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EDUCATION

JANUARY 2012

SAN DIEGO EDUCATION

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY United Way of San Diego County


INTRODUCTION In April of 2011, United Way Worldwide (UWW) released its Education Research Overview. This comprehensive report summarizes national research about UWW’s key education focus areas: school readiness, fourth-grade reading proficiency, middle school success, high school graduation, and college and work success. The report specifically highlights relationships between school readiness, reading proficiency, and student performance in English and math to successful completion of high school. Based on the research findings, the report also includes evidenced-based strategies for future action.

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Graduating from high school is paramount to a student’s ability to move on to higher education or to successfully enter the workforce. Unfortunately, by the time many San Diego students enter high school they are already on a path that could lead to dropping out. In fact, in some parts of San Diego County the cohort dropout rate exceeds 20%. While there is some debate about the accuracy of dropout data, which is reported by the California Department of Education, leading researchers have documented an upward trend in the dropout rate in California over the last ten years.1 There are key educational milestones, which if not successfully met or addressed, will significantly decrease a

student’s probability of on-time high school completion.2,3 While the national research released by UWW has great utility, a closer examination of regional data is warranted in order to identify trends and issues that are unique to San Diego County. Therefore, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) has launched a comprehensive, communityfocused research initiative to explore several of these key education focus areas in greater depth, within a regional context. This report provides key facts and findings from the research completed thus far.

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EXECUTIVE

SUMMARY

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A LOCAL LOOK AT EDUCATION IMPERATIVES In April of 2011, United Way Worldwide (UWW) released its Education Research Overview. This comprehensive report summarizes national research about UWW’s key education focus areas: school readiness, fourth-grade reading proficiency, middle school success, high school graduation, and college and work success. The report specifically highlights relationships between school readiness and reading proficiency and successful completion of high school. Based on the research findings, the report also includes evidencebased strategies for future action. While this national report has great utility, a closer examination of regional data is warranted in order to identify trends and issues that are unique to San Diego County. Therefore, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) has launched a comprehensive, community-focused research initiative to explore several of these key education focus areas in greater depth, within a regional context. This executive summary provides key facts and findings from the research completed thus far.

Graduating from high school is paramount to a student’s ability to move on to higher education or to successfully enter the workforce. Unfortunately, by the time many San Diego students enter high school they are already on a path that could lead to dropping out. In fact, in some parts of San Diego County, the cohort dropout rate exceeds 20%. While there is some debate about the accuracy of dropout data, which is reported by the California Department of Education, leading researchers have documented an upward trend in the dropout rate in California over the last ten years.1 Moreover, there are key educational milestones, which if not successfully met or addressed, will significantly decrease a student’s probability of on-time high school completion.2,3 This executive summary provides findings from regional research of several such milestones, including early childhood development during the pivotal years of birth to five, early grade literacy, middle school performance, and successful completion of high school.

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Specific to San Diego County, the report:  Explores the concepts of quality child care and school readiness for children from birth to five  Documents the supply and demand for child care  Discusses the needs of parents and caregivers  Identifies and describes the types of students who are not reading proficiently by fourth grade  Identifies and describes the types of students who are not English-language arts and/or math proficient by eighth grade  Identifies and describes the types of students who are more likely to take Algebra 1 in eighth grade  Presents regional trends that impact student achievement and completion of high school

that leads children through their school years to the completion of high school and to college graduation and into the workforce. A preponderance of research indicates that much of a child’s ability to stay successfully on this path is tied to his or her earliest learning experiences.4 Unfortunately, not all children have access to the types of care and educational experiences that adequately prepare them to enter school ready to learn. It is during these very early years of life that the playing field becomes uneven for some children. For example, children who live in poverty and children of color have been found to have fewer cognitive skills by the time they are four years old than other children.5

Key Findings Specific to San Diego County: n

Parental engagement, such as reading and singing songs, help children develop linguistically. Increased parent engagement results in children who have larger vocabularies, who are better readers, and who perform better in school. Children who grow up in poverty often have less of these critical interactions.6

 Provides insight as to where intervention is most needed

KEY FINDINGS THE PIVOTAL YEARS: BIRTH TO FIVE From economics to neuroscience, education to public policy, a vast body of research demonstrates that the early years of a child’s life matter tremendously. During this time children develop the linguistic, cognitive, social, and emotional building blocks for later development. Growth and learning opportunities in the early years mark the beginning of a path

