Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education
Accountability for Learner Outcomes and Institutional Performance
For the past 42 years, California's postsecondary education enterprise has been guided by the Master Plan for Higher Education, which differentiated the missions to be pursued by each public college and university system, defined the pools from which they would select their freshman population, and established a mechanism for coordination, planning, and policy development. Upon review of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the governing boards, a particular concern emerged that there is incomplete information available on institutional and system performance and student achievement. All three public postsecondary education systems should be required to participate in data collection specified by the State for evaluation of their performance. Although the Joint Committee has identified the need for the University of California to expand its efforts to work more effectively with the PreK-12 community, the Legislature, and the Governor's administration to ensure that state-identified priorities are met, there is no compelling reason to alter the powers, responsibilities or structure of the Regents as specified in the State constitution. Similarly, the structure, powers, and responsibilities of the Trustees of the California State University are not in need of modification at this time. However, the Board of Governors for the California Community Colleges requires modification to elevate its powers, structure, and responsibilities commensurate with that assigned to the California State University Board of Trustees.
California also has an extensive array of regionally accredited not-for-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that make a substantial contribution to meeting the postsecondary education needs of Californians. They should continue to be considered a vital part of California's postsecondary education sector. In addition, California provides state approval to approximately 230 private, degree-granting institutions and nearly 2,500 private postsecondary vocational schools in the state, many of which are not regionally accredited. These institutions have been separately regulated and operate apart from California's education system. Both sets of non-public institutions should be explicitly incorporated into California's vision for a student-focused education system and subject to similar expectations for quality and measures of student achievement.
Effective planning has been and will continue to be essential to accommodating the demand for postsecondary education in this state. It has enabled California to leverage the resources of independent colleges and universities to complement the capacity of its public postsecondary education institutions in meeting the needs of Californians for education and training beyond high school. Long range planning should be expanded to leverage the resources of private postsecondary education institutions as well.
Long-range planning is equally essential to its preschool to adult school sectors of education. The Legislature and Governor should be able to turn to a single source to acquire information to anticipate the needs of public education in their annual policy and budget deliberations. We offer recommendations below to achieve this end:
The California Community Colleges should be reconstituted as a public trust with its board of governors responsible for overall governance, setting system policy priorities, budget advocacy, and accountability for a multi-campus system. The primary functions of the California Community Colleges should continue to include instruction in the general or liberal arts and sciences up through, but not exceeding, the second year of postsecondary education leading to associate's degrees or transfer to other institutions; education, training, and services that advance California's economic growth; and vocational and technical instruction leading to employment, and community services. Community colleges should also be authorized to:
- Provide instruction at the upper division level jointly with the California State University, University of California, or a WASC-accredited independent or private postsecondary education institution.
The California Community College system has suffered from fragmentation for decades stemming from governance responsibilities' having been assigned by statute to local boards of trustees, now 72 in number, and designation of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office as a state agency, subject to oversight by a variety of other state agencies. In addition to personnel salaries and actions being subject to approval by the Department of General Services, the State Personnel Board, and the Governor (in the case of senior staff appointments), policy priorities adopted by the Board of Governors cannot be enforced without triggering the state mandates clause of the California constitution - effectively neutralizing the Board of Governors' ability to govern the system. The result is highly unequal performance and highly unequal opportunities to learn afforded to students enrolled in community colleges throughout the state.
The community college system, to be effective, needs a clear statement of functions and authority for the Board of Governors and the local boards of trustees. This assignment of respective functions should clarify that it is the responsibility of the Board of Governors to ensure the performance of such duties as system governance, establishing statewide policy, negotiating funding, managing, and setting accountability standards for all the colleges collectively. As with its California State University and University of California counterparts, the Board of Governors should have the flexibility to delegate primary responsibility for academic matters to its faculty senate, recognizing the considerable expertise that resides within the faculty ranks, and the authority to establish and disband any number of advisory/consultation groups to assist it in making final decisions on policy priorities for the system. There is also concern about the number and size of local districts, both in terms of capacity to maintain quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students and the containment of costs for administrative oversight of the colleges. To address these concerns, we offer the following additional recommendations:
The membership of the California Community College Board of Governors should be modified to include as ex-officio members the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the Assembly.
