Understanding California Education Today to Support Improvement Tomorrow

The past 10 years have been a period of remarkable transformation for California’s PreK-12 public school system. The state has enacted sweeping changes to academic standards and assessments, and has also made dramatic shifts to its approach to resource allocation, decision-making authority, and accountability.

As the state embarks on its next chapter of education policy, a thorough analysis of the PreK-12 system and how recently adopted reforms are working is again necessary to inform the decisions policymakers will make for the next 10 years.

This report is the second in the Getting Down to Facts project, which has assembled the nation’s top education scholars to investigate the current status of PreK-12 education in California. The first groundbreaking report, released in 2007, focused on education finance and governance in California and paved the way for reforms that were necessary to put the state’s education system on the right track. Now, ten years later, Stanford University and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) offer a follow-up report entitled Getting Down to Facts II (GDTFII) to bring evidence to bear once again on the current conditions and paths forward for California’s schools.

GDTFII provides in-depth analysis of California’s education system as of 2018 and looks at what is working well and where improvement is still needed. Over one hundred researchers from the nation’s leading academic institutions focused on four aspects of California education – student success, governance systems, personnel issues, and school finance. These studies resulted in 36 methodologically rigorous technical reports that span these four areas.  Nineteen research briefs synthesize the main findings from the technical reports for a broader readership.  A summary report captures the salient findings from across the entire project.

Taken together, these research products help to build a common understanding of the performance of California’s PreK-12 school system and the opportunities for improvement. While this research is not intended to advocate specific policies, the findings provide evidence to  inform the policy decisions that can ensure California continues to move in the right direction on behalf of all students in the state.