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New Book: "Public Engagement for Public Education"

  • 12-13-2010
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A new book co-edited by IDEA Director John Rogers and Brown University Professor Marion Orr can help put Compton news in context.

Last week, McKinley Elementary School parents in Compton pulled off the first-ever parent-led reform of an underperforming school. Using a new state law that allows a majority of parents to "trigger" reform, the McKinley parents petitioned Compton Unified School District officials to convert the school into a charter, one of four reform options that also included firing the principal, bringing in new staff or closing the school outright.

Helped by the nonprofit Parent Revolution, an organization that sprung from Green Dot charter schools, McKinley parents gathered signatures from more than 60 percent of the school's parents.

The incident has highlighted the importance of public engagement in education. A recently released book co-edited by IDEA Director John Rogers and Brown University political science Professor Marion Orr provides insights into the nuances of engagement. Chapter authors discuss the history of engagement and how it applies in today's world. Plus, as mentioned in the book's preface, it makes a point that engagement differs from participation, involvement and school choice, and outlines the necessary steps to ensure it's a communal and interdependent effort for the betterment of all students.

Public Engagement book cover


WHAT: Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools

WHO: John Rogers, IDEA director and UCLA associate professor, and Marion Orr, Brown University political science professor.

INFORMATION: Stanford University Press





Nov. 12: California's Gender Gaps

  • 11-12-2010
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This week, the Council of the Great City Schools released a report detailing just how far behind African-American males were. Twelve percent of African-American boys in fourth-grade tested proficient in reading, whereas 38 percent of white fourth-grade boys were proficient.

The same discrepancies held in math and other grade levels. In many cases, African-American boys not living in poverty tested worse than white student who qualified for free- or reduced-price lunches. In higher education, African-American males made up 5 percent of the population.

A similar gender gap persists in California, where female students are outpacing males. More females graduate from high school. More graduate having completed the necessary A-G coursework required for entry into the California State University or University of California system. More enroll in a CSU or UC campus.

The ratios grow even more when looking only at African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, three groups largely underrepresented in the state's higher education system.

For a quick look at the data and charts, download a PDF version. You can also read our Themes in the News for a more indepth view at this issue.

California gender gap


Underrepresented gender gap



Nov. 8: Huffington Post highlights IDEA's piece on voter contradictions

  • 11-08-2010
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Following last week's election, IDEA wrote about the contradictions between what the people of California wanted and expected from the state for its public schools and what they voted for at the polls. 

A Public Policy Institute of California survey found that an overwhelming majority of the state did not think the schools were adequately funded and that education reform needed to be a top priority for the next governor.

In an effort to pass budgets on time, Prop. 25 passed, switching the requirement from two-thirds requirement to a simple majority. The electorate also defeated Prop. 24, which would have repealed $1.3 million in corporate tax breaks, but passed Prop. 26, calling for a two-thirds majority to levy fees.

As Gov.-elect Jerry Brown said on election night: "The taxpayers gave and they took away."

Read the full piece as it appears on the Huffington Post and what types of reform efforts will be needed with limited funds.

INFORMATION MTGS: Principal Leadership Institute Prepares Tomorrow's Leaders

  • 11-02-2010
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UCLA's Principal Leadership Institute program is holding information sessions in the next two months for educators interested in becoming social justice leaders in Los Angeles schools.

The Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) recruits, trains and supports a diverse group of individuals committed to the principles of academic excellence, equity and integrity as a way to maximize achievement and opportunity for students in urban schools.

The rigorous 15-month program is aligned to the California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. It offers a master's degree in education and a Tier-1 administrative credential. The next cohort will begin summer 2011.

The program is designed to attract outstanding educators who have administrative interests and recognized potential. We encourage applicants with:

  • Five or more years experience as a classroom teacher, minimum three years
  • Experience working for educational justice with other teachers
  • Experience working for change alongside parents and community groups
  • A commitment to Los Angeles youth and communities

Upcoming Information Sessions and Workshops

WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.

             Saturday, Nov. 20 at 9 a.m.

             Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.

             Statement of Purpose workshops also held on Saturday, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 at 9 a.m.

WHERE: All sessions will be at UCLA's Moore Hall.

RSVP: Contact 310-267-4905

INFORMATION: or contact John Rogers, PLI Faculty Director.


Sept. 28: Court ruling first step; policy needed to ensure quality teachers

  • 09-29-2010
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UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers comments on next steps to ensure high-quality teachers at low-income schools

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that teaching interns cannot be considered "highly qualified" teachers in public schools.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that dumping uncredentialed teachers in low-income neighborhoods did not meet the requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

There are about 10,000 teaching interns in the state and 62 percent of them teach in the poorest half of California schools, according to an Associated Press article

Though the total number of underprepared teachers has dropped over the past decade, schools with the highest proportion of African-American and Latino students have the least access to high-quality teachers, said John Rogers, IDEA director. Those schools have difficulty retaining teachers for various reasons, including lack of support from principals, poor school facilities, and lack of necessary teaching tools.

"Just by saying you can't do this anymore is not enough alone," Rogers said. "There will need to be a series of policy responses that will ensure an equitable distribution of teachers."

Read full article in San Jose Mercury News.

Sept. 27: Edutopia spotlights Linked Learning research

  • 09-29-2010
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Linked Learning, an area of research at UCLA IDEA, was highlighted for is ability to create engaged students and civic participants.

In's "Schools That Work" section, blueprints and ideas of successful schools are shared. Marisa Saunders, senior research associate heading IDEA's research on Linked Learning looking at 10 case studies across the state, wrote about the current research supporting the integration of career and college-preparatory education.

"Preliminary findings are consistent with the optimistic evaluations of career academies," said Saunders in Linking Learning to Life: A High School Transformation Effort,co-written with graduate-student researcher Erica Hamilton.

"A current study of 10 Linked Learning programs in California, for example, has so far found that students in these programs have dramatically lower dropout rates and slightly higher graduation rates, than the state as a whole, and are more likely to graduate with the courses required for admission to California's public universities."

To read the full article, visit the "Research Roundup" on the Career and Technical Education section.

Sept. 21: Long trace for lack of diversity at UC

  • 09-21-2010
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The University of California system does not reflect the diversity of the state, despite efforts to promote diversity among the students, faculty and staff, according to a recent report.

Reported in an article for the Daily Californian, Berkeley's publication, students from certain racial/ethnic backgrounds are still underrepresented across all nine UC campuses.

Latinos, who make up 34 percent of the state's population, only account for 14 percent of the undergraduate student body.

IDEA Director John Rogers said funding at the K-12 level plays a crucial role in the make-up of colleges and universities. The majority of the state's minority students attend chronically underfunded schools located in lower-income neighborhoods. 

"The fact that those schools are so underfunded and unequal contributes to these broader problems of inequality," Rogers said.




Sept. 5: 'Who asked us'? Council of Youth Research work highlighted in ethnic media

  • 09-07-2010
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“We felt if young peoples’ voices are included in conversations on education issues, it will only lead to better reform for California’s schools.”
-Ernest Morrell,
IDEA associate director

IDEA associate director Ernest Morrell and Council of Youth Research students were interviewed about the importance of conducting their own educational research.

In a Sept. 5 article titled "WHO ASKED US: What's the Matter with CA schools? L.A. students poll their peers," students were interviewed during their trip to Sacramento, where they spoke to state leaders about California's public education system and resources.

"You could bring in an adult to do a two-day evaluation of a school and come up with some conclusion... but if you [consult] a student who actually attends the school, that student deals with the school every day, so he or she is an expert at knowing what their peers need," Locke student Dimitri Meighan, 16, told New America Media.

The Council participated in a five-week summer seminar that culminated in a presentation of their research at Los Angeles City Hall last month. Their exploration focused on the state of California's public education 10 years after the filing of Willams v. California, a class-action lawsuit that highlighted the inequitable distribution of resources among public schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

Check out our website for more information on CYR students' work and presentations.

Aug. 23: Value Added is No Magic

  • 08-23-2010
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Drawing inspiration from Goethe's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," IDEA Director John Rogers compares the Los Angeles Times' forthcoming teacher effectiveness database with the inability to control magic.

Like the orginal German poem, the Disney cartoon or live-action movie, the sorcerer's apprentice uses a little bit of magic to ease his chores. Before long, the animated mops and buckets have created an unintended flood.

Similarly, Rogers said, the Times could expect a "flood of unintended consequences" when it publishes the database of 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers from most effective to least. Writing on the Huffington Post, Rogers cites the faults with the value-added analysis and how that data could be used by parents, teachers and others in the community to make rash decisions and negatively affect the school environment.

"Although the apprentice had enough knowledge to set magic in motion, he could not think ahead to what he did not know," Rogers wrote, "...The Times should not believe in the magic of this data, and should realize that it cannot foresee or control all of the consequences."

Read full piece on Huffington Post.


Aug. 23: IDEA comments on LA Times piece

  • 08-23-2010
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"The Times should heed this caution, lest its efforts to cure the ills of LAUSD lead to even greater harm."
-John Rogers

IDEA Director John Rogers was one of a handful education professionals to remark on the Los Angeles Times' series using value-added analysis to gauge teacher effectiveness. 

Appearing in Sunday's op-ed section, Rogers said there would be serious consequences to the publication of the database ranking 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, especially since the National Academy of Sciences has identified problems with value-added analysis.

"Value-added methods are a limited and underdeveloped tool. By focusing narrowly on standardized tests, these analyses ignore much learning that matters to students, parents and teachers and cannot stand alone as a measure of 'effectiveness,' " Rogers wrote in the Times.

Student research presentations available online

  • 08-10-2010
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After a month spent gathering data, surveys and interviews, the Council of Youth Research presented its findings Friday at Los Angeles City Hall.

To an audience of about 150 people, the students shared what they learned about the state of education in California today, with particular interest in the areas of curriculum, teaching, learning resources, social and physical environments and leadership.

Each group created a PowerPoint and video documentary, which are now available on the website. Please visit the Projects & Presentations page to view the students' work.

For more information, contact Claudia Bustamante at 310-267-4408 or

Aug. 6: Youth Council presents research findings at City Hall

  • 07-30-2010
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WHO: Council of Youth Research students, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access

WHAT: Student presentations of monthlong research project examining the equitable distribution of educational resources. Data includes about 1,000 surveys of students, and interviews with educators, administrators, community leaders and key leaders throughout the state, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and Education Undersecretary Kathryn Radtkey-Gaither.

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. Student presentations begin at 10 a.m. with reception to follow.

WHERE: Tom Bradley Tower at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.

WHY: The Council of Youth Research provides Los Angeles high school students with an avenue and tools to research and shed light on school and community issues that directly affect them. Council participation encourages students to become civically engaged researchers and empowers them to insert their voices into the public debate on education.

RSVP: 310-825-7407 for free parking.

MORE: Read press release or download PDF version.

MEDIA CONTACT: Claudia Bustamante, 310-267-4408,

July 28-29: Youth Council to meet key leaders in Sacramento

  • 07-28-2010
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A group of Los Angeles-area high school students began traveling to Sacramento today to meet with state legislators, politicians and educators as part of an ongoing research project.

Thirty-three students from IDEA's Council of Youth Research will interview state Superintendent Jack O'Connell, Kathryn Radtkey-Gaither, state education undersecretary, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. They will also meet with legislators and their staff. The students will return to Los Angeles Thursday afternoon.

Data from the trip will be added to the student research project on the state of education in California. The results of their findings will be presented Aug. 6 at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.

The Council of Youth Research has been meeting since early July, taking courses at UCLA in graduate-level research methodologies and conducting surveys and interviews of their peers, teachers, administrators and community leaders. The council's summer team is composed of recent graduates and current students from Crenshaw, Locke, Manual Arts, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools.

For more information on council's trip, contact Claudia Bustamante at or 310-267-4408.

July 29: IDEA comments on gubernatorial candidate's ed plan

  • 07-29-2010
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"If you're going to maintain high goals, clearly you need to have a decent level of investment."
-John Rogers, IDEA director
in LA Times

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown released an eight-page education plan on his campaign website Wednesday that outlined his reforms, including overhauling state testing, fixing the financing system, increasing rate of high school graduates and more.

IDEA Director John Rogers commented on the plan in an article appearing in the Los Angeles Times Thursday.

"It is surprising there wouldn't be some discussion of the need for more funding so California can enter the bottom third rather than being among the very lowest," Rogers said. "If you're going to maintain high goals, clearly you need to have a decent level of investment."

IDEA recommended summer reading

  • 07-27-2010
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Several leading civil rights groups, including the NAACP, released a document Monday criticizing parts of the Obama administration's educational reforms as harmful to low-income and minority students. They specifically cite the competitive nature of Race to the Top, proposals that don't consider challenges in low-income communities and ineffective turnaround policies.

Read the civil rights framework.

Calling CA high schoolers to lend voice

  • 07-23-2010
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Youth research council created online survey to gauge student opinion statewide.

For more than 10 years, IDEA IDEA has sponsored the Council of Youth Research, a group of high school student researchers who study and report on the educational issues that matter most to Los Angeles youth. The Council brings the voices of youth into discussions of educational policy and inspires more youth to take action in their schools and communities.