The responsibilities of the California Community College Board of Governors should be defined as the following:
- Exercise general supervision over, and coordination of, the local community college districts;
- Provide leadership and direction through research and planning;
- Establish minimum conditions and standards for all districts to receive state support and to function within the system;
- Establish specific accountability measures and assure evaluation of district performance based on those measures;
- Approve courses of instruction and educational programs that meet local, regional, and state needs;
- Administer state operational and capital outlay support programs;
- Adopt a proposed system budget and allocation process;
- Ensure system-wide articulation with other segments of education; and
- Represent the districts before state and national legislative and executive agencies.
The responsibilities of the California Community College local boards of trustees should be defined as the following:
- Establish, maintain, and oversee the colleges within each district;
- Assure each district meets the minimum conditions and standards established by the Board of Governors;
- Establish policies for local academic, operations, and facilities planning to assure accomplishment of the statutory mission within conditions and standards established by the Board of Governors;
- Adopt local district budgets;
- Oversee the procurement and management of property;
- Establish policies governing student conduct; and
- Establish policies to guide new course development, course revision/deletion, and curricular quality.
The California Community College Board of Governors should have the same degree of flexibility and authority as that of the California State University, including the authority to appoint and approve senior staff of the Board of Governors.
A state assessment should be conducted on the value of and need for restructuring of local districts, with attention to the size and number of colleges in a district, as well as the scope of authority that should be assigned to each district. Should this assessment find restructuring valuable and desirable, incentives should be provided to encourage restructuring.
The status of the California State University as a public trust; and the size, composition, term of office, and responsibilities of its Board of Trustees should remain unchanged. The primary functions of the California State University should continue to include instruction in the liberal arts and sciences through the master's degree, in the professions and applied fields that require more than two years of postsecondary education, and in teacher education. It should continue to be authorized to:
- Award the doctoral degree jointly with the University of California or with a WASC-accredited independent or private postsecondary institution;
- Engage in faculty research, using state-supported facilities provided for and consistent with the primary function of the California State University.
The University of California should continue to be constituted as provided in Section 9, Article IX of California's constitution. The size, composition, term of office, and responsibilities of its Board of Regents should remain unchanged. The primary functions of the University of California should continue to include instruction in the liberal arts and sciences and in the professions, including teacher education. It should continue to have exclusive jurisdiction among public postsecondary education for instruction in the professions of law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. The University of California should continue to have sole authority to award doctoral degrees in all fields, except that it may agree to jointly award doctoral degrees with the California State University in selected fields. The University of California should continue to be the primary, although not exclusive, academic agency for research.
The Legislature should convene a task force to develop a strategic plan for the delivery of adult education, including a list of indicators that should be used to assess the effectiveness of California's Adult Education system. The task force assembled for this purpose should submit its plan to the Legislature for adoption.
The task force should solicit advice from representatives of the Department of Education, the California Community Colleges, local service providers in the areas of adult and noncredit education, including regional occupation centers and programs, the Employment Development Department, at least one local workforce investment board, the Legislative Analyst's Office, and the Governor's Office. Advisors should also include representatives from important stakeholder groups including business and adult education students.
California's commitment to educating its populace is reflected in its provision of educational services to adults through both the K-12 and the community college systems. These services address adults' needs to become self-sufficient in a timely manner. Attainment of self sufficiency usually entails developing basic educational skills, learning English, acquiring vocational training, and otherwise preparing to participate effectively and productively in society and the economy. The State has not established systematic procedures for determining how and what services should be provided to help adults achieve self sufficiency, however, and this multimillion dollar enterprise is currently difficult for some adult learners to navigate as they embark on efforts to prepare themselves to meet the demands of the contemporary high-performance workplace and to participate effectively in civic affairs. It is in the State's interest to ensure that the delivery system for adult education meets students' immediate learning objectives and that students successfully transition into employment, gain English language literacy and civic skills, gain access to additional formal education, and pursue the long-term skills development goals they have identified as part of a plan for lifelong learning.
Increased efficiency would result if the provision of adult education services were delineated by curricular function or geographic location between school districts and community colleges. Adult education providers should target elementary and secondary basic skills courses to California adults seeking instruction that enables them to become self sufficient, as well as instruction that leads to meeting requirements for high school diplomas or their equivalent, and be assigned responsibility for instructing adults without high school diplomas in the knowledge and skills assessed in the California High School Exit Examination.
