Virtual School Meanderings

June 22, 2017

Two Reports Promoting School Choice As A Means To Economically Develop Low-Income Neighborhoods Offer Little Guidance For Policymakers Or Practitioners, Review Finds

A report from the inbox on Monday.

June 20, 2017

Contact:
Jennifer Jellison Holme, (512) 475-9398, jholme@austin.utexas.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Two reports promoting school choice as a means to economically develop low-income neighborhoods offer little guidance for policymakers or practitioners, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 20, 2017) — Earlier this year two organizations, EdChoice and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), released reports suggesting that expanded school choice would promote economic development in economically distressed urban areas. The EdChoice report was a case study on the relocation decisions of families in an urban charter school, while the AEI report calls for a voucher-like program to spur economic development by luring higher income families into neighborhoods. An academic review of the reports finds that both reports make unsupported claims that rely on flawed logic and data.

The reports, Renewing our Cities: A Case Study on School Choice’s Role in Urban Renewal and CPR Scholarships: Using Private School Choice to Attack Concentrated Poverty, Crime, and Unemployment, were reviewed by Jennifer Jellison Holme and Emily Germain, University of Texas Austin, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

While the EdChoice report is an empirical paper, the reviewers find that the report fails to collect and analyze data related to the report’s causal assertion that economic development resulted from the establishment of a charter school. Meanwhile, Holme and Germain find that the AEI report’s claims are unsupported by existing research. That report only consists of a hypothetical proposal for a voucher program aimed at promoting economic development in high-poverty neighborhoods.

The reviewers also note that both reports use selective research evidence and overlook other studies that contradict their claims.

In their conclusion, Holme and Germain say: “the reports offer little guidance for policymakers seeking to reform urban schools, to support low-income students, or to uplift urban neighborhoods.”

Find the review on the GLC website:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the EdChoice report at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Renewing-Our-Cities-by-Bartley-Danielsen-David-Harrisson-and-Jing-Zhao.pdf

Find the AEI report at:
http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CPR-Scholarships.pdf

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, 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:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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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.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

June 19, 2017

Promising Report On Private Fundraising By Parent Groups Only Scratches The Surface Of Inequality, Review Finds

From the inbox late last week.

June 15, 2017

Contact:
Maia Cucchiara, (215) 204-2743, maia.cucchiara@temple.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Promising report on private fundraising by parent groups only scratches the surface of inequality, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 15, 2017) — A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) investigated private fundraising by parent groups, a source of inequality in education that receives scant attention. The report called on district leaders to take actions to address funding disparities between wealthy and low-income schools. An academic review of the report finds the report’s findings about the scope and beneficiaries of private fundraising are credible and important.

Maia Cucchiara, Temple University, reviewed the report, Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report found that while affluent students receive additional funding for additional resources from parent groups, low-income students (disproportionately children of color) must spend public dollars to obtain the same resources.

Cucchiara, in her review, finds the report to be worthwhile, but finds fault with the report’s focus on a small number of schools and districts. She adds that the report fails to provide school and community context, and the case study design limited the report’s overall relevance.

In her conclusion, Cucchiara says: “Many of the report’s recommendations are quite promising. However, it is important to remember that privately raised funds comprise only a minor part of education spending, and that the true sources of educational inequality are structural factors (such as differences in property values, insufficient state aid, and concentrated poverty), rather than the actions of individual parents.”

Find the review on the GLC website:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the original report on the web:
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/reports/2017/04/08/428484/hidden-money/

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, 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:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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June 18, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature…

Worth A Read


How generous private donations have created a tale of two pre-Ks in Detroit

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Erin Einhorn writes about two pre-kindergarten classrooms in Detroit. “The tale of two pre-Ks at the Carver STEM Academy is a problem well known in high-poverty school districts like Detroit that rely on the generosity of corporate and philanthropic donations to pick up where government resources leave off. Districts are happy to accept gifts from private donors – baseball tickets or classroom supplies or money for school renovations. But inevitably, there’s not enough to go around. Schools then have to choose.”

Here’s How 17 States Plan to Fix Struggling Schools

Posted: 13 Jun 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Andrew Ujifusa shares Education Week’s up-to-date review of state ESSA school improvement plans. Included in the blog are links to all 17 of the submitted state plans with commentary.

What to know before using school ratings tools from real estate companies

Posted: 13 Jun 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jack Schneider tackles how websites like Zillow and Trulia use GreatSchools.org ratings to evaluate schools and neighborhoods. “Americans traffic regularly in bad data, or use otherwise reasonable data in highly problematic ways. Newspapers print rank-ordered lists of schools organized by average test score, as if somehow that tells us about school quality. Parents share opinions via word-of-mouth, often without ever having visited a school. And the state, which bears particular responsibility in all of this, punishes and stigmatizes low-scoring schools despite compelling research questioning the wisdom of such policies. All of this could be ameliorated by better data systems.”

The Trust Gap: Understanding the Effects of Leadership Churn in School Districts

Posted: 11 Jun 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Kara Finnigan and Alan Daly write about how positive relationships in school can build reciprocal trust in schools, which is earned over time. “In this article, we argue that studying churn among central office leaders and school principals can improve retention of high-quality leaders who can better support teachers.”

