Archive for the 'School Accountability' Category

October
21st 2013
Even This Post Might Be Too Much Attention on Common Core Debate

Posted under Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Teachers

The reason I rarely write about Common Core is the same reason why I’m writing about it today. Huh, you say? America’s fourth most influential Edu-Scholar Eric Hanushek makes a persuasive case in U.S. News:

Policymakers and reform advocates alike have rallied around introducing a set of national content standards, suggesting that this will jump-start the stagnating achievement of U.S. students. As history clearly indicates, simply calling for students to know more is not the same as ensuring they will learn more.

Bottom line (read the whole article): Common Core standards are not going to move the needle on the important content and skills U.S. students learn. For every Massachusetts that performs fairly well with high standards, there’s a California that has high standards but struggles tremendously in its educational results. Continue Reading »

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August
2nd 2013
Can Colorado Reach Forefront of Student-Centered Digital Learning Policy?

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A little disappointed? Yes. Surprised? Not really. I’m talking about digital learning guru Michael Horn’s new Education Next breakdown of 2013 legislative policy changes affecting the world of online education. It’s a long read, but Horn essentially identifies three different trends:

  1. More course-level choice and freedom for students;
  2. More restrictions on full-time online learning programs; and
  3. More steps toward the flexibility needed to embrace competency-based (rather than seat time) learning.

Continue Reading »

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July
31st 2013
Report Begs Question: Why did Colo. SB 213 Neglect Performance-Based Funding?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & Research & School Accountability & School Finance

The list of substantive reforms ignored by backers of SB 213 and the billion-dollar statewide tax hike continues to grow. Today it’s the idea of Performance-Based Funding (PBF), promoted in a brief new Lexington Institute paper. Noting that Florida, Michigan, and Arizona have undertaken steps in this direction, the authors note:

What all these efforts have in common is the recognition that the current practice of funding schools based almost exclusively on attendance taken several times a year is a fundamentally flawed model that misaligns incentives, rewards sub-par performance, and diminishes the imperative for significant and sustained educational outcomes.

So why didn’t the School Finance Partnership that led to SB 213 and the tax hike take on a truly innovative, even transformational, idea like this one? Continue Reading »

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July
29th 2013
School Choice Enhances Results, Expands Understanding of “Public Education”

Posted under Innovation and Reform & learning & Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

Okay, all you education transformers out there, I’ve got something for you to take to heart. Seriously, here’s your opportunity to pay attention, ponder, process, and personalize. If someone asked you to define or explain what public education is, what would you say?

For that purpose, I urge you to read a great new essay piece by James Shuls of the Show-Me Institute titled “Redefining Public Education.” Though the idea isn’t original with Shuls by any means, his piece deserves a few minutes of your time. The execution is very good, because it’s rooted in a compelling true story of a young man from St. Louis named Korey Stewart-Glaze: Continue Reading »

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April
30th 2013
Ex-Education Secretary William Bennett Visits Dougco, “Very Impressed”

Posted under Federal Government & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Parents & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Colorado’s non-union teacher group PACE today posted some more of the results from their recent member survey. Roughly 3 out of every 4 expressed support for “a pathway for career advancement outside of the traditional, seniority-based salary schedule,” often known as a career ladder. One of their members hit the nail on the head:

A high school math teacher in Harrison School District commented, “I think a seniority-based salary schedule is a horrible way to pay teachers and should be eliminated, not tweaked.

A very interesting (and not terribly surprising) observation coming from a school district that has pioneered true pay-for-performance and as of a year ago showed tremendous signs of front-line support.

But even more noteworthy, there is a Colorado district that is pushing change even further. Interestingly, given yesterday’s topic here, it came from the lips of former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. William J. Bennett, who spoke Friday at a Fordham Institute event on “A Nation at Risk: 30 Years Later”: Continue Reading »

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March
18th 2013
Transparency in DougCo School District: Toward a Happy Ending to the Story

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & PPC & School Accountability & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Update, 3/25: Happy endings don’t usually come so quickly. But just one week later, Dougco has made and received confirmation on a number of online transparency improvements to now receive an A-minus grade.

If you’ve followed little old Eddie for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of the following two things: open government and the education reform pioneers on the Douglas County school board. So needless to say, when I learned that the group Sunshine Review gave DougCo a ‘D’ letter grade for transparency, I did a double-take. Huh?