Other categories of instruction provided by adult education programs and community colleges that overlap should be reviewed to determine if this same delineation, or any other, would be appropriate. Therefore, for all instructional categories, the task force should assess whether K-12 operated adult schools should be limited to providing services to students who do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent and the community colleges limited to providing services to those who either have a high school diploma or who are at least 18 and whose academic goals include a certificate, an associate's degree, or transfer preparation. Both providers should also be obligated to structure their educational offerings to be consistent with contemporary academic standards.
Remedial or developmental instruction aimed at preparing adults for enrollment in credit-bearing collegiate coursework is part of the mission assigned to community colleges and, to a lesser extent, a function performed by the California State University and University of California systems. Such instruction should not be described as leading toward a high school diploma or its equivalent and should not be viewed as part of the adult education delivery system.
English as a Second Language, Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills, and Vocational Education courses should be considered state priorities for adult education. These categories constitute the greatest needs for the majority of adult education participants. Other categories of instruction provide valued services to local communities and may be provided as resources permit. The State should also ensure that resources are available to identify and accommodate learning disabilities among adult participants, many of whom struggle through academic experiences with unidentified learning disabilities. Counseling services must also be supported to assist adult learners in pursuing life-long learning, including opportunities to build basic communication, information-handling, civic, and other job related skills.
Vocational Education programs included in adult education should be aligned programmatically with other workforce preparation programs in the community, including those linked with one-stop career centers and regional occupation programs and centers because of the services both sectors provide to the adult learner.
In some areas of the state, community colleges have been the primary, if not exclusive, providers of adult education. By definition, remedial education provided by postsecondary education institutions is precollegiate instruction and hence overlaps the function suggested as proper for adult education. This fact does not have to result in confusion or undesirable competition, provided the area of overlap is both constrained and well defined. To ensure that such confusion is avoided, we further recommend:
To ensure that comparable quality of instruction is available to all Californians enrolling in adult continuing education, the State should quickly move toward reciprocity of instructional credentials, based on appropriate minimum qualifications, between the K-12-operated adult and community college-operated noncredit education systems, to allow instructors to teach in either or both systems.
State priorities for adult and noncredit education should include English as a Second Language, Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills, and Vocational Education. The State should strive to provide adequate resources to ensure that these priorities are addressed by all adult education providers.
The Legislature should review the founding statutes of the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and should confirm or amend them, as appropriate, to ensure that the commission has the capacity and authority to carry out its mission as the coordinating entity for postsecondary education and chief objective adviser to the Governor and Legislature regarding the continuing improvement of California postsecondary education.
In order to meet the comprehensive, yet diverse, educational needs of all Californians, the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education delineated a multi-part system of postsecondary education including the three public segments (the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California), coordinated with California's independent colleges and universities. In order to provide the Legislature and the Governor a coherent, broad analysis and objective advice regarding the current and future interrelated operation of these postsecondary segments, the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) was created in 1973.
In our current time of profound change and enormous enrollment growth, CPEC's coordination and analysis mission continues to be of vital importance. However, the commission is currently impeded by insufficient funding and by a plethora of statutory and legislative directives regarding its work that are beyond its capacity to fulfill. This has lessened the commission's capacity to speak for the broad public interest on the issues most critical to postsecondary student success. The commission is further impeded by its not being assigned sufficient authority to require coordinated efforts on the part of the postsecondary segments. The Legislature should ensure adequate funding for CPEC to carry out its most essential functions, and eliminate those lesser priority demands that stretch the agency beyond its primary goals. More broadly, this Joint Committee believes that CPEC must provide more than policy analysis; it must provide a prominent voice for the public interest in postsecondary education, aiming to inform the Legislature and the public on the fiscal and programmatic implications of California's need for a better-educated population and on how California postsecondary education could be improved to enable all Californians to realize their potential.