This year, the Council is studying the state of education in California's schools. The students are interested in learning more about how youth around the state feel about the quality of education that they are receiving in their schools, as well as what they feel they are entitled to.

Our students have created a short, anonymous survey that aims to capture the opinions of high school students statewide. Results will be used by the students to advocate for change with local and state decision-makers.

We invite all California high school students to please take our online survey.

Thank you very much,


July 21: HS students interview state legislators

  • 07-21-2010
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Summer seminar students learning graduate-level research tools will interview state legislators this week as part of their research project with IDEA's Council of Youth Research.

The local high school students and recent graduates will speak with Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles, today. On Friday, they will speak with the district directors for both Assemblyman Isadore Hall, III, D-Compton, and state Senator Curren Price, D-Los Angeles.

The topic of the summer seminar are the changes seen and unseen since the 2004 settlement of Williams v. California. The Williams case, which was filed 10 years ago, was a class action suit on behalf of the state's schoolchildren for equal access to school resources, safe and secure campuses and qualified teachers.

July 18: Parcel tax fairness again makes headlines

  • 07-19-2010
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IDEA Director John Rogers was quoted in yet another news article about the propensity for school districts to turn towards parcel taxes as a means of recovering funds they have lost from the state.

The Diego Union-Tribune reported that between 2001 and 2009, 132 districts placed parcel tax measures on the ballot and 83 received the needed two-thirds vote to pass them. Most were smaller districts in affluent neighborhoods. Last month, Los Angeles Unified failed to pass a $100 annual parcel tax that would have generated about $92.5 million annually over four years for the arts, class size reduction and maintenance.

"The pain of budget cuts is felt across the state and across income levels," Rogers was quoted. "But students will get a different level of education depending on where they live and whether it is in a community that can afford to pass a parcel tax."

The 131,000-student San Diego Unified School District is seeking to pass a five-year parcel tax that would raise $50 million annually.

Read full story here.

New Youth Research council begins

  • 07-08-2010
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The 2010-11 Council of Youth Research kicked off this week as students from five Los Angeles high schools began a summer seminar at UCLA.

During the five-week course, about 35 new and returning students from Crenshaw, Locke, Roosevelt, Wilson and Manual Arts high schools will learn graduate-level research methods and critical social theory, skills that will be employed during their year-long research project.

This year's research topic focuses on the 10th anniversary of the Williams case. Williams v. California, a class action suit filed in 2000 on behalf of the state's schoolchildren, charged that the state's educational agencies failed to provide equal access to instructional materials, safe and decent school facilities and qualified teachers. It was settled in 2004.

Council students will consider the changes they have seen or haven't in the wake of the Williams settlement. Also, they will highlight "educational acts of courage."

June 26: Parcel taxes help some communities combat cuts

  • 06-29-2010
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IDEA Director John Rogers was quoted in an Associated Press article over the weekend that discussed the role parcel taxes have taken as local communities attempt to deal with diminishing budgets and deeper cuts to education.

Parcel taxes are levied on individual parcels of property. So far this year, more than 20 school districts have held elections and 16 have met the minimum two-thirds requirement to pass them. They are mostly winning in smaller, wealthier communities.

"Across the state, the pain is felt everywhere, but because of the unequal distribution of wealth, some areas are able to respond," Rogers said.

To read the full story, click here.

June 22: A-G Policy Brief by the Labor and Education Collaborative

  • 06-22-2010
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The LAUSD A-G Life Prep Curriculum and College Access for the Children of Labor Union Members

Labor union members in Los Angeles have high hopes for their children’s future. They believe that a college education can best equip their children to pursue a meaningful career, achieve economic stability, and contribute to society. Union members depend on Los Angeles public schools to offer students the learning opportunities necessary to graduate from high school ready for college.


 Please click on the link below to download the policy brief:

The LAUSD A-G Life Prep Curriculum and College Access for the Children of Labor Union Members

A-G Union PB cover

June 8: Safe and Participatory Public Schools

  • 06-08-2010
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Safe and Participatory Public Schools (image)The California State Assembly is presently considering AB 2034 which would prohibit school districts, countyoffices of education (COEs), or charter schools that elect to fingerprint volunteers from allowing individuals who have been convicted of specific sex, drug or violent offenses to volunteer in schools. This policy brief aims to inform policymakers and the general public about research on two topics related to the proposed legislation: a) the racial mismatch between drug users and drug offenders; b) the importance of volunteering to school outcomes, including student safety.


Please click on the link below to download the policy brief

Safe and Participatory Public Schools







June 7: UC pushes for new, integrated curriculum

  • 06-07-2010
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by UCLA IDEA staff

For 20 years, Sheryl Ryder taught business economics and virtual enterprise classes to high school students in Northern California. She had never considered combining her lesson plan with one from an algebra class.

That was, until she attended the first University of California-sponsored conference on integrated curriculum. There, her small group made up of Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers and math teachers came up with lesson plans that used algebraic equations to graph a business’s break-even point and profit margin.

“Magical things happen when teachers spend time together, share ideas and resources,” said Ryder, coordinator of the CA Business Education Leadership Project, which develops standards-based curriculum and assessment tools for CTE classes.

“There’s natural collaboration in lessons and projects. I do see how they actually fit,” she said.

Ryder and about 60 other CTE and math teachers, UC staff and other educators attended the UC Curriculum Integration Institute, a conference held in Lake Arrowhead last month to develop four new college-preparatory courses that would combine business and math curriculum standards.

Working at break-neck pace, the participants had four days to push past their resistance, develop key assignments and a course outline that could be adopted by schools statewide.

“We asked them to be vulnerable to giving up their ideas,” said Don Daves-Rougeaux, UC associate director of undergraduate admissions. “The idea is to create a whole new course, not a math course with business or a business course with math.”

Students interested in attending a public university in California must take a minimum of 15 college-preparatory courses across different subject areas. These courses are known as a-g, with each letter pertaining to a subject area.

Most CTE courses statewide have not qualified as a-g and when they do, they usually receive “G” status for electives. At the same time, most academic courses do not provide students with practical and technical skills. Recently, there has been an effort to integrate these courses so students are simultaneously provided with career and technical training and prepared for college. The hope of the UC institute is for these new courses to combine with rigorous mathematics instruction to fulfill the “C” strand of a-g.

Combining both career and technical preparations with core academic instruction could open up a new level of opportunity to high school students.

‘Linking possibility’

Marisa Saunders, senior research associate with UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), said that unlike other education initiatives that target specific student populations, this integrated approach could benefit all students.

“For students who might succeed in a traditional high school setting and for those who might struggle, it brings learning to life. All students learn more and better when they can apply academic knowledge and skills to real-world situations and problems,” said Saunders, who also co-edited Beyond Tracking: Multiple Pathways to College, Career and Civic Participation.

Since 2006, IDEA has been conducting research on the Linked Learning approach to high school transformation, formerly called Multiple Pathways. Presently, Saunders leads a research team conducting case studies of linked learning at 10 school sites statewide.

One of the biggest challenges faced by school and district officials has been students forced to choose between college- and career-readiness, Saunders said. For students interested in college, there is often little time in their schedules to try CTE courses, let alone a series.

“What the UC is attempting to do by creating this innovative curriculum is removing the barrier and linking possibility,” she said.

Resistance and Revolution

The UC’s effort to forge collaboration between math and CTE teachers was met with some resistance.

Monrovia High math teacher Dean Schonfeld said math teachers tend to think in a linear fashion — teaching one concept before moving to the next in a sequence. He worried students might be unable to digest one concept before being introduced to a set of new ideas in an integrated curricular approach.

Schonfeld, who wants to pilot a statistical reasoning and sports course at Monrovia, said the obligations of the Academic Performance Index — a state measure of school progress from one year to the next based on the California Standards Test — weighed heavily on teachers.

“We are all under the PI gun,” said Schonfeld, who hopes UC can help push the state to relax those obligations.

Teacher credentialing poses another challenge to creating integrated courses. A math teacher may not have the necessary training or credential to teach a course that emphasizes business, and vice versa. Some schools have sidestepped that hurdle by placing pairs of teachers in an individual class, but that structure is a luxury not many districts can afford during a period of fiscal crisis.

UC’s Daves-Rougeaux challenged the attendees to look beyond these immediate obstacles.

“Someone needs to take that first step,” he said.

Another obstacle is perception, said IDEA researcher Saunders.

Sometimes counselors, who do not understand the integrated approach, steer students away from those courses. That flawed perception extends to parents and students as well, she said.

“There has been a long-standing belief that anything hands-on related or with real-world applications isn’t for college-bound students,” Saunders said. “This can work to alter that perception and it’s great the UC is leading this effort.”

May 22: Educators discuss teacher-effectiveness models

  • 05-24-2010
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About 70 teachers and administrators attended a half-day workshop Saturday at UCLA to discuss teacher effectiveness.

Organized by Center X, the workshop allowed Los Angeles Unified School District educators to review and develop tools for measuring quality teaching.

Teacher effectiveness has been a hot topic recently, featuring prominently in education reform efforts from the national to local levels. It's a key element of President Obama's Race to the Top initiative. Last month, Sacramento introduced a bill that would change teacher evaluation measures, among other things. And, around the same time, LAUSD's teacher effectiveness task force issued a series of recommendations, including changes to the evaluation and tenure processes, and incentive pay.

"The idea is to start the local debate," said Karen Hunter Quartz, research and communications director at Center X. "The LAUSD task force has been operating at 30,000 feet but they haven't landed yet."

Titled "Grounding the Debate about Teacher Quality," particpants heard a keynote speech from Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, and specific practices used at Manual Arts High School and UCLA Community School.

The educators also attended one of four different workshops on measurement tools, such as the use of portfolios, classwork and parent surveys.


May 21: IDEA director comments on teacher-quality resources

  • 05-21-2010
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The recent release of the annual Public Policy Institute of California's survey gauging state residents' attitudes toward education was covered Friday by the New America Media.

"Californians and Education," which was released in April, surveyed more than 2,500 adults about education funding, teacher quality, economic impacts and achievement gaps. The institute found that 62 percent of people--a 12-point increase from last year--thought the state was not spending enough on education.

Eighty percent of Californians polled said low-income schools have fewer resources than their wealtheir counterparts. And 51 percent would support spending more money to attract and retain quality teachers for these schools.

IDEA Director John Rogers, who was interviewed for the article, said it was ironic that given how much emphasis is currently placed on quality teaching, resources to provide for that are being eliminated.

Rogers said districts have cut professional development, academic coaches and assistant principals. "We're not enabling teachers to move along a pathway to provide higher quality instruction," he said.

For full New America Media article, click here.


May 19: IDEA data used in superintendent race article

  • 05-19-2010
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An Associated Press article (running in The Reporter) Thursday used data from IDEA's Educational Opportunity Report to contextualize the issues that will face the next state schools chief.

Twelve candidates are vying to replace Jack O'Connell as state superintendent of public instruction. Among them are Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, and retired superintendent Larry Aceves.

No matter the choice, whoever replaces O'Connell will have to work within the realities of the state's budget crisis, according to the article.

May 17: Memorial held for DREAM Act-ivists

  • 05-17-2010
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A memorial was held Monday afternoon for two former UCLA students who were actively involved in the civil rights movement for undocumented youth.

Tam Tran, 27, and Cinthya Felix, 26, who both did their undergraduate work at UCLA, were killed Saturday in an early morning car accident in Maine, according to news reports. Tran was a doctoral student in American civilization at Brown University. Felix was doing graduate studies in public health from Brown University.

Tran and Felix had been involved with the DREAM Act, a bipartisan legislation that would give qualified undocumented youth a path toward a college degree. They produced academic articles, organized on campuses and testified before congressional hearings.

The memorial was held at 3 p.m. at Moore Hall 100, UCLA.

For more information on their work, please visit the Facebook memorial page.

May 13: Cuts make public schools' work harder

  • 05-13-2010
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Because California entered the recession behind in terms of educational resources, the latest round of budget cuts are poised to further devastate public schools, said IDEA Director John Rogers.

“We’ve made the work of our public schools harder,” said Rogers, who spoke with Patt Morrison on KPCC Thursday.

Rogers spoke on the effects the budget cuts were having on public education in a two-hour show that also included discussion of the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit on behalf of three low-performing Los Angeles middle schools.

Before the recession, California already had the most crowded classrooms in the nation. It had also been investing less in education than other states, spending an average $2,000 less per student, Rogers said.

As districts struggled to close budget gaps, classrooms have gotten more crowded; school years shortened; and summer school and other support services have been cut.

All that makes it harder for schools to attract and retain quality teachers, who look for good working conditions and leadership.

Rogers added that creating systems that identify teacher effectiveness is important, but the issue had been clumsily handled.

“It’s important to think about entire school culture rather than focus in on individual teachers,” he said. “That’s been part of the failure of how California has framed this problem.”

For entire KPCC discussion, listen here



May 10: "Schools are more than just what happens in classrooms."

  • 05-10-2010
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A New America Media article, entitled "California's Kids Fall Deeper into Poverty, Homelessness," used data from this year's Educational Opportunity Report to paint a picture of how dire the situation is for many California families and students.

Homelessness, hunger and poverty have increased among the state's students.

Budget cuts have not only impacted education, but also social services that schools provide low-income children and their families, Sophie Fanelli, IDEA director of research, said in an interview.

