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America’s schools are staffed disproportionally by white (and mostly female) teachers. Increasing attention has been paid to the underrepresentation of teachers of color in American classrooms, with research examining its impact on expectations for students, referral rates for gifted programs, and even student achievement. This paper by American University’s Stephen Holt and Seth Gershenson adds valuable evidence to the discussion by measuring the impact of “student-teacher demographic mismatch”—being taught by a teacher of a different race—on student absences and suspensions.

The study uses student-level longitudinal data for over one million North Carolina students from kindergarten through fifth grade between the years 2006 and 2010. The researchers simultaneously controlled for student characteristics (e.g., gender, prior achievement) and classroom variables (e.g., teacher’s experience, class size, enrollment, etc.), noting that certain types of regression analysis are “very likely biased by unobserved factors that jointly determine assignment to an other-race teacher.” For example, parental motivation probably influences both student attendance and classroom assignments. The researchers conducted a variety of statistical sorting tests and concluded that there was no evidence of sorting on the variables they could observe, and likely none occurring on unobservable dimensions either. All of which is to...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill continues to be the go-to explainer of Ohio’s school and district report cards for media outlets across the state. Here he is on the radio early this morning in Columbus. (WTVN-AM, Columbus, 2/29/16) Here he is over the weekend in print in Dayton, where report card data looks particularly gloomy. (Dayton Daily News, 2/27/16) And here he is in print in Northern Ohio, where the mixed-bag of results has folks scratching their heads a bit. I am just glad, as always, that Aaron is there to explain. (Norwalk Reflector, 2/27/16)
     
  2. “You can’t have a computer plumb a house” is the theme of this piece looking at career tech education in Columbus City Schools through the lens of a new report from KidsOhio. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/29/16)
     
  3. You learn something new every day in this job. Today, it’s “overload pay”. That is, bonus pay for teachers whose classrooms are “oversize”. This story is about Cincinnati Public Schools, but reporter Hannah Sparling says other districts have this in their teacher contracts as well. How many? How much? No one keeps track of this statewide, but someone probably should. Cincy’s overload pay expenditures
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Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on April 23, 2015.

If you count Democrat Lincoln Chafee, five hopefuls have now declared their candidacy for the 2016 presidential election. The forthcoming nineteen months promise to bring scandals, flip-flops, attack ads, and a whole bunch of memes. So in anticipation of all that fun, I welcome you to Eduwatch 2016, Fordham's coverage of the race as it pertains to education. To start things off, let’s see where the candidates stand on today's biggest issues by looking at what they’ve said in the past.

As each contender throws his or her hat in the ring, I’ll publish a collection of their quotes about education. Some will be recent—but if a candidate hasn’t said anything about an issue in eight years, well, they may be a little more dated. But that has its uses, too; silence can speak volumes.

So without further ado, let’s start with the biggest name in the race: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Earlier this month, Clinton held a sixty-minute education roundtable at which she spoke with a handful of educators and...

Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on May 4, 2015.

Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, declared his candidacy for president last week. He’s also the subject of the fourth installment of the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling presidential candidates’ stances on education issues.

Sanders talks more about higher education than K–12 schooling. Aside from voting against an anti-Common Core amendment back in March, he hasn’t said anything about the controversial standards. And I couldn’t find any reference to school choice. Nevertheless, he hasn’t been silent:

1. Early childhood education: “We must do away with the archaic notion that education begins at four or five years old. For far too long, our society has undervalued the need for high-quality and widely accessible early childhood education.” February 2014.

2. Standardized testing: “Promote creative learning by doing away with 'fill-in-the-bubble' standardized tests, and instead evaluate students based their understanding of the curriculum and their ability to...

Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on April 27, 2015.

This is the second in a series of Eduwatch 2016 posts that will chronicle presidential candidates’ stances on today’s biggest education issues. Last week’s inaugural post revealed Hillary Clinton’s views on everything from Common Core to charter schools. Next up is the junior senator from the Sunshine State, Marco Rubio.

Rubio’s been active in his role as a legislator, especially when it comes to school choice. In 2013, for example, he introduced the Educational Opportunities Act—a bill designed to support choice through tax credits—and co-sponsored a bill that would allow billions of Title I dollars to follow kids to whichever school they attend. But those are just pieces of senatorial legislation, and unsuccessful ones at that. Rubio’s dreaming bigger; he wants to jump from lawmaker to leader of the free world, which means a whole lot of talking between now and November 2016. So let’s see what he’s had to say about education:

1. The Department of Education: “If I was president of the United States,...

Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on April 29, 2015.