While the University of California, the California State University, the California Community Colleges, and California's independent colleges and universities hold the public interest central to their missions and planning, they cannot individually see or plan for the overall development between them. CPEC must serve the roles of both coordinating and planning for a much more integrated and visionary approach to postsecondary education between and among the segments. The Joint Committee further believesthe commission would benefit from the immediate involvement of the leadership of the different segments. Hence, we recommend:
The Commission's primary functions should include:
- Providing long-range planning for meeting the postsecondary education needs of Californians, including the adequate provision of facilities, programs, and campuses, and assessing and advising state policymakers regarding priorities dictated by current and evolving public needs;
- Providing policy and fiscal analyses regarding the most critical issues affecting the success of Californians in attending and graduating from postsecondary education institutions;
- Coordinating the analyses, policy recommendations, and long-range planning proposals of various public and private entities, as needed, to secure the long-term fiscal stability and public financing of public postsecondary education, including the development of student fee and financial aid policies and the efficient use of state resources across segmental boundaries;
- Advising the Legislature on appropriate accountability indicators for postsecondary education, to be adopted in statute, and subsequently reporting annually to the Legislature and the Governor on the performance of public postsecondary institutions in meeting the adopted indicators.
- Evaluating and reporting to the Legislature and the Governor the extent to which public postsecondary education institutions are operating consistent with state policy priorities and discharging the responsibilities assigned to them in statute;
- Reviewing and approving new public campuses for postsecondary education; and
- Reviewing academic programs for public, postsecondary education institutions.
CPEC should be given the authority to require information to be submitted by the various segments of postsecondary education. Each year, immediately prior to the Legislature's postsecondary education budget deliberations, CPEC should provide a report to the budget committee chairs of both houses, and to the Legislative Analyst, regarding the record of the various segments in responding to the Commission's requests for information.
CPEC should continue to be advised by the existing statutory advisory committee. The segmental representatives to the CPEC statutory advisory committee should consist of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor of the California State University, the President of the University of California, the President of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, or an executive-level designee of each.
The Legislature and Governor should immediately create a new California Education Commission (CEC). The CEC should have initial responsibility for planning, coordination, and analysis that encompasses preschool and K-12 education, as well as the interface between K-12 and postsecondary education.
The lack of overall coordination among the State's multiple education agencies is one of the largest systemic governance problems in California. Combined with insufficient delineation of authority, this problem results in an educational system that is not structured in a manner conducive to consistent responsiveness to the comprehensive needs of learners. As has been discussed throughout this report, coordination is necessary not only among the distinct postsecondary education sectors, which operate in concert to serve all Californians, but between K-12 and postsecondary education, as well as between preschool and K-12. To realize this Plan's vision of a coherent system of education in California, a single entity - a California Education Commission - should be assigned responsibility for these coordinating, planning, and forecasting functions, encompassing PreK-12 education and the interface between the PreK-12 and the postsecondary education sectors.
The California Education Commission should initially focus on the planning and coordinating functions related to the interface of the PreK-12 and postsecondary sectors, since there is an absolute deficiency of structural capacity in California to address those issues today. As they pursue their educational goals, California students encounter critical disjunctures within our education system. These disjunctures pertain especially to many aspects of the transition from high school to college, and to joint programs that span multiple segments of education.
The development of rational public policy for education requires the availability of comprehensive data, as well as other critical information, on which to base judgments of program effectiveness, policy and fiscal needs, demographically-driven needs, and other critical issues. These data should incorporate, but not be limited to, information regarding students, personnel, facilities, and instructional materials. California's many education and state agencies currently gather and maintain significant amounts of data related to education, but their data collection efforts are fragmented - often data on similar elements are gathered pursuant to differing data standards, such that the information cannot be integrated in a manner that can serve public policy interests. These multiple data sources can be better combined to enable a more complete understanding of the current and anticipated conditions of our education system only if they are gathered pursuant to common standards and maintained comprehensively within a single entity. The proposed roles related to multiple aspects of public education that would be assigned to the California Education Commission would make it the logically appropriate entity to carry out the function of serving as the state's education data repository. Moreover, many observers ascribe conflicts of interest to agencies that both collect/maintain and use data; such perceived conflicts could be substantially reduced by requiring the CEC to publish the methodology and assumptions used when using collected data for analytic purposes.
