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The Impact of Health Insurance on Poverty in California

By Caroline Danielson, Patricia Malagon, Shannon McConville

The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Californians gain health insurance over the past decade. In addition to improving access to care, the ACA has increased financial well-being. This analysis focuses on the significant contribution of publicly funded health coverage—particularly Medi-Cal—to family resources across the state.


English Learner Trajectories and Reclassification

By Julian Betts, Laura Hill, Karen Bachofer, Joseph Hayes ...

Nearly 40% of California’s K–12 students are current or former English Learners, and California is now standardizing the policies that will define English proficiency across the state. Los Angeles and San Diego have taken two different, but largely effective, approaches.


College Prep for All: Will San Diego Students Meet Challenging New Graduation Requirements?

By Julian Betts, Andrew C. Zau, Karen Bachofer, Sam M. Young

Several of California’s major urban school districts have adopted ambitious new high school graduation requirements, making college preparatory coursework mandatory. This analysis—which focuses on San Diego—finds that the new requirements are likely to help many students but may damage the prospects of others. San Diego and other districts can take steps to help lower-achieving students meet the new graduation goals.


Implementing California’s School Funding Formula: Will High-Need Students Benefit?

By Laura Hill, Iwunze Ugo

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) reformed California’s K–12 school finance system. It replaced a patchwork of formulas and specific (or "categorical”) programs with a focus on local control, funding equity, and additional support for the large share of students (63%) who are "high needs"—that is, low-income, English Learner, and/or foster care youth. However, there are still concerns about whether the new funding will reach high-need students. Because districts have spending flexibility, and because some of the extra funding for high-need students is based on their districtwide enrollment levels, it is possible that high-need schools in districts with relatively low overall shares of high-need students will not get the funding they need. Our research indicates that county offices of education—which are charged with assisting districts in developing and achieving accountability plans—may have extra work to do in parts of Southern California, the Bay Area, and Sacramento to ensure that extra state funding improves outcomes of high-need students who are not evenly distributed across district schools.


Does School Choice Work? Effects on Student Integration and Achievement

By Julian Betts, Andrew C. Zau, Lorien A. Rice, Y. Emily Tang

Public school choice programs in San Diego—­the nation’s eighth-largest school district—are extremely popular, especially among non-white communities; many San Diego families who apply for these programs are turned away each year. San Diego's experience stands against the backdrop of a national debate about choice—with proponents arguing such programs will create better schools and accountability, and opponents countering that they could stratify and resegregate a system premised on educational equality. Researchers examined the selection of students for choice programs and their movements through the school system and found that such programs do seem to have helped to integrate San Diego’s student bodies, not only along racial-ethnic lines but also in terms of students' parental education levels.

But evidence that choice programs also boost academic achievement is less clear. With some exceptions—elevated math achievement for students in magnet high schools — those who won lotteries that allowed them to attend choice programs did about the same on standardized tests as non-winners one to three years later.

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