As Gov. Schwarzenegger prepares his budget proposal to be unveiled later this week, he should consider that the cuts do not exist in isolation. 

"You have to think holistically about these things," Fanelli was quoted in the piece. "Schools are more than just what happens in classrooms."

May 5: LAUSD students impress at national conference

  • 05-07-2010
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During their visit to the American Educational Research Association's annual conference last weekend, UCLA IDEA's Council of Youth Research students impressed many adults in the audience.

Education Week's Debra Viadero writes about the "mini-me's" from IDEA and other youth research programs across the country.

More than 13,000 people attended the Denver conference, the largest national convening of educational researchers.

May 5: IDEA director testifies on African-American achievement gap

  • 05-05-2010
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John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, will testify on the achievement gap for African-American students in Sacramento today.

Rogers was invited by the California Legislative Black Caucus to participate in an informational hearing that will focus on the current state of black students in public schools. Titled “Closing the Achievement Gap: An Examination of the Challenges and Opportunities for African American Students in California Public Schools,” the hearing will discuss education policy issues like curriculum and instruction, teacher quality, expectations, drop-out and retention and educational equity, as well as the roles of accountability and leadership.

Today’s information will be used by the caucus to formulate its education policy agenda for the rest of the year. 

The hearing will begin at 2 p.m. at the Capitol Building Room 112, Sacramento, Calif.

May 4: LA h.s. students get "chance of a lifetime"

  • 05-04-2010
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This weekend, the Council of Youth Research was invited to share its findings with a national audience at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference, held in Denver this year.

All yearlong, twenty-seven students from five Los Angeles Unified School District high schools surveyed more than 1,400 students, interviewed peers, teachers, counselors and administrators, and reviewed data to answer the question: How is the economic crisis impacting education?

The students at Woodrow Wilson High School shared their excitement about the conference and their insights on the council.

Click to read "Chance of a Lifetime"


April 25: John Rogers discusses students and poverty with SB Sun

  • 04-27-2010
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IDEA Director John Rogers told the San Bernardino Sun that poor students are more likely to move around frequently and more likely to go hungry than other students. They inevitably bring that stress into the classrooms.

"When young people have unstable housing, have (an) unstable food (supply), they have psyschological stress because of the lack of food and housing," said John Rogers. "Those stressors are brought into the school site, and somebody's got to deal with them."

SB City Unified's number of poor kids ranks a top

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer

Sunday, April 25, 2010


SAN BERNARDINO--The school district has more poor students than any other large school district in California, a fact that academics and district leaders say is at least partly responsible for the district's chronic low performance.

But with existing resources, it's not clear what more the San Bernardino City Unified School District can do to ease the problems poverty creates, raise student test scores and put poor students on an even playing field with their more affluent peers.

"Poverty is at least one of the components that affects how well students do in school," said Superintendent Arturo Delgado. "But that's not an indicator that kids can't learn."

Last school year, more than 45,000 students--nearly 83 percent of the district's 54,727 total students--qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. The statistic is commonly used by public schools to measure poverty.

Click to read full San Bernardino Sun article.

April 21: Sophie Fanelli and Marisa Saunders highlight Linked Learning approach to high school reform

  • 04-22-2010
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About 75 Los Angeles Unified School District administrators and lead teachers of small learning communities heard presentations Wednesday about Linked Learning—an approach to school reform that focuses on students being prepared for college, career and civic participation upon graduation.

IDEA Director of Research Sophie Fanelli and Senior Research Associate Marisa Saunders provided an overview of Linked Learning (formerly known as Multiple Pathways), including highlights from IDEA’s 10 case studies of schools and programs statewide that have implemented this approach or are committed to it.

For more information on IDEA’s Linked Learning project, click here.

April 19: Computer science field trip covered by Daily Bruin

  • 04-19-2010
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"I came to this concerned about educational equity and about equal access to knowledge. Computer science is one of those fields in which there is so much inequity in access," said Jane Margolis.

District students explore campus

UCLA,LAUSD promote high schoolers' access to computer science


by Andra Lim

Bruin contributor


Until this semester, high school junior Sharon Friedman used her computer to do homework and socialize with friends.

But when she started taking Exploring Computer Science, a class created by UCLA in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, she began to see that computers are more than just a portal to the Internet.

“I never realized you could make games using a computer,” the Hollywood High School student said, adding that she created her own version of Pacman during one unit of the course.

From 2000 to 2004, a UCLA research team investigated why so few females, blacks and Latinos were learning computer science at the high school level.

Out of this research, a team of UCLA-based experts in education and computer science worked with LAUSD, one of the most diverse districts in the country, to build the course Exploring Computer Science.

“I came to this concerned about educational equity and about equal access to knowledge. Computer science is one of those fields in which there is so much inequity in access,” said Jane Margolis, a co-leader of the project and senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.


Read full article here




April 15: More than 600 LA students visit UCLA for real-life applications of computer science

  • 04-14-2010
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Funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the field trip is an extension of the partnership between UCLA and LAUSD that addresses the lack of quality computer science education at high school levels and even greater disparities among schools with large numbers of students of color.

Hundreds of local high school students to visit UCLA for day of computer science

By Kathy Wyer April 14, 2010

More than 600 high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District will visit the UCLA campus Thursday, April 15, for a half-day event centered on computer science education.
Hosted by a partnership between UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) and the LAUSD, the event will feature presentations by computer science and robotic specialists from UCLA, Disney, Google and Spelman College in Atlanta. 
The event is an outgrowth of a $2.5 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to GSE&IS to fund specialized training for LAUSD teachers in instructing computer science. The curricular program, "Exploring Computer Science," aims to increase engaging and rigorous computer science learning opportunities at the high school level and serves 900 students in grades 10 through 12 from 16 LAUSD schools with high concentrations of students of color.
"The field trip is a great way for students to meet computer scientists, learn how computers connect the world and have a presence in their own lives, and envision exciting possibilities for their futures," said Jane Margolis, a GSE&IS senior researcher and the principal investigator on the NSF grant. "This program addresses current disparities in access to college-preparatory education and brings college-preparatory high school computer science education to schools with high numbers of African American and Latino/a students."
In addition to a campus tour, students will hear presentations describing the link between computer science and technology innovations across multiple fields and disciplines, including robotics, film animation, theater-set design and mobile phone technology.
Speakers will include Dr. Andrew Williams of Spelman College and the Spelman College Robotics Team, "Spelbots"; Karlene Nguyen and Jonathan Ross, software engineers and specialists in online gaming at Disney Online Studios; and Jeff Burke, executive director of the Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance at UCLA.
Computer science experts from Google, and the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science will also speak with students.
"Events and programs like 'Exploring Computer Science' are essential in helping to increase the number of minorities and women who gain exposure to the important fields of computer science and engineering," said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. "As the birthplace of the Internet, we look forward to helping students discover the possibilities."
"Exploring Computer Science" moves forward the Obama administration's commitment to advance computer science education in U.S. public schools. The curriculum, which correlates to California state math and science content and skills standards, enables students to move beyond basic "point-and-click" to achieve high-level skills, including problem-solving and logical thinking, and offers students the opportunity to engage in real-world, socially relevant applications of computer science. 
Along with Margolis, Deborah Estrin, a professor of computer science at UCLA Engineering, serves as co-principal investigator on the NSF-funded program.
Margolis is the author of the award-winning book "Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing" (MIT Press 2002).

April 8: Director John Rogers quoted in LA Weekly on California's 'Race to the Top' rejection

  • 04-08-2010
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Though California applied, it was not among the finalists for President Obama's $4 billion school improvement initiative. In the first round of Race to the Top, only two states--Delaware and Tennessee--were awarded funding. With the application deadline approaching for second-round funding, questions arise about California's chances.

From LA Weekly's "California's Big Whiff on Education-Reform Money":

Help from the feds would be welcome, but for California to win the money "presumes that you have some good things already in place," says John Rogers, director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy Education and Access. Race to the Top funding is essentially "venture capital to try out new ideas. That theory doesn't hold well in places like California, where the infrastructure itself is collapsing."


To read the full article, click here.

March 26: IDEA Director John Rogers briefs D.C. staffers

  • 03-23-2010
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Rogers will meet on Friday with congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., briefing them on Educational Opportunities in Hard Times.

March 25: IDEA research Director Sophie Fanelli leads education workshop at Sacramento budget conference

  • 03-23-2010
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Download the California Budget Project's 3R's: Recession, Recovery, Reform brochure here.


March 25, 2010

Sacramento Convention Center

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The 3Rs: Recession, Recovery, Reform – What’s in Store for California 

Morning Workshops

10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Balancing Justice and Resources in California’s Correctional System
Kara Dansky, executive director, Stanford Criminal Justice Center and Lecturer in Law, Stanford
Once More With Feeling…Key Staffers Look at the 2010-11 Budget Debate
Christian Griffith, chief consultant, Assembly Budget Committee
Seren Taylor, staff director, Senate Republican Fiscal Office
Is Help on the Way: What Can We Expect From Washington in 2010?
Edwin Park, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
LaDonna Pavetti, director, Welfare Reform and Income Support Division, Center on Budget and Policy
Talking Taxes: What Makes for a Good Tax System?
Robert Tannenwald, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Educational Opportunities in Hard Times
Sophie Fanelli, director of research, UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, & Access (IDEA) 
Jonathan Kaplan, policy analyst, California Budget Project
Everything You Hoped You’d Never Have To Know About Financial Markets and How They
Ought To Be Regulated

David Min, Associate Director for Financial Markets Policy, Center for American Progress

Afternoon Workshops

2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.


Welfare Reform That Works
LaDonna Pavetti, director, Welfare Reform and Income Support Division, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 
Scott Graves, senior policy analyst, California Budget Project
Opening the Gates: Strengthening Basic Skills Education and the State’s Economy
Barbara Baran, senior fellow, California Budget Project
Linda Collins, executive director, Career Ladders Project
Debra Jones, administrator, Adult Education Office, California Department of Education
Vicky Lovell, senior policy analyst, California Budget Project
What Works? And What Doesn’t? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Tax Expenditures
Robert Tannenwald, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Revived, Resuscitated, and Revisited: What Will Health Reform Mean for California?
Beth Capell, legislative advocate, Health Access
Edwin Park, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Searching for Balance: The Social and Economic Context of the Governor’s Proposed 2010-11 Budget
Jean Ross, executive director, California Budget Project
Is It Over Yet? Is the Economy on the Road to Recovery?
Alissa Anderson, deputy director, California Budget Project
David Min, Associate Director for Financial Markets Policy, Center for American Progress


March 12, 2010: Council of Youth Research Community Hearing

  • 03-11-2010
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The event will be held at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. A reception with light refreshments will be held for all guests from 4:30pm to 5:30pm, and the student presentation will begin at 5:40pm.

UCLA/IDEA Council of Youth Research Community Hearing on the Educational Impact of the Economic Crisis
March 12th, 2010
4:30pm – 7pm
UCLA Downtown Labor Center
675 S. Park View Street, LA, CA 90057

UCLA Downtown Labor Center

(click map for google maps)

From the 10 Freeway:
Exit Hoover and go NORTH. 
Turn RIGHT on Wilshire Boulevard.
Turn RIGHT on Park View Street.

From the 101 Freeway:
Exit Alvarado and go SOUTH. 
Turn RIGHT on Wilshire Boulevard.
Turn LEFT on Park View Street.

From the 110 North Freeway:
Take the 6th Street exit and go WEST. Turn RIGHT on Flower Street.
Turn RIGHT on Wilshire Boulevard.
Turn LEFT on Park View Street.

From the 110 South Freeway:
Take the 6th Street exit.
Follow signs for Wilshire Boulevard and merge onto Beaudry Avenue.
Turn RIGHT on Wilshire Boulevard.
Turn LEFT on Park View Street.

Metered parking is available in front of the building and on the surrounding streets.

Pay parking lots are located:
1. Directly south of the building on Park View Street 
2. On the corner of Coronado and Wilshire 
3. Between Wilshire and 6th on Corondolet

IDEA Director John Rogers presents California Educational Opportunity Report to LAUSD Board, February 16.

  • 02-16-2010
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IDEA Director John Rogers presents California Educational Opportunity Report to LAUSD Board, February 16.  

California Educational Opportunity Report findings cited in Wall Street Journal, February 12

  • 02-16-2010
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California Educational Opportunity Report findings cited in Wall Street Journal, February 12

Please click to link to the right: link

February 2, 2010: IDEA Faculty Fellow Veronica Terriquez recognized for innovative course

  • 02-05-2010
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Researching the Human Condition: USC College's Veronica Terriquez leads undergrads on an 'intellectual adventure' in sociological research. By Emily Cavalcanti

Ms. Kerry arrives at the Theresa Lindsay Senior Center by van, Ms. Nash by car. The two African American seniors share breakfast and then it's time to engage in their favorite activity -- playing the card game Skip-Bo -- again and again until lunch. The two have been meeting at the Los Angeles center at 42nd and San Pedro for five years and they have their routine down pat.

“I’m sure they’re playing right now at the senior center,” USC College junior Danielle “Dannie” Taylor said.

Last fall Taylor spent two days a week at the center observing the friendships that were forged there: how men interacted with women, how women interacted with each other, how cliques formed and how friends served as support networks.

