Virtual School Meanderings

October 15, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Charter Schools in New York Can Now Certify Their Own Teachers

Posted: 11 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Arianna Prothero discusses a controversial plan in New York, which allows charter schools to train and certify their won teachers. “Under the new rules, prospective teachers are required to receive 160 hours of instruction plus 40 hours of classroom practice. A typical certification pathway in New York requires a year of coursework, reports the Wall Street Journal. Aspiring teachers on the new charter certification track will also not be required to earn a master’s degree, nor will they have to take all of the state teacher certification exams, according to Chalkbeat.”

Higher Pay and Increased Responsibilities Associated with Successful Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Rural Oklahoma School Districts

Posted: 10 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Valeriy Lazarev, Megan Toby, Jenna Zacamy, Li Lin, and Denis Newman investigate indicators of successful recruitment and retention efforts in Oklahoma. “What the study found: (a) Teachers in rural school districts in Oklahoma have a shorter duration of employment than teachers in nonrural school districts; (b) Teachers in rural school districts have a 70 percent chance of reaching tenure; and (c) Rural school districts successfully recruited a lower percentage of teachers than did nonrural school districts from 2006/07 to 2011/12.”

More on Within-District ‘Equity’ and Charter Expansion

Posted: 10 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Bruce Baker looks at equity of resources across schools within districts. “In ongoing work, Mark Weber, Ajay Srikanth and I are finding that across large school districts which have sizeable and growing charter sectors, student sorting by demographics is exacerbated and school spending variations increased. That is, expanded chartering seems to be leading to increased inequality across schools within common geographic spaces. Using data from two waves of the Civil Rights Data Collection, we again find that controlling for the factors listed previously, New York City charter schools continue to spend far more than district schools serving similar populations. Results are mixed for other settings, but inequities are inequities, in whichever direction they fall.”

School Discipline Disparities: Lessons and Suggestions

Posted: 10 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Daniel J. Quinn of Oakland University discusses ‘School Discipline Disparities: Lessons and Suggestions’ in this brief. Recent outcomes related to school discipline, such as disparities in discipline, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the costs of suspending students in the U.S. are explored.  Recommendations focus on ways school leaders and policy makers can address inequities, as well as how school cultures can be changed to reduce the number of detentions, suspensions, and expulsions.

Betsy DeVos vs. the mindless mob at Harvard

Posted: 01 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Rick Hess and Grant Addison reflect on a recent speech by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Against this increasingly threadbare backdrop, DeVos delivered what is probably her best speech to date. It was a constructive, serious address from someone whose remarks have not always met that standard. DeVos spoke thoughtfully — at times, even eloquently — about how school choice empowers families, creates room for a healthful diversity, and is wholly consistent with the historic aims of public education.”

New Colleges of Education: A Path for Going from Concept to Reality

Posted: 29 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

David Bergeron and Michael Dannenberg discuss current teacher accreditation programs and raising the bar for teacher candidate outcomes tied to preparation programs. They recommend: “a new type of accreditor, not dependent on schools of education and their personnel, but instead on the employers of graduates from schools of education and teacher preparation programs, should be created. State and local superintendents of schools and charter school leaders in particular should band together to form an accreditor focused on the learning gains of elementary and secondary school students taught by the graduates of teacher preparation programs seeking accreditation and the assessments of employers of whether the graduates of teacher preparation programs are adequately prepared for classroom service.”

October 13, 2017

NYC charter school funding report not useful, review finds

From yesterday’s inbox…

October 11, 2017

Clive Belfield, (917)
Daniel J. Quinn, (517)

NYC charter school funding report not useful, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 11, 2017) — A report from the Department of Education Reform (EDRE) at the University of Arkansas (UARK) claimed that charter schools in NYC were not being fairly funded because of a funding gap favoring district schools. The authors of the report also asserted that certain co-located schools had fiscal advantages over other charters. Unfortunately, an academic review of the report finds it to be dated and of little use for policymakers or researchers.

