Virtual School Meanderings

February 18, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Charter schools in Kentucky could be delayed

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Education Week reported that charter schools, recently made legal in the state, could be delayed in Kentucky. “Charter schools are still legal in Kentucky and people can apply to open them. But those applications must include a five-year budget, something Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said would be ‘nearly impossible to do without knowing how the General Assembly intends education funds to flow to charter schools.’”

What Works in Teacher Induction? The New Teacher Center Releases Its Standards

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Madeline Will reports on new standards released by the New Teacher Center. “The newly released program standards are meant to be an aspirational framework for program design, implementation, and evaluation for district educators, researchers, and policy makers alike. Some key points: Teachers need mentorship and training for the first two or three years of their career. Mentors need continuing access to ongoing professional learning, just like new teachers do. Formative assessments should guide both the mentor and the development of the new teacher. And induction programs should have a focus on equity for all students.”

Save Chicago’s Public Schools

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Tamar Manasseh looks at a proposal in Chicago to close four more public high schools with declining enrollment. “The affected children, who are overwhelmingly black and poor, would go to public schools out of the neighborhood or be encouraged to attend one of the charter schools being pushed by business and religious interests. The schools would close over three years, and in their place, the city plans to build an $85 million high school in Englewood. But the school won’t be up and running until September 2019 at the earliest — more than a full school year from now.”

The Network Effect: Harnessing the Power of Teacher Leadership Networks to Sustain Progress in Tennessee

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Chiefs for Change released a new report on teacher leadership in Tennessee. “This brief, the second in a series of papers on innovative and impactful teacher leadership initiatives in Chiefs for Change member states, provides an inside look at steps successful Chiefs for Change members took in revolutionizing the opportunities available for educators in their state, illustrates this work via a continuum for meaningful teacher leader engagement, and outlines three objectives of teacher leadership for state Chiefs to consider.”

Education Savings Accounts for Dummies

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Peter Greene discusses Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which have been proposed as a ‘new’ policy tool to further privatize public education across the U.S. “ESAs are a terrible idea unless your goal is to further cripple public education, to subsidize the wealthy (with tax dollars collected from everyone else), or to dump the taxpayer’s dollars into a deep, dark hole. But they are one of the current ed reform legislative policy darlings, so keep your eyes peeled, ask the right questions, and oppose them when they roll into your state capital.”

We parsed SCALA’s Bellwether report so you don’t have to

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Caitlin Bowling writes about a report commissioned by a group of business, nonprofit, and religious to remake school governance in Jefferson County, Kentucky. “The report notes that better models could include: the mayor or governor appointing a chancellor who leads the school district and is advised by a community board, or the mayor and governor appoint a board that is advised by community stakeholders and authorizes semi-autonomous schools, which are overseen by volunteer school boards. Shifting from an elected board to an appointed or advisory board is ‘done to depoliticize school oversight and create more functional and unified boards’ but can cause backlash, according to the report.”

Performance pay can bring stronger teachers into the classroom

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Michael Hartney discusses the recent research literature on teacher pay-for-performance. “Unfortunately—though not always—these debates about the promise or peril of implementing teacher PFP fail to consider whether performance incentives might have powerful selection or ‘sorting’ effects on the composition of the future education workforce. To that end, our findings offer some of the first evidence that, across a national sample of school districts, the adoption of PFP was accompanied by a tangible increase in the ability of school leaders to hire more academically accomplished teachers.”

February 12, 2018

Brookings Report Tackles Important Issue Of School And Housing Segregation, Misses Opportunity For Deeper Consideration

Another perspective on this research brief.

February 8, 2018

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley(804)
Daniel J. Quinn, (517)

Brookings report tackles important issue of school and housing segregation, misses opportunity for deeper consideration

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 8, 2018) — A recent report from the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution attempted to explore school and racial segregation. The report suggested that racially concentrated schools were the result of residential segregation and that charter schools could interrupt this school-housing relationship found among public school districts. However, an academic review by two prominent scholars finds the report falls short and its usefulness for research and policymaking is limited.

The report, Balancing Act: Schools, Neighborhoods, and Racial Imbalance, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Erica Frankenberg, Penn State University. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC)at the University of Colorado Boulder, is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Siegel-Hawley and Frankenberg study the impact of race and poverty on schools across the U.S.