After all, this was the first school district in Colorado to open and advertise all its union negotiations so the public could look on. They showed that honest discussions about important but sometimes controversial policies can be held in the light of day without causing any harm or great expense. Sunshine Review didn’t seem to take that much into account.

Going back even further, before the law required them to do so, DougCo and Jefferson County were the two premiere leaders in creating a searchable online database of all expenditures. And if anything, it’s even better and more user-friendly today. Not to mention all the other financial information they’ve appropriately posted online. DougCo also has gone above and beyond with a series of videos to explain the budget and budget process. Shouldn’t that be given more weight?

So what in the Sunshine Review formula downgraded DougCo so badly? Union leaders and other reform opponents hang their hat on a complaint the extra amount of time the Board has to spend behind closed doors in executive session dealing with legal matters. One Board member, Craig Richardson, explained the situation aptly: “I particularly find difficult to swallow the concept that parties can sue and then complain about the amount of time we spend talking to our lawyers.” Continue Reading »

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January
30th 2013
On This Measure of Charter School Laws, Colorado Ranks 4th… Not Bad

Posted under Parents & PPC & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice

Keep those education policy grades a-rollin’ in! Not even two weeks since I shared with you that the Center for Education Reform placed Colorado 10th nationally for the strength of its charter school law, here comes another rating. The ever-growing National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) has released its fourth annual ranking of state charter laws.

So what’s different? (Commence Wonk Speak) NAPCS incorporates more factors into its rating system, including an added focus on issues of ensuring quality control. In addition to measuring access to multiple authorizers, levels of school-based autonomy, and equitable funding, NAPCS also gives credence to transparent approval processes, performance-based contracting, and clear guidance regarding student enrollment and recruitment procedures. (End Wonk Speak)

The formula helps Colorado to rank 4th overall, earning 70 percent of the possible points. Remarkably, while the competition is growing from other states improving their policies, Colorado still managed to pick up significant points and gain three spots since last year: Continue Reading »

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January
8th 2013
Looming Legislative Session Evokes More Heartburn than Hope for K-12 Issues

Posted under Denver & Early Childhood & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & PPC & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

Run for cover, and hold onto your wallets! Tomorrow marks the beginning of the first session of the 69th Colorado General Assembly. At first, I thought about just re-posting last year’s pre-session warning. Yet while there may be some similarities between 2012 and 2013, it would end up being a lazy thing to do, and less than accurate to boot.

At the risk of being repetitive, though, I first will point readers to the legislative preview by Ed News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl. He notes that:

The question of school finance is expected to overshadow all other education issues. Democratic Sens. Mike Johnston of Denver and Rollie Heath of Boulder are crafting a plan that would significantly overhaul the school funding formula – contingent on subsequent voter approval of new revenues for schools.

A big looming question then is just how significant the proposed school finance changes will be. If they’re not pushing toward real student-centered backpack funding — as Senator Johnston and others discussed last month at a packed Capitol event — then selling voters on a tax hike will become that much more difficult. While the statehouse shouldn’t be as consumed with K-12 education issues last year, Engdahl does point out some you can expect to see on the docket, some of which could be good: Continue Reading »

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January
7th 2013
Top 10? Yes, But ‘C’ for Colorado on Students First Policy Report Card

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Parents & PPC & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Accountability & School Finance & Teachers

Not too long ago I was telling you about new information out grading Colorado schools’ performance. But how is Colorado doing in applying policies that promote an excellent, equitable and efficient education system? Today the national group Students First released its first-ever State Policy Report Cards.

How did Colorado do? Depends how you look at it. When you look at our ranking among the states, it makes you feel pretty good: Continue Reading »

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October
2nd 2012
Won’t Back Down Movie Makes Cool Kids of Education Reformers Like Me

Posted under Independence Institute & Parents & PPC & School Accountability & School Board & School Choice & Teachers & Urban Schools

Last week I was excited to tell you about the special screening and premiere of the new education reform film Won’t Back Down, that has created quite a stir of teachers union protests. (They should protest, writes National Review‘s Rich Lowry, noting “the calculation of their self-interest was exactly right.”)

Not here in Colorado, though, at least as two of my Education Policy Center friends tell me. They went to Thursday screenings in two different locations. One of them, Ben DeGrow, wrote a review of the film for Ed News Colorado. For some reason, I don’t think he’ll mind if I quote quite liberally from his piece titled “Movie’s vital message: ‘We will not wait!’”: Continue Reading »

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