To read full article, please visit: here

Annual California Educational Opportunity Report: Audio and PowerPoint files from Tele-Press Conference

  • 01-21-2010
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Tele-Press Conference Announcing the Release of the Latest California  

Educational Opportunity Report


On January 22, 2010, UCLA IDEA held a tele-press conference announcing  

the release of the annual California Educational Opportunity Report.  

IDEA director John Rogers presented key findings of the report to an  

audience of statewide reporters. You can download the audio file of  

the tele-press conference, as well as the accompanying PowerPoint  



- Audio file of tele-press conference

- PowerPoint presentation

RSVP for community briefing and release of our new report Friday, January 22, 2010: Educational Opportunities in Hard Times

  • 01-14-2010
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January 13, 2010: IDEA director John Rogers quoted in AP story about "permit students"

  • 01-13-2010
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Beverly Hills to vote on rejecting outside pupils By Christina Hoag Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Hundreds of parents whose children enjoyed the opportunities of Beverly Hills' coveted schools turned out for a meeting Tuesday to watch the school board vote on a controversial proposal to boot out almost 500 out-of-district students.


The Beverly Hills Unified School District board will decide whether to notify 484 so-called "permit students" that they must enroll elsewhere because of the district's new financing formula.


"These kids have their lives invested in Beverly Hills schools," said Michelle Kahn, a 19-year-old Beverly Hills High School graduate whose two brothers would be forced out of the district. "It seems like it's not taking the lives of the students into account."


The issue has inflamed sentiment in this exclusive community, which has long boasted schools that are recognized for excellence. They offer a rich menu of extracurricular activities ranging from madrigal singers to water polo in the renowned "swim gym" — an indoor basketball court that retracts to reveal a pool underneath.


To read full article, please visit:

December 15, 2009: IDEA Researchers Speak About ‘Multiple Pathways’ at San Diego Conference

  • 12-15-2009
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December 4, 2009: IDEA’s research director Sophie Fanelli and senior researcher Marisa Saunders recently spoke at a conference about the Multiple Pathways approach to high school reform, saying it holds great promise for California students. Multiple Pathways schools provide career-based studies along with a college preparatory academic core, and aim to change patterns of racial stratification that result from tracking. Fanelli and Saunders presented IDEA’s research on Multiple Pathways at the California School Boards Association Annual Education Conference in San Diego on Dec. 4. Joined by principal Cheryl Hibbeln of San Diego’s School of Digital Media & Design, a Multiple Pathways high school, the presenters discussed data collected from 10 case study schools and programs. They reported that Multiple Pathways schools face some organizational challenges, but have far fewer drop-outs and more graduates prepared for college than the average California high school. 

Exploring Computer Science video for National CS Week

  • 12-04-2009
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Exploring Computer Science video for National CS Week

November 20, 2009: IDEA director John Rogers quoted in New America Media in a story about class-size increases

  • 11-20-2009
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For African-American Students, Class Size Matters

by Gail Berkley

As school districts across the state struggle to meet the challenges of providing a quality education with fewer resources during the economic downturn, state subsidized small class sizes--with 20 students to 1 teacher in grades K-3--are in jeopardy.

According to a survey of the state’s 30 largest school districts released this week “many schools are pushing class sizes to 24 in some or all of the early grades.” Some classes were increasing to as many as 30 students, the survey conducted by California Watch, a nonprofit journalism organization in Berkeley, found.

The increases in the 20-1 ratio in K-3 classes do not bode well for African-American students.

Recent studies have found that small classes in kindergarten through third grade can have a lasting impact on the educational achievement of African-American students. A study completed in 2001 by Princeton University economics professors Alan Krueger and Diane Whitmore found smaller class size can significantly improve the academic performance of African-American students. The study also found that smaller classes in the early years have lasting benefits for students. The study found a decrease in high school drop out rates overall and increased college entrance exam-taking rates for those who were in small classes in K-3.

To read full article, please visit:

October 2009: IDEA researchers co-author new research brief for UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

  • 10-29-2009
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"Unions and Education Justice: The Case of SEIU Local 1877 Janitors and the “Parent University”

The third brief in the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment's (IRLE) series of Research and Policy Briefs highlights the work of the Service Employees International Union Local 1877, the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, UCLA School of Law’s Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, and the UCLA Labor Center in understanding and addressing the educational issues facing union members’ children. SEIU Local 1877 has sponsored “Parent University” workshops which teach members about topics that will help them to support their own children’s academic success and advocate for school improvements. SEIU Local 1877 is also working with a collaborative of unions and community groups to expand upon the Parent University work and stay involved in children’s education.

For more information, visit IRLE's website:

Also, you can download a PDF of the research brief by clicking the link below:

October 6, 2009: IDEA director John Rogers quoted in La Opinión in a two-part story about drop out rates

  • 10-29-2009
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War against the high school dropout rate
Drop out rates have been high for years. A prevention program attempts to try and reduce it.

By Rubén Moreno (text in Spanish)

If drop out rates in Los Angeles would take a human form, they'd likely have brown or black skin and they would live in the poorest areas of the city. Latinos and African American youth make up the great majority of students, who for various reasons, abandon Los Angeles schools and never graduate. In the last few decades, the drop out problem in Los Angeles Unified School District has turned into a crisis that instead of improving, remains unremitting. Latino and African American students add nearly nine of every 10 new cases of school abandonment in a district where for one out of every three students drops out.

To read full article, please visit:

The drop out rate is a national ill
Each year 1.3 million students abandon school, putting at risk the country's economic welfare

By Rubén Moreno (text in Spanish)

More than 3.3 million students will be graduating from high school this school year in the United States, according to the National Center on Education Statistics. By the time you finish reading this story, at least six young people will have dropped out. At the end of the day, there will be 7,200; and tomorrow these statistics will repeat again. On average each year 1.3 million students drop out of school, one every 26 seconds, according to statistics provided by the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE). The dropout rate goes beyond many of the challenges the individual student faces or the district he attends. 

To read full article, please visit:


Oct. 5: Why state schools chief is important

  • 10-06-2010
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A recent Associated Press article looking at the two candidates for the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction discussed what the new schools chief will face.

Next month, California voters will chose a replacement for Jack O'Connell. The choices are between Tom Torlakson, a high school teacher and coach-turned-politician, and Larry Aceves, a former superintendent.

Whoever is chosen, the new superintendent will have the unenviable job of leading the state's Department of Education amid deep budget cuts. These have come in various incarnations--as campus closures, increased class sizes, more crowded classrooms, lack of programs and laid off teachers. 

The budget crisis has not helped the state.

California, which once had one of the country's best public school systems, now ranks at or near the bottom on numerous measures of academic achievement and school funding, according to a recent report by the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California, Los Angeles.

-From AP story

Read the full article.

October 1, 2009: IDEA Researcher Jane Margolis receives NSF grant to improve Computer Science instruction in LAUSD

  • 10-14-2009
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Partnership with LAUSD addresses need for high-quality computer science instruction.

UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a professional development program for computer science teachers in Los Angeles high schools.
The new program, Teachers Are Key, brings together education reform researchers and faculty from UCLA and the University of Oregon with the Los Angeles Unified School District. 
"There is a severe shortage of high school teachers who have both computer science content and pedagogical knowledge to teach a college-preparatory level computer science curriculum," said Jane Margolis, a UCLA senior education researcher and principal investigator for the grant. "Our goal is to design and implement an intensive program that will offer continuous in-classroom teacher development supported by district-wide computer science coaching and a peer-to-peer monitoring system."
To read the entire press release, please visit UCLA Newsroom:

August 20, 2009: Youth Research Presentation covered by Intersections

  • 08-24-2009
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August 20, 2009 - IDEA's 'Council of Youth Research' covered in a two-part series in Intersections

Exploring a community's needs, students vow to "change this place"

by Evelyn Padilla

LOS ANGELES - When Isaac Jimenez, a Wilson High School senior, finished the school year last May, he could have chosen to enjoy his summer break. But instead he opted to spend five weeks learning about and doing research in the communities of Greater Los Angeles.

Jimenez is one of 25 high school students from Los Angeles Unified School District hired to participate in a youth research seminar sponsored by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, an institute that brings together scholars and community representatives to improve the number of students of color in colleges and universities. The seminar teaches students college-level research to motivate them to address social issues in their communities.

"Young people need to be major players in conversations about educational reform," said Ernest Morrell, the institute's associate director.

Morrell has been involved with the project since it was established in 1999 as a way to determine why there was such a high academic failure among students of color. Over the years the project has grown and explored several research topics.

To read full article, please visit:

LA students to City Council:  Fix our schools, neighborhoods

by Evelyn Padilla

LOS ANGELES - A group of 25 high school students, dressed in their Sunday best, prepared to present the findings from a busy summer of research conducted across the city. Their message was simple to the assembled city leaders, parents and others who gathered recently Los Angeles City Hall: Pay attention to youth and their communities.

The presentations from students from several high schools across greater Los Angeles was the culmination of a weeks-long summer research program during which the students studied ways the economic crisis has affected their communities. In South Los Angeles, students reported on the impact of poverty.

From East Los Angeles, students discovered the economic crisis had helped boost the high school drop out rate. The high school students, presenting their findings to the Los Angeles City Council and other city officials, were sponsored by UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

To read full article, please visit:


August 18, 2009: IDEA director John Rogers quoted in AP story about the release of the 2009 STAR test results

  • 08-24-2009
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California test results show solid academic gains

By Terence Chea

California students made solid gains on standardized tests for English and math over the past year, but the state showed little progress in narrowing the achievement gap between racial groups, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Education.

For the first time, half of students scored at the proficient or advanced level in English-language arts on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program in 2009, up from 46 percent in 2008. The number of students meeting those levels in math rose to 46 percent, a three-point gain over the previous year.

The 2009 STAR test results show that California students have made steady academic progress since the state's standardized tests were aligned to reflect its academic standards seven years ago. Only 35 percent of students scored at the proficient level or above in both math and English in 2003.

To read the full article, please visit:

August 12, 2009: IDEA's 'Council of Youth Research' presentation at Los Angeles City Hall covered by UCLA Magazine

  • 08-24-2009
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K-12, Underserved and Overburdened

By Melanie Bertrand

California's education funding has been cut by $17 billion in the last two budget deals and schools are suffering. But some students are hurting more than others, according to a group of high school-aged researchers who presented their findings at Los Angeles City Hall earlier this month.

The group - the Council of Youth Research, sponsored by UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access - spent the last five weeks researching educational opportunities in Los Angeles-area schools and neighborhoods and found that the economic crisis is hitting students of color especially hard.

"The economic crisis is biased, which means that it impacts everyone differently," said council member Gabriela Dominguez.

Under the direction of Professors Ernest Morrell and John Rogers, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) has held research seminars with urban high school students for the past 10 years. The students examine education conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and present their findings to the public.

To see full article, please visit:


August 8, 2009: IDEA's 'Council of Youth Research' presentation at Los Angeles City Hall covered by La Opinión

  • 08-24-2009
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The crisis distracts students
Many wonder if they should leave school to help out their families

By Rubén Moreno (text in Spanish)

One of every two LAUSD high school students wonders whether they should stay in school or drop out to look for work and help their family pay their bills. This is one of the findings of an investigation undertaken by 25 students from LAUSD in a joint project with UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access about how the economic crisis is affecting students. It's common students for students who are distracted to be worried about their family's situation. "Just as you can see with the economy as it is, we can't be 100% focused, knowing that jobs are not safe and things are getting more and more expensive all the time," said Gabriela Dominguez, daughter of a single mother, who attends Manual Arts High.

To see full article in Spanish, please visit:



  • 06-16-2010
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Jan. 26: Restorative justice and school leadership

  • 01-30-2013
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On Saturday, Jan. 26, approximately 100 school and community leaders filled the Robert F. Kennedy Complex Library for a panel discussion on alternative approaches to school discipline. RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND SCHOOL LEADERSHIP—Building Safe and Inclusive Public Schools was sponsored by Los Angeles Communities for Public Education Reform and the UCLA Principals’ Center. The panel discussion featured community leaders Maisie Chin of CADRE, Alberto Retana of the Community Coalition, and Esthefanie Solano of InnerCity Struggle. It also included princpals Leyda Garcia of the UCLA Community School, Chuck Flores from the NOW Academy, Ben Gertner of CNMT at Roosevelt High School, and Jose Navarro of the Social Justice Humanitas Academy. UCLA Professor John Rogers facilitated the panel. His introductory comments are copied below.


    I welcome you on behalf of UCLA’s Principals’ Center and the Los Angeles network of Communities for Public Education Reform. Communities for Public Education Reform is a network of community-based organizations in cities across the United States that advocate for well-resourced, equitable, safe, and inclusive public schools. We have brought together both school and community leaders for this conversation because school discipline and school safety are issues we share together.

    This is an important conversation, but a difficult one. One of the panelists told me earlier this week that:  “This area of schooling brings out the best and worst of everybody.” It is about our profound commitments to do right by young people within a broader political and cultural environment that often valorizes violence while undervaluing young people, particularly young people of color.

