans.

California community colleges see greater student success when expanding access to transfer-level courses

Thirty-nine California community colleges that significantly expanded access to transfer-level English courses, instead of placing them in remedial courses first, saw significantly more students completing the course in 2018 than in 2015. The share of students completing the English courses in one term increased by 30 percentage points from 24 percent in 2015 to 54 percent, according to a report published Monday by the Public Policy Institute of California. The report analyzed how more than 100 community colleges improved placing students directly in transfer-level math and English in anticipation of a new law known as AB 705, which goes into effect this fall. That law requires the colleges to maximize the likelihood that students will enter and complete transfer-level courses within one year, instead of placing students in a sequence of remedial courses that many students take years to complete, or never do so. The report also found that nearly 63 percent of students who started an English “corequisite course,” devised as an alternative to remedial courses, completed the class on their first try. Corequisite courses are tied to the transfer-level course and provide academic support and assistance to students.

California, too, should adopt a student growth model of school performance

California is one of just two states, the other being Kansas, that does not measure school performance based on the growth of individual students’ scores on standardized tests. Instead, it measures a school’s yearly progress by comparing the change in the scores of this year’s students with those in the same grade the previous year.

The author, an associate professor of education policy at the USC Rossier School of Education, argues in the 13-page report that adopting a student growth model to rate performance on the California School Dashboard would be a “dramatic improvement” and would more validly identify schools succeeding and in need of support. He dispels common misconceptions about the growth model and recommends which version of it the State Board of Education should choose.

Early childhood education more segregated than K-12

Early childhood education programs nationwide are more segregated than K-12 classrooms, according to a new study by researchers at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on public policy. Researchers found that early childhood programs overall are 20 percent more segregated than high schools. Compared to kindergarten and 1st grade, researchers found that early childhood programs are twice as likely to be serving 90 to 100 percent black or Latino children. Included in the study are private and public programs that serve at least five children who are between 0 and 5 years old. “Early childhood education is a key place for addressing—or exacerbating—issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and racial and ethnic isolation isolation “can lead to missed opportunities for contact and kinship during a critical point in child development,” the study asserts.

70 percent of California districts are implementing Common Core

The majority (70 percent) of districts have implemented Common Core, new academic standards in English language arts and math adopted by California in 2010, a report from the Public Policy Institute of California shows. About a third of districts have not yet started, and rural districts are less likely than urban or suburban districts to be teaching the new standards.

In districts that have adopted the standards, Smarter Balanced test scores for middle school math and English language arts improved slightly, and increases were larger among low-income and Latino students.

More than a million California children still live in concentrated poverty

More than 1 million California children live in neighborhoods with high poverty, according to a new report using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of children living in poverty has gone down only slightly in recent years, from 15 percent in 2008-12 to 13 percent in 2013-2017. African-American, Latino and Native American children are much more likely than white children to be living in poverty. More than half of Latino children living in poverty nationwide live in California and Texas. Children who live in high-poverty neighborhoods have less access to healthy food, medical care, quality education, and are more likely to be exposed to toxic environmental hazards, such as poor air quality or lead, that can lead to chronic disease.

Gov. Newsom’s pension relief compounds funding inequities

In addition to the $4.4 billion the state is obligated to pay as its share of teacher and administrator pensions, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest budget includes $850 million more to lower school districts’ record contributions to the CalSTRS pension fund. The money will be distributed without regard to equity, and wealthy districts with the best paid teachers will get the biggest portion of the funding, author Carrie Hahnel found. “At a time when rising pension and benefit costs are squeezing school district budgets and leading to painful reductions in student services, the state should be seeking every opportunity to ease the burden on school districts through equity-centered policies, not regressive approaches that exacerbate inequities,” she writes.

 

Teacher preparation programs lack faculty with early STEM expertise

Teacher preparation programs for elementary math are too often led by faculty who lack connection to elementary classroom instruction, according to a report by 100Kin10, a network of academic institutions, nonprofits, companies, and government agencies aiming to get 100,000 STEM teachers into classrooms nationwide. The report looks at ways to improve early math education by highlighting challenges and opportunities to equip teacher preparation faculty with more expertise in elementary STEM education, and how faculty can better model instructional strategies that teachers should use in the classroom. “There is a scarcity of teacher preparation faculty with expertise in elementary STEM education, making recruitment and selection of faculty with sufficient expertise challenging,” the report reads.

