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Class Size Matters... California study shows program to reduce class size since 2006 has had a major impact on 'academic performance'

With the chorus of corporate funded pundits continuing to claim that teachers can be laid off at will and that schools will improve no matter how few teachers are left and how little we are paid, the body of work that proves the Plutocratic Catechism wrong simply grows, although ignoring the actual evidence (and common sense) is more lucrative in the USA in 2010 than paying attention to what actually works in the education of the real children who attend America's public schools.

Most recently, a report by the California Teachers Association analyzed the results of a massive reduction in class size mandated for California's "worst" public schools since 2006. Thanks to CTA leader George Sheridan, we have the following news:

The California Teachers Association reported November 30 on the initial success of the Quality Education Investment Act. http://www.cta.org/About-CTA/News-Room/Press-Releases/2010/11/20101130_1.aspx

Lessons Learned -- QEIA Reforms Lift Up At-Risk Students

Contact: Mike Myslinski at 408-921-5769 or mmyslinski@cta.org

CTA’s Quality Education Investment Act Is Model Intervention Program

The largest public education reform program of its kind, California’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006 is making sustained progress in helping at-risk students succeed in the classroom after two full years of implementation, according to new initial research unveiled today at a CTA symposium here on QEIA with nearly 200 California teachers, education experts and lawmakers’ staff.

The landmark law, sponsored by CTA, shows that California educators are part of the conversation about meaningful education reform for our schools of greatest need. Providing extra state funding for proven reforms like smaller class sizes at lower-performing schools, QEIA and its emphasis on collaboration among educators, parents and principals is helping to make strong academic gains despite challenges from student poverty, diversity and language, the new CTA research shows.

For the 2009-10 school year alone, QEIA schools, on average, experienced nearly 50 percent higher growth on the California Academic Performance Index (API) than similar, non-QEIA schools. Also, the report shows QEIA is helping to close student achievement gaps. QEIA schools are making “greater gains in API with African-American and Hispanic students, English Language Learners, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students” than comparable lower-performing

schools, the report concludes.

“It’'s clear from this initial success that QEIA and its emphasis on proven reforms like smaller class sizes, additional counselors, better training for teachers and principals and parental involvement is paying off for our most at-risk students,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Sustained intervention works. When schools are given the resources and assistance they need, and when teachers, administrators and parents work together, schools and students improve. QEIA is offering lessons in education reform that works, and that other schools can learn from.”

Sanchez noted that CTA has been deeply involved in working with QEIA schools, offering training to staff about the law and implementing school change. Sanchez was joined at the symposium by state Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Tom Torlakson, who wrote the QEIA law (SB 1133) and praised its promise for students. “The Quality Education Investment Act puts the emphasis where it should be -- on the classroom and on teaching,” Torlakson said. “I think the successful reforms of QEIA could definitely make a difference in all of our schools of greatest need in California.”

The 40-page QEIA research report titled “ Lessons From the Classroom: Initial Success for At-Risk Students” was conducted independently by Vital Research of Los Angeles and is available at www.cta.org.

The scope of this intervention program is unprecedented. Over eight years, QEIA provides nearly $3 billion in resources to nearly 500 lower-performing public schools serving nearly 500,000 students. Eighty-four percent of students at QEIA-funded schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches – compared to 44 percent of students in all other California public schools; 41 percent of QEIA students are English Learners, compared to 19 percent in the rest of the schools,

according to the California Department of Education. Hispanic students are 79 percent of those attending QEIA campuses, versus 41 percent in the statewide, non-QEIA population.

The new QEIA research report, comparing QEIA schools to only similar lower-performing schools, revealed these promising findings and lessons:

* Smaller class sizes matter. School implementation plans were largely focused on class size reduction, professional development, collaboration time and the adoption of curricular interventions.

* QEIA schools averaged a growth of 21.2 points on the API scale, 6.8 more points (47.2 percent higher) than comparable non-QEIA schools for the 2009-10 school year.

* Since QEIA funding began in 2007, QEIA schools averaged a growth of 62.7 points in API growth, compared to 49.3 points in similar, non-QEIA schools.

* The overall API growth score for Hispanic students at QEIA schools averaged 64.3 points since 2007, compared to 51 points in comparable non-QEIA schools of greatest need. The difference was 52.4 points versus 40.7 points respectively, for African-American students at QEIA and non-QEIA schools. The overall API growth score for QEIA campus English Learners was 12.3 points higher – 61.9 points compared to 49.6.

* Socioeconomically disadvantaged students averaged a growth score of 63.6 points versus 50.4 points in non-QEIA schools since 2007.

* Professional development decisions in higher growth schools were made in collaborative teams with teacher input, leading to greater satisfaction among all stakeholders.

* Higher API growth schools used student data to guide and focus professional development decisions.

* Higher API growth schools engaged in more teacher collaboration to develo lesson plans, create common assessments and analyze student data.

“QEIA has made a huge difference” in lowering class sizes, said fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Stewart at San Francisco’s Miraloma Elementary, which has an API score of 865, well above the state’s 800 score set as the goal for all California public schools to attain. “With 23 students in fourth grade, we actually have enough space to move around, to have diverse instruction.”

At successful John Muir Elementary in Merced (API score: 806), QEIA provides vital time for teachers to collaborate and share strategies, educator Teresa Pitta said. And in Santa Ana’s Martin Elementary (API: 779) – where 76 percent of students are English Learners – teacher Antonio Magaña is grateful QEIA is keeping his fifth-grade classes small. “With smaller classes, I am able to pinpoint those students in need.”

CTA also launched statewide radio ads about QEIA and its impact on schools and

students. Listen at www.cta.org.



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