Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts
How well are California high schools meeting the challenge of preparing students for success in college and career? Over the past five years, the Education Trust–West (ETW) has examined tens of thousands of high school transcripts in an effort to answer this question. Our research has led us to two primary findings. First, levels of college readiness are far too low across the board, and especially low for low-income students and students of color. Second, students who are unprepared for college are also unlikely to be meaningfully prepared for careers.
Across California, there are high school students dreaming of being the first in their families to attend college. For these students and families, college presents a life-changing opportunity. Many of these students have to work to help pay household bills, and tuition for a four-year college seems out of reach. They may know that financial aid is an option, but often the application process feels daunting. Some worry that applying for grants or loans will put their parents’ legal status in jeopardy.
Nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, too many of California’s African-American students languish in a separate and unequal education system. If current trends continue, only 1 in 20 of today’s African-American kindergartners will go on to graduate from high school and complete a degree at a four-year California university. Indeed, on nearly every measure of educational opportunity, the dream of equal access to a high-quality education is not a reality for African-American students and their families in California.
Catching up to the Core: Common Sense Strategies for Accelerating Access to the Common Core in California
The new Education Trust—West report, Catching up to the Core: Common Sense Strategies for Accelerating Access to the Common Core in California, finds that California has fallen far behind other states and even local school districts in implementing the new English Language Arts and Math CCSS. This lack of progress will leave millions of California students trailing their peers in other states, two years before new assessments aligned with the Common Core are expected to come online.
The report profiles best practices for implementing the CCSS in other states and school districts, including some in California. It highlights promising work in teacher professional development, instructional materials, technology, and alignment with systems of higher education, particularly in teacher preparation.
The report concludes with common sense recommendations for California policymakers. These include improving public understanding of the Common Core, expanding educator professional development, aligning instructional materials, and addressing technology infrastructure and capacity.
Tipping the Scale Towards Equity: Making Weighted Student Formula Work for California’s Highest-Need Students
California’s education funding system is fundamentally unfair, with large gaps in funding between the wealthiest and the lowest-income school districts, as well as between schools within districts.
In 2012, Governor Brown sought to correct the funding gaps between districts by shifting to a weighted student formula (WSF).
California will need an additional one million college graduates by 2025. To meet this challenge, California’s college and career pipeline must serve as a true pathway to post-secondary success for all California’s students. New data from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) highlight major gaps in college opportunity for the low-income students and students of color who are the majority of California’s student population. Fortunately, these data also reveal high schools throughout California that are making progress in closing these opportunity gaps. To read more, click here.
Learning Denied: The Case for Equitable Access to Effective Teaching in California’s Largest School District
The Education Trust—West releases the findings of a two- year-long study of data from the second largest school district in the nation, revealing profound inequities in access to effective teaching. In Learning Denied: The Case for Equitable Access to Effective Teaching in California’s Largest School District, The Education Trust—West finds that low-income students and students of color in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are less likely to be taught by the district’s top teachers – the very teachers capable of closing the district’s achievement gaps. These inequities are exacerbated by teacher mobility patterns and quality-blind layoffs.
A Report Card on District Achievement: How Low-income, African-American, and Latino Students Fare in California School Districts
In this report, The Education Trust—West grades the 146 largest unified school districts in California on four key indicators of student performance to see how well they are serving their African-American, Latino, and low-income students. While most districts in California earn Cs and Ds on these indicators, some districts prove that more is possible.
Victims of the Churn: The Damaging Impact of California’s Teacher Layoff Policies on Schools, Students and Communities in Three Large School Districts
California’s students, particularly its poorest students, need great teachers. Unfortunately, California’s seniority-based teacher layoff system puts adult privileges over student needs. Newer teachers are laid off first, regardless of how well they do their jobs. This system is especially damaging to schools serving the highest numbers of low-income students, which are more likely than others to experience layoffs and mass personnel shuffling. Their students become victims of the churn.
This inaugural Equity Alert highlights California’s newest statewide rankings and uncovers all-too familiar achievement gaps. The state’s 2009 Base Annual Performance Index (API) data and statewide rankings reveal that race and class continue to play a substantial role in shaping educational opportunity, and that systemic inequity is pervasive in California’s schools. The report outlines actions state policymakers and education leaders can take to address these patterns of inequity.