Category Archives: Research

On March 16th, Santa Cruz County’s shelter-in-place order suddenly changed the lives of thousands of families in Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD). But though the district shuttered its schools for the remainder of the school year, administrators quickly built on existing relationships with their community to identify students’ basic needs and smoothly transition to distance learning.

The district prioritized equity throughout their early COVID-19 crisis response: distributing digital devices alongside multiple forms of technical support; creating multilingual outreach to inform students and families about social distancing protocols; and quickly expanding their communication plans to respond to families’ access and language needs. District leaders worked with teachers and families to ensure that all policies, procedures, and practices put into place to respond to COVID-19 were designed with the district’s most vulnerable students in mind.

This report explains how PVUSD created a crisis response that prioritized the needs of its large Spanish-, Mixteco bajo- and English-speaking communities while serving every student in the district. Key takeaways include practices the district created to increase family engagement and outreach and improve instructional access for English learners.

This is the first in a series of reports from Pivot Learning and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) profiling local and state leaders with equitable COVID-19 response plans. Our second brief is coming soon!

Third Grade Effectiveness StudyDuring the 2017–18 school year CORE, a subsidiary of Pivot Learning, provided professional development and technical assistance to elementary teachers and administrators in Pajaro Valley Unified School District (CA) implementing, in addition to their broader English Language Arts instruction, the Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight words (SIPPS) reading foundational skills program.

SEG Measurement looked at the reading performance of 364 third grades students in classrooms with teachers who participated in CORE professional development. 182 students were in the treatment group. These 182 students were matched based on multiple characteristics to an additional 182 students to create a control group.

Students in classes with teachers participating in CORE professional development showed significantly greater growth in reading skills than did students in classes with teachers who did not receive CORE professional development.

SEG Measurement found an effect size for the CORE professional development of .17, or about a fifth of a standard deviation. This effect size, in the context of providing professional development is quite impressive. While other factors certainly contribute to student achievement, (e.g. curriculum and instruction) this study demonstrates that the professional development provided by CORE made a difference in student achievement.

Growth Culture WhitepaperAt 7:45 on a Wednesday morning in April 2018, superintendent PK Diffenbaugh gathered educators from across Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD) to do something almost unprecedented in American education. For the next nine months, the school would partner with Pivot Learning to build a “Deliberately Developmental Organization” that supports a “growth culture” by learning to apply the latest research on adult development to their lives, relationships, and practice.

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Whitepaper: Changing Practice
Pivot

Whitepaper: Changing Practice

Category: Pivot

Rolling the Stone Up the Hill or Focusing on Implementation

Research on professional development for teachers consistently points out the need to provide ongoing and robust support and coaching to transfer knowledge and skills learned in workshops to classroom practice. However, despite this solid and long body of research, school districts continue to futilely emphasize one-off workshops rather than invest in the ongoing, job-embedded and sustained professional learning and coaching necessary to change practice. Read more »

Recommendations from the LCFF Test Kitchen for Aligning Reporting Requirements

Making the Most of the Governor's Budget Proposal BriefGovernor Newsom’s January budget proposal outlines plans for a single web-based application that can merge various district reporting tools to increase efficiency and public understanding. Drawing on the experiences of the LCFF Test Kitchen, a new brief offers four recommendations for making the most of this proposal:

1. Articulate the goals and desired outcomes of a single web-based reporting platform to align reporting structures.
2. Engage end users throughout the development process.
3. Foster competition to generate an innovative, single web-based reporting platform design.
4. Create structures and supports to build trust between school districts and their communities.

DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF

Through a process that values end users and fosters innovation, we can both support and improve upon the Governor’s proposal, thereby helping to create the conditions for continued progress in our schools and communities.

For more information about the LCFF Test Kitchen, please visit lcfftestkitchen.org.

You can also find the brief and more information about LCFF on the California Collaborative on District Reform (CCDR) website.

LCFF Test Kitchen is a partnership with:

CCEE, CCDR, Pivot Learning, and WestEd.

A new report from Pivot Learning finds that California’s unfunded pension costs threaten educational equity.

California’s chronic underfunding of teacher pensions is pushing school districts into financial distress, forcing them to make painful cuts that will increasingly harm both the state’s teachers and its most vulnerable students, according to a report released today by Pivot Learning. Read more »

The LCFF Test Kitchen provides local education agencies (LEAs) with the support and space to find and implement solutions that address the challenges of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process from a different perspective—that of the end user.

Over the course of a year, three districts have embraced a user-centered design approach to foster local innovation and develop better solutions to persistent LCAP challenges.

The results of their work are now available in two new briefs.

Improving LCFF Implementation Through User-Center Design: Year 1 of the LCFF Test Kitchen

Learn more about the work of the LCFF Test Kitchen and the solutions that each district design team created for LCAP.

