Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324.
LIVERMORE - New independent research shows that the state’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006 is working, and that its proven reforms for hundreds of at-risk California public schools are making a vital difference. CTA Board of Directors member Terri Jackson outlined the research in a news conference at a highly successful, QEIA-supported elementary school here today.
Speakers at award-winning, high-poverty Marylin Avenue Elementary highlighted the research and recounted how QEIA is helping at-risk schools to thrive and excel. More time for professional development is making a big difference here, as are smaller class sizes and more resources provided by what is the largest school reform law of its kind in the nation. There are 56 QEIA-supported public schools in the Bay Area and about 400 statewide.
“With QEIA, we are finding new and effective ways to help our vulnerable students and to discover practices that all teachers can learn from,” said Jackson, a teacher in the East Bay. “New research shows that these proven reforms are leading to positive impacts in achievement, school reputation, school climate and parent engagement at our schools of greatest need.”
The California Teachers Association sponsored the law, SB 1133, that created QEIA to settle a CTA lawsuit against former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about funds owed to public schools. Over eight years, the program now targets several hundred at-risk schools with nearly $3 billion in proven reforms, such as smaller class sizes, better training for teachers and principals, quality professional development, more collaboration time, and more counselors in high schools. Several QEIA schools have won awards. For its academic gains, Marylin Avenue Elementary won an achievement award from the California Business for Education Excellence group in 2012. Its faculty collaboration is making news. The statewide QEIA program received international acclaim last year in a book by education reform researchers.
Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Superintendent Kelly Bowers also praised the promise of QEIA.
“The students of Marylin Avenue Elementary have benefited tremendously from the Quality Education Investment Act funding,” Bowers said. “The additional funding has allowed the school to maintain a small class size at every level despite difficult financial times and ensured that all Marylin teachers have received the highest quality professional development. This targeted investment directly into the
classroom and into high-caliber instruction, coupled with commitment and dedication from every single staff member, has resulted in a remarkable positive impact on student achievement. The educational and instructional program at Marylin, which is data-driven, collaborative, and individual student-focused, make it not only a model QEIA school, but a model for all schools."
The new research is the first of five reports to be issued over the next year by Vital Research of Los Angeles and is based on in-depth case studies of dozens of QEIA schools. Highlights of the report, titled “Cultivating Change in Schools: A Deeper Look at QEIA Implementation,” are online here. The full report is here.
Some key findings from the new research on QEIA:
Smaller Class Sizes Work: The reduction of class sizes mandated by QEIA across grades K-12 resulted in “better learning environments for students, more instructional time, and decreased workload for teachers.” Educators used freed up time to innovate and experiment with new strategies, and to assess students and review data more frequently. When smaller classes caused changes in practice, teachers reported “greater awareness of student needs, and higher quality instruction,” the research report notes.
Teacher Collaboration Matters: When the commitment to successful collaboration was present at QEIA schools, they were able to “cultivate stronger professional communities, greater collective accountability, increased cohesion among teachers, and more effective data use.”
Professional Development Is Key: QEIA requires better professional development training. The training that was “chosen by teachers and tightly aligned to school goals was viewed as both influential and relevant.” Teachers were “grateful for professional development that was actionable and offered immediate results in the classroom.”
Improved School Performance: While raising test scores is not the only benefit of QEIA, the targeted schools are making gains in the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores. The state’s goal is an API score of 800 for all public schools. Marylin Avenue’s API score is 833 – despite 60 percent of students being English learners and about 83 percent being low-income enough to qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Its API score for 2006 was 651, before QEIA resources took hold.
Parent Involvement Grows: Parent involvement increased at many QEIA schools. Involvement increased as parents developed “a greater understanding of how a school functions, how to apply their knowledge, and ask the right questions to best support their children academically and overall.” Parents run a food bank for local Marylin Avenue families and take classes at the school, and a campus community liaison officer helps parents find out about medical and dental care.
Once a low-performing school, education researchers and officials from other school districts now come to Marylin Avenue to study its success. Marylin educators Sharon Abri and Noah King assert that QEIA has improved professional development training for teachers, helped faculty to implement the new Common Core State Standards, and to use student data far more effectively.
“QEIA funds paid for an extra professional development day before school started for us to review and analyze student data,” Abri said. “This ownership of the data has helped us in making the gains that we have in the past few years.”
King noted that QEIA funding has allowed him to attend quality professional development trainings in Anaheim and Los Angeles. “Thanks to QEIA, my colleagues and I have been able to take the best of what we’ve learned in these trainings and apply them here,” he said. “We turned the corner with the help of QEIA, and then other schools started looking at us.”
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.