February 1, 2021 - The District of Choice program is one of several laws allowing students to transfer from one school district to another school district. The program is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2023. This evaluation, prepared at the request of the Legislature, assesses recent trends in the program and provides our recommendations regarding reauthorization. It is a follow-up to our previous evaluation, published in January 2016.
February 18, 1997 - Analysis of the 1997-98 Budget Bill, K-12 Education Chapter
February 27, 2015 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s higher education budget. We then review the segments' performance in certain key areas and assess the degree to which the segments require enrollment growth funding, base funding increases, and facilities funding. We find the segments have improved performance in some areas but additional improvement is needed. We find little to warrant additional enrollment growth at UC and CSU, and available data indicate CCC likely will not use all the growth funding provided in 2014-15. We recommend against unallocated budget increases, instead recommending that the Legislature link base increases to a cost-of-living adjustment and any additional increases to specified state priorities. We review several facility proposals and make various related recommendations, including recommending the Legislature establish state facility priorities and require the segments to submit a report describing how they plan to eliminate their maintenance backlogs.
January 20, 2004 - We recommend that the Legislature (1) remove the cap on the number of charter schools that may operate in the state, (2) restructure the charter school categorical block grant, (3) strengthen charter school oversight by permitting school districts to opt out of charter authorizing, allowing for multiple authorizers, and creating safeguards to promote stronger accountability and (4) modify fee policies by delineating more clearly between facility fees and oversight fees, capping these fees, and eliminating the mandate-claims process for oversight costs.
February 18, 2004 - Although the Governor proposes no new funding for enrollment growth at UC and CSU, we find that both universities have unused enrollment funding in their base budgets that would permit them to enroll more students in 2004-05 than in the current year.
June 16, 2008 - Most students who enter California Community Colleges (CCC) lack sufficient reading, writing, and mathematics skills to undertake college–level work. Thus, one of the CCC system’s core missions is to provide precollegiate “basic skills” instruction to these students. In this report, we find that a large percentage of students do not overcome their basic skills deficiencies during their time at CCC. We identify a number of state policies that we believe stand in the way of student success, and recommend several structural and systemwide changes designed to help increase preparedness and achievement among community college students.
May 9, 2005 -
This paper summarizes our recent report on the success and shortcomings of high schools in California. High school represents a critical phase in the educational development of K-12 students. Our report examines high schools through the lens of three groups of high school students.
Dropouts (Students Who Fail to Graduate).
About 30 percent of the entering ninth grade class fails to graduate on time.
Research and data suggest that the factors leading to student dropouts are in
place by the time students enter ninth grade. Despite decades of trying,
research has not identified programs or services that consistently reduce
The "General" Track (Students Who Graduate Without Qualifying for a Four-Year University). This includes about 45 percent of entering ninth grade students. About one-half of this group attends college after graduation and the other one-half enters the labor force. Research and data indicate that many in this group do not have clear postgraduation goals, which prevents these students from using high school most effectively to make a smoother transition to adult life.
The "University" Track (Students Who Graduate and Qualify for Admission to the State’s Public Four-Year Universities). These students account for about one-quarter of entering ninth grade students. Entering college freshmen frequently lack the English or mathematics skills required for study at the university level. Higher education admissions and placement policies contribute to the problem, as they fail to clearly communicate the skill levels needed for success in college.
Despite considerable differences in the problems facing
these groups, several themes emerge in our recommendations that are consistent
across the groups. Our recommendations address the problems experienced by high
school students by strengthening accountability, improving information, and
We recommend the Legislature "fine
tune" accountability programs by:
We also suggest several ways the
Legislature could employ information to help make high schools more responsive
to student needs by:
Flexibility also is a theme of our
report. Improvements could be made by:
The Bottom Line
While many critical factors are outside of the state’s
control, we think our recommendations provide a strategic approach for how the
state can contribute to improving high schools.
February 13, 2004 - The expressed goal in current law is that all Californians should be afforded the opportunity to receive a college education. The Master Plan for Higher Education, originally adopted by the Legislature in 1960, has served as the state's higher education roadmap. This report describes the state's admissions policies and practices, and assesses how they relate to the Master Plan. While we conclude that the Master Plan's commitment to access can be maintained even in the current fiscal environment, this will require some adjustments in current policies and practices.
February 12, 2014 - This report analyzes the Governor’s 2014-15 higher education budget. We continue to have serious concerns with the Governor’s approach to funding the universities, particularly as it significantly diminishes the Legislature’s role in key budget decisions and allows the universities to pursue segmental over state interests. We recommend the Legislature take an alternative approach that: (1) designates funding for specific purposes (including enrollment at the California State University and debt-service payments), (2) shares cost increases among the state and students, and (3) monitors the universities’ performance in specific areas (such as student success). We think the Governor’s approach to funding the community colleges is much better but recommend various ways for the Legislature to refine specific community college proposals. Most notably, rather than augmenting a single student support categorical program by $200 million, we recommend the Legislature consolidate seven student support programs into a block grant, thereby offering colleges considerably more flexibility in deciding the best ways to support their students.
November 6, 2019 - Recent legislation directed the Legislature and administration to work collaboratively to consider changes in how the state organizes, delivers, and funds special education, with the overarching intent to improve outcomes. With this report, we aim to inform these fiscal and policy conversations by providing an overview of special education in California.
Update 11/8/19: Adjustments made to per-student education costs
February 22, 1995 - Analysis of the 1995-96 Budget Bill, K-12 Education Chapter
August 1, 1988 - This report, submitted pursuant to the "sunset" review provisions of Chapter 1270, Statutes of 1983 (Senate Bill 1155), contains our findings and recommendations regarding the adult education program administered by the public schools. Although some community college districts also operate adult education programs, this report, as directed by Chapter 1270, is limited to those programs operated by K-12 schools.
January 20, 2011 - In recent years, community college enrollment has been constrained by two major factors: (1) reductions in course-section offerings as a result of state budget cuts, and (2) strong demand for CCC services by adults seeking retraining and other skills at a time of weak state and national economic growth. Given limited resources, we believe that the state should target funds that best meet the state’s highest priorities for community college services. We recommend the Legislature: (1) adopt statewide registration priorities that reflect the Master Plan’s primary objectives, (2) place a limit on the number of taxpayer-subsidized credit units that students may earn, and (3) restrict the number of times that a student may repeat physical education and other classes at taxpayers’ expense. Our recommendations would (1) help increase opportunities for high-priority students to enroll in courses they need to progress toward their educational goals, and (2) reduce funding for lower-priority enrollment by approximately 50,000 FTE students—for savings to the state of about $235 million.