Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Getting Down to Facts II: Current Conditions and Paths Forward for California Schools

September 17, 2018

In a newly released study, Susan Moffitt, director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at Watson, partners with Susanna Loeb, new director of the Annenberg Institute of School Reform, and other researchers for Getting Down to Facts II, a project aimed at supporting improvements in California’s K-12 public school system, originally released in 2007. The project brought together stakeholders with researchers to provide research-based information to support improvements in California’s schools.

Below is an excerpt from the study’s abstract:

Over the past 10 years, California has made significant changes to its K-12 public school system, including adopting new academic standards, transforming its approaches to funding and accountability, and shifting toward a more decentralized system of governance and finance. Ten years is a relatively short amount of time for systemic improvements to achieve their desired long-term impact. However, as Californians elect a new governor and superintendent of public instruction, the time is right to ensure we build on what is working and modify as needed for the next 10 years.

In 2007, the original Getting Down to Facts (GDTF) studies highlighted concerns about the state’s prescriptive, complex, and opaque finance and governance systems, and the lack of appropriate infrastructure to support continuous improvement in education. They paved the way for many of the recent reforms relevant to schools, including the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), Propositions 30 and 55 (which raised taxes specifically to fund schools), and streamlined governance structures in the state.

The Getting Down to Facts II effort has again convened and coordinated a broad set of researchers, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to address key policy questions related to the state’s continuous improvement efforts. This project asks: What do California school systems look like today, after a decade of policy change? What could and should California school systems look like to ensure we are graduating all students with the preparation necessary to succeed in college, career, and community? And what steps could and should we consider to support continuous improvement at the classroom, school, system, and state levels and to improve student outcomes? We expanded upon the original GDTF project in multiple ways, such as by including standards implementation, data availability, counseling and health services, and state government capacities.

To read the GDTFII Summary Report, click here. For more information, please visit http://gettingdowntofacts.com/.

News coverage includes:

California Department of Education limited in ability to help districts improve, report says – Lake County Record Bee