To ensure that the critical functions assigned to the commission are effectively met, we further recommend:
The commission's primary functions should be:
- Providing long-range analysis and planning for meeting the educational needs of all Californians;
- Providing policy and fiscal advice, based on data analysis, that represents the public interest in California's education system;
- Serving as California's statewide education data repository;
- Evaluating the extent to which all public education institutions are operating consistent with state policy priorities;
- Advising the Legislature and the Governor on the potential and actual impacts of major education policy proposals or initiatives;
- Coordinating statewide articulation of curriculum and assessment between the PreK-12 and postsecondary education sectors;
- Providing long-term planning for the development of joint and other shared use of facilities and programs between PreK-12 and postsecondary education entities;
- Sponsoring and directing inter-segmental programs that benefit students making the transition from secondary school to college and university; and
- Coordinating outreach activities among PreK-12 schools and postsecondary education and work-sector entities.
The Legislature should identify and implement effective mechanisms to compel all relevant agencies with responsibility for gathering and maintaining comprehensive data on one or more aspects of California's education system, preschool through university, to submit specified data to the commission.
The Joint Committee should consider structuring the California Education Commission with eight lay representatives: four appointed by the Governor, two appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and two appointed by the Assembly Speaker. In addition, the Superintendent of Public Instruction should serve as the chair of the commission. This structural option should be evaluated against other options and the preferred model submitted to the Legislature and Governor for adoption.
All oversight of state-approved private colleges and universities offering academic degrees at the associate of arts level or higher should be transferred from the Department of Consumer Affairs to the California Postsecondary Education Commission, to ensure the quality and integrity of degrees awarded under the auspices of the State of California.
California has an enviable reputation for the quality of its regionally accredited public and independent colleges and universities. However, the private, non-accredited sector has not always shared in that reputation, a fact that led to enactment of the Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education Act in 1989. These institutions are currently regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education, which was created by 1997 legislation as the successor to the independent council created by the 1989 Act. The Joint Committee is concerned, both about the difficulties the Bureau has encountered in its efforts to implement the complex, and occasionally conflicting provisions of the 1997 legislation, and about the existence of separate governance structures for each sector of postsecondary education. The absence of confidence in the quality of academic programs provided by state-approved private institutions frustrates the ambitions of students who seek to move between these institutions and regionally accredited public and independent institutions.
In addition to academic degree-granting institutions, a number of private institutions focus on workforce training and preparation for a variety of careers. The Governor has proposed that vocational and workforce preparation programs should be consolidated to achieve greater coordination and common standards for assessing performance. There is merit to further consideration of this proposal and we therefore suggest no change at this time for unaccredited postsecondary vocational schools. Accordingly, we offer the following additional recommendations:
The California Postsecondary Education Commission should develop standards to promote articulation, when appropriate, and to foster collaborative shared use of facilities and instructional equipment between state-approved private colleges and universities awarding academic degrees and regionally accredited public and independent colleges and universities.
The California Postsecondary Education Commission should be designated as the state approval agency for veterans' institutions and veterans' courses, and should have the same powers as are currently conferred on the Director of Education by Section 12090 et seq. of the Education Code, to enter into agreements and cooperate with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or any other federal agency, regarding approval of courses, and to approve and supervise institutions that offer courses to veterans.
An accountability system for California must be guided by valid, comprehensive, understandable, and regularly reported data on a set of indicators that permit useful, informed decisions and judgments about student learning and the conditions under which the students learn. Ultimately, adequate and well-advised support for public schools depends upon the public's will to shape California's educational and other policy priorities and to making wise investments on behalf of high-quality and equitable schooling. A system of multiple indicators for accountability and improvement is crucial to marshalling public will and to wise investments in the schooling that most benefits students and the state. To develop such a system of accountability for California, the State must be guided by the following principles:
- Testing may be a necessary part of an accountability system; however, testing does not equal accountability;
- Accountability systems increase the probability of, but do not guarantee, high-quality practice leading to positive outcomes;
- Effective accountability systems call attention to needs and direct resources for addressing those needs, rather than simply initiating punitive measures;
- Indicators, like test scores, are information for an accountability system; they are not the system itself;
- Tests can enhance or undermine learning and accountability, depending on what they measure, how they are used, and how they are administered; and
- Accountability occurs only when policymakers and education providers act on information in ways that create better opportunities and outcomes for individuals and groups of students.
