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California’s Future: K-12 Education

Laura Hill, Niu Gao, Paul Warren | January 2019


California educates more than 6 million children in its K–12 public schools. More than half of these students are economically disadvantaged. Almost a quarter are English Learners (ELs), compared with fewer than one in ten nationwide. In order to better serve its student population, the state has enacted several reforms in recent years—and state funding for K–12 education has increased for seven consecutive years. The state adopted new educational standards in math (2010), English (2010), science (2013), English-language development (2012), and computer science (2018) and has been revamping its assessment system accordingly. In addition, the state finished implementing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which was enacted in 2013 to simplify school finance, increase funding for high-need (low-income, EL, and foster youth) students, and revamp school accountability.

The new governor brings a fresh perspective to the challenges facing K–12 education—as well as a focus on early childhood education. Governor Newsom will be asked to weigh in on proposals to strengthen district accountability for funding intended to help shrink achievement gaps. He is also likely to get requests for additional funding from districts facing very tight budgets. Finally, the Newsom administration will be implementing new federal laws that seek to improve low-performing schools and prepare students for college and careers.

This publication is part of a briefing kit that highlights our state’s most pressing long-term policy challenges in 11 key areas:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the PPIC Corporate Circle and the PPIC Donor Circle.

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