Ed100 Year in Review

by Jeff and Carol | January 1, 2023 | 0 Comments
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Highlights you might have missed

The Ed100 team turned it up a notch in 2022. We’ve never worked harder, and it’s nice to see the impact. Thank you for your readership, feedback and support. This post celebrates the year’s work and recaps some of the highlights.

By the numbers: Ed100 in 2022

We updated 83 lessons.

Keeping up is hard! Policies and conditions change constantly, new research comes out, and web links change.

We published 50 blog posts and 50 email newsletters to go with ‘em.

A new post virtually every week. Whew!

We created 68 interactive charts.

We love charts. Done well, they help put facts in context.

More readers subscribed. Weekly email subscriptions rose by about 30%.

Thank you! Love it when those numbers increase. Please encourage friends to sign up at Ed100.org.

We engaged more than 50 students as interns, externs, and volunteers.

Thank you, team! We’re grateful for your help.

We hosted about 300 student leaders at the three-day online Ed100 Academy for Student Leaders.

Thank you to the 43 speakers including Gavin Newsom and Sal Khan. Thanks also to the more than 40 student leaders who participated as outreach ambassadors.

The internet sloshes with information about education, some of it true.

The core role of Ed100 is to explain California’s education systems, as plainly as possible, without losing context or dumbing it down. The system is complex, though, and things change. Policies change, budgets shift, and inflation makes everything confusing. It’s hard to keep up!

“Ed100 it” won’t replace “Google it”, but we are glad to know this is a place readers look to for up-to-date, well-researched explanations of education issues.

We know that you’re busy, and sometimes it makes sense to put things aside to read “later”. Well, later is right now. Here are some highlights from lessons and posts in 2022.

How are students doing in school?

Glad you asked! The pandemic clobbered learning progress everywhere, including California. We updated Lesson 1.1 to reflect the damage and put California’s somewhat-less-bad results in national and historical context. In the interactive chart below, California scores are represented by the thick orange line. Massachusetts is the one on top. Read it now.

One chart does not tell the whole story, of course. Lesson 1.1 is our best effort to put the major conditions of education into perspective succinctly.

Where does California rank in school funding?

Remember when the stock market was going up, up, up? Funding for California schools grew substantially in those years — moving California from the national basement in school funding all the way up to… well, just ordinary. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we all need to prepare for a lean year ahead. California will have significantly less revenue in the 2023-24 budget, and that will harm school systems. We updated Lesson 8.1 (and several other lessons in Chapter 8) to explain what drives school funding. Read it now.

(Did we mention we LOVE using graphics to help explain complex issues? Chapter 8 is packed with them.)

How can communities raise more money for their schools?

Recent court cases have established a path for voters to approve parcel taxes by a simple majority vote.

In the Ed100 blog
Wish granted: school communities can now raise local funds with a simple majority.

This is a change from the ⅔ requirement in past years — and it’s a very big deal.

The details matter. If a local tax measure to support a special issue like schools is put on the ballot by a citizen’s initiative — that is, as a result of people collecting signatures — the measure can be passed by a simple majority. If the measure is placed on the ballot by your school board (or city council, board of supervisors, etc.) it still requires a two thirds vote. Our in-depth post An easier way to pass local taxes for schools explains what you need to know.

How does California budget for public education?

Each January, the Governor proposes a new budget through a process explained in our blog post How is California's budget created?

In the Ed100 blog
California’s strong 2022-23 budget for education

Taxable gains from a then-soaring stock market elevated the 2022-23 education budget per student in attendance to $22,893, a new record, even adjusted for inflation. Of the total, $17,011 per student came from the K-12 Proposition 98 General Fund.

The budget included money for long-cherished education programs and priorities — but what goes up can also come down, so much of the money was committed only on a one-time basis. Our blog summarizes the record budget for education.

Why do schools fail to teach reading?

Reading is a fundamental skill, but kids don’t learn it automatically. It must be taught.

In the Ed100 blog
A memo to California’s education leaders: How to fix California’s literacy crisis.