Educational indicators must include both input and outcome measures. The reasons for the inclusion of input measures is that some aspects of schools - for example, the provision of minimally adequate and safe facilities, and access to a curriculum of sufficient breadth - should be considered basic requirements of all districts and basic rights of all students, whether or not they influence outcome measures. Outcome measures may be insufficient to reflect compliance with these basic requirements and rights, and therefore input standards are needed as well.
Two types of input standards are proposed. The first, called guidelines, would be used as a model against which a district could compare its own expenditure choices. The elements in these guidelines would be based on the proposed California Quality Education Model that would generate target funding levels in California. The second set of input standards would establish minimum requirements for all districts and schools, which they could not fall below under any conditions and for which the State would have an obligation to ensure the provision of adequate resources. The combination of guidelines and minimum requirements would therefore provide districts with flexibility in devising their priorities for spending, while also protecting students by establishing certain absolute minimum requirements.
To build this shared accountability system, the following actions should be taken:
The State should establish a system of regularly reported indicators for PreK-12 accountability and improvement and develop a system of appropriate rewards and interventions, based on those indicators, that will promote continuous improvement of student achievement.
The Legislature should develop and the Superintendent of Public Instruction should report yearly on a comprehensive set of educational indicators, constructed from the data provided by an integrated, longitudinal, learner-focused data system and from other school-level data about educational resources, conditions, and learning opportunities. Such indicators must be easy to understand and trusted as valid and reliable. They must enable policymakers, professionals, families, and the public to monitor the status and quality of the educational system and provide information to guide the improvement of policy and practice.
To be useful, the state accountability system should monitor all levels (student, education personnel, school, district, local and state governing boards, state education agencies, Legislature, and Governor) of the educational system, and include appropriate indicators that measure the effectiveness of each level (PreK-postsecondary education) in exercising its responsibilities. Consequently, the State's indicators should enable the public to hold policymakers and governing bodies accountable for providing the commitment, policy mechanisms, resources, and conditions necessary to a high-quality system of education, as well as to hold schools, educators, and students accountable for the outcomes that result.
While this Master Plan focuses on holding all participants in the education system accountable for student outcomes, comprehensive understanding of student achievement levels is informed by identification of the availability of learning resources and opportunities. Additional information on the resources and opportunities to learn provided to students should be reported to the public and used by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to help the public gain a greater understanding of student achievement.
The indicators should provide comprehensive information about all schools, not just about those that are low-performing. Although there are many exemplary schools, the State needs information about these schools just as it needs information about schools in which students are underserved. Finally, the indicators should be structured to permit analysis of opportunities and outcomes by racial, ethnic, linguistic, and gender populations, and among students assigned to various programs within schools. Given the intended purposes of these indicators, we further recommend the following:
The K-12 Academic Performance Index (API) should be expanded in statute so that it includes grade promotion and other indicators of academic outcomes, in addition to multiple measures of student achievement and indicators of opportunities for teaching and learning.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction should identify appropriate school-level indicators of schools' status regarding the availability and use of high-quality learning resources, conditions, and opportunities, based on standards that specify what government agencies - the State and school districts - must provide all schools. This information should be collected by the California Education Commission and reported by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a format that permits comparison against standards arising from the state's California Quality Education Model and made publicly available through revision of the School Accountability Report Card.
The California Education Commission should collect appropriate and relevant data to allow the Superintendent of Public Instruction to assess and report on the effectiveness of California's programs for young children, and integrate these data collection and analysis efforts with the K-12 API effort.
The State should create benchmarks and criteria, based on prototype schools, that will serve as desirable models of high-quality schools. They would also serve as the basis for determining adequacy of funding and provide potential expenditure streams to guide local education decision makers. The State should also collect and disseminate information about actual schools with effective programs and practices that promote student achievement.
The State should develop a long-term strategic plan for the meaningful use of accountability data and indicators that are linked to state educational goals by state and local policymakers, educators, and all Californians to determine the impact of programs and interventions designed to improve learning conditions and outcomes. The plan should also contain strategies for remedying identified inadequacies.
The State should develop a series of progressive interventions in K-12 education that support low performing schools' efforts to build their organizational capacity, develop high-quality programs, and support student learning, particularly in schools of the greatest need. The State should also develop a series of progressive rewards that recognize schools for significant improvement and high achievement. The criteria for implementing interventions and rewards should be clearly defined and linked to the evaluation of annual performance data.
