Flypaper

For the past few years, Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution has ranked the nation’s hundred largest school districts based on the amount of school choice they give to families and the degree to which they promote competition between schools. In many ways, these rankings are similar to Fordham’s own choice-friendly cities list, though the unit of analysis and metric differ somewhat. As in prior years, five of Brookings’s thirteen indicators concern the availability, accessibility, comparability, clarity, and relevance of information about school performance—a far heavier emphasis than one finds in Fordham’s metric. The other eight indicators deal with topics such as school closure, transportation, and the existence of a common application for district schools, several of which are common to both reports.

Though not one of the nation’s largest districts, the Recovery School District in New Orleans is again included in the Brookings rankings because of its unique status within the school choice movement. Once again, it ranks first overall. Yet in the report accompanying this year’s rankings, Whitehurst argues that because of its unique circumstances, New Orleans isn’t a realistic model for other districts. He points instead to Denver, now listed second overall and first among large school...

Chris Hoffman

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

A Design Proposal
For Accountability Under ESSA
By Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows

As a group of high-performing teachers who teach in high-poverty schools, we have learned from our experiences in classrooms across America that the learning gaps among subgroups of students are not the result of differences in the abilities or talents of students, but rather the result of a broken public education system—with differences in expectations, access to effective teachers, access to purposeful school cultures, and access to enriching learning opportunities.

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Ronald F. Ferguson

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

ACCOUNTABILITY DESIGN PROPOSAL FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS FOR THE THOMAS B. FORDHAM INSTITUTE ACCOUNTABILIY DESIGN COMPETITION

Ronald F. Ferguson, Ph.D.
Harvard University and Tripod Education Partners, Inc.
January 24, 2016

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

Schools prepare children for citizenship, economic productivity, parenthood, and self-realization. For each of these, foundations for success include basic academic skills in reading, math, and reasoning on the one hand, and factors associated with personal agency on the other hand (Figure 1). By personal agency, we mean the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative—the disposition to actually do the things that...

Susan Dulong Langley

Despite English language learners being the fastest growing population of students in the United States, their representation in gifted and talented education continues to lag behind all other types of learners, including other underserved populations. This raises an important challenge for equity and merits attention.

In The Beginning

As a bit of context for this challenge, culturally and linguistically diverse populations have been underrepresented from the beginning of research in the field of gifted and talented (GT), emerging from Sir Francis Galton’s 1869 Heredity of Genius assertion that intellectual eminence was the domain of the white upper class. This myth persisted for decades, despite such efforts as Howard Knox’s work in 1912–1916 to overcome the limitations of intelligence testing at Ellis Island due to immigrants’ language barriers, potential trauma from the emigration process, and unfamiliarity with local social conventions. However, Louis Terman’s (1925) research in developing the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales continued to perpetuate the myth given his sample of primarily white, affluent males. In addressing the below-average IQ scores for the few Italian, Portuguese, and Mexican individuals in his sample, Terman concluded that he could not say how much of their below-average scores was due to what he categorized as...

Richard J. Wenning

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

Seizing a Rare Opportunity: Design Considerations for Accountability under ESSA
Richard J. Wenning
January 24, 2016

INTRODUCTION

ESSA provides a vital and timely opportunity to recast educational accountability, repair and build trust, and generate the public will necessary to embrace a hopeful, modernized vision of public education and its purpose. This opportunity is particularly auspicious for school leaders, superintendents, and commissioners of education now beginning their tenure.

The overarching goal of the accountability system proposed in this paper is dramatic improvement in student outcomes and in closing performance and opportunity gaps....

Jennifer Vranek

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

Toward A Next-Generation School Accountability System

Design Priorities

Next-generation accountability systems must inspire schools and their communities to lift the achievement of all graduates to college- and career-ready levels. School rating systems must pinpoint challenges, spur more innovation, and inspire much broader local support if these ratings are to provoke lasting change.

We’ve learned from the current accountability system that we’ve got a long way to go. Our system is designed to protect the state’s role in monitoring school quality, to foster more...

Morgan S. Polikoff, Matthew Duque, and Stephani Wrabel

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

A Proposal for School Accountability under ESSA

Morgan S. Polikoff, University of Southern California
Matthew Duque, Baltimore County Public Schools
Stephani Wrabel, University of Southern California

We are pleased to submit this proposal for redesigned school accountability under ESSA. In the past, when states have been given the opportunity to implement new and creative accountability systems better designed to target the schools most in need of intervention and improvement, they have largely failed to do so (Polikoff, McEeachin, Wrabel, and Duque, 2014). ESSA again offers states a great deal of flexibility in the design...

Lydia Burns

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

ESSA Accountability Design

A Proposal by the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team

The objectives of our state accountability system are:

  • to create a holistic view of school quality through both academic and nonacademic indicators of success; and
  • to provide students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders with the information they need to be effective advocates, understand potential problems within their schools, and strive for all students to receive a beneficial educational experience.

School accountability measures are most effective when they identify what a school is contributing to students, not what...

Josh Boots

Editor's note: On Tuesday, February 2, Fordham hosted the ESSA Acountability Design Competition, a first-of-its-kind conference to generate ideas for state accountability frameworks under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives of ten teams, each from a variety of backgrounds, took the stage to present their outlines before a panel of experts and a live audience. We're publishing a blog post for each team, comprising a video of their presentation and the text of the proposal. Below is one of those ten. Click here to see the others.

EMPOWERK12 OVERVIEW

EmpowerK12 was born in 2013 as a data support organization for D.C. charter schools. We now work in multiple states and have a broader scope that includes edudata advocacy and professional development, data warehousing and report creation for schools, and construction of district data collaboratives (see here and here.)

Josh Boots, EmpowerK12 Executive Director, played a key role as a charter data leader during the DC Public School Board’s development of the nationally recognized Performance Management Framework (PMF), a school...

Most of today’s K–12 accountability systems are, themselves, persistently underperforming. One of the big problems is that they lean so heavily on student scores from reading and math tests. Even if the system uses growth measures in addition to proficiency, those growth scores are also typically based on reading and math tests.

Though basic literacy and numeracy are invaluable, schools provide boys and girls with so much more. When those other things—citizenship, the arts, non-cognitive skills, and so on—aren’t part of the system, all kinds of unfortunate stuff can happen. Curriculum can narrow, teachers feel constrained, the goals of schooling feel less fulsome, and kids’ opportunities can be limited.

There’s also the problem known as Campbell’s Law, which states that "the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."

The idea is that people and organizations feel compelled to change behavior, often in regrettable ways, to hit targets. So by focusing so specifically on reading and math tests, our accountability systems can actually diminish the value of reading and...

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