Virtual School Meanderings

April 17, 2014

News from the NEPC: Co-location Report Says, ‘Trust Us,’ Instead of Showing Its Work

From Tuesday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Co-location Report Says, ‘Trust Us,’ Instead of Showing Its Work

Report omits statistical details and background research that could help readers fairly assess findings

Contact:

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Tina Trujillo, (510) 517-0874, Trujillo@berkeley.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/pbr5bev

BOULDER, CO (April 15, 2014) – A recent report argues that co-locating charter schools with traditional public schools doesn’t harm the achievement of the traditional public school students. But the report leaves out the necessary documentation by which its conclusions could be reasonably assessed, a new review released today explains.

Professor Tina Trujillo of the University of California-Berkeley School of Education, along with Marialena Rivera, a Berkeley doctoral candidate, reviewed the paper for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center. The NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Trujillo and Rivera reviewed The Effect of Co-locations on Student Achievement in NYC Public Schools, written earlier this year by Marcus Winters and published by the Manhattan Institute.

The Effect of Co-locations argues that its data analyses show no statistical impact on traditional public school student achievement in New York City resulting from co-locations of charter schools with traditional public schools. The underlying issue has garnered recent interest as a result of the election of Bill DeBlasio as New York City mayor and the resulting shift away from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education policies.

In their review, Trujillo and Rivera write that the Manhattan Institute report omits details about its analysis that would enable readers to evaluate the merits of its methods and its claims. Additionally, they write, the report does not examine existing related research or background information on co-locations. The reviewers also point out the report’s decision to reject any consideration of “important outcomes related to students’ socio-emotional development, safety, health, and broader academic experiences.”

As a consequence of its shortcomings, “The report ultimately serves more as a marketing tool for the continued growth of charter schools in New York City than as a carefully presented research study,” the reviewers conclude. It therefore offers neither policymakers nor educators adequate information to evaluate co-location’s impact on students’ educational experiences and outcomes.

Find the review by Tina Trujillo and Marialena Rivera on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-effect-
of-co-locations
FindThe Effect of Co-locations on Student Achievement in NYC Public Schools, by Marcus Winters, on the web at:
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/
cr_85.htm#.UzHYmmDxjH8
.
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
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and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

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For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

April 11, 2014

News from the NEPC: **Lots of Impact, Little Value

From Thursday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Lots of Impact,
Little Value

Report on teacher value-added impact
improperly ignores information contradicting its findings 

Contact: 

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Moshe Adler, (917) 453-4921, ma820@columbia.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/kpwt6ft

BOULDER, CO (April 10, 2014) – A highly influential but non-peer-reviewed report on teacher impact suffers from a series of errors in methodology and calculations, according to a new review published today.Professor Moshe Adler reviewed two recent reports released in September 2013 as National Bureau of Economic Research working papers. Dr. Adler’s review for the Think Twice think tank review project is published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Adler is an economist affiliated with both Columbia’s Urban Planning Department as well as the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College, SUNY, and the author of Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal (New Press, 2010).

Adler reviewed Measuring the Impact of Teachers, parts I and II, written by Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff. Part I is subtitled, Evaluating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates, and Part II, Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood. Taken together, the two-part report asserts that students whose teachers have higher value-added scores achieve greater economic success later in life.

The documents (as is standard for NBER working papers) were not peer-reviewed, yet as Adler points out, the research on which they were based has gained extraordinary attention – turning up as references in President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, in expert court testimony by the principal author (Chetty), in extensive news coverage, and even as a justification for Chetty’s 2012 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award.

That sort of credibility, Adler suggests in his review, may not be warranted – as demonstrated by a series of problems that he finds with the new two-part report and the research that undergirds it.

The report’s own results reveal that calculating teacher value-added is unreliable, Adler writes. Additionally, the report includes a result that contradicts the central claim; it relies on an erroneous calculation to support a favorable result; and it assumes that the miscalculated result holds across students’ lifetimes – “despite the authors’ own research indicating otherwise,” the reviewer notes.