    I wanted to begin this morning with the words of Sylvia Rousseau, a former principal and district administrator here in LA. I interviewed Sylvia last week about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. One question I asked was what lessons she draws for school leaders today from Dr. King's philosophy of non-violence? Here’s what Dr. Rousseau said:

    “Discrimination and oppression have hurt a lot of children for a very long time, and they bear the marks from generations past. Some students come to school with their hurts, which cause them to act in ways that are harmful to themselves and others. School doesn't mean a whole lot to them. When they manifest these issues in their behavior, you can't let them tear up the schools, and you don't want to suspend them. So we need to have resources that are preventive, recognizing the issues our students face. The classroom has to be a place of respect, shaped by a curriculum and pedagogy that respects their lives. It’s about creating better schools where students have opportunities to be problem-solvers and creators. They require support in managing their challenges while they adopt identities as high achieving students. That is the role of a liberating education. Anything less reduces students to widgets or what Freire would call mere objects.”

    I start here with Dr. Rousseau because her words highlight the complexity of the issue we come here to discuss today. The problems that present themselves in schools have deep roots that require nuanced understanding and holistic responses. Dr. Rousseau’s comments also suggest that the stakes are high here. The way that we approach school discipline has a profound effect on how we think about the humanity of young people and the possibilities for their development.

    Today, we are fortunate to be able to engage this topic with a panel of school and community leaders that have a history of grappling with these issues.


November election: A look at Propositions 30 & 38

  • 10-23-2012
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There are two measures on the state's November ballot that aim to raise revenues for public schools. Proposition 30 will raise about $6 billion for public k-12 schools and community colleges. Proposition 38 will raise about $10 billion for public k-12 schools. The campaigns have caused confusion for many voters. There's real concern that voters will reject both measures. And, however unlikely, should both initiatives pass, the one with the most votes will take effect.

We encourage all Californians to learn about the different propositions so they can make informed decisions come November 6.


EdSource comparison-30-38
                   EdSource infographic                   



June 13: Experts and advocates discuss implications of LAUSD's teacher agreement

  • 06-13-2012
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Last week, Los Angeles Unified reached a tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles that would save more than 4,000 positions. The union agreed to 10 furlough days, including five instructional days for the 2012-13 school year. The cuts amount to about a 5-percent pay cut.

The final number of furlough days could change, since the agreement is tied to Gov. Jerry Brown's November tax initiative. If it passes, district officials are to use any year-end surpluses to reduce the number of unpaid days.

The LAUSD board approved the measure Tuesday. Union members are expected to vote on the measure this week.

In a Los Angeles' Times piece today, researchers and equity advocates discuss how the deal will affect students, especially since it could potentially cut the school year by another week, and how the current seniority-based system affects teachers. Some argued for a value-added evaluation system. 

However, IDEA director John Rogers, said that type of system would be unreliable and that the real solution is to increase the state's education funding. "Does California, with all of its wealth, really need to face this Hobson's choice? Californians invest a smaller percentage of income on public education than the national average and considerably less than most states."



June 9: Los Angeles youth organize social justice conference

  • 06-01-2012
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A group of students from Los Angeles Unified's Roosevelt High School organized a social justice conference to let ensure their voices are heard.

East Side Stories: Youth Transformation Across Los Angeles will feature student-led workshops--including some by IDEA's Council of Youth Research--on student activism, access to quality education and challenges facing undocumented youth.

The conference will be held Saturday, June 9 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Roosevelt High School, 456 S. Mathews St. Admission is free.

The conference is organized by the Politics & Pedagogy Collective, a Roosevelt High-based group created to challenge injustices facing students and communities of color.

For more details on the conference and contacts, read the PRESS RELEASE: Los Angeles students and teachers organize social justice conference.


May 4: IDEA answers key questions about LAUSD a-g policy

  • 05-04-2012
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For more information, contact: Marisa Saunders, IDEA Senior Research Associate | 310-267-4409

 Download PDF version

A-G Implementation within the Los Angeles Unified School District:

Questions and Answers



May 2012

This fall, Los Angeles Unified School District’s entering freshmen will be required to complete the A-G course sequence in order to graduate.  Concerned that incoming freshmen have not been adequately prepared to meet this requirement, the LAUSD is proposing to lower the number of credits required for graduation from 230 credits to 180 credits.  According to the district, “reducing the graduation credits would give students more flexibility with their schedules to repeat classes to get tutoring during the school day due to limited availability for Summer School after State budget cuts.”  Indeed, faced with collapsing budgets and diminished support for teachers’ professional development, class size reduction, along with summer school, proponents want to pare down course offerings and graduation requirements.

The LAUSD Board of Education approved the Resolution to Create Educational Equity Through the Implementation of the A-G course Sequence as part of the District’s High School Graduation Requirement on June 14, 2005.  This resolution sought to remedy long-standing inequalities in access to college preparatory courses across Los Angeles high schools that contributed to unequal patterns of college-going.  It called for the district to: a) implement a rigorous and relevant A-G course sequence for all students entering 9th grade after 2008; b) align the k-12 curriculum with this new goal; and c) provide learning supports across the grade span to ensure that all students are prepared to enter and succeed in the A-G course sequence.  The goal was to improve the learning conditions and increase opportunities for all students while raising the bar.

While LAUSD’s proposal is in keeping with the letter of the 2005 resolution, it raises a number of questions and concerns regarding its ability to make good on the promise of the resolution – to expand opportunities for all students.  Below are a number of questions that have been posed and responses to those questions, based on available data and research. 

Q. What is the average number of credits required to graduate from 
   a high school in California?

A:  In order to graduate from California public high schools, students must complete specified state and local graduation requirements. Local school districts have the authority and responsibility for establishing high school graduation requirements, and they vary among districts. However, California Education Code specifies that students must pass a minimum set of required courses and an exit examination.1  Most California public high schools require the equivalent of between 22 and 26 yearlong courses or between 220 and 260 local units for high school graduation.

Q: Have other districts that have implemented an A-G graduation 
   requirement lowered the number of credits needed for graduation?

A:  No.  For example, the Board of Education of the San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) approved new high school graduation requirements in 1998 that included completion of the A-G requirements.  All SJUSD high school students, beginning with the Class of 2002, were required to complete a total of 240 credits.  All SJUSD courses are college preparatory courses that fulfill UC/CSU admission requirements.  Other large urban school districts such as San Francisco Unified, Oakland Unified, San Diego Unified and East Side Union have similar A-G graduation requirements in place for the class of 2016 or earlier years.  These districts have not lowered the number of credits required for graduation.  In addition, a number of these districts also require that seniors complete a senior project or exhibition to graduate.


First Graduating Class 
Required to Satisfy A-G
Minimum No. of Credits 
Required for Graduation
San Jose 2002   240
San Francisco Unified 2014   230
Oakland Unified 2015   230
East Side Union 2015   220
San Diego Unified 2016   220
Q:  Given statewide budget cuts, is there a trend in California to 
    reduce the number of credits required for graduation?

 A:  No.  Indeed, a number of districts are currently proposing to raise the number of credits required for graduation.  Palo Alto Unified School District is proposing to increase the number of credits required for graduation from 210 to 220 to create better alignment between graduation requirements and college entrance requirements.  Porterville Unified School District has increased the school day for high school students to seven periods, and is now raising graduation requirements beyond the 220 credits currently needed for graduation.  Some high schools within Porterville encourage students to complete 260 credits to be college and career ready.

Q: What can we learn from districts that have an A-G requirement in place?

A:  A great deal. In particular, the large amount of data that the SJUSD has compiled over the last decade dispels a number of myths regarding what would happen if all students were required to fulfill the A-G course sequence.2  Three findings stand out.  First, longitudinal data demonstrates that grades within SJUSD have remained unchanged as students have enrolled in more rigorous coursework.  The average grade point average for SJUSD graduating seniors has remained approximately the same (at 2.76) between 1998 (before A-G) and 2008.  Second, high school graduation rates have remained steady between these years (at 71%).  This fact is all the more noteworthy since the exit exam requirement came into effect after SJUSD adopted it’s A-G policy.  Third, students who have been traditionally underserved and previously assigned to the non-college bound track are achieving at more advanced levels.  Latino students have made steady gains on statewide standardized test scores since 1999, and the gap between Latino and white students has narrowed by 38%.

LAUSD has an opportunity to continue to challenge these myths.

Q:  How many students within the Los Angeles Unified School District are 
    currently graduating from high school? And, will the A-G graduation 
    requirement negatively impact graduation rates from the LAUSD?

A:  Graduation rates in LAUSD have improved modestly in recent years, but remain very low. Of the 46,133 students that entered high school as freshmen in 2007-08, slightly more than half (56%) graduated four years later.  Indeed, the district must grapple with its graduation rate problem, whether or not the A-G graduation requirement goes into effect.  The question is whether three additional courses that comprise the A-G graduation requirement (an additional year of a sequential math course and two years of a foreign language) will lead graduation rates to drop.  Data from other districts suggest that this need not be the case.

The district’s proposal directly responds to the dropout crisis.  A-G aside, the proposal aims to reach out to the 44% of students who are currently leaving the district without a high school diploma.  Providing an opportunity for these students to remain in school and make up classes they have previously failed is a laudable goal.  However, it does not satisfy or respond directly to the intent of the A-G Resolution – to expand opportunities for all LAUSD students.

To respond adequately to the dropout crisis, the district must address its instructional practices and strategies. 

Q: How many students with the Los Angeles Unified School District are 
   currently graduating from high school with successful completion 
   of the A-G course sequence?

A:  According to the LAUSD, only 15% of entering 9th graders in 2007-08 graduated in June 2011 having successfully completed the A-G requirements (passing all A-G courses with a grade of “C” or better).  A large number of students come close to completing the A-G course sequence, but fall short (30 credits or less).  These “near-completers” fail to enroll in the full sequence of courses or do not earn a grade of “C” or better in an A-G course.  Unfortunately, we do not have access to data that allows us to determine how many additional LAUSD students were “near-completers” in the graduating class of 2011.  Nor do we have data that informs us of how many students completed the sequence, but did not earn a grade of “C” or better (but earned a “D” or “F” grade).

A 2008 study conducted by UCLA IDEA of the graduating class of 2006 sheds some light on this question.  According to this study, one in three LAUSD graduates fell short of meeting the A-G requirements by 30 credits or less.  These students completed at least 80% of the A-G requirements with grades of “C” or better.  The high incidence of “near A-G” speaks loudly to the need to identify course bottlenecks that prevent A-G completion and the need to identify practices that allow for successful completion of these courses.3

Q: Will the new proposal impact course offerings at LAUSD high schools?

A:  Yes, but this likely will play out differently across schools.  In order to provide students with the opportunity to make up failed A-G courses, schools will have to replace current course offerings with additional sections of A-G course offerings.  While schools will continue to offer “electives” that satisfy the A-G requirements (1 year of a Visual and Performing Arts Elective and 1 year of an A-G elective), these offerings will most likely decrease at some schools.  For example, a sequence of three drama courses (that enable students to increase their knowledge and skills in this area of interest) might be replaced with greater offerings of introductory drama courses to ensure all students have access to the required visual and performing arts elective. Similarly, a school that currently offers two different Calculus courses may need to eliminate one so that the math teacher can teach additional Algebra 1 or Algebra II courses.

Schools will respond differently to the 180 credit graduation requirement based on school size, Program Improvement status, and population of students being served.  Schools serving greater percentages of struggling students will have to limit course offerings more so than schools serving students who enter high school well prepared for college preparatory courses.

Q: Will charters or pilot schools be impacted by the reduction of credits 
   required for graduation?

A:  It is not clear if charter schools will reduce the number of credits required for graduation.  If they do not, charter schools will be able to provide students with courses that many LAUSD high schools will no longer be able to offer.

Q:  Are there high schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District 
    that are currently graduating high numbers of students with the A-G 

A:  Yes.  A study conducted in 2008 found that attending a small LAUSD high school increases a student’s chance of graduating on time by 25% and more than doubles a student’s odds of completing the A-G sequence of courses.4   Notwithstanding the strong relationship between the pre-high school academic experiences of students and on time high school and A-G completion, the study reveals that pre-high school experiences alone do not account for all the variation that is seen in outcomes across the district.  Some schools within LAUSD are more effective than others in enabling students to graduate on time and with the necessary preparation to enter California’s public university system.

In particular, the study points to small size, theme-oriented and/or interdisciplinary curricula that engage students as “more effective.”  Seventy-one percent of first-time freshmen attending small schools in 2001-02 graduated on time and 54% completed the A-G sequence of courses.  LAUSD small schools are more likely to be successful with first-time freshmen with limited English skills, and those that enter high school underprepared.  These schools often share structures such as block scheduling that allows for students to take additional courses (including recovery courses) during the school day.

Q: Does the number of credits accumulated matter for entry into California’s 
   public four-year institutions (UC/CSUs)?

A:  Yes, it matters.  While students must take the “right” courses (A-G), four-year universities are interested in students who go beyond the minimum requirements, and demonstrate an interest in engaging deeply in their learning.  Students demonstrate deep engagement by enrolling in advanced and/or capstone courses. If these courses are no longer offered at some schools, students will face an uneven playing field in college admissions.

