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Targeted K–12 Funding and Student Outcomes

By Julien Lafortune

As students return to the classroom, record-high funding through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will help California districts address gaps after a year of remote learning. In this report, we examine school and district spending against trends in student outcomes to offer insight into whether the LCFF is meeting its goal of improving equity in education.


K–12 Reforms and California’s English Learner Achievement Gap

By Laura Hill

English Learner (EL) students have been a key part of California’s K–12 system for decades. They currently make up about 21 percent of the public school population. English Learner status is meant to be temporary, and indeed, reclassified English Learners (those who are deemed English proficient) are among the best-performing students in the state. But students who remain ELs for longer periods generally have poor outcomes.

blog post

The High School Exit Exam: What’s Next?

By Paul Warren

The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) is likely to be a topic of discussion in the next legislative session. The question is whether to update it so that it aligns better with Common Core, find an alternative measure, or eliminate the requirement altogether.


California’s Changing K-12 Accountability Program

By Paul Warren

California recently joined a number of other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards, which establish new criteria for what students should learn in school. It also joined a consortium of states to develop new tests based on those standards. The new standards are ambitious, and some teachers are concerned they are not prepared to convey the higher-level skills and concepts they contain. The new tests will allow the state to measure gains in each student’s achievement, creating new options for how the state ranks schools. The change will also prompt the state to reassess the value of state tests in high school and its options for holding secondary schools accountable. More changes to the state’s accountability program are likely when Congress reauthorizes the federal education law, and the way the state addresses these current issues will influence the shape of its future accountability program.


California’s English Learner Students

By Laura Hill

English Learner (EL) students in California’s schools are numerous and diverse, and they lag behind their native-English-speaking peers. Closing the achievement gap for EL students has been a long-standing goal for California educators, and there are some signs of success. Now that EL funding and curriculum issues are receiving a fresh level of scrutiny from decisionmakers in Sacramento, it is important to assess our understanding of this diverse group, highlight the opportunities to improve policies around demonstrating mastery of English, calibrate funding formulas involving EL students, and implement new curriculum standards thoughtfully.


Passing the California High School Exit Exam: Have Recent Policies Improved Student Performance?

By Julian Betts, Andrew C. Zau, Yendrick Zieleniak, Karen Bachofer

Recent interventions aimed at students who have failed the CAHSEE have not meaningfully improved passage rates in San Diego. This finding underlines the need to help struggling students before they reach high school. To help California school districts identify these students, the authors introduce the CAHSEE Early Warning Model.

This report was supported with funding from the Donald Bren Foundation.

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