Dr. Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), reviewed the report, Charter School Funding: Inequity in New York City, 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.

In his review, Belfield raises some concerns about the report, including:

  1. The report does not attempt a rigorous comparison of charters to non-charter schools;
  2. It assumes that any differences in student characteristics across charter and district schools were trivial; and
  3. It concludes that raw, unadjusted funding amounts were sufficient for assessing fairness.

Additionally, Belfield identifies that the data are based on 2014 figures, which fails to capture funding reforms and regulations enacted in NYC charter schools since that time. In response, Belfield writes: “In light of these reforms, this report has been superseded by events.”

Belfield finds the report is no longer policy-relevant and that it is unlikely to be very useful for policymakers or the research community.

Find the review on the GLC website:

Find the UARK EDRE report at:

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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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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October 9, 2017

Wisconsin Program Illustrates How Vouchers Can Exacerbate Funding Disparities In Public Schools

An item from the inbox late last week.

October 5, 2017

Ellie Bruecker(920)
Daniel J. Quinn, (517)

Wisconsin program illustrates how vouchers can exacerbate funding disparities in public schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (October 5, 2017) — A new peer-reviewed policy memo produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) explores the financial effects of Wisconsin’s expanded statewide Parental Choice Program (WPCP). The policy memo finds that the program will likely exacerbate school funding inequities for public schools in Wisconsin.

Ellie Bruecker, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, authored the memo, Assessing the Fiscal Impact of Wisconsin’s Statewide Voucher Program. Bruecker’s research interests are focused on K-12 and higher education finance. She primarily studies equity in state school funding structures. The memo was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Bruecker’s policy memo describes how the voucher program alters the relative share of public education spending borne by the state and by local districts and estimates the differential impact of the program on Wisconsin school districts. Additionally, the memo addresses four overarching policy considerations about vouchers and makes a series of recommendations based on research to promote high-quality education and funding equity.

Bruecker finds that while effects of the program on public schools are currently small, they are likely to grow over time. She points out that as the program expands, the reduction to local school districts will increase. The statewide program is already distributing tens of millions of dollars for private school tuition.

In her conclusion, she writes: “The available evidence suggests that policymakers across the country should think carefully before emulating Wisconsin’s statewide voucher program in their own states.”

Find the policy memo on the web:

The memo can also be found on the NEPC website:

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October 8, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

* NEW * Autonomy and Regulation of School Choice

Posted: 04 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jonathan Supovitz interviews former New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, National Association of Charter School Authorizers Vice President of Research & Evaluation Karega Rausch, Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee, Regional Director of the American Federation for Children Ryan Cantrell, and New Mexico House of Representatives member Dennis Roch. “In these interviews, the participants recount the status of charters, choice, and vouchers in their states, whether these elements of choice will be expanding in the future, what challenges decision-makers have encountered, how research has informed these choice policies, and whether the states have done any evaluation of the effects of choice on parents or students.”

A Guide to State ESSA Plans: Goals, Teacher Quality, and More

Posted: 04 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Alyson Klein, Stephen Sawchuk, & Andrew Ujifusa review state ESSA plans. “To date, all but two states have submitted their plans as required—more than 30 of them flooding into the Education Department this month alone. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia have already gotten the federal green light on plans submitted earlier this spring. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has only 120 days from the time a plan is deemed complete to give a state a thumbs up or down. That means there’s likely to be a spate of approvals late this fall.”

U.S. Teachers’ Support of Their State Standards and Assessments: Findings from the American Teacher Panel

Posted: 03 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Julia Kaufman, Elaine Lin Wang, Laura Hamilton, Lindsey Thompson, and Gerald Hunter authored a new report that “explores key factors that may be related to teachers’ support – or lack of support – for their current standards and assessments.” Included in the recommendations was the following statement: “Teachers may feel less frustration with accountability requirements if they know what to expect regarding their assessments and have clear evidence that their assessments are tied closely to the standards that they are expected to teach.”