Incoming CSU and UC freshmen take courses well beyond the minimum 15 required A-G courses. Across CSU campuses, for example, incoming freshmen from California public high schools entered witha an average of 200 A-G high school credits in fall 2011.5 Further, freshmen profile data demonstrates that the number of A-G credits earned has steadily increased each year across UC and CSU campuses. 


Freshmen Profile at Select California Public Four-Year Institutions, 20096

Avg. A-G credits    AP/IB/Honors
UC Berkeley 260   95
UC Davis 240   65
UCLA 250   90
UC Merced 230   45
Q: Can the district raise the required number of credits for graduation 
   back to 230 once the economy recovers and the district has funds for
   necessary support services?

A:  Yes, however, it will be extremely difficult.  Raising the number of credits required for graduation impacts schools, staffing, and students.  As such, most districts do not propose an increase of more than 10 credits a year (one year-long course).  It would take LAUSD five years, at a rate of 10 credits a year, to get back to the current requirement of 230 credits.

Q: What next?

A: LAUSD officials have expressed a strong commitment to equal opportunity and to preparing all students for college, career and life beyond high school.  As deliberations on graduation requirements move forward, it will be important to assess policy options with these goals in mind.  What steps does the district need to take to ensure equitable opportunities across its high schools?  How can it ensure that students at all LAUSD high schools experience a broad and robust curriculum?  How can it ensure that students at every LAUSD high school have a meaningful opportunity to enroll in a course of study that will make them competitive for admission at any California college and university?


1 More information available at:

2 For more information see San Jose Unified School District Case Study, The Education Trust West, January 2010. Available at:

3 For more information see The Impact of High Schools on Student Achievement within the Los Angeles Unified School District, UCLA IDEA, 2008. Available at:

4 For more information see The Impact of High Schools on Student Achievement within the Los Angeles Unified School District, UCLA IDEA, 2008. Available at:

5 Data provided by the Office of the Chancellor, Analytic Studies, Communication on May 5, 2012.

6 University of California data available at:

March 2: LA hearing on status of young men of color

  • 03-01-2012
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Last month, the California Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color held its hearing in Oakland. Now, the hearing will continue the conversation in Los Angeles.

Claiming the Promise of Health and Success for Boys and  Men of Color will focus on school discipline and law enforcement policies. It will look into various Los Angeles models in health, education and juvenile justice, which could be expanded.

IDEA Director John Rogers will once again present on the high school graduation rates for male students of color, along with numbers of college-readiness.

Hearing Details:

WHEN: Friday, March 2
TIME: 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
WHERE: Expo Center, located at 3980 Bill Robertson Lane, Los Angeles, CA 90037
MORE INFO and to RSVP: Committee Chair Sandré R. Swanson's site


Feb. 10-11: Social Justice Schools Conference

  • 02-07-2012
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2012-02-1011 cej conference flyerUPDATE: View John Rogers PowerPoint presentation

The Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) will hold a two-day conference Friday and Saturday to discuss school transformation and reform rooted in social justice.

IDEA Director John Rogers will speak during Saturday morning panel about educational justice in an era of new capitalism. 

Also speaking will be Bill Fletcher, labor leader and civil rights activist. Fletcher will discuss the attacks on public sector and the need for organizing strategy. 

The conference will also hold more than 10 workshops led by students, parents and teachers on current work that embodies community-driven, democratic, culturally relevant and transformative practices.

Topics include:

  • Balanced Literacy
  • Dual Language Programs
  • Alternative Teacher Evaluation Systems
  • Problem-based, community-connected instruction
  • Restorative justice/alternative discipline


Social Justice Schools Conference

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 10 - Saturday, Feb. 11

TIME Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

LOCATION: UCLA Community School, 3201 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90005

RSVP to or 909-753-9007

*Childcare, food and translation services provided both days

Jan. 29: Oral history series highlights Council leader

  • 01-30-2012
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Antero Garcia, graduate student researcher working with IDEA's Council of Youth Research, was highlighted in NPR's StoryCorps series. 

"Dropout has thanks, not blame, for teacher" aired Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition as part of the National Teachers' Initiative, which relates stories of public school teachers across the country. The initiative is part of StoryCorps, an American oral history nonprofit.

Garcia, a teacher at Manual Arts High School in East Los Angeles, was reunited with a former student who had dropped out of high school in his senior year.

Roger Ramos, now 22, was asked if anything could have been done differently that would have helped him stay in school.

" were a good teacher, and I always respected you," Ramos said of Garcia. "Some teachers, I kind of felt like they only wanted to teach a certain group of people. But you looked at me and you paid attention.

"Maybe it didn't get me to graduate, but there's a lot of teachers, they don't take the time to take a look. And it was never your fault."

Listen to the full conversation.

New information on high school reform

  • 01-11-2012
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A new Q&A on Linked Learning has been uploaded to our site.

For those interested in high school reform and want to learn a more about this approach that connects academics with real-world applications, visit our Linked Learning page. There you'll find links to the new Q&A and upcoming research.

UCLA IDEA will soon publish a Linked Learning guidebook, based on our research of 10 sites throughout California.

Jan. 4: Changes to online 'Roundup'

  • 01-04-2012
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Starting Wednesday, Jan. 4, the UCLA IDEA website will no longer post individual articles from the daily Education News Roundup.

A link from the IDEA Home page will be provided to the most current version of the Roundup.

The change will not affect subscribers who will continue to receive the Roundup and Themes in the News as a daily email. It will also continue to be available on Twitter @UCLA_IDEA and on

The website will also stop archiving past news stories, opinions and blogs. Anyone interested in finding a past copy of the Roundup or story, can contact Claudia Bustamante at 310-267-4408 or

Read today's roundup here.


Dec. 16: California's 'Parent Trigger' law draws international attention

  • 12-19-2011
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England-based Times Education Supplement wrote about the growing U.S. movement of giving parents more power in reforming low-performing schools.

California was the first state to pass a Parent Trigger law, allowing parents to seek one of four reform options if more than half families at low-performing schools sign a petition. Last year, parents at Compton's McKinley Elementary were the first to "pull the trigger."

UCLA IDEA John Rogers was interviewed for the piece, The view from here - California, US - "Trigger law" allows parents to call the shots. He was particularly concerned with the trigger/gun metaphor. "Rather than encouraging parents and educators to collaborate in the search for solutions, it pits one against the other. Rogers understands why parents are angry, but fears the focus on a one-time mobilisation offers only an illusion of power," according to the article. 

Read full article here.

Oct. 9: Should schools share the money they fundraise?

  • 10-10-2011
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Should schools share their fundraising profits with others in their districts whose families cannot afford to do the same?

That was the main question tackled by Davis-based Jill Duman, "a journalist, parent and part-time playground attendant," in an opinion piece in Sunday's Sacramento Bee.

The point is to give all students quality and equitable schooling. When bake sale dollars are being used to hire teacher aides, refurbish computers, maintain arts programs, better-off schools will be able to fill in the holes where the state and federal budgets have not.

"To me, it speaks to an erosion of the principle that public schools are going to be funded through a common public fund, that no matter what town you are in, you are going to have the same chance to be successful," said IDEA Director John Rogers.

As IDEA noted in our 2011 Educational Opportunity Report, there is a great discrepancy in the amount of fundraising between low-, middle- and high-income communities. Schools with high poverty (noted by the number of students in free- or reduced-price lunch program) raised an average of $5,000, whereas more well-off schools raised up to $100,000.

According to Duman, this reality prompted one Northern California school district to change its policy so that money raised at any one of its three elementary schools would be shared equally. But others think hard-earned funds should stay with the students, parents and campus that fundraised for them.

Read the full op-ed: The Conversation: Should the haves share the dollars they raise with the have-nots?

Oct. 4: Book Talk on community organizing

  • 10-03-2011
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Join UCLA IDEA Tuesday, Oct. 4 for a discussion with authors of A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform.

Harvard Graduate School of Education professors Mark R. Warren and Karen L. Mapp, and doctoral student Soojin Oh will be on-hand to discuss the book and their work in the national research study.

A Match on Dry Grass suggests that community organizing is a promising approach to school reform as part of a broader agenda to build power for low-income communities and address the profound social inequalities that affect the education of children. Based on a comprehensive national study, the book presents rich and compelling case studies of prominent organizing efforts in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, San Jose, and the Mississippi Delta.


Match on Dry Grass book cover


DATE: Tuesday, Oct. 4

TIME: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

LOCATION: UCLA Moore Hall Reading Room, 3340 Moore

MORE: For more information on the national study, visit and to purchase the book, visit Oxford University Press page.

Sept. 30: CPER PowerPoint Presentation

  • 10-03-2011
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2011 09-30 ppt title slidecbp cper powerpoint title slide

UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers gave a presentation Sept. 30 to a statewide CPER convening in South Los Angeles.

Rogers was part of panel outlining the landscape of California. Other presenters included Scott Graves with the California Budget Project, Sabrina Smith with California Calls and Roberta Furger of Pico California.

Analyzing the most up-to-date data, his presentation detailed how California schools have fared in the last three years, and how the state compares to the rest of the nation. Also available here is the presentation made by California Budget Project's Graves, who detailed how California's budget reflects the state's priorities. In particular, Graves noted that support for k-12 and community colleges will be $6.8 billion lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2007-08.

CPER-CA (Communities for Public Education Reform) is a funders' collaborative promoting advocacy and organizing for quality education. 

Download the PowerPoints by clicking on the title slides up top.

Sept. 26: Discussion lacks in Education Nation piece on Parent Trigger

  • 09-27-2011
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Education Nation, NBC's initiative to discuss education issues, looked at California's Parent Trigger law Monday night. The law would institute radical changes (including school closures or charter conversion) to a handful of underperforming schools if 51 percent of parents or families voted for it.

California was the first state to enact this legislation, but two others have moved ahead with similar laws and many more are considering it. Last year, parents at Compton's McKinley Elementary were the first to put it to the test, petitioning for a charter school. It is currently tied up in legal battles.

IDEA Director John Rogers was interviewed for the piece. Though the Parent Trigger allows parents to express their frustrations, he said, there are no assurances within the law for parents to be meaningfully involved after a shake-up. His aired comments (at 2 minute-mark) do not reflect the full dialogue surrounding Parent Trigger and the concerns it raises.

We invite you to read our Sept. 16 Themes in the News about Parent Trigger and the difference between "Mobilizing and Organizing for Better Schools."

Another good read:

"Trigger Laws: Does signing a petition give parents a voice?" - Rethinking Schools, Fall 2011

Aug. 26: Latest numbers on students in higher education conceal larger issues

  • 08-29-2011
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The number of 18- to 24-year-olds attending college reached an all-time high 12.2 million in October 2010, according to a recently released Pew Hispanic Center report evaluating census data.

The largest growth came from the Latino population, which grew by 349,000 students or 24 percent. During the same period, young black students grew by 88,000 and Asian Americans by 43,000. The white student population, however, decreased by 320,000.

UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers said there were many factors that can contribute to the increase in student population, including an acknowledgement among Latino families of the importance of a higher education.

UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers warned that the new numbers may not paint a completely rosy picture.

The economy has played an important role, Rogers said during an interview with La Opinión. As more people find themselves jobless, going back to school for more preparation or for career changes has become an alternative.

"And so, part of the increase in those numbers is due to the fact that people who were part of the labor market are now unemployed," he said.

Though experts laud the increase in students of higher education, they caution that the more important data are the numbers of students who graduate with degrees or transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

In that respect, Latino students lag behind their counterparts, the article mentioned.

MORE: Récord de latinos en nivel superior (link in Spanish)


Aug. 23: Charter discussion on Which Way, LA?

  • 08-24-2011
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The California Charter Schools Association received a $15-million gift Tuesday from the Walton Family Foundation to increase the number of charter students statewide by 100,000.

Los Angeles, which already has more charters and charter-school students than other districts nationwide, will see a big impact from this grant, increasing its charter student population by 20,000.

John Rogers, IDEA director, and Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the charter school association, joined KCRW's Which Way, LA? Tuesday night to discuss the grant and its possible impacts for students, particularly in the Los Angeles area.

The grant is the largest ever received by the California Charter Schools Association, but it comes at a time when the state has reduced funding to public schools. Also discussed were the implications that this move could undermine unions. Charters have more flexibility than school districts in running schools, and they aren't required to abide by labor contracts, though some do hire unionized teachers. Walmart has opposed unions for its employees.

"This matters because many of these school workers in traditional public schools are also parents of public school students," Rogers said. "You want to create healthy communities in which families are able to support their children. When we don't employ workers and provide them with what they need, we can't do that."

Rogers also said that the grant could also negatively affect public school students because it has the potential to divert attention from the real economic problem in the state, "which is to invest in public schools at a level that allows them to be successful for all the young people that are there."

MORE: Charter discussion first topic (ends at minute 11:30)

Aug. 17: Status of boys and men of color

  • 08-17-2011
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IDEA Director John Rogers and graduate student researcher Rhoda Freelon will present information this afternoon before the first hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color (BMOC). 

The committee, chaired by Sandré R. Swanson (D-Oakland), will examine key issues affecting the health and well-being of men of color. After a year of hearings throughout the state, recommendations will be made in the key areas of education, health, employment and wealth, violence prevention, youth development and juvenile justice.

