Contact: Mike Myslinski, 650-552-5324 or 408-921-5769 (cell)
BURLINGAME – In positive news for a landmark, CTA-backed school reform program, the overwhelming majority of the 500 at-risk California public schools getting extra resources from the Quality Education Investment Act are exceeding academic growth targets set by the 2006 QEIA law, preliminary new state data show.
Teachers at these schools are sharing best practices that work. Research has shown that QEIA has been a catalyst for increasing teacher collaboration, improving instruction, and strengthening the quality of professional development in several schools.
To continue to receive their share of nearly $3 billion in resources over eight years for smaller class sizes, more counselors, better teacher training and other proven reforms, these mostly high-poverty QEIA schools have to meet various targets. They had to exceed three-year average growth targets defined by the state’s Academic Performance Index (API), which is based primarily on standardized test scores. The good news is that approximately 85 percent of the QEIA schools exceeded those three-year API targets – and a remarkable 95 percent or so had positive API score growth during that period, preliminary state data indicate. More than half of the QEIA schools that exceeded their three-year targets exceeded them by three times or more the required average API score.
“More than three full years of targeting these at-risk schools with the proven reforms that matter most is clearly paying off with significant academic achievement,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “This program’s emphasis on the value of teacher collaboration and parental involvement is working. An overwhelming number of QEIA schools are exceeding the academic benchmarks set for them by the law – and that’s great news, considering that the advances come despite unprecedented education cuts statewide.”
The California Department of Education is nearly finished with certifying the API growth target data for all QEIA schools. The trend is overwhelmingly positive, especially considering that many of these schools are in districts that were hit hard by cuts.
In the past four years, K-12 schools and community colleges suffered at least $18 billion in cuts and deferrals. The QEIA funding was not interrupted, however, since it was part of a CTA school funding lawsuit settlement, which led to Senate Bill 1133 and the creation of the QEIA program. It serves nearly 500,000 mostly lower-income, ethnic minority students. Targeted schools must also reduce class sizes and meet other requirements to stay in the program.
The QEIA program is the largest school turn-around program of its kind in the nation.
The carefully targeted QEIA reforms are working. The law’s funding is intended to reduce class sizes, improve teacher and principal training, and ensure instruction by qualified teachers. The program also provides more school counselors, increased parental involvement through school site councils, and gives schools the flexibility they need to support programs that best fit the local needs of their students.
Independent research also shows the value of QEIA in ways that go beyond API test scores. For example, a November 2010 report by an independent research firm tracking QEIA made these conclusions:
• Smaller class sizes matter at QEIA schools and allow teachers to focus more on classroom instruction. School implementation plans are largely focused on class size reduction, professional development, collaboration time and the adoption of curricular interventions.
• Professional development decisions in higher growth schools are made in collaborative teams with teacher input, leading to greater satisfaction among all stakeholders.
• Higher API growth QEIA schools used student data to guide and focus professional development decisions.
• Higher API growth schools also engaged in more teacher collaboration to develop lesson plans, create common assessments and analyze student data.
To read the 40-page report titled “Lessons From The Classroom: Initial Success for At-Risk Students” and to follow more updates on the QEIA program, go to www.cta.org.
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.