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September 10, 2019

California’s Positive Outliers: Promising District Approaches for Achieving Educational Equity

Students at graduation ceremony

  The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this video belong solely to the speakers, and do not necessarily reflect the perspective of the Learning Policy Institute.

Join the conversation: #PositiveOutliersCA

In an era of landmark education reforms and investments, a number of California’s school districts are achieving extraordinary results with students across racial and socioeconomic groups.

On September 10, the Learning Policy Institute hosted leading researchers, policymakers, and practitioners at an event which took a deeper look into several of these “positive outlier” districts and their vision, initiatives, and practices. The event featured the release of a new Learning Policy Institute report, Closing the Opportunity Gap: How Positive Outlier Districts in California Are Pursuing Equitable Access to Deeper Learning, and highlighted education exemplars to spur dialogue about how California can build upon and expand the promising practices of these extraordinary districts. Topics included:

  • An overview of student outcomes in seven “positive outlier” districts and the factors associated with their successes
  • A deep dive into the innovative practices and initiatives that districts are using to support learning across a diversity of students
  • Key policy and practice considerations for scaling promising approaches throughout California

This report is a companion to California’s Positive Outliers: Districts Beating the Odds, which was released earlier this year.


  • Sabrina Alvarez, 12th Grade Student, California Academy of Math and Science, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Tom Armelino, Executive Director, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence
  • Vernon Billy, CEO and Executive Director, California Schools Boards Association
  • Dion Burns, Senior Researcher, Learning Policy Institute
  • Bridget Cruz-Brown, 8th Grade Teacher, Bud Carson Middle School STEM Academy, Hawthorne School District
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, President, Learning Policy Institute
  • Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent, Chula Vista Elementary School District
  • Corrine Folmer, Assistant Superintendent, Clovis Unified School District
  • Sofia Freire, Chief of Leadership and Learning, San Diego Unified School District
  • David Goldberg, Vice President, California Teachers Association
  • Rigel Spencer Massaro, Senior Legislative Counsel, Public Advocates
  • Kent McGuire, Education Program, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Chris McIntire, Principal, McKinley Primary School, Gridley Unified School District
  • Matt Navo, Director of Systems Transformation, WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Anne Podolsky, Researcher and Policy Analyst, Learning Policy Institute
  • Wendy Poffenberger, Principal, California Academy of Math and Science, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Mary Vixie Sandy, Executive Director, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
  • Patrick Shields, Executive Director, Learning Policy Institute
  • Wesley Smith, Executive Director, Association of California School Administrators
  • Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education