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Rick fades in the fourth quarter

Mike and Rick ponder the future of teacher unions and the College Board while Amber provides the key points from a recent CDC study and wonders if the kids are alright after all.

Amber's Research Minute

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011 by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Seesawing between sobering and encouraging, this eighth edition of Education Week’s Diplomas Count annual report illuminates the educational attainment of America’s Latino population—a sometimes neglected group with the fastest growing share of our nation’s classroom seats. And it comes none too soon. If public education is to improve over the next ten years, more attention must be paid to the 12.1 million Latino pupils (among 54 million total students) currently in the U.S. schools. (By 2020, Latinos are slated to comprise a quarter of the nation’s school children.) We learn that this group has made noteworthy strides in graduation rates—up 1.7 percentage points from 2008 to 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available) and 5.5 percentage points over the prior decade. Still, despite these big bumps, Latinos’ graduation rate is 10 percentage points lower than the national average meaning that we have a daunting hike ahead. And, as Ed Week’s authors explain, doing ELL education right will offer a big boost up this mountain.

SOURCE: Education Week, Diplomas Count 2012: Trailing Behind, Moving Forward (Bethesda, MD: Editorial Projects in Education, June 2012).

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A little census data can spark a big conversation. On Monday, Mike Petrilli posted a list of the twenty-five zip codes that saw the greatest increase in the white share of their population between 2000 and 2010. The neighborhoods were located in some of the usual suspects when it comes to gentrification (Brooklyn and D.C), but also included a few surprises (Chattanooga?), and writers have been quick to delve into what’s happening.

The Atlantic Cities’ Nate Berg pointed out that Roanoke, VA’s shift has more to do with development in previously lowly populated areas than gentrification and noted that the Columbus, SC zip code in question was composed entirely of post office boxes. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias discussed the implications of demographic changes for school integration.

While writers in San Diego, Dallas, and St. Paul showed interest in what was happening in their hometowns, most of the conversation centered on the two communities with the most zip codes on the list: Washington and New York. Posts from The Atlantic Wire, New York magazine, Gothamist, Business Insider, and am New York profiled the four Brooklyn neighborhoods Mike highlighted, while Washington Post blogger...

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Ed Note (6/14/12): Be sure to see Mike's expanded list, "The 50 zip codes with the largest growth in white population share, 2000-2010"

For the past several years I’ve been obsessed with the issue of gentrification. Mostly that’s because of a book I’ve been writing about diverse public schools. What’s clear is that gentrification—for all of its downsides—is providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to integrate some of our schools—at least if we don’t let it go to waste.

So I was curious: Which communities in the U.S. are witnessing the greatest amount of gentrification? I started poking around Census Bureau data (with the assistance of some colleagues and the Census Bureau’s excellent help line) and here’s what I found. I looked at zip codes (which isn’t perfect, because boundaries can change) and places with a large increase in the white share of the population (which isn’t perfect, because you’d really want to look at changes in income levels, but those data aren’t available yet for 2010). With those caveats in mind, take a look:

Gentrification 2000-2010
* Non-Hispanic White

† These zip codes had a 2010 total population of less than 1,000. (Updated 6/12/12)

I’m not an expert on gentrification (education policy is my beat) but I was surprised by the list. I expected...

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Total recall

Mike and Janie discuss the fallout from the Wisconsin recall election and teacher unions’ image problem, while Amber explains what we can learn from the best CMOs.

Amber's Research Minute

Managing Talent for School Coherence: Learning from Charter Management Organizations by CRPE & Mathematica DOWNLOAD PDF

With his ample ego, it wouldn’t be hard to poke fun at Eli Broad. But while some gentle teasing might be in order, Broad also deserves a full measure of respect and gratitude. As depicted in his surprisingly affecting memoir-cum-business-advice-book, The Art of Being Unreasonable, he’s a pretty amazing guy, someone who has been wildly effective in four separate careers and who now wants to share his hard-earned experience with countless others. His advice and exhortations reminded me of a very influential tome from my own Midwestern roots: William Danforth’s I Dare You. Danforth and Broad share the same overwhelming optimism that all things are possible—with enough hard work. Still, 192 pages later, I was left with a mystery: how to explain Broad’s lifelong allegiance to the Democratic Party, other than as an inheritance from his liberal parents. For there was nothing in the book, really, about his success (or anyone else’s) being the product of communal effort or government help. Indeed, the sense one gets is that Eli Broad believes religiously in the power of the Individual—the one man (or woman) who dares to be Unreasonable, ask hard questions, look at problems anew, and make the world conform to his vision—a notion that fits firmly within the Republican camp these days. Broad doesn’t talk—or at least write—like a Democrat. And his education philanthropy doesn’t fit the “liberal” bill, either. He appears to have no patience...

