Archive for the 'Research' Category

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.

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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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May
26th 2015
Stop Dumping Paperwork on Charter Applicants, and Focus on Success

Posted under Public Charter Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Suburban Schools

Now that Memorial Day is past, and the unofficial start of summer has arrived, it’s time to start thinking about taking that fun family vacation. For me, it has to include going to the beach, or at least staying cool at a splashing fun water park. While I would enjoy swimming at the lake or at the kiddie pool, I don’t think anyone enjoys swimming through a pile of paperwork.

Yet as a new American Enterprise Institute report explains, too many public charter school authorizers are overloading applicants with questions and tasks that just aren’t necessary at getting to the bottom line of creating innovative, effective educational opportunities.

Michael McShane, Jenn Hatfield, and Elizabeth English specifically surveyed the application processes of 40 non-school-district authorizers, and found some upsetting results. School districts — which make up all the Colorado authorizers, except for the Charter School Institute — tend to lard up the process with obstacles to make it more difficult for new charters to emerge. But as AEI’s new research shows, even many of the alternatives have trouble getting it correct. Continue Reading »

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May
8th 2015
Colorado, Time to Observe National Charter Schools Week Eddie-Style

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance

It’s a little bittersweet writing near the end of National Charter Schools Week, a couple short days after Colorado’s legislative session concluded with very little progress made on behalf of choice and fair funding. (Nor does all the wet, gray, gloomy weather help, either!)

Looking back, though, the week kicked off with a great Watchdog story about how Denver charter schools regularly top the district’s performance ratings. Not earth-shattering news for me or my faithful readers, but definitely a good reminder and an opportunity to spread the word.

Denver isn’t an isolated example. There are good reasons why a new report shows in 10 other major cities that waiting list demand for charters far outstrips the available seats. Come on, can’t we do something about that? After all, there’s the latest major CREDO report that I recently brought your attention to, which shows a continuing positive trend for urban charter school performance. Continue Reading »

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April
28th 2015
Compared with Real Samples, Dougco Union Survey Proves a Major Flop

Posted under Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Ironically, regular blogging here can make me grow up fast. While remaining perpetually 5 years old, I have learned the need to develop a healthy sense of skepticism. Otherwise, it might be time to start believing in time warps and magical survey fairies.

Jane Reuter of the Douglas County News-Press reports on last week’s hocus pocus at the Dougco Board of Education meeting:

Douglas County School Board members lambasted the recent staff survey funded by the teachers’ union, calling it an attack on staff, pointing out its low response rate and questioning the objectivity of the agency that conducted it.

The survey showed low morale and dissatisfaction with recent education reforms and policies in the Douglas County School District, among other findings.

As the article points out, the survey was sponsored by the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and conducted by Strategies 360, which Denver office is run by the former political director for the Colorado AFL-CIO. Continue Reading »

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April
17th 2015
New CTBA Report on School Choice Smells Like Bologna

Posted under Research & School Choice & Tax Credits

The last few Fridays have been absolutely lovely. They were sunny, warm, and filled with delicious new stops on the school choice train. Today is different. It’s cold, rainy, and all around a little icky outside. If I were older and knew what the word “foreshadow” meant, I might say that I should have expected today to involve reading something like a yucky, choice-bashing report from the heavily left-leaning Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA).

Unfortunately, I didn’t see it coming. And after reading through the report’s findings, I have to say I walked away pretty irked about the report’s tilted observations and the motivations driving them. But just as I was warming up my little fingers for a vigorous defense of choice, I noticed that my good pal Jason Bedrick beat me to the punch. Jason has said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I’m also going to stick my nose into the debate on a couple of the biggest issues anyway. Continue Reading »

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April
16th 2015
“Twin” Studies Add More Pieces to Teacher Effectiveness Puzzle

Posted under Elementary School & International & reading & Research & Teachers

Apparently, there has been some rampant speculation that little Eddie is actually little Eddies, that there is more than one of me. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Now I find that sort of talk a little disturbing. Who am I anyway?

Maybe someone has seen my doppelganger out there. I’d also given consideration to the possibility that my parents have locked an evil Eddie twin in a basement closet, only to be let out at inopportune times. Let me here and now assert my firm belief that such a notion was nothing more than the phantom of an overactive imagination.

Still, my curiosity is piqued at the potential boon to educational research that having a twin would provide. The National Council on Teacher Quality today brought my attention to a pair (!) of studies — one in the Netherlands, one in the United States. The idea? Take a set of twins and put them in different teachers’ classrooms to test the effect. Continue Reading »

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March
26th 2015
Urban Charters Rock CREDO’s Newest Report

Posted under Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Urban Schools

Earlier this week, we celebrated Alabama’s entry into the world of charters even as we mourned the death of the first stab at an ESA program here in Colorado. We can’t leave the school choice balance teetering between good and sad, though, so today I want to take a look at some awesome new research on urban charters schools from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO.

Some of you will remember that my education policy friend Ross Izard wrote an op-ed last year praising Colorado’s charter sector for its continued progress and efficiency. That op-ed discussed previous reports from CREDO, including a 2009 national report that was particularly damning—and that was used repeatedly in the years that followed to hammer charters across the country. CREDO’s follow-up 2013 report on charters nationally found significant improvements, and its brand new 2015 report specifically on urban charter schools sees that trend continue. Continue Reading »

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March
19th 2015
NEA: Colorado Falls from 21st to 22nd in Per-Pupil Spending – Sound the Alarms!

Posted under Education Politics & Research & School Finance & Teachers

The bad news? Today is one of those days when little Eddie is going to be a broken record. The good news? This will be brief and to the point.

Go back in your mind all the way to last March, a whole year ago. The National Education Association — the nation’s largest teachers union — released its annual statistical dump known as Rankings & Estimates. The big news? Colorado ranked 21st in per-pupil spending during the 2012-13 school year.

In recent months, this information has provided a great antidote to attempted spooks and various forms of number-fudging. With this year’s new release of Rankings & Estimates, guess where Colorado stands? Continue Reading »

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