This is the third installment in our Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling the declared presidential candidates’ stances on today’s biggest education issues. I began with editions for Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. Next up is Ted Cruz, the junior U.S. senator from Texas.

With a midnight tweet on Monday, March 23, Cruz was the first to officially announce his candidacy. He followed that up a few hours later with a half-hour speech at Liberty University. His campaign has emphasized “restoring” America, which includes education. Here’s what he’s said:

1. Education as a foundation: “Education is foundational to every other challenge you've got. If you're looking at issues of crime or poverty or healthcare, if you have education, if you get the foundation of an education, all of those problems by and large can take care of themselves.” March 2014.

2. The Department of Education: “We...

Editor's note: This post was first published on Flypaper on May 5, 2015.

Ben Carson announced yesterday that he’s running for president. The retired neurosurgeon has never held political office, but he was the first doctor to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head—so there’s that. He’s also the fifth subject in the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling candidates’ stances on education.

Since his highly publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer breakfast, Carson has become a popular figure among conservatives. This has afforded him many opportunities to share his views, and education is one of his favorite issues:

1. The importance of education: “Education is the fundamental principle of what makes America a success. It is the foundation of what truly makes our country ‘the Land of Opportunity.’” May 2015.

2. Common Core: “In recent years,...

  1. In case you missed it yesterday, full report card data for Ohio schools and districts were released. Our own Aaron Churchill was front and center in major media coverage, as he usually is for these things. Aaron’s main point was that, while generally lower for everyone, the scores better reflect how students and their schools actually performed last school year. The Dispatch put that notion at the very top of their coverage, although the print headline (front page, above the fold) conveys that thought better than the online one. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/26/16). Aaron is farther down in the quote mix in this piece, likely reflective of the high-profile folks who came out swinging against the data even before the report cards were available, let alone analyzed. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/25/16) In Fordham’s home city of Dayton, things look pretty bleak. The district is the bottom of the heap statewide and folks there are taking it hard. Kudos, however, to West Carrollton supe Rusty Clifford for this quote clearly stating his opinion on the state’s value added measure: “It’s a lark. It’s a joke. It’s phooey data… “We don’t look at it, we don’t use it. … You’ve heard
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Today, the ratings bubble burst for Ohio’s schools and districts. With rising standards associated with the state’s New Learning Standards and next-generation assessments now fully in place, as expected, student proficiency rates fell throughout Ohio. Correspondingly, school ratings declined as well. This much-needed reset of academic expectations will better ensure that parents and the public have an honest gauge of how students and schools are performing.

Still, state policymakers have work ahead to guarantee that parents and the public gain the clearest possible picture of students’ college and career readiness. Based on 2014-15 test results, roughly 55 and 70 percent of Ohio students were deemed “proficient” depending on the grade and subject. While these proficiency rates are indeed a more accurate gauge of achievement than in previous years—when Ohio regularly labeled more than 80 percent of students as proficient—the number of students meeting rigorous academic benchmarks continues to be overstated.

When utilizing a more demanding standard for achievement, state testing data indicate that between 30 and 45 percent of students statewide are on track for college and career success. These achievement rates—the percentage of students reaching Ohio’s advanced and accelerated levels—better match the Ohio’s proficiency results on NAEP, the best...

Rural school districts face many of the same challenges as their urban counterparts: lots of students living in poverty, low college-attainment rates among parents, high and growing numbers of ELL students, and difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals. Add the sprawling and isolated geography, weak tax base, and iffy broadband access that plague many rural districts, and we have a daunting set of barriers to the goal of students leaving high school fully ready for their next step in life. As Paul Hill put it recently, if America neglects its rural schools, nobody wins.

Fortunately, according to a new report from Battelle for Kids and Education Northwest, America’s rural schools are not standing idly by. The report looks at the work of rural education collaboratives (RECs), which have been formed across the country in an effort to respond to these very challenges. While there seems to be no handy list—nor a single definition—of such organizations, the authors know what they’re not looking for: top-down collaborations, which they eschew in favor of “informal and organic collaborative structures that are more peer-to-peer and network based.” The identify the right sort of RECs as partnerships that are: 1) committed to a common purpose that creates value for...

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