California Education Dialogue

A public policy dialogue produced by Information Renaissance
with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
IBM Corporation and Intel Corporation

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Emerging Modes of Delivery, Certification and Planning


As California State Librarian Kevin Starr discussed in his essay entitled California: The Dream and the Challenge in the Twenty-first Century, diversity and technology have always played a significant role in California’s history.

California is home to nearly thirty-five million people, and approximately one in four of them was born outside of the United States. Further, in just this past decade California has become one of only two states in the nation (the other is Hawaii) to not have a racial majority in its population. This diversity is a great asset and an opportunity for the state’s education system. California has a strong role in international relations, and to remain globally competitive, the State must prepare for a diverse workforce.

Since the time of the Gold Rush, California has led the nation in technological innovations. Californians have helped transform a significant number of industries in their state’s short one-hundred-and-fifty-year history, including agriculture, aviation and aerospace, entertainment, scientific research, and technology.

The Emerging Modes of Delivery, Certification, and Planning Working Group recognizes the tremendous potential embodied in California’s diversity and made possible by the new educational technologies. The Working Group believes that in order for California to continue to prosper, it is imperative to reach for innovative approaches that fully capitalize on the emerging modes of delivery in education.

The Working Group identified and is recommending policies based on innovations, including applied technology that will assist in facilitating the transformation of California’s educational system. The envisioned system is one that is flexible, accessible, accountable, affordable, comprehensive (pre-Kindergarten through University), and responsive. With the exceptions of the Adult Continuing Education Section, and where specifically noted in the recommendations, each recommendation is intended to cover the full span of PreK – University education.

Four overarching principles capture the key themes that must be applied in transforming California’s PreK- University education system: equity and access; flexibility to meet learner needs; quality and accountability; and coordination, cooperation, and planning for a seamless delivery system. These overarching themes embrace the entire education system. They provide the guideposts to the authentic educational reform that will permit all students entering the system, regardless of their entry point, to qualify for some form of postsecondary education or training.

The recommendations in the six sections of this report are categorized by these principles, as follows.

Equity and Access

All students, including those with language issues, disabilities, and other special needs, must have access to education opportunities, tools designed to support learning, and accommodations necessary for them to meet their academic goals.

Overarching Principles:

Equity and Access

Flexibility to Meet Learner Needs

Quality and Accountability

Coordination, Cooperation, and Planning

Flexibility to Meet Learner Needs

There must be a commitment to instructional design and delivery that is learner focused. That focus includes flexibility in class scheduling, distributed learning opportunities,[1] and instructional tools such as applied information technology.[2]

Quality and Accountability

Access to quality education should be the reality, not the goal. Educational providers must be given the flexibility to meet learner needs and must also be held accountable for outcomes. Students must also be held accountable for meeting their academic goals.

Coordination, Cooperation, and Planning

All educational segments and other partners must come together to meet Californians’ educational needs. There are many effective examples of partnerships that are benefiting students, and more of these must be encouraged. Planning is also critical to ensuring that emerging issues are identified and appropriately addressed. Consistent with this principle, Working Group members concluded that the Master Plan should coordinate its recommendations with those of the tactical five-year plans of the California Commission for Technology in Learning, with the Master Plan focusing on the broader long-range strategic planning needs of the state.


The Working Group, comprising 36 members, met eight times between May 2001 and February 2002. Meetings supported the development of three products: a set of principles, models and examples of promising practices, and preliminary recommendations for action. Members collectively developed discussion papers for each topic to assist in deliberations. Much of the content of those papers has been included in this report.

Members with specific expertise agreed to lead the discussions on the various topics, and a subgroup convened on the topic of adult and noncredit education, meeting several times before presenting their recommendations in January.

In addition to Working Group members, topical experts shared information and participated in discussions that led to development of the recommendations listed later in this document. A ListServ — an on-line forum — was also used to provide information on upcoming meetings and to facilitate dialogue and discussion between scheduled meetings of the group.


The Working Group developed recommendations using a consensus process. For all the recommendations in this report, the Working Group achieved some form of consensus. Around some recommendations there was unanimity, while others had some minority disagreement (as noted in the text). Member comments have been included following some of the recommendations when a single member had serious concerns about the recommendation or several members voiced similar concerns about specific aspects of the recommendation.

Contents Summary Background I. Delivery
II. Organization III. Assessment IV. Certification V. Planning
VI. Adult Ed. Conclusion Presenters Members