Learning what works: Continuous improvement in California's education system

Year of Publication: 
Policy Analysis for California Education

What will it take to bring about dramatic improvements in the performance of California’s education system? The fact is, we don’t know. California does not now collect the kind of educational data that would allow us to accu-rately measure the performance of schools and students, or to evaluate the effectiveness of different educational policies and practices. We design and implement policies in ways that make it difficult or impossible to identify whether new approaches improve performance or increase learning.

In this report we argue that to raise student performance and satisfy public expec-tations, California’s education system must be transformed into a continuously improving system that encourages innovation, carefully measures the effectiveness of different policies and practices, and—most importantly—learns from experience.

The essential features of a continuously improving system include:

  • clear and specific goals
  • timely, reliable informationn
  • strong capacity
  • decision-making flexibility
  • aligned incentives

The key to change is the commitment to learning how to do things better, and to continuously improve the performance of our schools and of the children under their care. Reorganizing the education system to support continuous improvement will make it possible for California to keep its promises to students, and help to ensure the continued prosperity of our state.

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APA Citation

Loeb, S., & Plank, D. (2008). Learning what works: Continuous improvement in California's education system. Policy Analysis for California Education.