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Parental engagement in education is critical during the early years.

n

Isolated populations are disconnected from early-care services. In San Diego, immigrant populations are often isolated by language. It has been suggested that the usual manner of communicating with families about available services is not effective for these populations.7


n

The demand for child care in San Diego exceeds the supply. Since many children spend a portion of their early years in some form of child care it is important to have an understanding about the accessibility and quality of child care available to working parents. In San Diego County there is a documented shortage of spaces available in licensed child care programs, especially for children in the zero through three age range and those requiring subsidized care. There are currently 5,171 children on the YMCA’s Centralized Eligibility List (CEL) for a subsidized slot.8 Additionally, there is a significant shortage of infant child care services across all income levels.9 Lack of child care services prevents parents from seeking employment.

n The

cost of child care is prohibitive for low and middle-income families. Licensed child care for preschool-aged children in San Diego ranges from $7,171$11,242 a year, depending on the age of the child (e.g., infant or toddler) and type of care (e.g., center-based or family home care).10 For low-income households, child care costs can represent nearly one-third of their family income.

n Quality child

care is uneven and needs to improve. There is an urgent need for high-quality child care programs for all socioeconomic groups, particularly so for disadvantaged children.11 Local experts interviewed for this report stressed that quality in child care is uneven and must be addressed. Quality of care is directly linked to the level of competence of the staff or caregiver yet current educational standards for child care workers are minimal.12

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n Transition

to kindergarten is a key component for school readiness and overall school success. It is imperative that children enter kindergarten ready to learn. Recent changes to California law mandate the creation of a transitional kindergarten year at public schools. This should help to ensure that children entering kindergarten are in an age-appropriate setting and are better prepared to learn when entering kindergarten.

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n Education

in the early years is a smart social investment. Preschool has a demonstrated economic impact. Every dollar spent on preschool generates more than a $7 savings by reducing the amount of government spending on welfare, criminal justice, and education.13


EARLY GRADE LITERACY AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

Key Findings Specific to San Diego County: n San Diego’s fourth-grade students

struggle with literacy.

Up until the end of third grade most students are learning to read; beginning in fourth-grade, they are reading to learn.14 Therefore, fourth-grade Englishlanguage arts test scores are another important milestone on the path to high school graduation.

On average, almost 30% of San Diego County fourth graders cannot read proficiently. 15 In some schools in the county , this number is as high as 72%. n There are significant achievement

gaps between ethnic groups.

Every year, beginning in second grade, students in California take the California Standards Test (CST), which is one component of the overall state Standardized Testing and Reporting Program. Unless otherwise noted, the majority of student achievement data presented in this executive summary is derived from these CST test scores. It is important to recognize that data used in this report were retrieved on or before 10/12/2011 and may not reflect later periodic adjustments made by the California Department of Education.

Only 57% of all Hispanic and Latino and 58% of African American fourthgrade students in San Diego County are reading proficiently at the fourth-grade level compared to nearly 85% of White and Asian fourth graders. Figure 1 illustrates that the number of San Diego fourth-grade students reading proficiently has been increasing over the last five years, although this number has leveled off or decreased in some cases in 2011. Despite this trend over time toward improvement, 30% of all San Diego County students are still not reading proficiently in fourth grade.

Executive Summary Figure 1 CST English-Language Arts by Ethnicity, Percent At or Above Proficiency for 2006-2011, Grade 4, San Diego County

Data Source: California Department of Education DataQuest

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n San

Diego’s schools include English Language Learners from many linguistic backgrounds. Nearly one-quarter (23.8%) of all students in San Diego County are classified as an English Language Learner (ELL).16 Ninety-five percent of San Diego County ELL students who took the 2011 STAR exam have been enrolled in school in the U.S. 12 months or more.17 The majority of these students speak Spanish as their primary language. However, growing numbers of ELLs speak other languages, such as Vietnamese, Somali, Chaldean, Arabic, Lao, Tagalog, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean.

For example, in eight of the elementary schools in the Cajon Valley School District, up to 9% of ELL students speak Chaldean as their native language.18 Of all students classified as English Language Learners, only 44% can read proficiently by fourth grade.19

n Students classified

as English Language Learner (ELL) and economically disadvantaged score lower in English-language arts than the total student population. Furthermore, achievement gaps appear to widen for ELLs in the upper elementary grades so that by fifth grade ELLs are by far the most under-performing subgroup of students on the CST exam for English-language arts.20

n Over

half (53.6%) of the 36,504 fourth graders in San Diego County were considered economically disadvantaged in 2011.21 As Figure 2 illustrates, students who are economically disadvantaged perform higher than ELLs on the CST Englishlanguage arts exam. However, they are also under-performing when compared to the general fourth-grade population.

