Archive for the 'Research' Category

September
2nd 2015
Despite Union Statements, National Polls Show Public Support for Testing

Posted under Accountability & Education Politics & Research & Testing

About this time last year, I was puzzling over the presence of a strange phantom statistic quoted by NEA in the wake of the annual PDK/Gallup national education poll. The statistic was eventually released weeks after the rest of the poll, which means NEA didn’t lie about it. They did, however, get special access to an unverifiable number that happened to support their very strong push against evaluation systems that include student growth. No one can easily refute poll results without, you know, having the poll results, so NEA got some good mileage out of that one.

But there’s no use crying over spilled statistics. Besides, the main reason I was interested in that number in the first place was the fact that it stood in stark contrast with data gathered by another nationally representative poll conducted by Education Next—data showing clear public support for the use of student performance when making teacher tenure decisions. This year, though, the polls appear to mostly agree with one another on testing issues. Not that NEA or AFT are very keen on sharing that fact.

The 2015 version of the annual Education Next poll and its associated report have been in the wild for some time now. The PDK/Gallup results have also been released. I strongly encourage you to dig through both polls, as there is very interesting stuff in each, much of which is broken out by subgroups that show important (and illuminating) differences. Highlights include some fascinating data on declining support for Common Core, as well interesting insights into the role the federal government ought to have in education. But perhaps the most interesting results of the polls have to do with public support for testing. Continue Reading »

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August
25th 2015
What’s New? PDK/Gallup Survey Flubs School Choice Question Once More

Posted under Journalism & Private Schools & Research & School Choice

For being so young, it feels like I’ve really had to repeat myself a lot lately. Not “Get off my lawn”-type of repetition, but still… it gets a little annoying sometimes. Just in the last couple weeks, the theme applies to Colorado’s need for course choice and the same old results for our state from the Parent Power Index.

Thankfully for you and me both, this one will be short, sweet, and to the point. It relates to the continued bias of an important question in the PDK/Gallup annual public education survey. A couple of years ago (when I was still 5), I pointed out how the following wording fell well short of reasonable expectations of objective answers: Continue Reading »

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August
21st 2015
Meet Colorado’s New PPI Report Card, Same as the Old PPI Report Card

Posted under Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

It’s Friday again, my friends, and that means it’s time for a more colorful look at education policy as we head into the weekend. I really wanted to highlight the American Federation for Children’s “Education Revolution” video, which was released a couple months ago but only just made it to my desk. But you’ll have to watch that on your own. We have colorful interactive maps to play with!

The Center for Education Reform (CER) recently released its 2015 Parent Power Index. It is absolutely stuffed with colorful, clickable goodies that are entirely too much fun to be considered education policy. But I’ll leave you to play with the report on your own time. We have important business to discuss!

If you’ll remember, Colorado came in 12th in the country last year, which was a very slight improvement from 13th in 2013. At the time, CER described Colorado this way:

Parents here are an active lot but have often been rebuffed at the legislative level when trying to expand their choices. That said, there is a strong charter law here. Many elements of digital learning are offered. The citizens of Colorado get to vote in school board elections when they go to the polls for other races. That fact, plus teacher quality measured at average levels, puts the Centennial State higher than average on giving parents power, but not high enough to put it in the top ten.

Not an unfair description. Colorado does have strong public school choice laws, a strong accountability system despite serious efforts to dismantle the system instead of working to improve it, and a very high level of transparency in education. What we don’t have is a lot of progress. Continue Reading »

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August
20th 2015
Eddie’s Crazy Idea: More Colo. Districts Should Pursue Student-Based Budgeting

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Hey, I’ve got a crazy idea! Why not have school districts base their budgeting on students like me (or any student, for that matter)? It just makes sense to do it that way, right? Especially since the whole K-12 education enterprise is supposed to be about the kids.

It’s not that simple, however, and it’s not usually the case. Things like staffing formulas and seniority rules — not to mention bureaucratic traditions and old-fashioned accounting systems — generally rule the day. But in Colorado, the practice of Student-Based Budgeting is on the rise:

Through student-based budgeting (SBB), six school districts have prioritized student need over administrative convenience with a cost-effective approach that places more funds under individual school control.

This is from one of those long issue papers by my Education Policy Center friends that little me may never get around to reading cover to cover. SBB isn’t terribly glamorous, nor (like any other reform) is it a silver bullet. Even so, I’ve learned just enough to know that it’s something that very much should be on your radar. Plus, it has a fun and inspiring cover: Continue Reading »

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August
18th 2015
New York Charter Success: You Know How to Spell It

Posted under Elementary School & learning & math & Middle School & Public Charter Schools & reading & Research & School Choice & Testing & Urban Schools

It’s often been said “you can’t argue with success” (or Success). But that doesn’t stop some from trying.

Last year, I pointed out the collective jaw-dropping that took place when test results came back from students in the Harlem Success Academies, a New York City charter network that overwhelmingly serves poor and disadvantaged families. Just to revisit for the record:

Seven out of the state’s 15 top-scoring schools on math proficiency tests this year were Success Academy charter schools….An astounding 93.9 percent of Success students passed the Common Core math exam and 64.5 percent passed the English proficiency test….

After a closer look at the results, all that critics and skeptics were left to stand on was the suggestion that the astounding, off-the-chart scores for poor kids in the Big Apple must have been some kind of a fluke. With the release of the latest achievement scores, as reported by Reason blogger Jim Epstein, that line just became a lot harder to defend. Continue Reading »

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August
13th 2015
A Rocketship Visit to Jeffco: More Than Just Eddie’s Big Dream?