California ranks third from the bottom among states in average college debt load

Class of 2018 graduates from four-year colleges in California left school with an average debt load of $22,585, less than the average debt taken on by students in 47 other states, according to a report published Thursday by the Institute for College Access and Success. About half of students in California graduated with no debt at all, and only students in Utah and New Mexico graduated with less debt on average than California students. The findings reflect previous years’ versions of the same report, which have also showed that only graduates from Utah and New Mexico had smaller debt loads than California’s graduates. Across the United States, the average student loan debt for Class of 2018 graduates was $29,200, a 2 percent increase from the Class of 2017

California community colleges double number of transfer-level math and English

English and math courses that can transfer to California universities have increased dramatically among 47 of California’s 114 community colleges, according to a report released Tuesday by the Campaign for College Opportunity. Transfer-level classes in English have increased from 45 percent to 88 percent since 2017 and from 33 percent to 71 percent in math. The colleges have also increased the number of courses that offer co-requisite remediation, which provides additional support in entry-level classes. Among 47 colleges, 39 now offer this form of remediation in English and 30 offer them in science, technology, engineering and math courses. The report analyzed 47 colleges from the Central Valley, Inland Empire and Los Angeles areas, or about one-third of the community colleges in the state. A new law known as AB 705, which goes into effect this fall, requires the colleges to offer transferable, college-level classes. The report said additional research will be needed to examine the entire two-year college system.

Chronic absenteeism data can diagnose problems that keep kids from learning

State and local policymakers can use chronic absenteeism data to decide where to allocate resources to help improve academic outcomes at schools, according to a new study from American Institutes for Research and Attendance Works. “Using Chronic Absence Data to Improve Conditions for Learning” found that there is a relationship between chronic absenteeism — missing 10 percent or more of a school year — and academic achievement. The study concluded that the data can be used to pinpoint and diagnose problems in the school and community that are causing chronic absenteeism and hurting academic outcomes.

 

 

 

Less than half of America’s high schools teach computer science

Less than half (45 percent) of America’s high schools teach computer science, and low-income students and students in rural areas are among the least likely to attend schools that offer the subject, a new report from Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and Expanding Computing Education Pathways shows.

But things may be changing: Over the last year, 33 states have passed laws to promote computer science. And some states, including California, provide guidance with computer science standards around how to make access to computer science education more equitable.

Free community college could backfire for earning bachelor’s degrees

A Brookings Institution study finds that better financial aid or waiving tuition at four-year public colleges with an income cutoff can effectively increase the rates of students earning bachelor’s degrees. However, it also finds that free community college programs are significantly less effective and can even backfire. While eliminating community college tuition and fees does lead to more associate’s degrees, some students who otherwise would have started at a four-year school instead are drawn to the community college and never earn a bachelor’s degree, the study finds. Besides, most free community college policies exclude students from the lowest-income families since these students already receive federal Pell Grants that cover most, if not all, of the tuition cost for community college.

California lags in Latino college enrollment and degree attainment

A report released today from The Education Trust finds California fails to provide Latinos with the same access to selective universities as white students, despite having a large population of the former. The state is home to more than 60 percent of all Latino students, but the share of these students attending a selective institution is about 23 percent. The report found a 17.1 percentage point gap between the number of California Latinos attending a selective, four-year university and their white peers. The difference was only slightly better for all public four-year universities, at nearly 35 percent for Latinos and 45.7 percent for their white peers.

 

Common strategies of 7 ‘positive outlier’ districts in California

As a followup to a report last spring, Learning Policy Institute researchers visited and studied seven California districts in which African American, Latino, and white students achieve at high levels on math and English language arts to learn strategies behind their success. Among the commonalities, the authors found instructionally engaged leaders; strategies for hiring and retaining a strong, stable educator workforce; collaborative professional learning; a deliberate, developmental approach to instructional change; systemic supports for students’ academic, social, and emotional needs; and an engagement of families and communities. The districts were Chula Vista Elementary School District, Clovis Unified, Gridley Unified (Butte County), Hawthorne School District, Long Beach Unified, San Diego Unified and Sanger Unified.

