Decentralizing Resources in Los Angeles High Schools: California’s Quality Education Investment Act
This paper, coauthored by WestEd’s Neal Finkelstein, examines how QEIA dollars were spent in the first year of funding at four low-performing Los Angeles high schools, who was involved in decision-making, and the conditions under which funds were focused on improving teaching or the instructional program.
The investigation yielded encouraging results. Principals, teacher leaders, and school site councils were allocating QEIA dollars to improve teaching, enrich learning materials, or improve relationships. Positive signs included:
- Strengthening small learning communities. QEIA dollars supported extra instructional hours, special workshops for students, and related activities aimed at strengthening pupil-teacher relationships. Categorical aid, blended with QEIA dollars, further strengthened small learning communities by bringing in employers and community college instructors to discuss job opportunities, and by enriching math materials, computers, and lab equipment.
- Drawing human resources from community agencies and universities to better support students. Two schools used QEIA dollars to bring mental health specialists onto campus to work with students experiencing family or interpersonal problems. Another school supported local university students who serve as academic advisors for students aspiring to enter college after graduating from high school.
- Extending instructional time. The small learning communities often hosted Saturday courses and college prep activities. One school offered special tutoring sessions to ensure that more first-year students pass algebra. After-school tutoring programs were more clearly structured and better staffed with QEIA dollars.
- Improving instructional materials. QEIA-supported materials ranged from calculators and laptops, to laboratory equipment in one math-science small learning community, as well as supplementary readers for English classes. Small learning community leaders clearly articulated what materials were relevant for their courses, including college prep activities.
- QEIA dollars were also used to maintain current staffing levels in the face of state budget cuts. The biggest single allocation of QEIA dollars was for teaching posts, often intended to hold onto younger teachers who were identified as contributing energy and innovation to the instructional program. Some principals reported the desirability of pricing QEIA teacher posts below the average salary level, which would incentivize them to hire more teachers, which, in turn, would help reduce class size.
Subscribe to the E-Bulletin and receive regular updates on research, free resources, solutions, and job postings from WestEd.
Your download will be available after you subscribe, or choose no thanks.