User-Centered Design as a Pathway to Effective Policy: Lessons from the LCFF Test Kitchen

Examine the lessons learned from the LCAP design process and how user-centered design might lead to more effective policy from the outset.

Together, these publications offer ideas about how LEA’s can leverage user-centered design to improve their LCAPs and other initiatives.

For more information about the LCFF Test Kitchen, please visit lcfftestkitchen.org.

LCFF Test Kitchen is a partnership with:

CCEE, CCDR, Pivot Learning, and WestEd.

FIRST REPORT IN THE “INVISIBLE CALIFORNIA” SERIES HIGHLIGHTS EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF THE ANTELOPE VALLEY REGION IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Los Angeles, CA, October 12, 2017 – Today, Pivot Learning, an Oakland-based nonprofit supporting dozens of CA school districts to improve college and career readiness, and PACE, an independent, non-partisan research center based at three California Universities, released The Antelope Valley: Over the hill and out of sight. The report’s authors will present their findings today at 2:00 PM at the California Community Foundation’s Joan Palevsky Center, 281 S. Figueroa St. Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Bigger than the state of Rhode Island, the Antelope Valley is the northern-most part of Los Angeles County. Composed of Lancaster, Palmdale, and the surrounding communities, it is one of the highest need regions in California. Over the past year, Policy Analysis for California Education has partnered with Pivot Learning to paint a comprehensive picture of the educational needs of students, families and educators in the region.

The report discusses:

  • Dramatic increases and changes in the Valley student population as families flee higher-cost regions in Los Angeles
  • Large-scale movement of the Los Angeles African-American and Latino/a communities into the Valley
  • Dramatic rise in the number of foster youth and homeless students
  • Impacts on the education system of these rapid demographic changes
  • K-12, higher education, health and transportation infrastructure needs of students from pre-school through post-secondary

A panel of experts, including school district, community, and city leaders and researchers will discuss the state of education in the Antelope Valley. They will provide recommendations to expand and improve educational opportunities for the large numbers of African-American, English Learners, low-income, homeless, and foster youth in the region.

View the report here.

For more information, contact Morgan Pulleyblank: mpulleyblank@pivotlearning.org / 510.808.4067.

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Pivot Learning is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to revitalize our public school systems so that all students have the opportunity to succeed in college and career. We partner with education leaders at all levels of the system—including superintendents, mid-level district leaders, principals, teachers and community members—to provide the knowledge, skills and support proven to strengthen educational systems and transform teaching and learning.

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan research center based at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California – Davis. PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in performance at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to postsecondary education and training. PACE bridges the gap between research and policy, working to increase the impact of academic research on educational policy in California.

“We don’t really have the expertise on site so we rely on working with other small school districts and the curriculum department at our [county] office of education.”

                                                                                -Rural School Leader

Over the past two years , with generous support from the S.H. Cowell and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Pivot Learning has supported and collaborated with twenty-one rural districts and counties in Northern California to create the Rural Professional Learning Network (RPLN). Through an iterative design process, the RPLN has joined forces to overcome unique challenges due to their limited budgets and remote locations and effectively implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards.

Pivot partnered with Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), an independent, nonpartisan research center at Stanford University, to conduct research and present findings on the current challenges facing rural districts in California. The research was lead by Dr. Thomas Timar, an expert in education finance, policy, and governance, director of the UC Davis Center for Applied Policy in Education (CAP-Ed), and member of the PACE steering committee. In the report, “Surprising Strengths and Substantial Needs: Rural District Implementation of Common Core State Standards”, Dr. Timar and his colleagues found that “If small rural districts are to succeed in meaningful, deep implementation of CCSS, the state, COEs and other support providers must provide small and rural districts with access to relevant exemplars of systemic standards implementation.”

Based on research collected from RPLN’s first year, recommendations on how to better support rural districts included:

1) Encouraging rural districts and schools to think strategically and effectively about time management and resources.

2) Providing ongoing resources to small and rural districts to support professional development according to diverse teacher and student needs, innovative delivery methods, and effective, measurable impact.

3) Redefining the State and Local Role for Instructional and Curricular Support with specific consideration to the needs of small and rural districts.

Pivot and PACE are continuing to collaborate on this work, with the addition of El Dorado County into the RPLN. Additionally, Pivot is working with the Collaboration in Common platform to support the sharing of tools, resources, and supports between districts and between different networks.

The RPLN seeks to alleviate local capacity and statewide infrastructure issues within rural districts by leveraging both in-person meetings and virtual collaboration tools. As part of this network, education leaders identify their core implementation challenges (problems of practice or PoPs). The larger network works collaboratively to develop and share solutions for these challenges. Through this model, counties and districts identify, employ, and disseminate best practices in CCSS.

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan research center based at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Davis. PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in performance at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to post-secondary education and training. PACE bridges the gap between research and policy, working with scholars from California’s leading universities and with state and local policymakers to increase the impact of academic research on educational policy in California. For more information, see edpolicyinca.org.