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INTRODUCTION

This report is the first 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:

  1. Understand the extent to which schools are implementing the program;
  2. Explain why and how QEIA works in successful schools so that it can be replicated in others;
  3. For schools that struggled, explain the factors that inhibited positive outcomes;
  4. Examine the various impacts of QEIA on participating schools; and
  5. Uncover promising practices from successful schools that can be shared with others.

This first report in the series focuses specifically on how QEIA was implemented in participating schools and addresses the following four questions:

➊ What key strategies, initiatives and programs do schools implement as part of their participation in QEIA?

➋ How and to what extent did participating schools meet QEIA program requirements?

➌ What challenges did school stakeholders face in their implementation of QEIA?

➍ What are the perceived impacts of QEIA on school practices? What factors facilitated change at school sites?

Subsequent reports will provide promising practices from the reform that can be used to foster change in struggling schools; 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

Table 1 provides an overview of the data sources used in this report.

TABLE 1 DATA SOURCES

DATA SOURCE

YEAR 1

2007/08

YEAR 2

2008/09

YEAR 3

2009/10

YEAR 4

2010/11

YEAR 5

2011/12

YEAR 6

2012/13

Case Studies

    X

    X

    X

District Interviews

    X

County Interviews

    X

QEIA Documents

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

Principal Survey

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

School-Level Data

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

CASE STUDIES

Case studies of 34 QEIA schools occurred over a three-year period as part of an action research project and a two-year case study research project. The 34 schools were selected to represent the range of QEIA schools across the state in terms of school type, geographic location, population type (e.g., rural/small town, large city, mid-size city, etc.), and API performance. Thirty-two districts statewide were represented. Twenty-two elementary schools were included; nine were middle schools, and three were high schools (two Regular Program; one Alternative Application).

Half of the schools (17) were higher growth schools, improving their state ranking and similar schools ranking by at least two decile points over the course of QEIA. Of these schools, seven had achieved an API of at least 800 in 2012; in 2011, all higher growth schools had a state rank of at least 3 and similar schools rank of at least 6. Thirteen schools were characterized as lower growth schools (13); these schools demonstrated smaller gains in academic performance (i.e., modest growth, sustained ranks, met API requirements). The four remaining schools were struggling schools; in fact, these schools were terminated from the program in 2012 because they did not meet API targets.

Action Research

During the spring of 2010, 22 QEIA schools were visited as part of an action research project conducted in collaboration with the California Teachers Association. The research was intended to uncover lessons learned from the first three years of the reform that could be shared among practitioners in QEIA schools in training sessions, online, and in symposia.

Nearly 250 school stakeholders participated in data collection. The principal and two teacher leaders from each school were interviewed (N=22; N=44, respectively); a teacher focus group comprised of a representative sample of teachers was conducted in each school. School support staff, district administrators, parents, and community members were invited to share their experiences with QEIA implementation during “drop-in discussions.” Interviews, focus groups, and drop-in discussions were focused on examining initial goals and plans for QEIA in each school, implementation activities, roles of various stakeholders in QEIA, and initial impacts of QEIA on schools.

Two-Year Case Studies

In 2011, 18 schools were selected to participate in a follow-up 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. Six of the schools visited in 2010 agreed to participate; 12 new schools were recruited.

Schools were visited in the spring of 2011 and fall of 2011. Across all 18 schools, 146 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, counselors and one assistant principal were also 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 17 of the 18 schools. At one school, a focus group was attempted; however, no participants attended. A teacher survey was administered at all sites and made available to all teachers during faculty meetings to learn more about teacher perceptions of QEIA.

During the spring of 2012, follow-up interviews were conducted with principals and teachers most involved in QEIA implementation in the 18 schools (17 principals and 16 teachers participated).

QEIA DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE INTERVIEWS

Telephone interviews were conducted with representatives from 73 of the 138 districts (53%) responsible for QEIA schools to learn more about the district’s role, QEIA implementation at school sites, and perceived impact of QEIA. All district representatives were invited to participate. Telephone interviews lasted for approximately 30 minutes; interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim for content analysis.

QEIA COUNTY REPRESENTATIVE INTERVIEWS

Telephone interviews were conducted with representatives from 22 of the 42 counties (52%) responsible for monitoring QEIA schools to learn more about the monitoring process and QEIA implementation at school sites. All county representatives were invited to participate. Telephone interviews lasted for approximately 30 minutes; interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim for content analysis.

QEIA DOCUMENTS

Documents containing QEIA-related information such as the First Progress Report by the California Department of Education1, county monitoring reports, and state board meeting agendas and minutes were collected and reviewed.

PRINCIPAL SURVEY

Each year during the spring, all principals working in QEIA schools were surveyed regarding their attitudes about QEIA, stakeholder support for implementing QEIA, progress on legislative requirements, perceived impacts of QEIA, professional development, key QEIA initiatives, and implementation challenges. Surveys were administered each Spring by mail and online. Table 2 provides an overview of response rates.

TABLE 2 PRINCIPAL SURVEY RESPONSE RATES

YEAR

#

MAILED

#

RETURNED BY MAIL

#

RETURNED ONLINE

TOTAL RETURNED

RESPONSE RATE

Year 1

(2007/08)

488

121

15

136

28%

Year 2

(2008/09)

487

119

26

145

30%

Year 3

(2009/10)

498

97

23

120

24%

Year 4

(2010/11)

490

104

32

136

33%

SCHOOL-LEVEL DATA

School-level data from CDE2 for all QEIA schools was downloaded and analyzed using Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Data included: school enrollment data; student demographic data; and Academic Performance Index (API) scores, state rankings, and similar schools rankings. Descriptive statistics – frequencies and means – were generated for this report to provide information related to student enrollment, student demographics, and changes over time in school performance.

1 California Department of Education (January, 2010). Quality Education Investment Act: Report to the Legislature and the Governor – First Progress Report. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/lp/qe/documents/qeialegrpt.doc

2 Data sources include CDE’s Dataquest (http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/), for student enrollment and student demographics. API base and growth research files were used to capture API data (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/apidatafiles.asp).

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association