How states can benefit from collecting school-level data

School administrators in California and other states have been recalculating data to comply with a new federal law requiring the reporting of spending, including actual, not average, teacher salaries, at the school level. A study of a pilot project of states’ efforts by the National Center for Education Studies found that the work, if done right, could be a useful tool for developing state education policy. Many  participating states found they were able to report complete expenditure data for a high percentage of their schools. Although there are “numerous inherent challenges,” evidence suggests “the feasibility of collecting and reporting school-level finance data of reasonable quality is relatively high.”

Women are poorly represented in political science course readings

There is a major gender gap in political science course readings at colleges across the nation and that could affect women’s choices in becoming professors in that field. So says a new study headed by UC Irvine political science associate professor Heidi Hardt. Only one in five readings assigned to political science graduate students is written by a female author, according to the article published in both The Journal of Politics and PS: Political Science & Politics.  Hardt and co-authors show that women are underrepresented on political science course syllabi and reading lists compared with the rate at which women publish academic articles generally. The researchers analyzed 88,673 readings from 840 syllabi and 65 reading lists used in political science graduate courses.

 

No seniors took advanced math at 40 percent of California high schools

About 75 percent of all California high school seniors enrolled in a math class in 2016, 2017 and 2018, but only 47 percent of those students were enrolled in advanced math courses above Algebra 2, a study from Policy Analysis for California Education shows. White, Asian and high-income students were much more likely to take advanced math in their senior year, compared with African American, Latino and low-income students. The report also found that students who were admitted to California State University and University of California campuses were much more likely to take advanced math in 12th grade, compared with the overall population of 12th-graders.

Why school principals quit: focus groups share their stories

A study by the Learning Policy Institute draws on evidence from focus groups to understand challenges principals face and suggests strategies to support and retain them, including professional learning opportunities, competitive salaries, more decision-making authority, and timely evaluations and feedback.

Berkeley report ‘Breaking the Silence’ on early child care and education costs

How much would it cost for California to provide high-quality early care and education? According to a new report by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley and the Economic Policy Institute, California should be spending at least $30,000 per child enrolled in child care and preschool. That’s almost four times as much as the state currently spends on children in public preschool. The researchers say in order to provide high-quality early education, lead teachers should be paid $77,214 a year, and there would need to be almost three times as many early childhood teachers in the state as there are currently.

Special ed students, especially African Americans, suspended at high rates

Tackling an issue that has long been a concern to civil rights advocates, this 212-page  report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights shows that special education students with a range of disabilities are suspended at twice the rate of non-disabled students. Among those students, black students with disabilities are suspended or expelled at higher rates than their proportion among all students with disabilities, and that they lose approximately 77 more days of instruction compared to white students with disabilities. It includes two lengthy dissenting reports by commissioners, including one who argues that the disparities noted in the report could well be because of a student’s behavior, not racial discrimination.

 

Reforming school discipline: what teachers think

An ongoing issue in the push to reduce suspensions and expulsions whether doing so results in improved behavior and school climate, or whether it contributes to the reverse.  This paper by the conservative-leaning Fordham Institute takes what may be the first in-depth look at this issue in a nationally representative sample of teachers were polled on their views on this topic.  A majority of teachers feel that a decline in suspensions in their school has been replaced by a higher tolerance for misbehavior.  Most teachers say alternative strategies have been “somewhat” effective, but that suspensions have their uses, including “sending messages to parents about the seriousness of infractions” and encouraging other students to follow the rules.  It is important to note that the poll is based on teachers perceptions and opinions, rather than any measurement of actual incidents or behavior in schools themselves.

Under-enrollment of students with disabilities in California charter schools

The California Teachers Association and United Teachers Los Angeles provide new evidence behind a familiar argument, that charter schools significantly under-enroll students with disabilities, particularly those with the most expensive impairments to treat, such as autism. The charter under-enrollment significantly shifted special education costs to districts, the study found.  Union researchers say their analysis is the first extensive comparison of enrollment and costs between charter schools and districts that authorized them. It examined the three districts with the largest numbers of charter schools – Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland. The report details sources for the data and the methodology.

Majority of teens get news from social media and YouTube

More than half (54 percent) of teenagers say they find news at least a few times a week from social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, according to a survey by Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey that polled 1,005 teenagers age 13 to 17 in the United States. Fifty percent or respondents said they get news from YouTube. For teens who turn to YouTube for news consumption, 60 percent said they are more likely to learn about current events by watching videos from celebrities or social media personalities, rather than news organizations.