Executive Summary Figure 2 CST English-Language Arts by Sub-Group, Percent At or Above Proficiency for 2006-2011, Grade 4, San Diego County

Data Source: California Department of Education DataQuest

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n

English-language arts proficiency is not evenly distributed throughout the county. There are 19 different school districts that report at least one elementary school where over half the students do not read proficiently. Executive Summary Figure 3 highlights the school districts where the problem is especially concentrated which include the following: Oceanside, Vista, Escondido, Cajon Valley, San Diego, National City, and South Bay. In general, the schools with the lowest percentages of proficient readers are also the schools with the highest number of ELL students.

Executive Summary Figure 3 Percent of Students Proficient or Above on CST English-Language Arts by Elementary School 2010-2011, San Diego County

Data Source: California Department of Education DataQuest

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MIDDLE SCHOOL BENCHMARKS

Key Findings Specific to San Diego County:

The middle school years are another critical juncture on the education continuum.22 Research about the importance of the middle school years demonstrates that for students in highpoverty environments, the middle grades are either a launching pad for high school success or the battleground where they are knocked off-track.23 Without intervention, it is unlikely that a sixth-grade student who is failing math or English will recover academically.24 For students who develop off-track indicators early in their academic career, the chances of an on-time high school graduation decrease.25 Therefore, middle school has been referred to as the “last, best chance” to identify and to intervene with students at risk of academic failure.26 Yet, many San Diego middle school students face barriers to learning, with nearly 30 percent classified as an ELL and half considered economically disadvantaged.27

n There

SAN DIEGO EDUCATION EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

is very little change in student achievement trends from elementary to middle school. In 2011, 36% of San Diego County eighth-grade students were not proficient in English-language arts. Similar to San Diego County fourth graders, CST test score data demonstrate achievement gaps in terms of ethnicity, socio-economics, and ELL status for San Diego County eighth graders. For example, half of San Diego County’s Hispanic and African-American eighth-grade students are proficient in Englishlanguage arts, compared to White and Asian students who are demonstrating around 80% proficiency.28


n Algebra

is increasingly seen as an important ingredient to high school success yet students are not equally prepared to take algebra in middle school. Additionally, research suggests that failing Algebra 1 severely impacts a student’s ability to graduate from high school on time.29 For most students, eighth grade presents the first opportunity to take Algebra 1. In 2011, 61% of San Diego County eighth-grade students took the CST Algebra 1 exam while 30% took the general math CST exam. Students who took the Algebra 1 CST exam were more likely to be proficient in the subject matter (52%) than those who took the general math CST exam (32%).

n Enrollment in

Algebra 1 in eighth grade is more likely for certain sub-populations. Although Algebra is often cited as the gateway course for students who will go on to college, certain populations of students are more likely to be on that path than others. Executive Summary Table 1 shows that eighth-grade students classified as ELL are much less likely to be enrolled in Algebra 1. Yet, students who are not economically disadvantaged or who have college educated parents are far more likely to take Algebra 1 in eighth grade.

Percent Taking CST Math Exam

Percent Taking CST Algebra 1 Exam

Economically Disadvantaged

39%

61%

NOT Economically Disadvantaged

26%

74%

English Language Learner

61%

39%

Parent Did Not Complete High School

44%

56%

Parent Graduated High School

39%

61%

Parent Graduated College

24%

76%

Student Sub Group

Executive Summary Table 1 8th Grade Students Enrolled in Algebra 1 Based on 2011 CST Exam Scores, San Diego County

SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF HIGH SCHOOL The ultimate goal for every student is an on-time graduation from high school. However, more and more San Diego County students are not realizing that goal. Dropping out of school is not a sudden decision. Rather, it is a long-term process of disengagement. This disengagement begins in elementary grades and continues until dropping out occurs, usually in the later years of high school.30 When students

do not successfully complete high school there are both social and economic impacts on the student, communities, and society at large. The California Dropout Research Project reports that students who fail to finish high school will earn less, have poorer health outcomes, and rely more on government assistance than students who complete high school.31

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Key Findings Specific to San Diego County:

n Students who

are classified as English Learners 33 are more likely to drop out of high school.

n San Diego County has an overall

cohort dropout rate of 15.9%. While there is some debate about the accuracy of dropout data, which is reported by the California Department of Education, leading researchers have documented an upward trend in number of dropouts in California over the last ten years.32 n Dropout rates are

not evenly distributed throughout the county.