Despite claiming that charters held the possibility to disrupt school segregation, the report found charters to be, on average, more racially imbalanced than traditional public schools.

In their review, Siegel-Hawley and Frankenberg call into question the report’s shaky grounding in the research, law, and methods. The reviewers found fault with the report’s methodological decisions, which undermined the usefulness of the report and its accompanying database.

The reviewers write, “Many of the report’s methodological choices were not justified by the research literature, raising serious questions about the validity of the findings and conclusions.”

Siegel-Hawley and Frankenberg say the report deserves some credit for tackling the nexus between school and housing segregation, but find the report presents a missed opportunity for deeper consideration.

Find the review on the GLC website:

Find the original report on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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February 11, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Pensions Under Pressure: Charter innovation in teacher retirement benefits

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Michael Podgursky, Susan Aud Pendergrass, and Kevin Hesla discuss teacher pensions and charter schools. “Public school districts are facing twin challenges: maintaining a labor supply of qualified teachers while shoring up the deteriorating system that compensates them. As promised payouts grow, this could have a dramatic impact on what schools can achieve in the classroom going forward.”

Here’s How States Are Using Title II Funds to Strengthen the Teaching Profession

Posted: 04 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Madeline Will outlines a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) that investigated how states plan to implement funds under Title II, Part A. “There are some promising initiatives, the report says. But these initiatives could be at risk as Congress deliberates on a final 2018 budget deal, which could come as early as this week. President Donald Trump’s budget proposal and the House funding bill eliminated the $2 billion Title II program, while the Senate appropriations bill preserved it.”

Koch family to open a new kind of private school: No teachers, no homework, no grades

Posted: 03 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Suzanne Perez Tobias reports on a new funded project from the Koch family. The project is a privately funded school on the campus of Wichita State University that will charge tuition. “The school, called ‘Wonder,’ is scheduled to open for preschool and elementary-age children in September. Plans call for middle- and high-school programs to be phased in over time.”

Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform

Posted: 01 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

Rucker Johnson and Sean Tanner write about the implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF revolutionized school finance in California: “When LCFF is fully funded (likely in the next fiscal year), California will have increased its K-12 commitment by $18 billion… In this study, researchers Rucker C. Johnson, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, and LPI Senior Researcher Sean Tanner found LCFF-induced increases in district revenue has a ‘strongly significant’ impact on average high school graduation rates for all students in the state.  For example, a $1,000 increase in district per-pupil revenue from the state for grades 10–12 leads to a 5.3 percentage-point increase in high school graduation rates, on average, among all students. Authors found similar graduation-rate improvement for students from low-income families and by race/ethnicity: a $1,000 increase in per-pupil revenue from the state causes a 6.1 percentage-point increase for children from low-income families, 5.3 percentage-point increase for Black children, 4.2 percentage-point increase for non-Hispanic White children, and a 4.5 percentage-point increase for Hispanic children.”

Education in America: What’s the matter with Oklahoma?

Posted: 29 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

The Economist looked at Oklahoma’s ongoing school financial crisis. “The roots of the fiasco are not hard to determine. As in Oklahoma’s northern neighbor, Kansas, deep tax cuts have wrecked the state’s finances… Ms Fallin, the state governor, has called for a $5,000 pay rise for teachers and has endorsed some modest tax increases ahead of the next legislative session. Whether she can muster enough support to cross the three-quarters threshold the state constitution requires for a tax increase is unclear; recent attempts have fallen just short. Meanwhile some Republicans, intent on cutting more spending, have an eye on the state’s Medicaid program.”

February 4, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

What Do School Vouchers Have to Do With Protecting Bullied Students?

Posted: 31 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Tim Walker looks at school vouchers and voucher-like programs, such as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Walker discusses a recent policy brief on ESAs produced by Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos for the National Education Policy Center. “Under an ESA [program], a state’s per-pupil education funding is put into an account that parents can tap into to pay for approved education expenses, including private school tuition. Therein lies the appeal – voucher advocates see ESAs as an ‘end run’ around state constitutions that forbid the use of public funds for religious activities (i.e., private religious schooling).”

Community Schools: Building Home-School Partnerships to Support Student Success

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Ana Maier outlines efforts taking place in community schools in both Oakland, California and St. Paul, Minnesota. “The innovative family and community engagement strategies employed in Oakland and St. Paul show the potential for community schools to help build trust and partnership among parents, teachers, and students.”

