California’s ambitious education reforms paying off in higher graduation rates and math scores, study finds

California’s sweeping education reforms championed by Gov. Jerry Brown have resulted in higher graduation rates and especially sizable gains in math among low-income students in the 11th grade, according to a new study. . . . The Learning Policy Institute’s Tanner said that because math scores increased more among low-income children than all children, if […]

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California at bottom in nationwide ranking of accountability systems; state board president disagrees

Another prominent education research and advocacy organization that disapproves of California’s approach to school accountability has ranked California’s new system at the bottom nationwide in a report released Tuesday.

The low score by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reflects a core disagreement over how best to identify and work with schools needing help. California education leaders are unapologetic about the route they’ve chosen, and they say the Fordham analysis contains a key error.

Like Bellwether Education Partners, which harshly criticized the state’s approach in an August analysis, Washington, D.C.- and Ohio-based Fordham gives high grades to states that will rank schools with an A-F letter grade or a similar method that’s understandable at a glance. States will use rankings to select the lowest-performing schools, as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

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Poll: Public schools must do more to prepare non-college going students for the workforce

California’s public schools should be doing much more to prepare students who don’t go to college to enter the workforce, according to registered voters who responded to a Berkeley IGS/EdSource poll. But they are divided in their assessment of how well schools are doing in providing that preparation.

They also expressed strong support for community colleges and other institutions to offer more vocationally oriented apprenticeship programs that may not lead to a college degree but prepare students for specific jobs.

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Cal State to help students graduate by overcoming hurdles of remedial classes

By the end of this month, CSU will drop math and English placement tests the system has been using for years and for the first time rely on multiple measures such as a student’s high school grade-point average, grades earned in math and English, and test scores on standardized tests like the SAT, ACT or Smarter Balanced assessments to determine whether incoming freshmen are placed in courses that include remedial work. . . .In fall 2018, CSU will also launch a new approach to teaching students who need extra academic help. Starting next fall, those students will enroll in credit-bearing classes while simultaneously receiving additional remedial support — a move aimed at allowing students to more quickly catch up on key math and English skills and avoid spending money and time on courses that don’t count toward their degrees. The “supportive course models,” as CSU is calling them, could include additional instruction, stretching one-semester courses over two terms, or “co-requisite classes” that pair remedial work with college-level content.

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Expanding their taxing power would be one way to provide school districts more money

Rick Simpson didn’t write Proposition 98, the complex formula that determines how much money in the state budget goes to K-12 schools and community colleges each year. But for three decades after its inception in 1988, Simpson was an expert in its implementation as a senior adviser on education for eight Assembly Speakers. Now recently retired, he’s pitching a tax proposal that would liberate schools from Prop. 98’s constraints. He says the only realistic way for schools to raise significantly more revenue is to give districts more authority to tax themselves. It will take a constitutional amendment, which he hopes that either the Legislature or voters, through an initiative, will place on the 2020 ballot. At this point, though, it’s just talk. No leaders or groups have stepped forward to embrace it.

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California to raise income limits to allow more children to qualify for subsidized child care

Before the budget change, a family of three that exceeded $3,518 in monthly income or $42,216 a year would no longer be eligible. This figure was calculated based on the current income limit for a family of three, which cannot exceed 70 percent of the 2005 state median income. The new state law still requires that a family’s income be 70 percent of the state median or less to be eligible for the subsidy. However, more families will be able to qualify, since the overall income limit will be higher when calculated using the most current state median income information. The new budget also states that families will be allowed “ongoing eligibility” as long as their income is not more than 85 percent of the state median income. This means families would not have to re-apply for services because of increases in income that didn’t exceed that level and more families will remain eligible.

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California lags other states in total per-child spending on range of services

California lags behind 40 other states in the amount it spends per child for a range of services including public education and healthcare, according to a new report.

But aside from education spending, where California has for years spent less than other states, the state spends more than most others on other child-related services and supports, such as health care, child care, tax credits and maternal support that benefits children.

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Local control formula closing funding gap but not equity gap, report says

Four years after its passage, the Local Control Funding Formula has narrowed and, by some measures, reversed the funding gap between the lowest- and highest-poverty districts in California. But an infusion of funding hasn’t translated yet into improved opportunities for low-income students and English learners ­– and may not achieve that goal without tighter disclosure rules and more innovative approaches to distributing districts’ resources, a student advocacy organization said in a report published Thursday.

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State to leave college, career readiness metric off upcoming school and district report cards

California will issue school and district report cards later this month, but without a key measure – whether students are prepared for college or careers.

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CalPERS cuts earnings forecast; school districts to pay more for pensions

School districts, already bracing for record pension contributions for school employees, will face additional costs they hadn’t expected as a result of a decision Wednesday by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. . . Dennis Meyers, an assistant executive director of the California School Boards Association, estimated that the lower investment forecast would add $400 million to $600 million to school districts’ costs. Combined with already scheduled cost increases to CalPERS and CalSTRS, higher pension costs will consume every dollar of projected revenue increases for 150 to 200 school districts in coming years, he told the CalPERS board committee during a hearing

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Districts pass $23 billion in construction bonds, most parcel taxes

Voters in 184 K-12 and community college districts throughout California considered local school bonds worth more than $25 billion – and approved $23 billion of them.

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Report: California public colleges not producing enough STEM degrees

The report by The Campaign for College Opportunity said California ranks near the bottom nationally in the rate of bachelor and associate degrees in those subjects at a time that it has far more STEM entry-level jobs than any other state.

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California moves to catch up on K-12 computer science curriculum

After years of lagging behind Arkansas, West Virginia and several other states, California is expanding computer science in public schools across the state and training teachers to teach it. 

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Despite revenue warning, school funding will rise

Despite lowered state revenue projections and Gov. Jerry Brown’s prediction that an economic recession could come any moment, state funding for K-12 and community colleges will rise nearly $3 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1, under the May revision of the 2016-17 state budget released on Friday.

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Appeals Court denies constitutional right to minimum K-12 funding

The state Constitution does not guarantee children in California a minimally funded quality education, a divided California Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday in a landmark decision closely watched by proponents of more K-12 spending.

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