Every California student needs a high quality education
California’s 6.2 million students lag behind nationally on achievement measures; in the most recent assessments, California ranked 46th in 4th grade reading and 42nd in 8th grade math. Much more can be done to ensure that every child gets a high-quality education that prepares them for college, career and civic life. Eight in ten California students graduate on time, but only 42 percent of graduates complete the minimum entrance requirements for University of California and California State University schools. These figures are even lower for Latino (32 percent) and African American (31 percent) students.
The Smarter Balanced Assessments, part of the state’s new testing system, hold California students to more rigorous standards when assessing critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills. The 2015 results indicated that across grade levels only 44 percent of students met or exceeded state standards for English Language Arts and fewer, 33 percent, were able to meet or exceed math standards. Moreover, English Language Arts assessments for 11th graders revealed that only 56 percent of students were considered ready or conditionally ready for college level work and math assessments demonstrated only 29 percent were ready or conditionally ready for college level math.
A number of non-academic factors, like school connectedness, contribute to school success. These factors can highlight significant disparities affecting students’ well-being. Only 34 percent of African American students and 42 percent of Latino students feel a high level of school connectedness, compared to over 54 percent of white students, meaning many students of color aren’t getting the support they need to succeed.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California should ensure every child graduates from high school ready for college, career and civic life by establishing a system of school accountability. This system should include information for all stakeholders, rigorous and achievable expectations for students and educators, supports to foster continuous improvement, and interventions when necessary – all with a focus on student success. When improvement is needed, California must ensure all schools, districts, charters and county offices can access timely and locally tailored supports, so they can effectively meet the needs of all students.
The passage of the Local Control Funding Formula legislation was a step toward meeting California students’ needs, but more must be done. The State Board of Education has been working to develop a new accountability framework to track the success of each student entering the state’s K-12 system, and efforts to update laws and regulations currently in place to measure student success should begin in 2016. In its new accountability system, California will build on several components created by the Local Control Funding Formula legislation. While this accountability system has been in transition for several years, parents and students should soon see a framework that will effectively assess how kids are doing, and inform how schools improve.