NCLB

School-turnaround efforts aren’t new. But—thanks in large part to the feds’ latest round of school-improvement grants (SIG) and this week’s CEP report on the program—they’ve recently garnered much press. Unfortunately, precious little is known about whether these efforts (federally funded or not) affect actual student achievement. That research dearth is slowly shrinking. A longitudinal evaluation of Chicago’s turnaround efforts in thirty-six schools between 1997 and 2010 offers good news for the school-turnaround believer. The study, conducted by UChicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research and the American Institutes for Research, found that, while turnaround results were slow to develop, they were dramatic four years after interventions began—at least at the elementary level: Targeted elementary schools closed the test-score gap between themselves and the system average by half in reading and by almost two-thirds in math. (Researchers were unable to analyze test scores at the high school level, so evaluated attendance and ninth-grade readiness instead; they reported no real improvements for turnaround schools in either.) We’ve long harbored doubts about the efficacy of turnarounds, but this report bangs a slight crack in our cynicism—at least for initiatives that are given multiple years to gain traction.

Marisa de lat Torre, Elaine Allensworth, Sanja Jagesic, James Sebastian, and Michael Salmonowicz, Turning Around Low-Performing Schools in Chicago (Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research, February 2012)....

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  • Arne Duncan was only missing a "Mission Accomplished" banner on Monday when he announced that the Administration’s School Improvement Grants program is succeeding. CEP's latest reports find that state officials tend to agree (expect a full review in two weeks) and Duncan's data are certainly encouraging, but it is far too early (and potentially costly) to suspend skepticism of a $3 billion program that still shares many traits with a "black hole."
  • The nation's graduation rate edged upwards by 3.5 percentage points from 2001 to 2009 according to a new report released by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins. An encouraging statistic—assuming that the recent boom in credit recovery programs doesn’t mean that many of those diplomas aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
  • A new survey of teachers brings both good and bad tidings for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Bad news first: More than 1 in 5 teachers have never even heard of the standards. The good news? Only 22 percent report feeling "very prepared" to teach to them. Bear with us: That’s a positive because it means teachers know they have more to learn before their Common Core-aligned lessons are ready for prime time—and might be getting the message that these standards represent a real step up from what they’ve been using to date.
  • ...
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Two weeks ago, when the House Education and the Workforce
committee marked-up
two major ESEA reauthorization bills, Democrats and their allies screamed
bloody murder. Ranking member (and former chairman) George Miller called
the bills
“radical” and “highly partisan” and said they would “turn the
clock back decades on equity and accountability.” A coalition of civil rights,
education reform, and business groups said
they amounted to a “rollback” of No Child Left Behind.

Barack Obama
Perhaps Rep. Miller and his allies are "conservatives" on education after all.
Photo by George Miller.

Miller put forward his own
bills,
which most of the self-same groups quickly endorsed,
and which, Miller argues,
“eliminate inflexible and outdated provisions of No Child Left Behind and
requires states and [districts] to adopt strong but flexible and achievable
standards, assessments, and accountability reforms.”

So let’s see how Miller and company do at “eliminating
inflexible and outdated provisions of NCLB” and requiring “strong but flexible”
accountability systems. The package…

  • Requires
    states to expect “all” students to eventually reach college and
    career-readiness
    . (Didn’t we learn
  • ...
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March (ESEA) Madness?

Mike and the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke step outside to debate the place of climate science in standards and whether John Kline’s ESEA proposals stand a chance, while Amber looks at the relative merits of a four-day school week.

Amber's Research Minute

Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week - Download the PDF

Two weeks ago, when the House Education and the Workforce committee marked-up two major ESEA reauthorization bills, Democrats and their allies screamed bloody murder. Ranking member (and former chairman) George Miller called the bills “radical” and “highly partisan” and said they would “turn the clock back decades on equity and accountability.” A coalition of civil rights, education reform, and business groups said they amounted to a “rollback” of No Child Left Behind.

Barack Obama
Perhaps Representative Miller and his allies are "conservatives" on education after all.
Photo by George Miller.

Miller put forward his own bills, which most of the self-same groups quickly endorsed, and which, Miller argues, “eliminates inflexible and outdated provisions of No Child Left Behind and requires states and [districts] to adopt strong but flexible and achievable standards, assessments, and accountability reforms.”

