On April 29, the Public Policy Institute of California released College Prep for All: Will San Diego Students Meet Challenging New Graduation Requirements? The report examines the impact of San Diego Unified School District's new "college prep" graduation policy on students in the class of 2016 – this year's seniors. A copy of the report can be accessed by clicking above. The Technical Appendix and Press Release can be accessed here.
SanDERA Releases Updated Report on San Diego's "College Prep for All" Policy
On March 15, SanDERA released College Prep for All: Will San Diego Students Meet Challenging New Graduation Requirements? The paper is co-authored by Julian Betts, executive director of SanDERA and professor of economics at UC San Diego, with Sam Young, a doctoral candidate in economics at UC San Diego, Andrew Zau, senior statistician for SanDERA, and SanDERA Director Karen Volz Bachofer.
In the class of 2016, the first class subject to the new requirement, about 10 percent more students may become eligible to apply to the California State University and University of California systems, but as many as 16 percent more students may not graduate at all. That translates roughly to 650 more students ready for higher education and 1,000 more who will find themselves in June without a high school diploma.
Students at risk of not graduating on time could still meet the requirement, the co-authors note. The district has implemented online credit recovery courses that satisfy the a-g requirements and, if students take them and pass, the graduation rate may be higher. However, as of August 2015, about 12 percent of students in the class of 2016 had more than a year of coursework to complete in a single subject area. More worrying, Betts said, almost 15 percent of students had more than a full year of coursework to complete in not just one but two or more subject areas during 2015-16.
To view the UCSD press release, click here. A link to a report summary on thisweek@ucsandiego can be accessed by clicking here. The study was supported by funding from the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at UC San Diego. A final version of the report will be published by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) in late April 2016.
January 29, 2015 – In a move designed to put more students on track to attend university after high school, several large California school districts – among them Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego and, less recently, San Jose – have adopted policies requiring all student to complete a college preparatory course of study in order to graduate from high school. Students in the San Diego Unified School District class of 2016, this year’s high school juniors, are the first to face these new, higher graduation standards.
On Thursday, January 29, the San Diego Education Research Alliance at UC San Diego (SanDERA), in partnership with San Diego Unified School District, will release a paper entitled The "College Prep for All" Mandate – An Examination of New Graduation Requirements in the Context of San Diego, which analyzes the progress made by students in the class of 2016 as of the end of their grade 9 year. Also on January 29, the study authors will discuss their findings at a public forum in the San Diego Unified Board of Education Auditorium, 4100 Normal Street, San Diego, CA 92103. The forum begins at 4 p.m. and is open to all.
The report examines gaps in the rates of college preparatory course completion among student groups. It also compares grade 9 course completion rates between students in the class of 2016 and all students in older cohorts who ultimately met the new graduation requirements by the time of their graduation. This analysis allows estimates of how many courses students in the class of 2016 lag behind those in older groups who would have met the new standards.
The study, authored by Julian R. Betts, Sam M. Young, Andrew C. Zau, and Karen Volz Bachofer, was funded by the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at UC San Diego. A second report, available later in 2015, will follow the class of 2017 (the second cohort of students subject to the new requirements) through the end of its grade 9 year and extend the analysis of the progress being made by the class of 2016 through the end of its grade 10 year.
On May 7th, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released Pathways to Fluency: Examining the Link Between Language Reclassification Policies and Student Success, a report co-authored by Laura Hill and Belen Chavez (PPIC) and Julian Betts, Andrew Zau, and Karen Volz Bachofer (SanDERA at UCSD). The report is based on a study of the two largest school districts in California, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, which together serve about 15 percent of California’s English Learners. Researchers found that English Learners who are reclassified as proficient in English by the end of fifth grade perform as well or better academically than native English speakers – and they continue to do so through middle and high school.
View the range of coverage following the May 7, 2014 release of Pathways to Fluency: Examining the Link between Language Reclassification Policies and Student Success.
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 staff 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.
View the range of coverage following the April 25th release of College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement: An Assessment of San Diego's Challenges.
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. The report was authored by Julian Betts, Andrew Zau, and Karen Volz Bachofer. Click here for the report's Technical Appendices.
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.