IDEA will brief the legislators on the state of education for students of color. Some key findings include:

  • Schools that enroll 90 percent students of color are more likely to be "critically overcrowded" and have severe shortages of qualified teachers.
  • Male students of color were more likely to be suspended than their female counterparts or white students.
  • Students are less likely to enroll in AP courses or take the SAT exam in their senior year. And when they graduate, they're less likely to have completed the necessary A-G courses for enrollment in a UC or Cal State.


BMOC Hearing

When: Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: California State Capitol, Room 437
Presentation: IDEA PowerPoint on education indicators of boys of color

Council of Youth Research moves beyond school community

  • 08-15-2011
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The Council of Youth Research will take their research to the streets. Diverging from previous years, the council -- made up of students from Crenshaw, Locke, Manual Arts, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools -- will use the research expertise it has gained in more than a decade of work to enact change in their communities.

Each high school group will partner with an organization for the full year. They will start with a research proposal outlining the problem paced by the community and why it is important to address it. The partnerships will be:

The Council will also be sharing their knowledge with the general public by creating a video webinar about their research process. The resource could be used by other youth groups across the country interested in engaging in meaningful research in their communities.

For more information on the Council, visit their blog Young Critical Minds.


Aug. 1: Nonprofits filling gap left by summer school

  • 08-02-2011
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A recent KPCC story highlighted how lack of access to enriching summer programs can negatively impact students from low-income, working-class families.

Research indicates that the "summer slide"--when children forget some of what they've learned during the idle months--is greater for poor students than it is for their more well-off classmates.

"So many policymakers have strongly recommended that we target summer learning opportunities to high-poverty students," said IDEA Director John Rogers in the KPCC piece.

"California is going in exactly the opposite direction because as we cut back summer school, upper middle-class kids and affluent kids have access to programs that their parents can pay for."

The KPCC piece takes a look at the efforts of Santa Ana Unified School District to curb the slide by partnering with local nonprofits even as the district cut its summer school spending by $1 million.

As funding cuts worsened a few years ago, Santa Ana Unified’s [Michelle] Rodriguez says, the district began to look for options rather than wait for Superman to save them. "The district administration had the foresight to know they needed to make partnerships with other organizations so that our students didn’t suffer due to the financial deficits, so because of that there was never a year where there was a lag."


June 24: OC Legislative Summit to discuss education, graduation rates

  • 06-21-2011
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IDEA research and policy director featured guest of Assemblyman Jose Solorio's legislative summit

IDEA Research and Policy Director Sophie Fanelli will be a featured speaker at a legislative summit hosted by Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana.

The summit will include guest speakers on local and state issues, including graduation rates in Orange County.

Apart from Fanelli, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Michele Siqueiros, executive director of The Campaign for College Opportunity, will be featured speakers.

Aside from education, the summit will also focus on jobs, public safety, along with other issues.

Legislative Summit
Friday, June 24
Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

June 19: NY Times letter urges diversity in field of computer science

  • 06-21-2011
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Jane Margolis' letter to the editor published

A recent New York Times' article "Computer Studies Made Cool, on Film and Now on Campus" about the increased interest in computer science majors led IDEA senior researcher Jane Margolis to write to the editor.

Though welcoming the uptick, Margolis' cautioned that it was important to consider the people admitted, especially since women and minorities are still underrepresented in the field.

Margolis is the author of two award-winning books: Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing and Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing

In the letter, Margolis wrote:

Without continuing, concerted efforts by a community of computer science educators, social scientists, education reformers, nonprofit organizations and industry to increase the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science, the latest surge in interest may risk worsening the persistent representational disparities.

Now, more than ever, is the time to be vigilant with the commitment to diversity so that a field that is changing everything about our world reflects the full richness of our heterogeneous population.

June 3: State of CA education: Dismal

  • 06-07-2011
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An op-ed piece in Friday's Modesto Bee cited IDEA's latest Educational Opportunity Report, Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011.

"The state of education in California: Dismal" refers to the billions cut in education spending--visibly increased class sizes, fewer electives, no music or arts classes, shorter school years--and how the cuts exist side-by-side with an increased focus on testing, especially through federal legislation and incentive programs.

Click for full op-ed.



May 20: Solving CA's civic engagement problem

  • 05-20-2011
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IDEA Director panelist on Zócalo Public Square's discussion on civic disengagement


Zócalo: Why Don't Californians Talk About Politics?


UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers was a panelist on Thursday night's Zócalo Public Square at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The topic--Why Don't Californian's Talk About Politics?--hoped to delve into why Californians are simultaneously angered by a broken governing system and civically disengaged. Voter registration is low and even just the rate that Californians discuss politics with family and friends is among the lowest in the nation. Joining Prof. Rogers were Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University, Karen Thoreson, president of the Arizona State University Alliance for Innovation, and R. Michael Alvarez, political scientist at CalTech.

FOR FULL COVERAGE (including photos and video) of the discussion and steps that can be taken to engage more citizenry, visit




April 28: our IDEA on parcel taxes in the New York Times

  • 05-02-2011
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Director John Rogers comments about the unintended consequences of parcel taxes.

With the state facing a $26 billion deficit and no likelihood of a special June election to extend about $9 billion worth in taxes, school districts are looking into other options to close their growing budget gaps.

For many districts, a popular choice is a parcel tax, a temporary measure that imposes a fee on properties to raise funds for a number of school priorities, such as preventing layoffs, keeping valuable programs, maintaining infrastructure, etc. They require a two-thirds vote to pass.

They are expensive to place on a ballot, and since 1983, only 54 percent of 500 have met the threshold, most of them in affluent neighborhoods. 

From the New York Times' School Districts Look to Parcel Taxes for Aid:

    Scholars, meanwhile, worry that parcel taxes are corroding the state’s commitment to equal access in public education.

    “Parcel taxes become a way to allow more affluent and privileged districts to secure the conditions for their district that cannot be provided to the state as a whole, given the current level of taxation,” said John Rogers, the director of U.C.L.A.’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, who has studied parcel taxes at length.

To read the full article, click here.



April 21: Federal commission studying education finance disparity

  • 04-21-2011
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IDEA Director or Research and Policy to provide testimony before the U.S. Education Department's Equity and Excellence Commission

The U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission will host a town hall meeting today in San Jose to examine disparities in meaningful educational opportunities for students. 

Prior to the town hall, the commission will hold a hearing which will include testimony from UCLA IDEA. Sophie Fanelli, IDEA director of research and policy, will share findings from the latest Educational Opportunity Report, titled Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011, and discuss another area of research -- Linked Learning.

Established earlier this year, the commission is made up of 27 members from a range of backgrounds, including education, tax, law, government, business and civil rights. Its purpose is to help the federal government increase educational opportunity by improving school funding equity.

The commission, which will hold a series of town halls to gather public input, will examine disparities in educational conditions and opportunities that engender achievement gaps among minorities and low-income students.

Participating in today's town hall are Stephen Chen, commission's executive director, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for the Office of Civil Rights within the education department. Presentations will also be made by John Affeldt, managing attorney of the nonprofit Public Advocates and lead counsel in Williams v. California, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2004 alleging that the state and various agencies had failed to adequately provide students--especially those in low-income neighborhoods--with learning materials, qualified teachers and safe and secure environments.

For more information on the Equity and Excellence Commission, visit


Town Hall Information:

WHEN: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight

WHERE:  San Jose City Hall, located at 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose

April 8-12: IDEA at AERA

  • 04-07-2011
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IDEA researchers will be presenting our work to national audiences in New Orleans this weekend

IDEA's ongoing research in the fields of high school reform, opportunity gaps, educational equity and youth research and civic engagement will be presented before an international audience this weekend at the annual American Educational Research Association's conference in New Orleans.

The conference, held from April 8 to 12, brings together researchers in relevant education fields to discuss their work and implementation practices.

This year, various people and projects from UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access will be featured.

IDEA Dir. John Rogers will chair a panel of researchers and community organizers from Los Angeles, Chicago and Newark, N.J., that will discuss efforts to promote educational equity.

Rogers will also participate in a session about closing opportunity gaps. The Friday symposium, titled Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give All Children an Even Chance,

      brings together scholars who will draw on their expertise to present a powerful and comprehensive picture in two key areas: how a series of opportunity gaps combines to undermine the life chances of children in vulnerable communities, and how sensible, research-based policy approaches can restore and enhance opportunities. The symposium will make a compelling case that American educational policy has veered dangerously toward the rocks due to an extreme focus on achievement gaps while neglecting opportunity gap.

Also presenting will be Marisa Saunders and Sophie Fanelli on successful strategies for the implementation of Linked Learning. Linked Learning (formerly known as Multiple Pathways) is an educational approach that prepares all students for college, career and civic participation and challenges prevailing patterns of school stratification. IDEA has conducted 10 case studies of schools and programs throughout the state that have either successfully implemented or are committed to Linked Learning. We will soon publish a guide on shared struggles and experiences that these 10 school sites encountered.

Not to be outdone is IDEA's Council of Youth Research that will participate in three sessions, including a two-hour interactive session specifically on the council's work. The students will also join youth researchers from San Francisco, Tucson and New Orleans to discuss their roles as "activist-scholars."

Below are the times and locations of some of IDEA's presentations. Follow the Council students @youthcouncil_LA and see IDEA's full schedule and other offerings at


Friday, April 8

Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give All Children an Even Chance
with John Rogers
Sheraton, Napoleon Ballroom C2
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Toward a Grounded Pedagogy of Youth Civic Agency: A Comparative Analysis of Four Projects
with Council of Youth Research
Astor Crowne Plaza, Astor Ballroom III
12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

 Saturday, April 9

Youth Researching the State of Education in California and Educational Acts of Courage
with Ernest Morrell and Council of Youth Research
Sheraton, Napoleon Ballroom B2
4:05 p.m. to 6:05 p.m.

Sunday, April 10

Making Collaboration the Cornerstone of Linked Learning
with Marisa Saunders, Sophie Fanelli and IDEA graduate student researchers
New Orleans Marriott, La Galerie 2
8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

Monday, April 11

Making Education Matter: Youth, Teachers, Professors, and Community Organizers as Activist-Scholars
with Council of Youth Research
New Orleans Marriott, Mardi Gras Salon D/E
8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.


Powerful Ideas: A Conversation with Researchers and Community Organizers Working Together to Enhance the Public Good
with John Rogers
Sheraton, Napoleon Ballroom B3
12:25 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.



April 4: IDEA on KCRW's To the Point

  • 04-05-2011
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Director John Rogers talks about how budget cuts will impact the U.S.'s ability to out-compete other nations.

Recently the U.K.'s Royal Society has reported that China has surpassed Great Britain in terms of scientific achievements and is on pace to overtake the United States within a couple years.

This was the main topic discussed on Monday's To the Point with Warren Olney. On "Can the US 'out-innovate and out-educate' the competition?," IDEA Director John Rogers was asked how budget cuts impact scientific achievement.

California, a center of scientific research, has also led the country in terms of drastic cuts to education spending over the years.

"We see science teachers in California, math and computer science teachers at the K-12 level being cut... in ways that'll have a long-term impact on the quality of science and technology in California and in the United States as a whole," Rogers said.

For the full discussion, listen online to To the Point.


An education exchange with Linda Darling-Hammond

  • 04-01-2011
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A March 24 event at Stanford University brought together researchers, educators, civil rights activists and policy experts to discuss teacher quality

UCLA IDEA held an education exchange at Stanford University on March 24 to discuss teacher quality, especially in light of declining education spending and massive layoff notices. The exchange was co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) and featured a presentation by SCOPE director Linda Darling-Hammond.

Below is an article from SCOPE's website on the event. For more information, or to view the presentations made by Darling-Hammond or IDEA Dir. John Rogers, click here


Teaching Quality Partnerships: An Education Exchange Exploring How Teachers and Communities Work Together to Improve Teaching and Learning

Education organizers, civil rights advocates, researchers, educators, and policy experts gathered at Stanford to address the issues of teacher quality, in the context of a precipitous decline in resources  in California's schools,  especially  those serving low-income and under-represented minority students.

On his way up to Stanford Thursday morning, John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), was racing around the house at the crack of dawn trying to find his backpack. After a while, the noise of his fruitless search woke his wife, who asked what the problem was. "I can't find my backpack," Rogers told her. "Oh," she said, "you mean the one on your back?"

And that, said Rogers, is exactly what is happening in the debate on teacher quality these days: Policymakers are looking for solutions everywhere but in the most obvious place. The country is approaching the challenges in education from the "old logic of scarcity," focusing on what's missing, rather than tapping into and improving on existing resources.

Rogers shared this story with attendees from across California who gathered on March 24 at Stanford University to attend an IDEA-sponsored meeting on teacher quality titled "Teaching Quality Partnerships: An Education Exchange Exploring How Teachers and Communities Work Together to Improve Teaching and Learning."

This Education Exchange, co-sponsored with  SCOPE, focused on ways to support greater access to quality teaching for low-income students and students of color. Speakers included Rogers, SCOPE Co-Director Linda Darling-Hammond, Cristina Uribe of the National Education Association, Alex Caputo-Pearl and Khallid Al-Alim of the Coalition for Educational Justice, Roberta Furger from People Improving Communities through Organizing, and Liz Guillen of Public Advocates.

