Archive for the 'Research' Category

February
26th 2015
Reading New ETS Report on Millennials Not Likely to Cheer You Up

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A few weeks ago I raised the question: Should I get my hopes up about Colorado course choice again? Today, it seems more appropriate to ask whether I should get my hopes up at all.

Yeah, you might think that sounds kind of depressing. But dare I say you haven’t yet had the chance to drink deep the dose of melancholy that flows through Robert Pondiscio’s new Flypaper post “America’s Millennials: Overeducated and Underprepared.” To his credit, he tries to soften the blow with some lighthearted old sports announcer allusion, but the damage cannot be escaped.

What’s the big downer? Pondiscio points readers like you and me to a new Educational Testing Service (ETS) report America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future. The bottom line? While American Millennials are on track to reach the highest level of educational attainment EVER, they are less literate and numerate than both prior U.S. generations and to their international peers. There are also apparent implications about growing inequality in skills between the privileged and the less privileged.

Yikes! I feel Pondiscio’s pain. Even though trailing behind the Millennials in vaguely defined Generation Z, my fellow kids and I will reap some of the consequences. So yes, I do care. Continue Reading »

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February
6th 2015
Overcoming the Gloom, Focusing on the Sunshine of #SchoolChoice

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents & Research & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Well, the Brookings Institution this week released its latest edition of the Education Choice and Competition Index. Might I add the acronym ECCI (ecky?), awash in a sea of edu-acronyms through which yours truly has to doggy paddle day after day, is just a bit too much fun to say. And say. And say again. (Sorry, I’m getting a dirty stare from my Education Policy Center friends.)

Back to the point. I thought about writing a whole new blog post about the scoring system that strangely underrates Douglas County, arguably the most choice-friendly school district in America. Instead, I’m just going to send you back to last year’s soapbox on the same topic. Deja vu all over again, to quote a famous American.

The only difference is that this year Dougco’s C-plus was good enough for a 13th place tie with Pinellas County (Florida), San Francisco Unified, and next-door neighbor Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek?, you say. Yes, just go back and read last year’s edition. But it doesn’t all have to be naysaying and gloom. It’s Friday, so why not a video? Continue Reading »

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February
2nd 2015
Tom Coyne’s Smart Jeffco Whistle Bomb

Posted under Education Politics & Research & School Board & Teachers & Union

Every now and then, an op-ed drops from the sky like one of those whistle bombs in the movies. The resulting explosion gets folks all riled up, and usually leads to some highly entertaining (though not terribly productive) conversations. Today is one of those days, with a Denver Post op-ed that sees Jeffco’s Tom Coyne outlining one of Colorado education’s biggest issues: The difficulty of removing ineffective teachers from the classroom.

Coyne smartly argues that despite spending enormous amounts of money, Colorado districts haven’t been able to achieve their academic goals. Coyne quantifies these shortcomings in Jeffco at some length using some pretty convincing data. As he puts it:

As taxpayers, we spend an enormous amount of money each year to achieve these goals. For example, based on the most recent Colorado Department of Education data, in the 2012-13 school year, total revenue per student in Jeffco was $10,420, or over $260,000 for every classroom of 25 students. In aggregate, total revenue in Denver’s most affluent suburban school districts (Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, Douglas County, Jefferson County, and Littleton) was about $2.5 billion in 2012-13.

Despite this spending, we aren’t coming close to reaching our student achievement goals. Continue Reading »

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January
29th 2015
Little Eddie’s Wet Blanket: What Rise in Teacher ACT-SAT Scores Tells Us

Posted under Research & Teachers & Testing

Earlier this week, we talked about a National Council on Teacher Quality report on teacher pension systems. Today, we get to talk about an article from the Hechinger Report regarding the “quality” of teachers entering the teaching force as measured by scores on the SAT and ACT. The article highlights some new research that supposedly refutes a 2010 McKinsey and Company report. The report argued that pulling in teachers with higher scores could help the U.S. achieve the same results as countries like Finland.

The good news is that new research apparently (some of it has not been officially published) shows new teachers’ college entrance exam scores have risen. Much larger numbers of teachers are coming from the top third of the SAT score distribution. And of course, this is fantastic. But the better news is that this means we can now safely say that we have  a great deal more confidence in teachers than TV reporters. The bad news is, so what?

Sadly, Eddie has to be the wet blanket today by pointing out that aside from providing an admittedly well-deserved feel-good piece for teachers (who are frequently and wrongly attacked for their profession) and poking at the 2010 Mckinsey report, the article doesn’t accomplish much. Yeah, that’s a little cranky of me. But as the article’s last paragraph points out, the increase in teacher “quality” hasn’t done much to improve outcomes for kids overall. Continue Reading »

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January
27th 2015
Colorado Gets Bad Grade on NCTQ’s Latest Pension Report

Posted under PERA & Research & School Finance

We’ve been talking a lot about policy recently. ESEA reauthorization issues, the hazards of requiring state testing in private schools, and some number crunchin’ on the subject of Colorado’s school funding. Then last Friday, you had a nice break. We spoke instead about School Choice Week, which is sort of like Christmas for eduwatchers like me. The successful (and fun) NCSW rally is over, but School Choice Week is still going. That means you should be out tweeting and Facebooking and doing everything you can to get the message out!