Finally, Adler explains, the studies relied on by the report as support for its methodology don’t actually provide that support.

“Despite widespread references to this study in policy circles, the shortcomings and shaky extrapolations make this report misleading and unreliable for determining educational policy,” Adler concludes.

Find Moshe Adler’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-
measuring-impact-of-teachers
.
Find

Measuring the Impacts of Teachers, by Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff, on the web at: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19423 and http://www.nber.org/papers/w19424.The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.
If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

 For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

April 1, 2014

News From The NEPC: Pushing The Back Of The Envelope

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Pushing the Back of the Envelope

NYC school reform may have produced real economic benefits, but Sonecon report’s analysis is nothing more than fantasy

Contact: 

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net.

Sean P. Corcoran, (212) 992-9468, sean.corcoran@nyu.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/ntg9dmc

BOULDER, CO (March 31, 2014) – A recent report, crediting New York City education reforms during the mayoral terms of Michael Bloomberg with boosting the city’s economy by $74 billion, is so seriously flawed as to be useless for policymakers, according to a new review.

Sean P. Corcoran, associate professor of educational economics at New York University, reviewed The Economic Benefits of New York City’s Public School Reforms, 2002-2013 for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Professor Corcoran, who is on the faculty of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and is an affiliated faculty member of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy, is an economist who has conducted research on state and local funding of public schools, the economics of school choice, and human capital in the teaching profession.

The report under review was produced by Robert J. Shapiro of Sonecon, Inc., a Washington, D.C., economic advisory firm, and Kevin A. Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. It was published by Sonecon.

The Sonecon paper considers the overall effect of a range of school reforms implemented under Mayor Michael Bloomberg – including centralizing school governance while increasing both financial autonomy and accountability for individual school leaders, raising teacher salaries, standardizing curriculum, tying school funding to student need, and aggressively expanding school choice, including opening more than 160 charter schools. The paper attributes to those reforms an aggregate impact of more than $74 billion on earnings (attributed primarily to students graduating during the period of the reforms who might not have otherwise) and on property values.

“While such estimates are always an exercise in some level of speculation, this report relies on highly inappropriate assumptions to reach its conclusions,” Corcoran writes. “Specifically, it attributes all gains in high school completion and college enrollment to the reforms, applies national statistics on earnings and college completion to the marginal graduate in NYC, and extrapolates cross-sectional associations between graduation rates and home prices at the zip code level as the causal effect of higher graduation rates.”

For example, breaking down the report’s math, Corcoran finds that the estimated impact of the Bloomberg-era reforms on property values is equivalent to “two-thirds of the entire increase in residential property values between 2007 and 2013.”

The Bloomberg-era reforms were also preceded by a landmark court ruling in the case Campaign for Fiscal Equity, et al. v State of New York (719 N.Y.S.2d 475), which Corcoran notes “helped drive a large increase in state resources for the City’s schools.” Yet that case is not mentioned in the Sonecon report.

Corcoran writes that many New York City public school students did experience “real educational and economic gains” during the Bloomberg reform era, something that has been documented in other, much more carefully conducted research. But the “back of the envelope” estimates that the Sonecon report makes, he concludes, “are pure fantasy.”

Find Sean Corcoran’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-economic-
benefits-NYC
Find

The Economic Benefits of New York City’s Public School Reforms, 2002-2013, by Robert J. Shapiro and Kevin A. Hasset, on the web at:
http://www.sonecon.com/docs/
studies/Report_on_Economic_
Benefits_of_NYC_Educational_
Reforms-Shapiro-Hassett-
Final-December2013.pdf
.
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

March 24, 2014

Responding To K12, Inc. – Since They Refuse to Approve Dissenting Comment

nepcAbout a month ago, the National Education Policy Center released its second annual Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence.  As one would expect, the neo-liberals were quick to respond to what they described as a report published by “an organization largely funded by the nation’s most powerful teachers’ unions” or the “annual plea to block progress.”  As one of the authors of the this report, I felt that it was important to respond to any factual inaccuracies that I saw in these responses.