The meeting took place a week after some 19,000 California teachers received pink slips. This, Rogers said, at a time when the state, right now, would need an additional 104,000 teachers to equal the student to teacher ratio that prevails across the nation.

In her presentation, Darling-Hammond also noted that many of the current strategies being proposed to improve teaching are, in fact, unlikely to do so.  In a context of unequal and dwindling resources for schools, efforts to reduce training for teachers and then fire those who are ineffective will increase the costs of high attrition and low achievement while expanding the achievement gap.  She observed that  countries  leading the world in education achievement invest more than the U.S. in training and supporting teachers but spend less on education overall.

“We have the resources to solve the problems of inequity and low achievement,” she said, “we just aren't using them well.” "You can't fire your way to Finland; you can't fire your way to excellence," she noted, referring to one of the world's leading countries  in educational achievement. "We should be talking less about who's going to get fired, and talking more about  who is going to get hired and how to prepare and retain them and ensure that they are good teachers."

Darling-Hammond’s talk focused on how to create policies that will produce a strong and equitably distributed teaching force, as well as how to create new approaches to teacher evaluation that will support improvement and personnel decisions when struggling teachers do not improve.

Throughout the day, in presentations and small-group conversations, participants focused on developing strategies for advancing equitable distribution of high quality teachers, based on two goals set by Rogers: addressing the short-term political task of stemming the "free-falling decline in educational opportunities and educational funding," and engaging in an intellectual activity to "leave behind  the logic of scarcity and to imagine a system that ensures high quality teachers for all students."

Education Exchanges are interactive meetings designed by UCLA IDEA to help build the capacity of education justice advocates to gain a deeper understanding of key topics and explore policy implications that increase opportunities for teaching and learning among low-income communities and communities of color. This Education Exchange on teacher quality was supported by generous grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the funders collaborative of Communities for Public Education Reform.


March 21: UCLA IDEA releases new Educational Opportunity Report

  • 03-21-2011
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Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011 details the falling learning conditions in California's public schools. This year's report includes data from a survey of about a quarter of the state's high school principals, along with follow-up interviews with a sample of those principals.

Here's the audio recording of the press teleconference, which included presentations by IDEA Director John Rogers, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and two school principals: Todd Ullah, from Washington Preparatory High School in LA Unified, and Paula Hanzel with Sacramento New Technology High in Sacramento City Unified.

Download Press Conference Audio ( Recorded on March 21, 2011)

Download Q&A Session Audio (Recorded on March 21, 2011)

Also available, are the PowerPoint slides from the presentation. 

Download the Educational Opportunity Report Powerpoint Presentation 

March 16: IDEA to release new Ed Opportunity Report next week

  • 03-16-2011
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IDEA and UC/ACCORD will release the latest state Educational Opportunity Report on Monday, March 21 during a teleconference with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Since 2006, UCLA IDEA and UC/ACCORD (All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity) have released an annual report highlighting the conditions on California's diverse public schools.

This year's report, entitled Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011, highlights the effects the budget cuts have had on high schools and on students. We surveyed almost a quarter of the state's high school principals and did follow-up interviews with 78 of them.

Overall, principals reported less time--through shorter school years, and reductions or eliminations in after-school and summer programs--and less attention to students because the cuts have increased the amount of students to teachers and counselors.

These cuts have impacted the students' progress through high school and ability to graduate and move onto a four-year college or university.

IDEA Director John Rogers will share the findings of the report at 11 a.m. during the March 21 conference call. Also joining him will be state Supt. Tom Torlakson and two high school principals.

Embargoed copies of the report will be available upon request on Thursday, March 17.




MONDAY, March 21
11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
DIAL 888-754-4430 and ACCESS web materials at with CODE 2674408
press release here.

For more information, contact Claudia Bustamante, communications director, at 310-267-4408 or

March 4: upcoming Council Youth Research presentation

  • 02-28-2011
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Thirty-one CYR students present findings from yearlong research into the condition of their schools and education.

Students from five Los Angeles high schools will share their research findings and make recommendations to improve the quality of their education.

The students are members of UCLA IDEA's Council of Youth Research who have been investigating this issue for about eight months. It began with a summer seminar that focused on the 10th anniversary of Williams v. California, a class action lawsuit that was filed in 2000 and settled in 2004 to ensure all students have an adequate education.

The presentation will be held:

Friday, March 4
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
UCLA Downtown Labor Center, located at 675 S. Park View St.

For more information, see the advisory online.

Feb. 8: New research questions LA Times value-added approach

  • 02-08-2011
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The analysis the Los Angeles Times relied on to publish a series of stories and database of teacher effectiveness was inadequate, according to a report released today by the National Education Policy Center.

"Due Dilligence and the Evaluation of Teachers" published the findings of University of Colorado, Boulder researchers Derek Briggs and Ben Domingue, who used the same Los Angeles Unified School District data of elementary school teachers and students. In attempting to recreate the analysis that was conducted for the Times, the researchers found much variability.

The original analysis looked at student test scores in English Language Arts and mathematics. How much they improved from the previous year--"value added"--was attributed to the teacher. Positive growth and the teacher was considered "effective"; negative, not so. The Times ranked teachers on a five-point scale from "least effective" to "most effective."

Among NEPC new findings for reading scores:

  • More than half of the teachers had a different effectiveness rating.
  • 8.1 percent of teachers considered ineffective in the Times' model jumped to effective.
  • 12.6 percent originally listed as effective were deemed ineffective in new model.


For the full report from IDEA's sister organization, visit

Feb. 2: Wikipedia's gender gap

  • 02-02-2011
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IDEA researcher Jan Margolis speaks to NY Times about gender gaps in computer science

Wikipedia has a serious gender gap to overcome, the New York Times reported Sunday.

In Define Gender Gaps? Look up Wikipedia's Contributor List, the Times reported that a mere 13 percent of the hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia contributors are women. The disparity can be seen on the length and breath of entries that could appeal to girls and women versus men.

The Times wrote: "A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history on the subject."

Wikipedia has set a goal to increase the number of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015.

IDEA Senior Researcher Jane Margolis said that what is happening at Wikipedia mirrors other environments were women are less likely to assert their opinions. "In almost every space, who are the authorities, the politicians, writers for op-ed pages?" Margolis was quoted.

She advocated recruiting women as groups to fields where they are under-represented so that "...a solitary woman does not face the burden alone."

Margolis studies segregation within learning environments; gender and race socialization in education; and how inequality is produced in our society. She has received several National Science Foundation grants and has built partnerships to address inequities within computer science education. She is the lead auther of two award-winning books: Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing and Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing.

Read NY Times full article.


Council of Youth Research expanding reach

  • 01-31-2011
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Council imgUCLA IDEA's Council of Youth Research has been busy the last few months. After a successful summer seminar when students from five Los Angeles urban high schools researched school conditions, the Council has spent the past few months expanding on that research.

Students from Crenshaw, Locke, Manual Arts, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools have continued to investigate the conditions at their schools and in their communities, using Williams v. California as a template. Williams was a class-action lawsuit settled in 2004 that guaranteed every student in California an adequate education. 

In the next few months, the Council of Youth Research will present their yearly findings at the UCLA Labor Center. They will also travel to New Orleans for the annual American Educational Research Association conference, which brings together thousands of researchers to share their work.

To keep up with the latest, follow @youthcouncil_LA on Twitter and read the students' blog Young Critical Minds.

Jan. 27: "Surviving the present"

  • 01-27-2011
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IDEA Director John Rogers reaction to State of the Union

During an interview with COLORLINES, UCLA IDEA Director John Rogers commented on Pres. Obama's State of the Union address earlier this week. In particular, Rogers said in order to 'win the future' as the president would like, the country must first 'survive the present.'

Obama spent a good portion of his yearly speech discussing the importance of education to carry the country forward in coming years. Many education reform experts, like Rogers, agreed with that message but were concerned about what was left out, according to the article titled To "Win the Future," Kids and Schools Must Survive the Present. There was no mention of childhood poverty and how the current economic climate is affecting schools, families and students, he said.

Click to read full article.

Jan. 25: Parent Engagement presentation at first LAUSD task force meeting

  • 01-25-2011
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terriquez parents speech imgA new Los Angeles Unified School District Parent Engagement Task Force held its first meeting Monday. The 28-member task force, headed by California Community Foundation President Antonia Hernandez, will make recommendations to the LAUSD Board of Education on how to increase parent involvement and improve student achievement.

UCLA IDEA faculty fellow Veronica Terriquez presented research on parent engagement during the meeting. Terriquez is currently an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Southern California.

Click image below to download her PowerPoint presentation.

terriquez ppt image

Jan. 11: Uncertainty in education: 'Which Way, LA?' discusses

  • 01-12-2011
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Radio guest John Rogers discussed the importance of increasing revenues not only for schools, but also social services.

The new year started off with uncertainty for public education--new leaders, new budgets... new taxes?

Less than two weeks into 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a budget that spared K-12 education, but only with conditions. Brown also chose not to fill the Secretary of Education position and appointed seven new members to the state Board of Education. Locally, Los Angeles Unified board members voted on a new superintendent.

KCRW's Which Way, L.A.? on Tuesday discussed the importance and possible implications of these events. Featured on the show were IDEA Director John Rogers, LAUSD board members Steve Zimmer and Tamar Galatzan, former member Caprice Young and A.J. Duffy with United Teachers LA.

Brown's budget called for $12.5 billion in spending cuts and another $12 billion in modifications and extending taxes. Brown spared K-12 education from more cuts, but only if voters choose to extend temporary taxes set to expire this year.

Rogers, saying that Los Angeles public schools are facing the worst budget since the Great Depression, referred to the possible revenue as "critically important." Besides $2 billion in taxes for public education, other revenues would fund social welfare and public health programs.

"It's those programs that shape how young people are coming into the schools," he said. "We need young people coming into the schools healthy and ready to learn."

Also discussed was the appointment of John Deasy as LAUSD's new superintendent. Though some guests discussed the lack of an open, national search for the replacement of retiring Supt. Ramon Cortines, all said Deasy was a talented leader and could collaborate for system-wide district reform.

*To hear entire show, visit Which Way, L.A.? website.

Jan. 8: Bygone and back again: Lessons from late-'70s Brown

  • 01-10-2011
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Dir. John Rogers quoted in Los Angeles Times story about the 'shakeup' of the state Board of Education, which included appointments from Gov. Brown's first term.

During his first week in office, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed seven new members to the state Board of Education, a move that replaced a number of charter school advocates for more policy-minded individuals with lengthy resumes.

For more news coverage of the new board, read KPCC and Educated Guess and Los Angeles Times.

Among the appointees were two people who served on the board during Brown's earlier terms as governor. Bill Honig, former state Superintendent of Public Instruction, withdrew his name from consideration Monday.

The other repeat appointment is Mike Kirst, a Stanford University professor who served from 1977 to 1982. According to the university's website, "while Kirst's early work focused primarily on K-12 policy and politics, much of his recent work has focused on college preparation and college success... Kirst's research demonstrates that only K-12 and postsecondary working together to improve preparation and college readiness will increase college completion."

IDEA Director John Rogers said that Brown's early choices--a willingness to revisit the past--are hopeful signs.

"Jerry Brown is trying to bring back the '70s and '80s to Sacramento, which raises some interesting possibilities but also some interesting challenges, because we're in such a different environment today in California than we were 30-plus years ago," Rogers said in the LA Times.

Thirty years ago, California kept pace with (and, at times, exceeded) the national average in per-pupil spending. Today, the state is outspent by an average of $2,500 per student. Thirty years ago, the disparities between the rich and the poor weren't as exasperated as they are today. Also, attending college was within greater grasp for qualified students because tuition was $300 plus fees instead of the more than $10,000 expected from UC undergraduates today.

For more on how California's landscape has changed and what lessons can be adopted from the past, read our Jan. 7 Themes, entitled To the Brown Administration: Adequate, Equitable, Rational School Funding.

Jan. 6: Parent Trigger in Point Loma?

  • 01-07-2011
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Dir. John Rogers looks at Parent Trigger law.

Point Loma is not only a scenic, seaside community in San Diego, but also a place that doesn't lack in public engagement.

According to the Voice of San Diego, it is a "shining example of that community control, a humming network of parents, teachers and principals..."

However, similar to other communities statewide, some Point Loma parents also believe they do not have much influence over schools. That is why they have begun to look at options, including the new "parent trigger" law that allows a majority of parents at underperforming schools to overhaul them and implement drastic reform changes, such as replacing staff, firing principal, charter conversions or complete closures. Last month, parents at McKinley Elementary presented their petition to the Compton Unified School District.

Currently, none of the schools in Point Loma qualify for the parent trigger; however, there is a belief that Point Loma High could become eligible if it continues to miss federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks.

IDEA Director John Rogers spoke with the Voice of San Diego about the shortcomings of the parent trigger law. Who is in charge of a school and how it is governed is not nearly as important as what is taught and how during the current budget-slashing era, he said.

"I think there are times when it's critical to rethink who is in charge of schools...but I don't think this is one of those times," Rogers was quoted. "There are some fundamental concerns that need to be addressed: resources."

Links to Article and Expert Opinions

*For more information, read Public Enagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools, a new book co-edited by Rogers.

Files and Images

  • 06-16-2010
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