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The U.S. Department of Education recently granted Ohio relief from No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) most awkward mandates. To receive this relief, Ohio was required to present a school accountability plan that would put its kids on a college- and career-ready path. Ohio’s NCLB waiver request proposes a revamped accountability system based on three indicators of school quality: (1) student achievement, (2) student growth, and (3) achievement gap closure. The three indicator scores (reported as percentages) are summed and averaged—each given equal weight—to determine a school’s overall performance.[1]

The proposed system’s third indicator, gap closure, is a newly-conceived measure of how well nationally-defined student subgroups (e.g., racial, economically disadvantaged, special education, English language learners) perform on standardized tests compared to a state-designated baseline test score—an annual measureable objective (AMO). Any school building with more than 30 students in a subgroup must report its subgroup scores.

To gauge how well schools would perform under the proposed accountability system, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) simulated schools’ performance using 2010-11 data. ODE’s simulated results, however, put into question the validity of the gap closure indicator, as currently designed.

The following charts show ODE’s simulated results. Consider the distribution of Ohio school buildings’ overall rating (Figure 1). The vertical axis indicates the number of school buildings that received a certain rating, and the horizontal axis shows the rating scale, which is expressed as a percentage. We observe that most school ratings fall within a relatively narrow band between 75 and 95...

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It wouldn’t be super-hard to poke fun at Eli Broad. (Diane Ravitch did a mean-spirited version of that when she called him and his peers “The Billionaire Boys Club.”) Here’s a man who made his fortune  building tract housing in the ‘burbs,  who micromanages grants down to the penny, a man who names more than a few things after himself (the Broad Prize, the Broad Fellows, and his latest museum project, simply The Broad). He’s the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent, and not ashamed of it, either.

Eli Broad

But while some gentle teasing about his non-inconsiderable ego might be in order, Eli Broad deserves something more—namely, a full measure of respect and gratitude. As depicted in his surprisingly affecting memoir-cum-business-advice-book, The Art of Being Unreasonable, he’s a pretty amazing guy, someone who has been wildly effective in four separate careers and who now wants to share his hard-earned experience with countless others. As I read the book, my image of Broad shifted, from a semi-caricature of the Arrogant American to an archetypal Self-Made Man from the Midwest. His advice and exhortations reminded me of a very influential tome from my own Midwestern roots: William Danforth’s I Dare You. Danforth and Broad share the same spirit: An overwhelming optimism that all things are possible.

I learned a lot from the memoir....

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Amercia the Beautiful

Mike and Rick break down the flaws in the latest Race to the Top and explain why Obama and Duncan really aren’t twins when it comes to ed policy. In her Research Minute, Amber analyzes Podgursky’s latest insights on pensions.

Amber's Research Minute

Who Benefits from Pension Enhancements? by Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky

Yesterday, the Century Foundation and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council released a report touting the benefits of racial and socioeconomic diversity in charter schools. For a variety of reasons, charter schools are more likely to serve a high-poverty population than traditional public schools. The authors stress the need for this fact to change because, they claim, poor students fare better in low-poverty versus high-poverty schools. The report profiles seven high-performing charters that have tackled racial and socioeconomic integration in different ways. Diversifying charter schools is an attractive—and noble—idea, but one that creates a policy conundrum as feasible integration of schools often proves to be a prickly challenge. (Think about parents’ reactions to busing in Wake County, for example.)

A recent policy brief from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (which profiles many of the same schools as the Century Foundation report) offers a smart alternative. NAPCS recognizes the value in fostering high-performing charters that serve either homogenous or socioeconomically diverse communities—and the value of letting parents choose to send their child to one or the other. Both reports make recommendations for policy changes that will be more hospitable to diverse charters. NAPCS urges the federal government to loosen restrictions on charters’ admissions practices—to permit weighted lotteries (which allow for a more diverse or targeted student body). The Century Foundation recommends that states provide incentives to integrated charters akin to those created for high-poverty charters. Integrating charters is a touchy subject; these reports offer...

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