The first was an entry entitled Zip Code Boundaries for Online Learning Defeat the Purpose that Tom Vander Ark posted.  To his credit, Tom approved the comment that I left on his blog and even responded once, but not to my follow-up comment (I guess it is difficult to argue against the facts).

K12incThe second two that I have seen have been posted by the good folks at K12, Inc. (see Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 1 and Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 2).  Like I did with the entry on the GettingSmart blog, I decided to post a response to the first K-12, Inc entry and when I got the chance following SITE I would respond to the second entry.  However, unlike Tom, it appears that Jeff Kwitowski and his group don’t like to engage in discussion and don’t want anything but positive comments on their blog.  After almost two weeks, and some prodding on Twitter, K12, Inc. have yet to approve my comment – so I have posted it below.

- * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * -

Mary and Jeff, I’m glad that you decided to engage in a dialogue about the NEPC report that I was one of the co-authors of.  It is unfortunate that you decided to respond in such a biased and defensive manner and misrepresent much or what was written. I know this to be true of sections that I was responsible for and thus know well.

For example, I find it interesting that you claim the report “highlight[s] old stories that have been refuted, dismissed or previously addressed.”  The second item in that sentence that you linked to was included in my Research section. It involved a shareholder lawsuit again K12 Inc that was indeed dismissed as part of a settlement agreement.

I find your negative characterization of what I wrote in this section particularly interesting.  My reference to the item follows two paragraphs where I outline a series of state audits and investigative journalist reports from a variety of states that have found full-time online schools to have had significant issues with student performance and retention.  Then I make the comment that “Issues related to poor student performance even prompted a class action lawsuit by shareholders against one for-profit, online charter provider for inflating student results.”  That was the only reference.  I did not say that the lawsuit was well-founded or supported, just that investors had enough concern about the student performance they were seeing in these state reports and news items to collectively come together and publicly challenge the company in a court of law.  Your linking to a K12, Inc. press release does support the claim that K12 provided “132,355 documents comprising 1,032,725 pages,” but it doesn’t refute the fact that your investors were concerned enough about student performance to file the lawsuit in the first place.  Moreover, as the press release itself states, the dismissal was connected to a larger settlement involving the payment of $6.75 million to plaintiffs. (The settlement was structured so that the payment was connected to the dismissal of claims related to K12′s problematic disclosure of student enrollment and retention data at K12-managed schools, and K12 Inc denied any wrongdoing.)

I’ll leave it to my co-authors to address any issues that you have raised from their sections of the report.  But I do have to say that I find the dismissive overall nature of this entry to be disappointing.  I can tell you that for myself, my role was to examine the research and what the research into K-12 online learning – and in particular full-time online schooling – tells us.  It is not difficult to pull isolated success stories from individual students, parents, and teachers (such as those that you linked to as a part of your final couple of sentences).  In much the same way I could highlight this negative story of a former K12, Inc. teacher (see http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/01/15_months_in_virtual_charter_h.html).  But this may be as much an isolated example as the success stories that you choose to highlight.  What we need to do is to use what we know from the research, as opposed to isolated examples, to guide policy and regulation in this sector.  And, to date, the research has not been favorable towards full-time, state-wide, online learning programs.

March 21, 2014

News from the NEPC: “Colorblindness” Harms Our Increasingly Diverse Public Schools and Nation

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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“Colorblindness” Harms Our Increasingly Diverse Public Schools
and Nation

How current education policies ignore racial disparities that contribute to the “achievement gap” and fail to support the vibrant, diverse public schools more parents demand

Contact:

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Amy Stuart Wells, (212) 678-4042, asw86@columbia.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/ot2xyt7 

BOULDER, CO (March 20, 2014) – Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the public school population will be less than 50 percent white, non-Hispanic for the first time in our nation’s history by this coming fall. In response to this significant milestone amid the demographic changes sweeping this country, the National Education Policy Center is releasing a new evidence-based policy brief presenting serious concerns about the capacity of the current educational policy agenda to prepare children for the 21st century.

