Archive for the 'Urban Schools' Category

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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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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July
17th 2015
Friday Decisions: A Furry Friend, Sneak-onomics, and Extra Ice Cream!

Posted under Accountability & Denver & Elementary School & Just For Fun & Middle School & Sciences & Social Studies & Suburban Schools & Testing & Urban Schools

Yesterday the Colorado Department of Education released CMAS science and social studies test results. It’s only the second year the test has been given (science to 5th and 8th graders, social studies to 4th and 7th graders), so you can’t read too much into the trend lines.

The bottom line is that scores are up slightly (except for 8th grade science), but overall Colorado students are not on track in these areas. Colorado Public Radio also notes that, as in other tested areas, there is a sizable achievement gap among ethnic groups.

The overall trend of small gains in 3 of the 4 subject areas generally seems to hold locally in places like Denver, Boulder, Loveland, and Grand Junction. (Thanks to Chalkbeat, you can search scores for individual districts and schools.)

But that’s all just prelude to (finally!) Friday fun time. Continue Reading »

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July
2nd 2015
New Arrupe Jesuit Profile Highlights the Power of Educational Freedom

Posted under Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

It’s almost time for July 4th! We’re only hours away from barbeques, fireworks, and copious amounts of flag waving. Before we get to that stuff, though, let’s take a few minutes to talk about a different kind freedom: The kind that empowers kids without means to access the high-quality educational options they need to build better futures.

Although states around the country have been busy adopting school choice programs, Colorado has been stubbornly slow to expand options for its students. This frustrating fact is highlighted by the recent Douglas County voucher decision. While the Dougco decision has teed up an incredibly important fight over discriminatory Blaine Amendments around the country, that fight will take time. And time is something that many low-income or at-risk kids do not have on their side.

Recognizing this fact, some private schools are finding ways give low-income kids the freedom to chart their own courses even in the absence of educational choice policy. My Independence Institute policy friend Ross Izard recently published a profile of Arrupe Jesuit High School, a private Catholic high school in Denver that uses an innovative model to serve exclusively low-income kids, the overwhelming majority of whom are ethnic minorities. Continue Reading »

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May
4th 2015
Broad Brush “Limited Impact” Claim Vindicates Progress of Prop 104

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & School Board & Teachers & Transparency & Union & Urban Schools

Last week I posted a case study from the Thompson School District, an example of how NOT to negotiate an employee agreement. Just because the popularly enacted Prop 104 has opened the door on these negotiations doesn’t guarantee that they will be conducted effectively, at least not on the first try.

That isn’t to say open negotiations have little or no impact. Unless you’re writing a Friday headline for Chalkbeat Colorado Rise and Shine:

Continue Reading »

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April
3rd 2015
Charters Off the Beaten Path: A Different Kind of Roadtrip

Posted under Rural Schools & School Choice & Urban Schools

This has been a good week. I got to write what I hope you thought was a funny April Fools’ Day post, and yesterday I had the pleasure of highlighting some exciting developments in what is quickly shaping up to be another year of school choice. The week before that, I talked about the awesome work urban charters are doing across the nation. But for all our talk of urban charters (which only makes sense given that most charters are in or around cities), we don’t often get to explore the world of rural charters.

“Explore” doesn’t necessarily have to mean what nerds like me usually think it means. Sure, numbers and studies are great, but there’s something to be said for getting out and physically exploring charter schools off the beaten path. Maybe that’s why I was so interested by an edu-story today highlighting a special kind of road trip by some folks in Pagosa Springs. 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
12th 2015
Myth-Buster Marcus Winters Blows Up Anti-Charter Talking Points… Again

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

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for longer than I’ve been alive, then most likely you’ve heard of the show MythBusters. As the name would imply, the show’s hosts are out to disprove some commonly held misperceptions.

What’s really cool is sometimes these guys get to crash things and blow up stuff to help prove their point! Did you know that the world of education policy has its own cast of myth-busters? Or at least it should. I propose putting Marcus Winters forward as one of the leading nominees.

Last summer I told you how a study by Winters dealt a serious blow to a prominent anti-charter myth in Jeffco. His report for the Center on Reinventing Public Education told a much different story than the myth that Denver charter schools build their success on counseling out special-needs students. Continue Reading »

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March
4th 2015
Give Me Serious Charter Policy Debate over Silly Anti-Charter Deception

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

When it comes to education policy, there are serious discussions and there are — ahem — less serious discussions. Recently, we’ve seen this truth play out regarding public charter schools.

First, and most interestingly, the serious discussion. Education Next hosted a point-counterpoint between the chairman and executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Boardvs. New Schools for New Orleans CEO Neerav Kingsland.

At issue: “How large a share of urban schools should be charters?”

Kingsland vouches for the success of New Orleans’ unprecedented all-charter approach. He would like to see a number of other cities transition to all-charter school districts in the coming years. The positive results achieved in The Big Easy at least give credence to his case.

Kingsland’s formula to make it happen: Continue Reading »

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