The cohort dropout rate in San Diego County is 27% for English learners as compared with 19.7% for economically disadvantaged students. n

Males are more likely to drop out than females. The cohort dropout rate in San Diego County is 17.8% for males and 13.9% for females.

As Figure 4 depicts, schools with dropout rates above 10% tend to be concentrated in the Central, East Suburban, and North County East regions of the county.

Executive Summary Figure 4 San Diego Region High School Dropout Rates by School

Data Source: California Department of Education DataQuest

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CONCLUSION One of the strongest roles United Way plays in making real community change is that of a mobilizing force, recruiting people with passion, expertise and resources to make a difference. In the area of Education, United Way of San Diego County is beginning to shape the community conversation, convene stakeholders to examine issues, develop strategies and execute action plans on issues that matter most.

After reviewing the local research on this topic several key facts stand out:

n Education

in the early years is a smart social investment. Every dollar spent on preschool generates more than a $7 savings by reducing the amount of government spending on welfare, criminal justice and education.

n There

is a significant achievement gap between ethnic groups. Only 57% of all Hispanic and Latino, and 58% of African American fourthgrade students in San Diego County are reading proficiently at the fourthgrade level compared to nearly 85% of White and Asian fourth graders.

n Parental engagement is critical

to help ensure students’ academic success. Increased parental engagement results in children with larger vocabularies, who are better readers, and who perform better in school.

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n Students classified

as English Language Learners (ELL), and economically disadvantaged, score lower in English-language arts than the total student population. Achievement gaps appear to widen for ELLs in the upper elementary grades so that by fifth grade, ELLS are by far the most under-performing subgroup of students on the California Standards Test exam for English-language arts.

n There

is little change in student achievement trends from elementary to middle school. 36% of San Diego County eighth-grade students were not proficient in Englishlanguage arts.

n Students who

are classified as English Learners are more likely to drop out of high school. The cohort dropout rate in San Diego County is 27% for these students as compared with 15.9% for the entire student population. Looking at the big picture – from cradle to career – the data suggest that there are four key strategies that must be in place to ensure that all children are afforded the educational opportunities they deserve.

1. Engage students in learning while in school. Experts say that engaging our children – meeting them where they are, having high expectations and challenging them – is critical.

2. Support families to improve academic achievement. Research shows that when families are actively involved in their child’s learning, it improves that child’s attendance, social skills, grades, and chances of staying in school. This is true for younger children as well as for middle and high school students.

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3. Connect students with the resources they need outside of school. Only 20% of a student’s waking hours are spent in school, so out-of-schooltime learning is a key part of the success equation. Children learn in every aspect of their life – from the minute they are born – so a community web of social, cultural, educational, and economic resources should be in place (and sustained) to encourage learning.

4. Build stronger systems to support children and youth. Fragmented community systems – such as schools, health care, human service, and juvenile justice systems – deal with children and families from one particular perspective. Too often, those efforts are not connected. Research shows that when leaders of schools, health care, family support, youth development, child welfare, justice, and other systems find ways to work together to support student success, children and youth benefit from higher quality, more coordinated services. These strategies are supported by the local research outlined in this report, input from our donors, and the community feedback highlighted in our recently published report, Voices for the Common Good: San Diego Speaks Out On Education. The action strategies presented go beyond what United Way of San Diego County might do. This is by design. We want to lay out the bigger picture of what needs to be done in conjunction with the broader community. Which strategies United Way of San Diego County should hone in on – and how, with whom – depends on our community’s vision, its current challenges, and its resources, both human and financial. The identification and implementation of the specific United Way strategies will become the work of the Education Vision Council.

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1. Rumberger, Russell. “Ten-Year Trends in California’s Dropout and Graduation Rates.” University of California, Santa Barbara, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (2009): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www. cdrp.ucsb.edu>. 2. “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” Annie E. Casey Foundation (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <http:// www.aecf.org/>. 3. Guillermo Montes and Christine Lehmann. “Who Will Drop Out From School? Key Predictors from Literature.” The Children’s Institute (2004): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www. childrensinstitute.net>. 4. Jack Shonkoff and Deborah Philips. “From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development.” National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2000): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://iom.edu>.