In September 2012, SanDERA released The Impact of the Use of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project in San Diego Unified School District: Teacher Interview Component, the final report in a three-part study commissioned by the California Academic Partnership Program. A majority of teachers participating in the study – and all of the teachers whose students' mathematics gains were above the median – reported that the decision to administer MDTP readiness tests was made by their schools' mathematics departments. MDTP results were used most often to ensure that students were appropriately placed in mathematics coursework and to identify areas in which students needed additional support. Teachers gave MDTP tests and results reporting high ratings for quality and usefulness, and expressed keen interest in online administration of the MDTP. Many teachers indicated that the MDTP tests were "ready for an update" – especially given the phase in of the Common Core State Standards. This work is currently underway. The authors of the report, which was commissioned by the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP), are Karen Volz Bachofer, Andrew Zau, and Julian Betts.
In June 2012, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released Passing the California High School Exit Exam: Have Recent Policies Improved Student Performance?, a report assessing the impact of two state laws – AB 128 and AB 347 – that allocate funds to districts to help students pass the California High school Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Findings suggest that state-funded support services for students who fail the exam in grade 10 have helped only a small percentage of students go on to pass the exam. In conjunction with this report, the authors have developed a CAHSEE Early Warning Model that California school districts can use to identify students at risk of failing the exam as early as grade 6, so that timely support can be provided before they take the exam for the first time in grade 10. The authors of the report are Julian Betts, Andrew Zau, Yendrick Zieleniak, and Karen Volz Bachofer.
In May 2012, Julian Betts, Professor of Economics and Executive Director of SanDERA, was nominated for an SDSA Partnership Award in the “Innovations in Education” category in recognition of his support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning in San Diego. SDSA commended Dr. Betts for working with the San Diego Foundation’s Science and Technology Working Group to assist a range of non-profits as they developed evidence-based plans to evaluate their STEM programs.
SDSA President Richard Beach and Julian Betts at SDSA Partnership Awards
"Better Research Needed on the Impact of Charter Schools," an article by Julian R. Betts, Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego and Executive Director of SanDERA and Richard C. Atkinson, President Emeritus of the University of California and former Director of the National Science Foundation has been published in the January 13, 2012 issue of the journal Science. In the article, Betts and Atkinson describe a meta-analysis of charter school studies by Betts and Emily Tang that found that about 75 percent of the studies do not meet rigorous research standards because they do not take into account the academic history and background of students attending charter schools when comparing them to students attending traditional public schools. The article encourages more widespread use of lotteries in charter school research, but points to evidence that school districts that routinely hold lotteries for charter school admissions appear to have unrepresentatively good charter schools. The authors point to simple steps districts and the state and federal Departments of Education can take to improve the quality of research on charter schools.
On October 12, 2011, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released "Does Diagnostic Math Testing Improve Student Learning?" – a paper by Julian Betts, Youjin Hahn, and Andrew Zau. Betts, Hahn, and Zau found that the use of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) assessments in San Diego Unified School District restulted in significant boosts to student achievement at the middle and high school levels. Timely, specific feedback for teachers appears to be key. The project was supported by the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) and the Donald Bren Foundation.
Check out the Winter 2011 issue of Education Finance and Policy for a paper by Cory Koedel and Julian Betts, entitled “Does Student Sorting Invalidate Value-Added Models of Teacher Effectiveness? An Extended Analysis of the Rothstein Critique.” Koedel and Betts contribute to the national debate on whether and how school districts should evaluated teacher effectiveness based on the test score gains of their students. This paper was quoted in a recent "Education Week" cover story on value-added measures of teacher effectiveness.
We invite you to visit the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) website for a look at "Lessons in Reading Reform: Finding What Works," an August 2010 paper authored by Julian R. Betts, Andrew C. Zau, and Cory Koedel. The authors find that a five-year reform effort in San Diego Unified School District – the Blueprint for Student Success – succeeded in raising literacy levels for lagging elementary and middle school students by increasing the amount of time spent on reading, providing focused professional development for teachers, and articulating and executing a comprehensive vision and execution by the school district. Education Week covered the report in a front-page article in September 2010 and also in its online “Inside School Research” feature.