Fortunately, there is clear research about how children learn to read. It’s no longer mysterious, but it doesn’t always happen. When kids aren’t reading effectively by third grade, it’s a failure years in the making. Reading challenges like dyslexia make the process harder, but they can be addressed with effective interventions.

Based on research, most states require screening of all students to spot reading challenges in a timely way. Weirdly, California is an exception. Efforts to address the issue in this state have been blocked by parliamentary maneuvers. It’s a big issue that will come up in 2023.

There are additional steps California needs to take to improve reading instruction. Our blog, Too many students can’t read, includes seven key recommendations for immediate action.

The math war

How should math be taught? This question has come to the foreground because California is currently revising its framework for math education. Academic frameworks provide guidance to help educators align classroom teaching. Academics and policymakers are deeply divided over the revision, as we explain in our post Solving California's math problem.

The drafters of the new framework are emphasizing ways to support students who historically have not done well in math. Some math experts, however, are concerned that the proposals do not contain enough rigor and clear enough pathways to higher-level math. Yes. It’s complicated. The table below, from the post, shows a mathematics course sequence designed to ensure that students are ready to take calculus in high school.

Model mathematics courses, by grade level
(based on common core state standards)

Discipline

Grade
7

Grade
8

Grade
9

Grade
10

Grade
11

Grade
12

Algebra I/Mathematics I

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Geometry/Mathematics II

 

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Algebra II/Mathematics III

 

 

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

AP Probability and Statistics

 

 

 

Possible

Possible

Possible

Calculus

 

 

 

Possible

Possible

Possible

What questions should we ask school board candidates?

School board elections are usually sleepy affairs that don’t generate much controversy.

In the Ed100 blog
A dozen questions to ask school board candidates.

Not in 2022. Reflecting deep political divisions throughout the nation, controversies over school closings, and Covid safety requirements, some political activists used school board races to press partisan agendas at a relatively low cost.

We were thrilled when local communities used our post A dozen questions to ask school board candidates to discover hidden and not-so-hidden agendas. Common flash points included critical race theory, book banning, and using public money for private schools.

How parents changed school start times in California

In 2022, California became the first state in the nation to require later school start times for high schools and middle schools.

In the Ed100 blog
How parents changed school start times in California.

Before the law became effective on July 1, 2022, local school districts could choose how early to start, say, 7 am. Now, middle schools must start no earlier than 8 am and high schools no earlier than 8:30 am. The law was passed because early school start times create significant health and academic risks for teens. The change reflected effective, sustained advocacy by parent organizations including the state PTA, as explained in our blog post, How parents changed school start time in California.

Passed, failed and vetoed: Our legislative roundup of 2022

In the Ed100 blog
Our roundup of education bills in 2022

The California legislature considered 2,020 bills in 2022. About half of them passed into law. This post reviews the legislative process (civics, California-style) and summarizes the changes that relate to education.

And so much more!

To read more of our work in 2022, including videos of speakers from the Ed100 Academy, see our Blog page.

We updated most of our ~100 core lessons, usually in small ways to incorporate new data. A few of them were extensively overhauled, though. Here are five (well, seven) of the lessons with particularly important changes:

Selected lessons updated in 2022

Lesson 1.7: History

The public education system changes slowly. We updated this lesson to incorporate the pandemic.

Lesson 2.1: Diversity

This lesson examines diversity in schools, broadly construed. The lesson is freshly updated with research about gender diversity and generational change.

Lesson 3.11: Pensions

Teacher pensions are a widely-misunderstood and underestimated element of the education system. This lesson, one of our most-viewed, explains how they work.

Lessons 8.1 - 8.3: Funding

These lessons explain the role of money in the education system. The conditions have changed a lot.

Lesson 9.8: College success

This lesson includes an interactive graphic that reflects the different patterns in which groups of students complete high school and college.

Thank you!

We appreciate you for reading and sharing Ed100 in 2022.

Special thanks to those of you who donated to Ed100. We raised a bit more than $1,000, which is a start. Raising money is hard without staff to focus on it! Our donation page remains emphatically open.

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