10. “2009 The California Child Care Portfolio. ”California Child Care Resource and Referral Network (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www. rrnetwork.org>. 11. Arthur Reynolds, Judy Temple, Dylan Robertson, and Emily Mann. “Longterm Effects of an Early Childhood Intervention on Educational Achievement and Juvenile Arrest.” Journal of American Medical Association (2001): 285(18) 2339-2346. Print. 12. San Diego County YMCA Resource and Referral: Web. 15 January 2011. <crs.ymca.org>. 13. “The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in San Diego County.” Report to the San Diego County Child Care and Development Planning Council (2005): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www. sdcoe.net>.

5. National Center for Education Statistics: Web. 1 June, 2011. <http://nces.ed.gov>.

14. “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” Annie E. Casey Foundation (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <http:// www.aecf.org>.

6. Annie E. Casey Foundation, (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www.aecf.org/>.

15. California Department of Education: Web. 14 July 2011. <http://data1.cde. ca.gov/dataquest>

7. “First 5 California Children and Families Commission Hard to Reach Populations Research Project.” First 5 California (2009): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www.ccfc.ca.gov>.

16. Education Data Partnership San Diego County Profile: Web. 15 July 2011. <http://www.ed-data.k12. ca.us>.

8. Personal interview, YMCA Child care Resource Service, November, 2010. 9.“2010 San Diego County Child care Needs Assessment.” San Diego County Office of Education (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <https://sdcoe.net/>.

19. California Department of Education: Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www.data1. cde.ca.gov/dataquest>. 20. Ibid. 21. California Department of Education: Web. 17 July 2011. <http://www.data1. cde.ca.gov/dataquest>. 22. For purposes of this report the term “middle school” refers to grades 6-8. 23. Russell Balfanz. “Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path.” National Middle School Association (2009): Web. 14 July 2011. <http:// www.nmsa.org>. 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid. 26. Trish Williams, et al. “Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades: Why Some Schools Do Better.” EdSource (2010): Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www. edsource.org>. 27. California Department of Education: Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www.data1. cde.ca.gov/dataquest>. 28. Ibid.

32. It is important to note that dropout data is regularly questioned by school officials and education experts who believe that the data system for collecting dropout data is flawed. In 2008, the State of California instituted a system for tracking individual students (CALPADS) which is intended to improve accuracy; however, glitches in the system are still being addressed. 33. According to the California Department of Education, English Learner (EL) students (formerly known as Limited-EnglishProficient or LEP) are those students for whom there is a report of a primary language other than English on the state-approved Home Language Survey and who, on the basis of the state approved oral language (grades K-12) assessment procedures and including literacy (grades 3-12 only), have been determined to lack the clearly defined English language skills of listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing necessary to succeed in the school’s regular instructional programs.

29. G. Montes and C. Lehmann, C. “Who will drop out from school? Key predictors from the literature.” Children’s Institute Technical Report T04-001 (2004). Print.

17. California Department of Education: Web. 14 July 2011. <http://www.data1. cde.ca.gov/dataquest> STAR Test Results EnglishLanguage Fluency

30. Russel Rumberger. “Dropping out of Middle School: A Multilevel Analysis of Students and Schools.” American Educational Research Journal (1995): 31(3), 583-625. Print.

18. Education Data Partnership San Diego County Profile: Web. 15 July 2011. <http://www.ed-data.k12. ca.us>.

31. The California Dropout Research Project: Web. 1 June, 2011. <http://www. cdrp.ucsb.edu>.

It is important to recognize that data used in this report were retrieved on or before 10/12/2011 and may not reflect later periodic adjustments made by the California Department of Education.

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NEED MORE INFORMATION? Please contact: CJ Robinson Community Impact Manager United Way of San Diego County P: 858.636.4153 E: cjrobinson@uwsd.org

VOLUNTEER CHALLENGE Education Volunteer Call to Action Learn about the United Way education Volunteer Call to Action to recruit 10,000 local volunteer readers, tutors and mentors.

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Profile for United Way of San Diego County

UWSD San Diego Education Executive Summary  

Executive Summary of the report “San Diego Education Research Overview,” providing key facts and findings from a comprehensive, community-fo...

UWSD San Diego Education Executive Summary  

Executive Summary of the report “San Diego Education Research Overview,” providing key facts and findings from a comprehensive, community-fo...

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