Effective Teacher Professional Development

Posted: 04 Jun 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Linda Darling-Hammond, Maria E. Hyler, Madelyn Gardner published a recent report on effective teacher professional development for the Learning Policy Institute (LPI). “But what constitutes effective professional development? That’s the question we set out to answer in this report, which reviews 35 methodologically rigorous studies that have demonstrated a positive link between teacher professional development, teaching practices, and student outcomes. We identify key features of effective efforts and offer rich descriptions of these models to inform education leaders and policymakers seeking to leverage professional development to improve student learning.”

June 15, 2017

Report Provides Very Little Useful Guidance To Assist Low-Performing Schools, Review Finds

From Tuesday’s inbox…

June 13, 2017

Contact:
Gail L. Sunderman, (301) 405-3572, gsunderm@umd.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Report provides very little useful guidance to assist low-performing schools, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 13, 2017) — A recent report published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Cities sought to provide a “how-to-guide” for education reform advocates seeking to influence states’ use of Title I school improvement funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The report identified three prominent school reform models for school improvement, which remove communities’ democratic control over their schools. An academic review of the report finds that the report omits research that sheds light on the three models, and fails to take into account the opportunity costs of pursuing one set of policies over another.

Gail L. Sunderman, University of Maryland, reviewed the report, Leveraging ESSA to Support Quality-School Growth, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report pursued how city- and state-based stakeholders could influence states’ use of Title I school improvement funds. The three models recommended were: (1) expanding charter schools; (2) creating state turnaround districts; and (3) the use of state-led, district based solutions, which remove the powers of superintendents and school boards and vests that authority in a single individual.

Despite acknowledging the lack of research evidence on the effectiveness of the three recommended reforms, the report attempts to use a few exceptional cases to explain how advocates should influence state ESSA plans. In fact, the reviewer notes that report actually cites research showing the limitations of the suggested reform models.

Sunderman’s review finds the report’s use of research literature to be selective, with no peer-reviewed journal articles included. Many of the cited references were from other advocacy pieces.  Further, she finds the support of the effectiveness behind the three approaches is simply too limited to present them as promising school improvement strategies.

In her conclusion, she states: “Policymakers, educators and state education administrators should be wary of relying on this report — or Education Cities members who use it — as a source of information that can guide them as they develop their state improvement plans.”

Find the review on the GLC website:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the original report on the web:
https://edexcellence.net/publications/leveraging-essa-to-support-quality-school-growth

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, 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:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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June 12, 2017

New Policy Brief Highlights How Attempts To Achieve “Law And Order” Unfairly Target Students Of Color

From the inbox late last week.

June 8, 2017

Contact:
Janelle T. Scott, (510) 642-4740, jtscott@berkeley.edu
Michele S. Moses, (303) 492-8280, michele.moses@colorado.edu
Kara S. Finnigan, (585) 275-9942, kfinnigan@warner.rochester.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

New policy brief highlights how attempts to achieve “law and order” unfairly target students of color

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 6, 2017) — A new policy brief produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) explores how zero-tolerance discipline policies and other injustices inflict violence on students of color. The authors find that systematic violence and disparate school discipline policies hinder equitable, just, and safe schooling. The brief closely examines the relationship between violence and education policy, and provides an alternative set of state and local policies to create more just and safe environments in schools and communities.

The brief, Law and Order in School and Society: How Discipline and Policing Policies Harm Students of Color, and What We Can Do about It, was authored by Janelle Scott, Michele S. Moses, Kara S. Finnigan, Tina Trujillo, and Darrell D. Jackson. The brief was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the authors, school contexts and broader social policies set up conditions in which young people of color experience violence in regularized, systematic, and destructive ways. Using critical race theory as a lens, the authors raise awareness that these policies do not happen in isolation, but are part of larger social inequalities.

To address these challenges, the authors make the following recommendations to local leaders:

  1. School districts and municipalities should develop systematic communication and planning on polices on policing, housing, transportation, and racial disparity;
  2. Funds currently allocated to school resource officers should be redirected to improve student engagement and social connectivity, advanced and enrichment courses, socio-emotional learning curricula, and high-quality extracurricular activities;
  3. Invest in the creation or support of racially and socioeconomically integrated schools; and
  4. Integrate community-based policing programs with school-based restorative justice initiatives.

Recommended policy changes for state leaders include:

  1. Requiring teachers, school leaders, and all security staff to receive intensive preparation, trauma-informed professional development, and ongoing training on the causes of, and remedies for, racial inequality within and outside of school;
  2. Requiring the reporting of in-school and out-of- school suspensions and expulsions for traditional public schools and charter schools, disaggregated by race and gender;
  3. Developing multiple measures of schools’ effectiveness in place of narrowly focused test-based measures; and
  4. Creating teacher-police collaborative networks and invest in “grow your own” teacher preparation programs that help to develop, support, and retain teachers of color and teachers committed to equitable educational practices.

According to the authors, in today’s education policy context, states have an essential role to play in addressing school discipline, measures of schools’ effectiveness, and preparing and supporting teachers.

In their conclusion, the authors suggest that by departing from narrowly focused, punitive strategies, policymakers at all levels can design and support policies to address the opportunity gaps that children of color and low-income families face inside and outside of school.

Find the policy brief on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The brief can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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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 reasearch-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

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