Posted under Denver & High School & learning & math & Middle School & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Board & Suburban Schools

There’s a lot of attention on the school board politics in Jeffco these days. Dealing with it sometimes is a necessity. But to me it’s a shame, given the pockets of great need for students in the Jefferson and neighboring Alameda articulation areas, just west of Denver.

Last November I first highlighted the significant positive efforts for change, then followed it up with anticipation of an important March 5 Board vote to approve a hopeful plan of action. The Board ended up approving it unanimously!

Since that time I have been watching off and on (there are a bunch of things out there that Ed Is Watching), but have been remiss about providing an update. Yesterday, the good people at Chalkbeat Colorado published a piece about some specific efforts to upgrade academic standards at Jefferson High and surrounding schools: Continue Reading »

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July
21st 2015
Close Look at Diverse Charter Options Helps to Tell Us What Parents Want

Posted under Denver & learning & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance & Urban Schools

What do parents want? I’m not sure why people bring this question to me. Based on my somewhat limited experience, I tend to think the answer has something to do with keeping rooms clean, eating fruits and vegetables, minding manners, and not breaking things. When it comes to a child’s education, I think there’s more to the story.

Looking back over the last year-plus, it’s been a banner stretch for focusing on a diverse body of meaningful charter school research. It started with Marcus Winters’ Denver special education myth-buster. Winters has compiled the findings of his Denver and New York City research in a new piece for Education Next:

The conventional argument that charters enroll relatively few students with disabilities because they “counsel out” special needs students after they enroll is inconsistent with the enrollment data. In fact, students with disabilities are less likely to exit charter elementary schools than they are to exit district schools. More students with IEPs enter charter schools in non-gateway grades than exit them.

Beyond that important research, the following findings make for a fairly comprehensive and insightful list of mostly positive news since mid-2014: Continue Reading »

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June
10th 2015
Exodus or Exaggeration? A Look at Colorado’s Teacher Turnover Rates

Posted under Edublogging & Research & Teachers & Union

“Mass exodus” sounds scary, doesn’t it? It conjures images of sad, disheveled refugees limping away from burning villages with smoke billowing in the background. That image is probably exactly what anti-reformers in Colorado have been trying to convey as they loudly sound the alarm that teachers are leaving education in droves while malicious reformers try to improve student outcomes by, you know, trying new stuff.

But is that really what’s going on in Colorado? We already know the numbers thrown around in the wake of Douglas County’s reforms fell well short of the truth, but what about the scary Chalkbeat Colorado headline that “More teachers left the school districts where they work last year than at any point in the past 15 years, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Education”? Yeah. Let’s talk about that.

Let’s start by taking a look at an interesting Education Next post by Chad Aldeman on Colorado’s turnover numbers. He makes his point by reproducing a graph created by Chalkbeat with a few changes.

Continue Reading »

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June
9th 2015
New Funding Reports Try to Sound the Alarms, But Simply Don’t Add Up

Posted under Research & School Finance

Are you interested in new K-12 “research” that creates new ways to measure funding, obsesses over inputs, rests on logical leaps, AND challenges its own claims? Well, then I have a couple reports for you!

The headlines create such drama:

Sure, the United States stands at or near the top of the world’s rankings in per-pupil spending, yet its students finish well below that on measures of math and science achievement. But somehow a disaster is looming, if we don’t spend more money. Or is it that money isn’t being spent equitably? Or both?

Let’s start with the Education Law Center’s “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card.” As its title suggests, the report purports to focus on the issue of whether states provide “fair funding” based on student poverty. Continue Reading »

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June
2nd 2015
New Study on School Funding Assumes Its Way into Trouble

Posted under Research & School Finance

Sometimes I just want to get nerdy. I don’t mean kind of nerdy, like when we throw around phrases like “statistical significance” and call it a day. I mean really, truly nerdy. The kind of nerdy that involves using words like “exogeneity,” which is so obscure a term that Microsoft Word tells me it isn’t a word at all. In response, I proudly push my glasses up my nose and declare that not only is exogeneity a word, it is a word that matters.

What in the world am I talking about? The controversial new Education Next school funding study by C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker C. Johnson, and Claudia Persico, of course! If you are one of those cool kids who doesn’t spend every morning perusing the latest studies on education, the quick and dirty on the study is this: It upends a great deal of research suggesting that simply increasing public school funding does little to increase academic achievement. Instead, it finds that if one changes the design of the research, large impacts are revealed. The proposed solution? You guessed it: More money.

From the study itself (emphasis added):

Previous national studies have examined the relationship between school resources and student outcomes and found little association for students born after 1950. Those studies, however, suffer from major design limitations. We address those limitations and demonstrate that, in fact, when examined in the right way, it becomes clear that increased school spending is linked to improved outcomes for students, and for low-income students in particular. Investigating the causal effect of school spending increases generated by the passage of SFRs, we conclude that increasing per-pupil spending yields large improvements in educational attainment, wages, and family income, and reductions in the annual incidence of adult poverty for children from low-income families. For children from nonpoor families, we find smaller effects of increased school spending on subsequent educational attainment and family income in adulthood.

This begs an obvious question: What exactly is the “right way” to examine the school funding issue? Continue Reading »

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