LAO 2003-04 Budget Analysis: Education

Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill

Other K-12 Issues

Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program

We recommend that the Legislature eliminate the Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program due to the existence of other state and federal programs that provide similar program services. (Delete Item 0650-111-0001—$5 million.)

The budget provides a total of $5 million Proposition 98 General Fund for the Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program. This program provides funds to school districts to recruit, screen, train, and place volunteers who want to act as mentors to at-risk children. The Office of the Secretary for Education administers the program. The program, established by Chapter 901, Statutes of 1992 (SB 1114, Leonard), provides competitive grants up to $125,000 each year to 60 local mentor programs operated by school districts and county offices of education.

Existence of Various State and Federal Programs Offering the Same Services. Our review indicates that several programs provide similar services to California's at-risk youth. As shown in Figure 1 (see next page), the budget includes funding totaling $749 million in 2003-04 for a wide variety of programs that provide students with academic assistance and enrichment and positive role models. Like the Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program, these state and federal programs target at-risk youth and are available before and after school, Saturdays, during the intersession, or during the summer. Many of these programs have grown in recent years. Specifically, the After School Learning and Safe Neighborhood program has grown from $87.8 million in 2000-01 to $121.5 million in the 2002-03 Budget Act. Proposition 49 will require this program to expand in the near future to $550 million annually. Under a similar new federal program, California schools will receive $40.9 million in 2002-03. 

Figure 1

Programs Available to K-12 Students Offering Academic, Mentoring, and Enrichment Services

2003-04 (In Millions)




Governor's Budget

Academic Assistance




Remedial supplemental instruction




Core academic summer school




Elementary School Intensive Reading Program




Intensive Algebra Instruction Academies




After School Learning and Safe Neighborhoods




21st Century Community Learning Centers




English Language Acquisition Program




Combination of Mentoring and  Academic Assistance




Partnership Academies




Advancement Via Individual Determination




Gang Risk Intervention Program








Higher Education Outreach Programs




Early Academic Outreach Program




Math, Engineering, Science Achievement












Other outreach programs








a SDE = State Department of Education; UC = University of California.

b These programs are included in the Governor's proposed $5.1 billion block grant.

c These programs are federally funded.

In addition, the federal AmeriCorps program provides about $31 million in 2002-03 to California for community service projects, some of which provide mentoring services targeted to at-risk youth. Finally, many of the University of California's student-outreach programs also offer mentor programs to middle and high school students who are: (1) from low-income families, (2) from groups historically underrepresented in colleges, or (3) will be the first in their families to attend college. Thus, a number of state and federal programs exist that provide opportunities to at risk students to receive academic assistance and enrichment activities that will help them become productive members of society.

Given the duplication of services provided through the above programs, we recommend that the Legislature eliminate the Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program.

Enhance State's Teacher Information System

We recommend the Legislature enact legislation creating a comprehensive teacher information system that is compatible with the state's student information system. To this end, we recommend the Legislature redesignate $500,000 of federal Title VI funds, for which no expenditure plan currently exists, for the Department of Education to begin developing the system. The enhanced teacher information system would: (1) maximize the potential benefits of the state's data collection and evaluation efforts and (2) help the state meet new federal reporting requirements.

To ensure it is investing in worthwhile education programs, the state needs information on both students and teachers. Over the last several years, the state has begun developing a comprehensive student information system to compile student-level data and assess the effect of various education reforms on student achievement. The state has accelerated these efforts given new federal reporting requirements associated with monitoring schools' "adequate yearly progress." Although it already has taken steps to create a student information system, the state has not made similar progress toward developing a teacher information system.

