Incentives for Students, Teachers,
Schools in the Era of Higher Expectations
Governor Gray Davis has proclaimed education as his "first, second, and third priority." His first official act as Governor was to call on the Legislature to consider sweeping reform measures designed to launch what he termed an Era of Higher Expectations in our schools. The Legislature responded by approving—in record time and with bipartisan support—historic legislation holding every one of the 8,000 public schools in California accountable for improved student performance; providing the first statewide program of peer evaluation and assistance for teachers in the nation; requiring the first-ever exit exam for high school seniors; and providing high-quality teacher training in how to teach reading, and reading programs for struggling students.
In his first budget, the Governor further demonstrated his commitment to public education by proposing to increase total spending on schools by $2.7 billion while, for the first time, linking the increased funding to measurable improvement in student performance. This year, the Governor’s Budget again reflects his determination to further education reform by providing an additional $2.9 billion in total resources for K-12 above the 1999 Budget Act. The Budget builds on the far-reaching reforms adopted in 1999 by focusing on three areas:
The Public Schools Accountability Act enacted by Senate Bill 1X (Chapter 3, Statutes of 1999), started California schools on the path toward accountability for improved student achievement. Among other things, the program implemented pursuant to that bill is designed to improve low-performing schools—schools with test scores in the bottom 50 percent of California’s schools. Last year’s Budget also provided financial incentives for teachers and schools to improve performance, and increased consequences for failure to improve. For students, the consequences for poor academic achievement have been growing as school districts move toward elimination of social promotion and as the State Board of Education develops a high school exit exam requirement for graduation. Incentives to stay focused on academic achievement, particularly in high school, are important motivators for success. In keeping with the Administration’s philosophy that high achievement should be rewarded, this year’s Budget proposes to offer California high school students merit-based college scholarship opportunities as a reward for demonstrating high academic achievement.
Governor’s Merit Scholarships—If we expect high school students to excel in school and strive to meet college admission requirements, then we should recognize and reward students who meet the highest standards. The Budget provides $112.0 million for new Governor’s Merit Scholarships that will reward student achievement on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) examination with $1,000 invested in a Golden State ScholarShare Trust Account. Each pupil in the 9th, 10th, or 11th grades scoring in the top 10 percent of their class statewide, or in the top 5 percent of their school, will receive the award. A student who consistently scores at these levels in all three grades will receive a total of $3,000 toward a college education.
Governor’s Distinguished Math and Science Scholars Program—Encouraging high school students to pursue rigorous course work is the pathway to high-paying careers in science and technology-related growth industries. Toward that end, the Budget provides $6.0 million for $2,500 scholarships to high school students who receive a Governor’s Merit Scholarship and who achieve the highest scores on Advanced Placement (AP) tests in calculus and science.
Intensive Algebra Instruction Academies—Modeled after this year’s successful implementation of Intensive Reading Academies for students in grades K-4, the Budget provides $21.2 million to establish the Intensive Algebra Instruction Academies Program for pupils in grades 7 and 8. These pupils are the first who will be required to pass the High School Exit Exam in order to graduate; instruction in higher mathematics will help ensure that they are prepared for that exam. Instruction in pre-algebra and algebra will be offered during summer, intersession, before and after school, and on Saturdays. These Academies will serve an estimated 50,000 students. The Academies designed by the University of California (UC) and offered at local schools, will link one-week teacher training institutes with the summer instructional program provided to students.
California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science—This new residential program, a partnership of UC, the California State University (CSU), private universities, and industry, engages the most creative minds of our next generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Students are selected for this program based on demonstrating outstanding academic achievement and receiving student recognition in the fields of math and science. The first class of 300 students (grades 9 through 12) will participate in the summer of 2000 at UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz campuses. The Budget adds $1.0 million to expand this program on two additional campuses and will double the number of students able to participate in the summer of 2001.
Support for Summer School Programs—Eliminating social promotion of students, and requiring that students pass an exit exam as a condition of graduation from high school, place greater importance on the core educational program, but may also increase the need for remedial and supplemental instruction. Currently, the Education Code authorizes an array of overlapping programs that have become difficult and cumbersome for school districts to administer. The Budget proposes to consolidate these programs. The Budget also provides an augmentation of $61.9 million to increase the funding rate for these programs from $2.50 per hour to $3.00 per hour, so that school districts can offer the highest quality supplemental instructional services for students not meeting grade level standards or who are at-risk of not passing the High School Exit Exam.
Recruiting and Training Qualified Teachers
California faces a shortage of fully qualified teachers, and has a projected need to hire nearly 300,000 new teachers over the next decade. The Administration is committed to enhancing the prestige of the teaching profession and implementing measures that will attract and retain talented, fully credentialed teachers for every school in the state. Research shows that teacher quality is one of the most important factors in student performance. Because we are placing high expectations on students and teachers, this Budget gives high priority to focused professional development activities so that teachers will have the skills they need to teach children to meet higher standards.
Teacher Recruitment—Successful efforts to recruit and retain well-trained, experienced, and fully credentialed teachers are critical to improving student achievement. The Budget includes several key initiatives to accomplish this goal, as follows:
Technology and Academic
Meeting the Demand for Higher Expectations
California has set the achievement bar higher for its students and schools. During the initial year of this Administration, significant public school accountability measures were enacted. The State Board of Education adopted an Academic Performance Index (API) to measure student academic progress in schools. The Budget expands on those efforts by providing schools and teachers with the tools necessary to meet these higher standards. These tools include:
The Public School Accountability Act—Last year, 430 schools received funding to improve academic achievement. These schools will receive grants of up to $200 per student to raise test scores over the next two years. The Budget includes an additional $19.7 million to begin improving student performance in a second group of 430 low-performing schools, and also contains $96.2 million, for a second year, to provide awards to high-achieving schools showing improvement in student performance that meet or exceed goals adopted by the State Board of Education.
Advanced Placement Courses for High School Students—The Administration is committed to ensuring that every high school student has access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses, beginning in the 2000 academic year, and fully implemented by the beginning of school in 2001. Currently, the availability of AP courses varies considerably among school districts throughout California. The Budget provides $20.5 million to increase the availability of, and student access to AP classes, including $700 million in UC’s budget.
The Secretary for Education will work with school districts and institutions of higher education throughout California to help ensure that all students in California who desire to take AP courses have access to them. Solutions may include co-attendance at a nearby high school that offers AP courses, setting up regional courses taught by college faculty or graduate students, or enrollment in on-line courses.
Supporting the Use of Technology in Education—California is a national leader in the use of technology for the information age, but is dead last in the availability of technology in the classroom. The Administration’s initiative for education technology calls for the development of a state master plan for education technology, and a major commitment of $200 million to increase the number of computers in classrooms and train teachers to use them effectively. The Budget includes the following:
One-Stop Website for Public School Construction—The Budget includes $3.3 million in 1999-00 and $2.4 million in 2000-01 for the Department of General Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control to develop jointly a one-stop website for public school construction. The site will provide school districts, parents, and other interested parties with information on the state approval process and the status on public school construction projects.
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