Before you go do that, though, let’s talk about just a little more policy. And to spice things up, let’s make it PERA policy. You’ll recall that we’ve talked before about the wild, shaggy policy beast that is the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association. Like many others, I pointed out some serious flaws with the state’s system, including unfunded liabilities and the unfair way the current system treats young or new public employees.

Well, those problems as they relate to teachers have once again been quantified by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The organization recently released its latest annual report on the health of teacher pension systems around the country. The report grades each state on the extent to which their teacher pension plan: Continue Reading »

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January
22nd 2015
Survey Highlights Importance of Keeping State Tests off Private Schools

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice

Update: I should have looked at this post by Matt Ladner first. He largely makes the same point, but with a little more zing at Louisiana.

Though not so much this time of year, my Dad and I like to play catch in the backyard occasionally. It sounds kind of cliched, but my Dad starts talking about how he used to do the same thing with his dad. Then almost inevitably, he starts talking about this old movie called “Field of Dreams.” (After finally seeing this movie, I’m a little scared about wandering into cornfields, but that’s a different story.)

Anyway, there’s this famous line in “Field of Dreams”, where the guy keeps hearing the voice say: “If you build it, they will come.” People in the movie thought he was kind of crazy, sort of like some readers of this blog think I’m crazy.

But at least I’m here to tell you that when it comes to establishing private school choice in a state or community — and is there any doubt I’m a huge fan? — there’s a lot more to the matter than just building the program and expecting people to come. Hence, I encourage you to take a look at the American Enterprise Institute’s new study called “Views from Private Schools.” Continue Reading »

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January
19th 2015
Colorado Looks Terrible at K-12 Spending (If You Fudge the Numbers)

Posted under Journalism & Research & School Finance & Transparency & Union

Perhaps you’ve heard the famous expression: “If it bleeds, it leads.” The K-12 education policy version of that axiom recently played out in a recent Colorado Public Radio (CPR) story under the heading of “Colorado per-pupil spending lags US average even more, report says.”

The report referenced comes from the Colorado School Finance Report (COSFP). Wait, where have I heard that before? Yes, the group whose spooky story doesn’t look so spooky after all when all the facts are laid out.

CPR (which in this case has nothing to do with an emergency life-saving technique) highlights a somewhat selective finding made by COSFP: Continue Reading »

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January
15th 2015
N’Orleans Research Highlights the Importance of Smart Choice Programs

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice

There are days when I think I’ve found the single, universal answer to all of my five-year-old problems. Like the time I used chewing gum to stick a loose sole back to my shoe. When I figured the same approach would also help me hang a cool Spiderman posted on my bedroom wall, I got in big trouble. Then there was the time I discovered that I could use the microwave to create nachos. It worked less spectacularly when I used it as a towel drier. I think I finally understand what my dad means when he pats me on the head and says, “Son, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet.”

As it turns out, the same thing holds true in education reform. I love school choice, but that doesn’t mean that just any choice policy will fix all of our woes automatically. It has to be done right, and one has to remember that no system (and especially not the current school system) is perfect.

Yet perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good when we’re talking about school choice programs. That’s why I get a little sad when I read stories like this one from KUNC about a big, fancy report from an outfit called The Education Research Alliance of New Orleans. Continue Reading »

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January
6th 2015
ESAs + Tax Credits = Grand Plan for Brighter School Choice Future

Posted under Courts & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice & State Legislature & Tax Credits

I spent the last couple days of 2014 looking back. With 2015 underway, it’s now time to peer directly into the future of possibilities.

Fortunately, I have really smart people like the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke and the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick to do all the heavy lifting for me. (Besides, it’s especially interesting to see these two D.C. think tanks team up together.) Their piece for National Affairs, titled “The Next Step in School Choice,” has me smiling optimistically at the possibilities.

Building off the late, great Milton Friedman’s vision of “partial vouchers,” the authors remind us of the inefficiencies of the current system and efforts to overcome them: Continue Reading »

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December
30th 2014
Eddie’s Top Posts of 2014: Part One

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & International & Just For Fun & Parents & Research & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

It’s hard to believe, but another long year of being age 5 is nearly past. January doesn’t seem that long ago, but here we are again, on the brink of new calendars and check-dating confusion. The year 2015 is just around the corner. But for now, it’s time for a little reflection on some of the big Colorado education stories I’ve mused on in 2014.

What better way to wander quickly down Recent Memory Lane than to hit the highlights? I’ve picked a favorite blog post of mine on Colorado education happenings from each month, to relive a year that took us through everything from the throes of a Common Core backlash and a dramatically contrived backlash against the Jeffco school board to the initial defeat of a union-pro tenure lawsuit and the long-awaited arrival of Dougco’s Choice Scholarship Program before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Because we’re in the middle of the holiday malaise and most of you already have short attention spans to begin with, I’ve decided to break it up into two parts. Tomorrow I’ll bring you home with the second half of 2014, but today join me as we meander from January through June: Continue Reading »

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