The brief’s ground-breaking analysis concludes that education reforms that ignore racial differences and disparities (so-called race-neutral or “colorblind” education reforms) have exacerbated racial inequalities in student access to high-quality schooling. Furthermore, these reforms, which have been dominant over the past 30 years, have handicapped a whole generation of American children growing up in an increasingly racially diverse society and global economy.

After careful examination of relevant research, scholar Amy Stuart Wells of Columbia University concludes that the most popular education policies of the last 30 years – namely school choice policies and strict accountability systems – rarely mention race, diversity, or the dramatic racial/ethnic demographic shifts taking place in the public school population. As a result, she argues, these policies advance an ineffective “colorblind” approach to educational reform that ignores stark racial inequality when implementing policies and then bemoans vivid racial inequalities in educational outcomes.

Meanwhile, these ostensibly colorblind policies fail to support the multiple “educational benefits” of diverse universities, schools and classrooms that the U.S. Supreme Court has found to be important, compelling governmental interest and beneficial in preparing the nation’s youth for the 21st century. Such benefits include lessening stereotypes while supporting better-informed class discussions, greater cross-racial understanding and preparation to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. At the same time, a growing number of parents are seeking such diverse and dynamic educational settings for their children. So why are policy makers so blind to the needs and demands of an increasingly racially, ethnically and culturally diverse population?

Wells presents her analysis in Seeing Past the “Colorblind” Myth of Education Policy: Why Policymakers Should Address Racial/Ethnic Inequality and Support Culturally Diverse Schools, published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

She describes “mounting evidence to suggest that so-called ‘colorblind’ accountability and school choice policies, premised on narrow definitions of school quality and absent interventions to support diversity, exacerbate racial and social class segregation and inequality.”

By contrast, in the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s and 1970s, when several race-conscious education policies, including affirmative action and school desegregation, were implemented that directly addressed racial inequality, Wells notes. That same period “coincided with the largest reductions in the black-white achievement gap in the nation’s history,” she observes.

The reality, Wells writes, is that educational inequalities must be proactively addressed with a new set of 21st century policies that embrace diversity and support diverse schools. Moreover, in perpetuating segregation of all kinds, these policies “are also at odds with a multi-racial and ethnic society in which a growing number of parents and educators see the potential educational benefits of paying attention to diversity and difference as a pedagogical tool.” Racial achievement gaps and a pro-active agenda for embracing our demographic destiny, she contends, can only be closed “if policymakers are not blind to the role that race plays in our educational system.”

Wells offers a series of recommendations that address policies, practices and conditions that perpetuate segregation and inequality while simultaneously tapping into the changing racial attitudes of Americans and the educational benefits all students can accrue in schools and classrooms that are diverse.

Such a vision of the positive aspects of diversity will only progress, Wells argues, in a context in which people in power admit that they and their constituents can indeed see color. She notes that in opposition to a colorblind rationale, seeing is believing in the potential of the most racially and ethnically diverse democracy in the world.

Wells is a professor of Sociology and Education and the Director of the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE) at Teachers College, Columbia University. Recently elected as a member of the National Academy of Education, Wells is an expert on racial segregation and inequality within public education. Her forthcoming report on the changing racial make up of the suburbs and their separate and unequal public schools is forthcoming in May, 2014.

Find Amy Stuart Wells’s report, Seeing Past the “Colorblind” Myth of Education Policy: Why Policymakers Should Address Racial/Ethnic Inequality and Support Culturally Diverse Schools, on the web at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/
publication/seeing-past-the-colorblind-myth

This policy brief was made possible in part by funding from the Ford Foundation.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/. For more information on the Ford Foundation-funded project, called the Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Learning (IDEAL), please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/ideal.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

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For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

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