Teacher Information Needed to Evaluate Instructional Programs and Improve Academic Achievement. The primary objective of a teacher information system is to collect the data necessary to determine which state efforts are likely to yield the best results in the classroom. Thus, a teacher information system must be compatible with a state's student information system. Once established, the two systems would enable policymakers, researchers, and state agencies to track important trends over time as well as study new issues as they emerged. The teacher information system would include data on teacher recruitment, education, quality, experience, retention, professional development, and instructional improvement. It would provide the state with information essential for identifying the programs that have the greatest potential of improving academic achievement and the academic environment. For example, the state could use a teacher information system to assess which of several staff development programs produced the largest gains in teachers' subject matter knowledge. The state also could use the system to determine which types of induction programs had the most beneficial effect on beginning teachers' performance and retention. The state also could use the system to analyze the effectiveness of various recruitment strategies in attracting highly qualified teachers to low-performing schools. The opportunities for the state to learn more about the cost-effectiveness of its investments in education are virtually endless.

Other States Already Have Teacher Information Systems That Greatly Enrich Possibilities for Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of Education Programs. Several states already have built impressive teacher information systems. Connecticut, Florida, and Texas, for example, already have well-developed, comprehensive systems. These states use a common teacher identifier (in these cases, the teachers' social security numbers [SSNs]) to merge relevant databases and track instructional outcomes. These states have developed highly secure systems with appropriate safeguards (such as sophisticated encryption) to ensure against identity theft and other violations of teachers' privacy. None of these states reports any controversy surrounding the collection and use of teachers' SSNs. In a recent study, SRI International (SRI) concluded that these states' systems "allow policymakers access to far more powerful information than California has on teacher placement, retention, retirement trends, and key shortage areas."

Existing Information System Hindered By Structural Problems. In its report, entitled Strengthening California's Teacher Information System (April 2002), SRI identified two major problems with the state's existing information system.

Enhanced System Would Optimize Potential Benefits of Data Collection and Evaluation Efforts. In its study, SRI concluded that "a great deal of good data are collected currently, but because of a lack of a coordinated, systemwide plan and a few key technical issues, these data cannot be used to answer policymakers' most important questions." The SRI recommends the state develop a coherent organizational structure to enhance the accessibility, usability, and meaningfulness of data collection efforts. It also recommends that public agencies use common identifiers so multiple databases can be linked. Once operational, the system would optimize the potential benefits of the state's data collection and evaluation efforts.

Enhanced System Needed to Meet New Federal Reporting Requirements. As a result of the enactment of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2002, states now face two new teacher-related accountability provisions and added reporting requirements. The federal law requires: (1) all public school teachers to be highly qualified by the end of the 2005-06 school year, and (2) annual increases in the percentage of teachers who receive high-quality professional development. The law also requires SDE to report annually on the state's progress in meeting its performance goals in these two areas. Currently, the state neither collects nor synthesizes the data it needs to be able to comply with these reporting requirements.

Title VI Funds Available for Project. In 2003-04, California expects to receive a total of $28 million in federal Title VI funds, which may be used for a variety of data collection, evaluation, and reporting purposes. Of this amount, the Governor's budget designates $6.9 million for the continuing development of a student-level database. The Governor's budget designates an additional $1.5 million for "NCLB data collection," but the administration does not have a detailed plan for using these additional monies. We recommend the Legislature include a budget bill provision that would specify that $500,000 of this scheduled item be used for SDE to begin: (1) constructing the comprehensive teacher information system, (2) establishing common teacher identifiers, and (3) coordinating with the state's student information system. In future years, we recommend the Legislature continue to designate federal Title VI funds to maintain and enhance the system.

In conclusion, we recommend the Legislature enact legislation to create a comprehensive and coherent teacher information system that is compatible with the state's student information system. Many factors have coalesced to make this an opportune time for California to enhance its teacher information system. Several states already have these systems—demonstrating that they can be built and do have substantial benefits. Moreover, SRI has provided a blueprint that SDE can use to guide its efforts in developing the system and establishing common teacher identifiers. Finally, California needs an enhanced teacher information system to respond to new federal reporting requirements, and it now has the opportunity to leverage federal funds to build it.

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