When school finance research died & why it matters #MSFRGA

Posted: 03 Oct 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Bruce Baker reflects on the state of school finance and research. “To reiterate a take home point of many previous posts, equitable and adequate financing are prerequisite conditions for our education systems, regardless of how we choose to deliver those systems. System delivery may alter what’s equitable or adequate. But without rigorous and relevant analyses, we can never know how or to what extent.”

New report examines future trends in enrollments, teachers, high school graduates and expenditures.

Posted: 27 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new annual report entitled ‘Projections of Education Statistics to 2025.’ This report provides national-level data on enrollment, teachers, high school graduates, and expenditures at the elementary and secondary level and enrollment and degrees at the post secondary level for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2025.

October 1, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Fixing education inequalities will require fixing broader societal inequities

Posted: 26 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Emma García and Elaine Weiss authored a new brief that describes the type and size of early achievement gaps, trends over time, and calls attention to policies that can avert or narrow them. “If we are serious about closing these gaps, we will need to combine investments in both school and society more broadly with economic and policy changes to spread economic growth more broadly across the income distribution. Because until we tackle the huge inequities at the core of these early gaps, we will continue to live with them.”

AZ: Teachers Abandon Ship

Posted: 26 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Peter Greene shares several stories out of Arizona, which has been experiencing a significant ‘teacher shortage.’ According to Greene: “Arizona does not have a teacher shortage – what Arizona has is a shortage of people willing to work as teachers for low pay, with no support, in schools without sufficient resources. Fun fact: a Costco worker will make $12,000 more in a year than the average Arizona teacher.”

Wisconsin Teachers granted a ‘Lifetime’ of Deprofessionalization

Posted: 26 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Tim Slekar discusses policies affecting teachers in Wisconsin, including ‘fast track’ certification and ‘lifetime’ certificates for teachers. “Schools that have been stripped of cash over the last 6 years don’t have the financial ability to reward and compensate plans that maintain teaching as a high level profession. Therefore, teachers – that have been stripped of collective bargaining – are now going to simply morph into low paid labor.  A ‘lifetime license’ with no continued education, professional development requirements, and no need for districts to compensate teachers for advanced degrees is simply a license to work as a low wage laborer for the rest of your life.”

‘Salaries are still low’: Teacher shortage leaves schools searching for new ways to recruit

Posted: 25 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Suzanne Baker reports on teacher shortages in Illinois. “Colleges and universities are trying to figure out how to entice more people into the teaching careers to fill vacancies, a dilemma that down the road could pose ramifications throughout educational leadership.”

Divided by Design: Race, Neighborhoods, Wealth and Schools

Posted: 25 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider interview Richard Rothstein, author of the ‘Color of Law,’ to explain: how “our racially segregated zip codes were created by design, the result of federal housing policy. The legacy of those policies today is not just segregated schools, but a stark racial wealth gap. And the solution to the problem isn’t choosing schools, argues Rothstein, but integrating neighborhoods.”

NEWS: Pensions Improve Education Quality, Reduce Teacher Turnover

Posted: 24 Sep 2017 09:00 PM PDT

The National Institute on Retirement Security released a brief analyzing the effectiveness of defined benefit pensions for teacher retention and productivity. The brief finds that: “(1) Teacher effectiveness increases with experience. Thus, the more retention that we see among mid career teachers, the more that the average productivity within a school will increase; (2) The cost of teacher turnover is quite high, both in terms of financial cost and loss of productivity to the school district; (3) Defined benefit pension plans help to recruit high quality teachers, and to retain highly productive teachers longer, as compared with defined contribution (DC) accounts; (4) In 2009, DB pensions helped to retain an additional 30,000 teachers nationwide. Because longer tenured teachers are more effective teachers, the increased retention that DB pensions bring increases the overall quality of public education; (5) Because the cost of teacher turnover is substantial, the retention effects of DB pension plans also save school districts money. In 2009, DB pensions saved school districts between $131 million and $284 million nationally in teacher turnover costs.”

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