The Daily 202: Koch network laying groundwork to fundamentally transform America’s education system

Posted: 29 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

James Hohmann reports on a meeting hosted by the Koch network to target massive financial investments in K-12 reforms. “Leaders of the network dreamed of disrupting the status quo, customizing learning and breaking the teacher unions. One initial priority is expanding educational saving accounts and developing technologies that would let parents pick and choose private classes or tutors for their kids the same way people shop on Amazon. They envision making it easy for families to join together to start their own ‘micro-schools’ as a new alternative to the public system.”

Did new evaluations and weaker tenure make fewer people want to become teachers? A new study says yes

Posted: 28 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Matt Barnum shares the results of a new study on the effects of recent high-stakes evaluation and tenure reforms. “The study looks back at a spate of laws prompted in part by the federal Race to the Top program. Between 2011 and 2016, the vast majority of states instituted stricter teacher evaluation rules tied to student test scores; a handful of states also eliminated or dramatically weakened teacher tenure.”

The Role of Principals in Reducing Teacher Turnover and the Shortage of Teachers

Posted: 28 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Ed Fuller, Andrew Pendola, and Michelle Young produced a policy brief that looked at teacher working conditions and the role of principals in reducing teacher turnover and the shortage of teachers. “The good news is improving the working conditions of teachers can reduce teacher turnover and the shortage of teachers.”

Teacher recruitment, retention, reward is aim of package of bills in Legislature

Posted: 27 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST

Kathleen Gray writes about a package of bills proposed in the Michigan Senate by Democrats that would provide incentives to teachers. “Teachers would be rewarded, recruited and revered under a 22-bill package introduced in the Michigan Senate last week. The bills would provide signing bonuses for new teachers, stipends for student teachers assigned to economically disadvantaged districts, incentives and scholarships for students to enter the teaching profession and student loan debt forgiveness.”

January 31, 2018

Measures Of Economic Disadvantage For Students Explored In New Policy Brief

Note this new research-based policy brief.

January 30, 2018

Michael Harwell, (612)
Daniel J. Quinn, (517)

Measures of economic disadvantage for students explored in new policy brief

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 30, 2018) — A new policy brief from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) examines the usefulness of common socioeconomic status (SES) measures in educational settings. Measures of SES have been linked to student achievement on high-stakes standardized tests. SES is generally associated with parental educational attainment, parental occupational status, and household family income. The measures are designed to take into account disparities and economic disadvantage facing students in schools.

Michael Harwell, University of Minnesota, authored the report for the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Funding for the brief was provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, an East Lansing non-profit research organization.

This topic is of interest to researchers, policy makers, and school leaders who seek to understand gaps in academic achievement due to economic disadvantages facing students. One of the more common measures is free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) eligibility, however, researchers generally agree that FRL is a poor measure of SES.

Since measures, such as FRL, can misclassify students and fail to validly assess financial resources, researchers continue to seek better measures of student disadvantage.

Harwell’s brief explores factors that can undermine SES measures and bias research and policy conclusions. He proposes changes that could promote deeper understanding and more effective use of measures of SES in research and policymaking.

Harwell recommends:

  1. A theory-grounded model of SES should be adopted to define this construct in ways consistent with the purpose of the research or policy application.
  2. Correlations between SES measures and outcomes should be examined to assess the usefulness of these measures as control variables in statistical analyses.
  3. Researchers and policymakers wishing to employ existing SES measures should consider a composite index of SES, perhaps in conjunction with common measures, or turn to alternative measures such as either students’ perception of their SES or poverty estimates at the district level. Those interested in developing new measures should use a theory-grounded SES model as a guide to help ensure new SES measures do in fact measure what they are intended to (i.e., show evidence of construct validity).
  4. The development of new SES measures guided by a theory-grounded model of SES requires assembling a multidisciplinary team with expertise in a substantive area of education (e.g., mathematics education) as well as expertise in psychometrics, statistics, and the SES literature.
  5. Eligibility for a free- or reduced-price lunch should not be used as a student-level SES measure, but aggregating this variable to reflect the percentage of students receiving subsidized meals produces a crude but useful index to compare the economic need of a school or district with other schools or districts.

Find the brief on the Great Lakes Center website:

You can also find the brief on the NEPC page:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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