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The Coates-Miranda edition

In this week’s podcast, Robert Pondiscio and Alyssa Schwenk contrast the views of two MacArthur “geniuses,” weigh the role of “life experiences” in the college admissions process, and question reform critics’ push to block John King’s confirmation as education secretary. In the Research Minute, Amber Northern explains how DCPS gathers various data on teacher hiring but doesn't make the best use of them.

Amber's Research Minute

Brian Jacob, Jonah E. Rockoff, Eric S. Taylor, Benjamin Lindy, and Rachel Rosen, "Teacher Applicant Hiring and Teacher Performance: Evidence from DC Public Schools," NBER (March 2016).

  1. Editors in Toledo opined on the subject of state report card results, looking to outside analyses of those results to bolster their point. Fordham’s first-blush mini-analysis of the report card data from last week is one of those outside sources. Just wait gang, there’s more where that came from! (Toledo Blade, 3/9/16)
     
  2. The Blade must have written its editorial a few days ago, because there is no mention of the other shoe. That is, the growing hubbub over a “huge disparity” in value-added results for schools who took PARCC tests online vs. those who took PARCC tests via pencil and paper. We brought you the PD version of the story on Monday. Here it is from the D. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/16)
     
  3. The above-referenced failure of Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips was front and center at this week’s state board of education meeting. You can read coverage of this specific issue in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/8/16) and the AP (Dayton Daily News, via AP, 3/7/16). In other state board of ed news, far less interesting other stuff was discussed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/7/16)
     
  4. At the other end of the wire,
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When the history of this era’s urban-education reform movement is written, four big policy innovations are sure to get attention: the nation’s first voucher program, first charter law, first mayor-controlled charter authorizer, and first “extraordinary authority” unit (the RSD).

The people mostly responsible for these have two important things in common.

First, unless you’re an old hand in this business, you may not know of them.

Second—Polly Williams, Ember Reichgott Junge, Teresa Lubbers, Leslie Jacobs—they’re all women.

Unfortunately, those two facts are probably related.

Much has been written recently about the social forces pushing women below the radar in professional settings. In an excellent NYT piece, “Speaking While Female,” Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In) and Adam Grant (a Wharton professor) argue that “speaking up” at work generally helps men but not women.

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting,” they write, “she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s...

I have no idea if Lin-Manuel Miranda has read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; nor am I aware if Coates has seen Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway. But it would be fascinating to listen to the two of them discuss each other’s work and their views on what it means to be young, brown, and American today.

All of us who work in classrooms with children of color would be richer if we could eavesdrop on such an exchange.

The parallels are striking. Both are young men of color who have created two of the most praised and dissected cultural works of the moment. Both were recent and richly deserving Macarthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipients. Each turns his creative lens on our nation. But their respective visions of America, signaled through their work, could scarcely be more different.

We can be a bit promiscuous in our use of the word “genius,” but if it applies to anyone, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Anyone who can read, as he did, Ron Chernow’s seven-hundred-page doorstop biography of Alexander Hamilton and think “Hip hop musical!” has a mind like few others.

But where Miranda’s genius burns bright, Coates’s burns hot. He is, by a...

The White House has selected Columbus, along with nine other cities, as a focus site for two newly launched campaigns to address and eliminate chronic student absenteeism. The first is the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative, the “first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest-risk students.” The program will connect over one million students across the ten cities with trained mentors, including coaches, administrative staff, teachers, security guards, AmeriCorps members, tutors, and others. The second initiative is a multi-million-dollar parent engagement campaign through the Ad Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Mott Foundation, to “elevate the conversation about the devastating impact of chronic absenteeism.” The initiative will target K–8 parents through a campaign website with downloadable resources, billboards, and Public Service Announcements on bus shelters and in doctors’ offices and schools. Chronic absenteeism—missing more than 10 percent of a school year—is a strong predictor of low performance and eventual dropping out. Research shows that when at-risk students have caring adults in their lives, their likelihood of dropping out decreases. We’re pleased to see the campaigns’ selection of Columbus, a city whose district has the second-lowest attendance...