The State should develop a series of definitive actions to apply as consequences to any entity within the public education system that fails to meet its responsibilities. These actions should range from loss of flexibility in defined expenditure decisions to the loss of control of its responsibilities.
The accountability system should enable policymakers and the public to detect performance barriers beyond the level of the school, and distinguish carefully among actors or agencies primarily causing them. At a minimum, the Superintendent of Public Instruction should measure, report, and use all performance indicators at the state and district levels, as well as at the school level, and develop mechanisms to hold state agencies and districts directly accountable for their schools' performance, consistent with the discussion of accountability on pages 108-109 of this report.
The State should establish a consistent and straightforward way for local schools to describe their expenditure and programmatic decisions, to compare them with the State's prototype expenditure guidelines, minimum standards, and outcome goals, and to clarify the trade-offs implicit in budget decisions.
The California Department of Education should expand adult education course standards to include student performance measures such as those developed by the National Skill Standards Board, the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), and Equipped for the Future.
Currently there are state-approved model standards for five of the ten existing categories of noncredit and adult education. The established standards support programs in English as a Second Language, Adult Elementary and Secondary Skills, Parent Education, Older Adult, and Adults with Disabilities programs. With the exception of those for the Adults with Disabilities category, the standards are currently being reviewed and updated by providers of adult education services. If the program categories are revised to include an emphasis on workforce learning, these standards should be expanded to include student performance measures such as those developed by the National Skills Standards Board, SCANS, and Equipped for the Future. To promote meeting these multiple standards for adult education, we further recommend:
The State should support and expand existing accountability mechanisms for adult education providers that emphasize student performance and reward institutions for improving student achievement. The State should also encourage incorporation of the foregoing standards for workplace skills and adoption of state standards for student achievement.
The State should bring postsecondary education into an integrated accountability system by developing a set of accountability indicators that are consistent with state policy objectives and institutional missions and that would monitor quality and equity in access and achievement of all students in common academic content areas. All public, independent, and private institutions should be required to participate in the reporting of these accountability indicators as a condition of receiving state moneys either through direct appropriation or student financial aid.
The principle of accountability should apply at both the PreK-12 and postsecondary levels, although the particulars of accountability must differ for the two levels. While elementary and secondary standards work toward a set of knowledge and skills common to all students, postsecondary certificate and degree programs are based on student specialization in particular disciplines, so that multiple measures must be developed to address the various specializations. All postsecondary education institutions require their undergraduates to complete a common set of general education courses, which could serve as a foundation for accountability in common content areas. Postsecondary institutions should determine additional measures of accountability for undergraduate major and graduate subject matter areas, for which their respective faculty establish competencies. The Monterey Bay campus of the California State University has already proceeded to develop "major learning requirements"for each of its majors; those requirements warrant examination to identify the challenges that must be overcome to successfully make progress in this area.
Efforts to bring the postsecondary segments into an integrated accountability system should incorporate, yet move beyond the input measures traditionally used for accreditation and other purposes, measuring more fully the student and institutional outcomes that reflect State and institutional priorities. Included in these outcome measures should be labor market participation of graduates, such as those currently used by many business schools. They should provide information that assists consumers in making informed decisions on accessing postsecondary education, assists policy-makers in determining state policy and fiscal investment decisions, and assists institutions in their efforts to achieve continuous improvement. An expanded accountability system should build on the initial, but insufficient, accountability mechanisms that California already has put in place under the aegis of the Community Colleges Partnership for Excellence and the University of California and California State University partnership models. These models document enrollment, successful course completion, advancement to the next academic level within basic skill disciplines, workforce preparation, degree and certificate attainment, and the achievement of university transfer. These partnerships should be expanded to incorporate the Legislature as a full member of the partnership between the Governor and each postsecondary education sector. In this regard, we further recommend:
The State's accountability framework for postsecondary education should be improved by modification and expansion of the 'partnership' budget approach, currently applied to the University of California and the California State University systems, to include all postsecondary education, clarify the link between performance and funding, and adopt realistic alternatives for times of revenue downturns.
The State should specify the set of indicators of student and institutional performance on which every public college and university must provide data annually, along with an implementation timeline.