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SanDERA Mission Statement

The San Diego Education Research Alliance (SanDERA) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) conducts rigorous and relevant research that contributes to the development of education policy and informs, supports, and sustains high-quality educational opportunities for all students in San Diego and beyond.

Welcome from the Executive Director and Director

Betts and Bachofer

Julian Betts and Karen Bachofer

The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and the UCSD Department of Economics have partnered to create a research entity called the San Diego Education Research Alliance at UCSD (SanDERA). SanDERA (sahn-dare-ah) builds on a decade-long collaborative research relationship between UCSD and SDUSD that has resulted in the publication of more than fifteen books and papers on a variety of topics ranging from the determinants of student achievement and school choice to detailed evaluations of major reading reforms implemented in San Diego and studies of the effects of the California High School Exit Exam and the impact of the use of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP).

SanDERA is led by an Executive Committee made up of Julian Betts, professor and former chair of the Department of Economics at UCSD, who also serves as the Executive Director of SanDERA, Karen Volz Bachofer, Ph.D., former Executive Director of SDUSD’s Research and Evaluation Division and now the Director of SanDERA, Andrew Zau, SanDERA’s Senior Statistician, Ron Rode, Executive Director of the Office of Accountability at SDUSD, Peter Bell, Ph.D., Director of SDUSD’s Research and Reporting Department, and Dina Polichar, Director of the Performance Management and Evaluation Department at SDUSD.

We welcome you to the SanDERA website and hope you will visit often to see what SanDERA is up to.

Great Grant News!

SanDERA-SDUSD Partnership Awarded IES Grant

The U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences (IES) has named SanDERA a recipient of a grant in the Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research category. The project, which was developed jointly by SanDERA and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), is entitled Academic Trajectories and Policies to Narrow Achievement Gaps in San Diego. Over the next two years, SanDERA and SDUSD will examine the progress of district students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in order to determine ideal “trajectories” and identify trouble spots that derail students or particular groups of students as they progress toward graduation. SanDERA and the district will then develop, field test, and deploy a set of on-track indicators to help district leadership, school staff, and parents quickly identify and support students who are off track.

Featured Publication

College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement: An Assessment of San Diego's Challenges

by Julian Betts, Andrew Zau, and Karen Volz Bachofer

To be considered for admission to the University of California (UC) or the California State University (CSU) system, high school students must complete 30 semesters of UC-approved college-preparatory coursework in seven subject areas with grades of C or higher. Completion of these courses, known as the a-g sequence, indicates a high level of academic preparation. Four large California school districts – Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland – have recently adopted new graduation policies requiring that students complete the a-g sequence (in most districts, with grades of D or higher) to obtain a high school diploma. In San Diego, students in the Class of 2016 are the first to be faced with this new graduation requirement.

On April 25th, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement: An Assessment of San Diego's Challenges, a SanDERA report that explores the challenges that San Diego is likely to encounter as it transitions to these higher graduation standards. By calculating overall and subject-specific completion rates for the Class of 2011, the report provides a candid assessment of how much improvement will be needed to ensure that students in the Class of 2016 complete the a-g sequence and graduate from high school. Technical Appendices to the report.

As a companion to this report, the authors developed The a-g On Track Model to help school districts identify students (as early as grade 7) who are likely to struggle to complete overall and subject-specific a-g requirements. The model also calculates how many students would be identified for assistance if a district decided to provide interventions to all students within a given range of predicted probability of completion.