  1. In a leftover from late last week, our own Chad Aldis was talking to public media about the challenges facing e-schools in developing a system to take attendance and how he believes it can be done. Which is good, because they have to. (Statehouse News Bureau, others via public media, 3/4/16)
     
  2. Speaking of e-schools in Ohio, the D gave us tons more dirt on Provost Academy, an online school which – it was announced last week – was ordered to pay back something like 80% of the state funding it had received due to attendance discrepancy (see above for more on that “taking attendance” conundrum). And by “dirt”, I mean texts of emails and audio-recorded meetings. Ugh. Didn’t I see this on “The Good Wife”? (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/16) Today, editors in Columbus put it all together for us re: the importance of not watering down e-school attendance tracking and reporting requirements. Helpful. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/16)
     
  3. In other news, Dayton City Schools is pushing back a bit on a couple of dings (yes, that is the technical term) in its most recent state audit. (Dayton Daily News, 3/6/16) Meanwhile, staffers from the Ohio Department
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  1. Our own Aaron Churchill pushed a Kardashian off the front page of the 74 Million’s blog yesterday, talking about the “dismal democracy” that often is the local elected school board in Ohio. (The 74 Million education blog, 3/2/16)
     
  2. Our own Chad Aldis had no measurable influence over the Kardashian kabal while talking about some of the dismal demagoguery that attends charter school issues in Ohio. (Politico Pro Education Report, 3/2/16)
     
  3. Keeping up with the theme, editors in Nordonia Hills (no, I don’t either) opined against the “slimy influences” of “scoundrels” trying to undermine or even reverse charter school accountability measures in Ohio. (Nordonia Hills News-Leader, 3/2/16)
     
  4. Back in the real world, Dayton City Schools announced a new initiative that will give Chromebooks to every student in grades 3 through 8 during the school day, starting next year. A pilot program kicks off at one school this month. (Dayton Daily News, 3/3/16) Ditto for the kids (and teachers) at the Chaney High School campus in Youngstown, although YCS is going with Apple products. Interesting to note that the district received a grant from Apple for this tech two years ago, and it included
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A new joint study from the University of Kentucky and Indiana University examines the potential effects of exclusionary school discipline polices—particularly school suspensions—on racial differences in reading and math achievement.

They use a hierarchical and longitudinal dataset drawn from the Kentucky School Discipline Study (KSDS) to create a final sample of 16,248 students drawn from grades 6–10 across seventeen different public schools with a demographic roughly representative of the southeastern United States. Data was collected over a three-year period between August 2008 and June 2011. Authors controlled for school-level variables (within-school variation on percent minority, percent free and reduced-price lunch, percent in special education, expenditures per student, school size, and total number of disciplinary offenses committed in a school in a given year), as well as student and non-school factors (race, socioeconomic status, the neighborhood in which the school is located, and a student’s likelihood of suspension).

They found that black students were nearly six times more likely to be suspended than whites, while other ethnic and racial minorities were over two times more likely. Schools with larger concentrations of black students had significantly higher rates of out-of-school suspension, while students who have been suspended in a given year scored...

  1. Big discrepancies found during a detailed attendance check at Provost Academy, a small Ohio e-school, have resulted in the school being ordered to pay back nearly $800,000, some 80 percent of the state funding the school received. What’s that you said? Can’t hear you over the baying. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16)
     
  2. It’s also really noisy in the realm of report card fallout. First up, how much the zeroes given to students whose parents opted them out of testing last year affected performance index scores for their schools. This is the Central Ohio version of this story. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16) Secondly, how much did online testing vs. paper/pencil testing affect value added scores for the schools who chose between these options for test taking last year. This is the Northeast Ohio version of this story. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/1/16)
     
  3. Finally, the cult of Our Lady of Oyler could get a big boost in Columbus next year. But first, a bond issue must pass. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/2/16)

The “college preparation gap” among students graduating from high school is real and persistent. There are some signs that it has been stabilizing in recent years, but the fact remains that too many holders of high school diplomas aren’t ready for college-level work. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the realm of community college, where 68 percent of students require at least some form of remedial coursework (also known as “developmental education”) just to get to square one. Perhaps four-year colleges should face facts and refuse to admit students who aren’t ready, but we’re not there yet. For better or worse, community colleges have their doors wide open when it comes to “underprepared” students who still want to give college a go. But do they have their eyes similarly wide open? Two recent reports highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly among community colleges’ efforts to build successful students via remediation.

First up, a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) surveying approximately seventy thousand students from more than 150 of its institutions across the country. The vast majority (86 percent) of the incoming students surveyed believed they were...

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