This report is the second in a series of five publications focused on the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006. The series draws on data from an ongoing, independent evaluation of QEIA funded by the California Teachers Association (CTA). The evaluation is intended to address the following overall aims:
- Understand the extent to which schools are implementing the program;
- Explain why and how QEIA works in successful schools so that it can be replicated in others;
- For schools that struggled, explain the factors that inhibited positive outcomes;
- Examine the various impacts of QEIA on participating schools; and
- Uncover promising practices from successful schools that can be shared with others.
Following up on the first report, which was focused on an in-depth examination of QEIA in participating schools, this second report focuses specifically on stakeholders in 10 exemplary schools and their experiences with school improvement. This report addresses the following three research questions:
➊ Understand the extent to which schools are implementing the program;
➋ Explain why and how QEIA works in successful schools so that it can be replicated in others;
➌ For schools that struggled, explain the factors that inhibited positive outcomes;
Subsequent reports will analyze the contextual factors at state, district, and local levels that influenced QEIA policy implementation; examine the role of teachers unions in education reform; and draw on lessons learned from QEIA to offer implications for subsequent reforms.
OVERVIEW OF DATA SOURCES
In 2011, 18 schools were selected to participate in a two-year study to learn more specifically about the implementation strategies of successful schools, the perceived impact of QEIA on participating schools, challenges to implementation, and key factors facilitating success. Of these 18 schools, 10 schools were particularly high performing.
The case studies of these exemplary schools were largely focused on learning more about the incidents that led to school change and the various factors that facilitated success. Thus, qualitative methods – interviews, focus groups, and open-ended questionnaires – were used to address the research questions.
Schools were visited in the spring and fall of 2011. Across all exemplary schools, 99 interviews were conducted with school stakeholders. The principal was interviewed at each site along with 3-6 teacher leaders, depending on school size (e.g., chapter presidents, grade-level leaders, department chairs, leadership committee members, etc.). In high schools and middle schools, one assistant principal was also interviewed. In the high school, the school counselor was interviewed. Two members of the school site council were interviewed at each site (typically one parent and one teacher). A parent focus group comprised of 4-8 parents was conducted at all but one school. A teacher questionnaire was administered at all sites and made available to teachers during faculty meetings or through teacher mailboxes to learn more about teachers perspectives on school success (N=183).
During the spring of 2012, follow-up interviews were conducted with principals and teachers most involved in QEIA implementation (10 principals and eight teachers participated).
ABOUT THE SCHOOLS
The sample was comprised of seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school in 10 school districts. Exemplary schools were selected to represent the range of QEIA schools across the state in terms of school type, district size, geographic location, and population type (e.g., rural/small town, large city, mid-size city, etc.).
In California, schools receive a state decile ranking; by 2012, the exemplary schools had improved their state ranking by at least two deciles. Schools also receive a similar schools decile ranking; this ranking shows where schools rank on a scale of 1 to 10 compared to 100 schools of similar characteristics. Exemplary schools improved their similar schools ranking by at least three deciles.
As seen in Figure 1, prior to QEIA funding, the API scores for the exemplary QEIA schools were, on average, 34 points below the median of their similar schools. Moreover, nine exemplary schools were underperforming compared to their similar schools. By 2012, the API score for each of the exemplary schools had surpassed the median of their similar schools (see Figure 1).
OVERVIEW OF QEIA
In 1988, California voters approved Proposition 98, which guaranteed a minimum amount of state and property tax revenue for K-14 education each year. In 2004/05, the state suspended the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee, resulting in a loss of $3.2 billion to schools. CTA and the Superintendent of Public Instruction sued the Governor in August 2005, and in May 2006, the Governor settled with CTA. QEIA is the result of the settlement and was signed into legislation in September 2006 (SB 1133). QEIA was designed to provide nearly $3 billion over eight years (beginning in 2007/08) to 488 low performing schools in the bottom two deciles4.
Schools had the option for funding in the Regular Program or the Alternative Application. The accountability requirements for the Regular Program include:
➊ Reducing class sizes in grades K-12;
➋ Maintaining a student-to-counselor ratio of 300:1 in high schools;
➌ Providing professional development for teachers and paraprofessionals in core content areas and English language development;
➍ Maintaining an average teacher experience at each school equal to, or higher than, the district average for similar grade span schools;
➎ Ensuring that all teachers and interns are highly qualified in accordance with the 2001 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA);
➏ Meeting minimum requirements of the Williams Act;
➐ Ensuring that school administrators have exemplary qualifications and experience;
➑ Providing professional development to administrators that is similar in quality and rigor to the Administrator Training Program; and
➒ Meeting state Academic Performance Index (API) targets annually.
The Alternative Application (25 high schools only) enabled schools to craft their own local responses to school reform and determine their own goals, implementation activities, and benchmarks for success.
A total of 509 schools have received QEIA funding since the reform began. These schools represented 137 school districts throughout the state; 21% of schools that have received QEIA funding are in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Throughout the first four years of the reform, QEIA schools served approximately 400,000 students; the majority of students served were Latino/Hispanic (78%). About 90% of students qualified for free and/or reduced lunch. Half of the students in QEIA elementary schools were English learners; about one-third and one-quarter of students in middle and high schools were English learners, respectively.5
During the first five years of the program, five schools withdrew and 13 schools were closed. Ninety-six schools were exited from the program because they did not meet program requirements, bringing the current number of QEIA schools to 396 (16 Alternative Application schools; 380 Regular Program schools)6.
For additional details on QEIA, its requirements, and participating schools, see the first report in this series, Cultivating Change: A Deeper Look at QEIA Implementation (Malloy & Nee, 2013).