Archive for the 'School Accountability' Category

January
16th 2014
I’ll Stick My Toe into the Fordham-Cato School Choice Argument… for Five Minutes

Posted under Grades and Standards & Just For Fun & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Tax Credits

There’s nothing quite like taking a step into no man’s land, wandering into an argument between friends. A lot of us are on the school choice bandwagon together, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone has the same views of what a program should look like. The Fordham Institute this week unveiled its “public accountability and private-school choice” toolkit. It called for administering state tests to all voucher / scholarship recipients, and reporting school-by-school test results if at least 10 kids participated.

It took very little time for the argument to begin: Continue Reading »

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January
3rd 2014
Can Schools Boost Brain Skills for Reading, Not Just Raise Test Scores?

Posted under Grades and Standards & learning & reading & Research & School Accountability & Suburban Schools

Thanks once again to the edublog linking queen Joanne Jacobs, a December Scientific American column by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman caught my attention. And it should yours, too.

The author unpacks a study of Boston students that found while some schools improved performance on standardized academic assessments, they didn’t really improve measures of cognitive ability. In other words, better schools boost scores on math and reading tests, but those students’ brain skills still are functioning about the same.

Kaufman begins the column by citing some of his own recent research that unsurprisingly shows “good standardized test takers also tend to have high cognitive ability.” I am curious to see more about how the two results mesh. As more schools increase test scores without registering an effect on brain skills, does the identified relationship or tendency fade? Continue Reading »

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December
10th 2013
EAGLE-Net Broadband Delays Test Patient Hopes for Digital Learning Policies

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance

The power and potential of blended learning stand out in several ways. It can give students more control over their education — like having a customized playlist — and enable them to advance at their own pace. It can expand the reach of effective teachers and allow them to focus time more efficiently on what they do best. It can foster more innovation to speed up the process of building effective learning systems. And it can do all that without requiring new revenue.

Some of the greatest potential to help students lies in Colorado’s rural areas, and some districts have begun to embrace the possibilities. But in order to make blended learning work, they have to access digital technology in the form of high-speed Internet access. Hence, an eye-catching new story by Andy Vuong in the Denver Post (H/T Complete Colorado): Continue Reading »

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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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