Flypaper

Eric Ulas

Inspired by the "Graph of the Week" offered up by our friends at the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio , we'll be rolling out regular graphics on Flypaper to illustrate interesting trends and facts about public education, especially as they relate to Fordham's home state of Ohio. Today's chart highlights the disparity in student achievement depending on what measure is being used and who is doing the reporting (for more, check out The Accountability Illusion ).

Grade Inflation - Ohio Achievement Test (OAT) vs. NAEP Results,

2007-2008

According to the Ohio Achievement Tests, 73 percent of Buckeye State eighth graders and 75 percent of fourth graders are proficient in math.?? But according to the "gold standard" National Assessment of Educational Progress, just 35 and 46 percent of students are proficient respectively.?? The same is true in reading.

The??disparity in this data??clearly??shows the??need for??better aligned assessment measures....

 
 
The Education Gadfly

Quotable :

???To me it is the best thing they could have come up with. It's like I'm sending my kids to a private school and the county's paying for it.??? ??? Raquel Pelaez, parent of two students enrolled in Florida's Broward Virtual School

South Florida Sun Sentinel: From K-12, students can opt to take their classes in cyberspace

Notable :

680: Average state mathematics test score of NYC students who have spent their entire career in charter schools (out of 800). Traditional students averaged 650.

Wall Street Journal: Charter Schools Pass Key Test in Study

 
 
Amy Fagan

Here is a Washington Post article this morning about the draft standards for English and math that were made public yesterday. From the piece:

The proposal aims to lift expectations for students beyond current standards, which vary widely from state to state, and establish for the first time an effective national consensus on core academic goals to help the United States keep pace with global competitors. Such agreement has proven elusive in the past because of a long tradition of local control over standards, testing and curriculum.

Forty-eight states and DC have signed onto the Common Core initiative, but it still has far to go, the article notes. Checker shares some of his thoughts on the matter with the Post. Read the story to see what he says...

 
 

Over the weekend, the Columbus Dispatch ran a story that represents the proverbial icing on the Ohio teacher pension cake (for metaphor accuracy, the State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) is not just any old baked good; it's a calorie-laden mammoth that has grown so large it will bust the windows out of its own bakery-this, while the rest of the town is starving...). "Retired, Rehired: School Employees Can Get Paid Twice" points out the ludicrous amount of money that over a thousand employees statewide are earning, by collecting ample pensions and then rejoining the labor force. For example, the Dispatch estimates that a 58 year old personnel director in South-Western schools was rehired at $107,000 a year (after retiring in 2003) while collecting about $86,000 in retirement. Consider other shocking statistics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Last year, the STRS paid out more than $741 million in pensions to 15,857 faculty and staff still employed by school systems statewide;
  • Almost 1,100 employees received an average pension payment last school year of $67,100, while earning anywhere from $70,000 to over $100,000;
  • 299 of those were rehired at more than $100,000 a year, while collecting an average
  • ...
 
 

The NYT reports this morning on Stanford Professor Caroline Hoxby's latest findings on the Big Apple's charters. The results are extremely encouraging. Here are two blurbs:

Ms. Hoxby found that students who attended a charter school from??kindergarten to eighth grade would nearly match the performance of their peers in affluent suburban communities on state math exams by the time they entered high school.

The gap between students in charter schools and those in traditional public schools widened the longer students remained in the charter schools, according to the report.

Obviously, not all charters in NYC are great. But these finding suggest two important things. First, generally, the bell curve of charter quality in the city has shifted to the right (compared to the traditional public school sector). Second, there is a disproportionate number of superior charters.

Given that similarly encouraging news has come out about Boston's and DC's charters, we need to consider whether a pattern is emerging: perhaps a strong law plus strong growth plus an experienced charter sector (say a decade or so of charter experience) yields very good charter results in urban America....

 
 

The public draft of the Common Core State Standards is considerably improved from the version that was circulated two months back and it's evident that the drafters are trying to incorporate responsible feedback. I trust they will continue to. We're still reviewing the latest version but at first glance it appears that the math standards, while not perfect, have a lot going for them. The "English" standards are harder to appraise. They're not actually English standards, but, rather, standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening. The drafters acknowledge that they would need to be accompanied by solid curriculum content, and they've provided a handful of examples--good ones, mostly--of such content. But they've also left most of the heavy lifting to states, districts, schools and educators. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But it also means that the "common core" standards, at least in this version, are more a vessel waiting to be filled with curriculum than an actual framework for what teachers should teach and students should learn.

Keep in mind, too, how much remains to be done. Even after these end-of-high-school standards are further revised, the drafters must "backward map" them down through grades K-11. Then someone...

 
 
Amy Fagan

Here is the take of the House Education & Labor Committee GOP staff on the common core draft standards for English-language arts and math.

They seem satisfied that the Common Core effort aims to "strengthen academic rigor and improve American competitiveness" but aims to do so "without the heavy hand of the federal government controlling the process."

 
 

John Derbyshire is no optimist... that is when it comes to education policy. In an excerpt from his soon-to-be-released??We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, he explains how education policy has nothing new under the sun. One particular common theme? That more money will solve education's ills. It's been tried countless times and it's failed each and every one of them. So what's new about there being nothing new? That these theme of spending more money on education is being endorsed by the current administration. "We must push our elected officials to supply the resources to fix our schools.??.??.??.??We can't pass a law called No Child Left Behind and then leave the money behind," Derbyshire quotes President Obama. He continues:

It is not quite true that there is nothing new under the sun, but there is nothing new in education theory, ever: just the same truths, revealed again and again, then pushed down the same memory hole by the same lying careerists, the same wishful-thinking fantasists, and the same parrot-brained politicians.

Zing.

 
 
Eric Ulas

The nation's economic woes are making life hard on state budget crafters around the country.?? While Ohio's unemployment rate has decreased slightly, we're nowhere near out of the woods yet, as evidenced by this particularly miserable news day for Ohio's schools:

Early college high schools have lost a large portion of their funding. (Mike Laffery discussed this situation earlier in the Ohio Education Gadfly) Two such schools in Columbus, which allow students to graduate from high school with up to two years of college credit, will look very different after the cuts. The Africentric School, operated by Columbus City Schools, has lost close to $1 million. It will still offer some college enrollment opportunities, but students will graduate with far less college credit. The Metro School, a STEM school long touted as an innovative model, has lost more than $800,000 of its funding to pay for college classes.

The Ohio Department of Education, already understaffed and overworked, had its budget slashed, despite the influx of $1.65 billion in federal education stimulus money. The agency will have to cut additional staff, services, and testing. Add to this the fact they've...

 
 

So much that's true--and important--has been written about the late Irving Kristol, I can add but a few recollections.

I first came to know Irving (and Bea) Kristol through Liz and Pat Moynihan in the late 1960's when The Public Interest was new and I--besides being a graduate student, then a junior White House aide--was pleased to think of myself as a budding neo-con. Just about everyone I really admired in the academic/policy world in those days--the Kristols, Pat, Nat Glazer, Jim Wilson, Norman Podhoretz et al--fit more-or-less comfortably under that broad heading, which at the outset included more Democrats than Republicans.

I was a huge fan of The Public Interest (as well as Commentary) and while I didn't manage to work my own way into its pages until 1978, I was proud to appear there some 13 times over the ensuing 26 years.

Irving had a slogan, variously recalled as "If you have a good idea, start a magazine" or "If there's a problem you want to solve, start a magazine." That's more or less what Diane Ravitch and I did in the early 1980's with "Network News & Views", the house organ of...

 
 

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