So let’s see how Miller and company do at “eliminating inflexible and outdated provisions of NCLB” and requiring “strong but flexible” accountability systems. The package…

  • Requires states to expect “all” students to reach college and career readiness eventually. (Didn’t we learn from NCLB that calling for “universal proficiency” merely pushes states to lower the bar?)
  • Tightens
  • ...
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The No Child Left Behind Act requires public schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years to offer children of low-income families the opportunity to receive supplemental educational services (SES). SES comes primarily in the form of tutoring offered outside of regular schools hours and is often provided by private entities. Schools failing to meet AYP requirements are required to set aside 20 percent of their Title I funding to pay for SES and to measure the effectiveness of tutoring on student achievement. How much impact does SES have on student achievement though? A recent report by the Center for American Progress sets out to answer this question as well as provide policy recommendations that aim to improve the SES program.  

The report found that many states and school districts are extremely deficient in the evaluation and recording of SES providers and their results. A combination of self-reporting and unreliable data collection methods such as parent surveys has resulted in lack-luster evidence on the effectiveness of tutoring programs.  In addition to the lack of sufficient data among states and districts, the number of tutoring hours that students receive is critical in the impact on student achievement. Research has proven the “magic” number to be 40 hours. Students receiving less than 40 hours of tutoring do not demonstrate any statistically significant gains in reading and math.  The report also states that another problem with SES is that tutors do not have to have any...

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Save the podcast!

Mike and Janie make the case for keeping the Education Gadfly Show going with witty analysis of Common Core critics, student discipline follies, and the GOP’s education conundrum. Amber delves into teacher dissatisfaction and Chris asks “What’s up with that?” one last time.

Amber's Research Minute

 The MetLife survey of The American Teacher - Download the PDF

What's Up With That?

Teacher's health insurance policy includes free plastic surgery.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia submitted
applications for the second round of No Child Left Behind waivers by Tuesday’s
deadline, but a crucial question lingers: Did the Administration’s highly
controversial program for offering states freedom from NCLB’s most onerous
requirements make the situation any better? Tomorrow morning, the Fordham
Institute will host experts from the media, the Administration, and think tanks
to answer at “Weighing the Waivers: Did the Administration Get It Right on
ESEA Flexibility?

This panel discussion will investigate how the
Education Department’s ambitious attempt to bypass a Congress gridlocked over
ESEA reauthorization will alter state policies and the federal role in
education. There is still
time to register
, but for those unable to attend in person, you can stream
the discussion live from our website beginning at 9 a.m. EST. Don’t miss it!

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Sounding off on "snobs" and Santorum

Mike and Rick break down the week’s news, from the prospects of John Kline’s ESEA reauthorization proposals to the college-for-all controversy. Amber analyzes the latest report on Milwaukee’s voucher program Chris wonders whether robbing a bank is enough to get a school bus driver fired.

Amber's Research Minute

The Comprehensive Longitudinal Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

Amber's Weekly Poll

Tune in next week to find out the answer!

What's Up With That?

School bus dispatcher was bank robbery getaway driver - WFTV.com

GOP Rep. John Kline’s ESEA reauthorization bills
slipped out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on a party-line
vote,
but will likely stall in their current state. The time for
posturing has passed: If Congress wants any role in education policy, it’s got
to start compromising
.

The dithering on Capitol Hill was in stark contrast to
the activity at the Education Department, which received NCLB
waiver applications from twenty six more states and D.C.
by its Tuesday deadline.
While the merits
(and, indeed, the constitutionality) of the feds’ waiver program are far from
settled
, Congress has given states few alternatives.

It’s a welcome surprise to find a GOP candidate willing to
talk about education, but Rick Santorum seems to be bringing all the wrong
kinds of attention to important policies worthy of thoughtful support (home schooling) and skepticism (universal higher ed).

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers' latest brief in its Cyber Series is yet another bit (byte?)
to add to the mounting evidence that best practices for charter
authorizing provide a useful framework for overseeing online schools.

Congratulations are due to Robin Lake,
the newly
announced successor
to Paul Hill as head of the Center on Reinventing Public
Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington-Bothell. Congrats are due to
Paul, too, for building such a...

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