An Agenda for the Future: Mapping the Terrain of California Education

Standards & Instruction

Harrington, T. (2017, January 17). More teacher preparation needed to fully implement Common Core standards in California [Web log]. Available at

This article discusses the need for more teacher preparation to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards and includes updates on what the state is doing to address some of the related challenges. The author describes the emerging work of the Standards Implementation Steering Committee, a group designed to facilitate the teaching of new standards in math, English, science, and history in California classrooms. A cadre of experts known as “collaboration committees” contributes to this effort by working together to develop best teaching practices on these subject areas. Although the state does not have a formal responsibility for measuring the progress of Common Core implementation, the California Department of Education is working with partnering organizations to leverage resources, develop best practices, and provide professional development to ensure the successful classroom implementation of the Common Core.

Learning Policy Institute. (2017). California teacher workforce trends signal worsening shortages. Available at Signal_Worsening_Shortages_BRIEF.pdf

California’s teacher supply is insufficient to meet the demand for teachers, especially in math, science, special education, and bilingual education. Shortages have resulted in districts offering fewer and larger classes, and temporary and short-term credentials have more than doubled since the 2012-13 school year. Teachers hired on these credentials are more likely to teach in high poverty, high-minority schools. Further, enrollment in teacher preparation programs are historically low, dropping 75 percent since 2001-02. Although recent legislation aimed to address the state’s teacher shortage, the authors advocate for more immediate solutions, such as bolstering loan forgiveness programs, incentivizing high-need subject areas, and reducing barriers to re-entry into the teaching profession.

Rattray, D. (2017, May 31). California must do much more to invest in a strong teacher workforce [Web log]. Available at

The author raises concerns with the state’s teacher shortage. Despite all the programmatic and policy investments California is making into K-12 education, he argues that they will be impossible without the educators needed to implement them. Pulling from his experience in business, Rattray encourages the state to invest in and value its employees as other powerful organizations do. He recounts how shortages in the early 2000s resulted in declining student achievement and acknowledges the important first step in Governor Jerry Brown’s budget is to bolster the teaching pool, but insists that more action is necessary. Rattray highlights the ways in which the California Assembly’s budget package passed in May 2017 could help build the teacher pipeline, and urges readers to support students by supporting teachers.

Ugo, I. & Hill, L. (2017). Student achievement and growth on California’s K–12 assessments. Public Policy Institute of California. Available at

This paper examines two years of data from California’s new standardized test, with a particular emphasis on outcomes for economically disadvantaged students and English learners (EL). It also provides an analysis of how California students performed relative to other states, by subgroup (specifically economically disadvantaged students and ELs), and with respect to high needs districts. Overall, the data reveal that students performed better the second year of the test, though achievement gaps persist. Low growth and low achievement are particularly situated in schools with high shares of economically disadvantaged students. The report suggests that districts can use the results to assess student performance relative to other districts with similar demographics. Districts with strong performance on the Smarter Balanced tests might serve as a resource to struggling districts both to better implement the standards and to improve their Local Control Accountability Plans.