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California’s Positive Outliers: Districts Beating the Odds

Despite wide achievement gaps across California between students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, some school districts have excelled at supporting the learning of all their students. This analysis identifies these positive outlier districts—those in which students of color, as well as White students, consistently achieve at higher levels than students from similar racial/ethnic backgrounds and from families of similar income and education levels in most other districts. These results are predicted, in significant part, by the qualifications of districts’ teachers, as measured by their certification and experience. In particular, the proportion of underprepared teachers—those teaching on emergency permits, waivers, and intern credentials—is associated with decreased achievement for all students, while teaching experience is associated with increased achievement, especially for students of color.

education policy; data analysis; educational equity; equitable resources and access; equitable systems; positive outliers
Education level
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EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Podolsky, Anne, Linda Darling-Hammond, Christopher Doss, and Sean Reardon. (). California’s Positive Outliers: Districts Beating the Odds. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-170). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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