by Carolyn Marshall | New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO, March 15 — A scathing 18-month evaluation of California’s public schools has concluded that the state’s educational system is “broken,” crippled by a complex bureaucracy, flawed teacher policies and misspent school money, leaving it in need of sweeping reforms that could cost billions of dollars.
The report, a compilation of 22 university studies titled “Getting Down to Facts,” was released in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday. The long-awaited report, requested by a bipartisan group of state educators and legislators in 2005, cost $3 million and evaluated why
“The structural problems are so deep-seated,” a summary of the report said, “that more funding and small, incremental interventions are unlikely to make a difference unless matched with a commitment to wholesale reform.”
The report, financed by private nonprofit foundations and coordinated by investigators at the Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice at
Among the findings were these: state financial policies so “complex and irrational” that they thwart school and district efforts to educate and school data systems that are poor and ineffective, making it impossible for districts to share vital information. ; the state suffers from “regulationitis,” a condition that has schools paralyzed by rules and buried in paperwork.
▲GETTING DOWN TO FACTS: Cost Studies Remarks
Bullet points/Headlines from the studies:
If there is anything Californians, policy-makers, educators and advocates take away from the full body of research it is the following headlines:
· Not all students cost the same to reach the same achievement level. One of the most important findings of the research is that because some students come to school less prepared and others have challenges that require extra program support, some districts will require additional resources. The studies do not suggest that
· Regions have different costs. A special concern researchers identified is that the price of highly educated people — such as teachers — may differ across the state. In addition, schools may differ in their ability to attract teachers because of a lack of college graduates more generally in a given region. These differences should be accounted for to the extent that they impact the quality of teachers a school can attract at a given wage.
· Among schools that serve a high proportion of students in poverty, even the most successful schools rarely meet state-achievement goals. As a result, there is very little information about how high-poverty schools can achieve state goals or about the level of funding needed for success.
· Getting Down to Facts cost estimates should not be viewed as a specific price tag for the needed level of education spending in future years. The science is not precise enough to rely upon the cost estimates in that way. Rather, these estimates should be used to help policy-makers assess whether the current spending is enough to expect to meet student achievement goals.
· Increased funding without governance reforms is unlikely to lead to significant gains in student achievement. We have to do both together. The findings of all 22 Getting Down to Facts studies indicate that solely directing more money into the current system will not dramatically improve student achievement and will meet neither expectations nor needs. What matters are the ways in which the available resources and any new resources are used.
· Meaningful reform to meet student outcome goals may require substantial new financial investments. But such investments are only likely to benefit students if they are accompanied by significant and systemic reforms directed at fixing our schools’ troubled finance and governance system.
- from IREEP press release