Virtual School Meanderings

December 11, 2018

Review: Report Fails To Sufficiently Address The Evidence

More on that NEPC report from yesterday.

December 6, 2018

Contacts:
William J. Mathis: 
(802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Julie F. Mead: (608) 263-3405, jmead@education.wisc.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

When Publicly Funded Schools Exclude Segments of the Public

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 6, 2018) – In Indiana, a private religious school receiving over $6.5 million in public funds via the state’s voucher program placed an LGBT counselor on leave because she had married her same-sex partner. In Milwaukee, where students with disabilities constitute 12-20% of public school enrollments, they constitute only 2% of enrollments in private schools participating in the city’s voucher program. Similarly, charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities (particularly more severe disabilities) when compared to traditional public schools. In response to these and other issues of access and discrimination, some defenders of these schools have argued that the schools have broken no laws—and they are often correct. How can this be?

To answer that question, professors Julie F. Mead of the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne E. Eckes of Indiana University authored a policy brief, titled How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, which analyzes discrimination in an era of education privatization.

The brief’s review of relevant laws reveals that voucher and charter school programs open the door to discrimination because of three phenomena. First, federal law defines discrimination differently in public and private spaces. Second, state legislatures have largely neglected issues of discrimination while constructing voucher laws; charter laws are better, but they fail to comprehensively address these issues. Third, because private and charter schools are free to determine what programs to offer, they can attract some populations while excluding others.

After briefly examining the history of discrimination in schools, the brief analyzes each of these three enabling factors and then outlines recent developments. Finally, based on its analyses, the brief offers the following recommendations to help address the issue of publicly funded programs currently failing to serve all segments of the public:

  1. Congress should amend federal anti-discrimination laws to clarify that states supporting charter schools and states directly or indirectly channeling public funds to private schools must ensure that those programs operate in non-discriminatory ways.
  2. Federal agencies should explore whether governmental benefits should be withheld from private schools failing to meet non-discrimination standards.
  3. State legislatures should include explicit anti-discrimination language in their state voucher laws to ensure that participating private schools do not discriminate against students and staff on the basis of race, color, sex, race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, national origin, or primary language.
  4. State legislatures should adopt or amend charter school laws to ensure that policies and practices are reviewed throughout the process of approval and renewal. Schools failing to attract and retain reasonably heterogeneous student populations should be directed to address the problem and should be considered for non-renewal if the problem is not corrected.

Find How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, by Julie F. Mead and Suzanne E. Eckes, at: http://greatlakescenter.org/

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (http://greatlakescenter.org/).

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and 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 Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.   Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent.  Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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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/

December 6, 2018

Review: Report Fails To Sufficiently Address The Evidence

Another notice of this National Education Policy Center report from earlier in the week.

December 4, 2018

Contacts

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Amy N. Farley: (513) 556-5111, amy.farley@uc.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Report Fails to Sufficiently Address the Evidence Surrounding Teacher Evaluation

BOULDER, CO (December 4, 2018) – A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) highlights six teacher evaluation systems purportedly “yielding substantial benefits.” This comes at the end of a decade when reformed teacher evaluation systems that link teacher performance to measures of student growth have been at the center of educational debate.

Amy Farley and Leah Chamberlain of the University of Cincinnati reviewed Making a Difference: Six Places Where Teacher Evaluation Systems Are Getting Results. They find that the report does little to enrich an already tired conversation about linking teacher evaluation to student achievement.

Overall, the research regarding teacher evaluation is mixed, at best. Most notably, a recent multi-year RAND report suggests that a $500 million investment in teacher evaluation that heavily weighted student growth measures, with considerable funding from the Gates Foundation, did not improve student outcomes. In fact, the reform may have exacerbated unequal access to effective teachers for low-income students and students of color.

While the NCTQ report promotes these approaches to teacher evaluation, Farley and Chamberlain explain how it fails to seriously counter the groundswell of academic literature critiquing these systems. It also does not present a compelling justification for its site selection or the criteria used for inclusion of evidence.  Instead, it appears to rely on a limited set of data drawn mostly from internal reports or interviews with district or state representatives and does not adequately consider disconfirming or contradictory evidence.

These methodological flaws limit the validity of the report’s findings, they conclude, which ultimately diminishes its usefulness for policy and practice.

Find the review, by Amy Farley and Leah Chamberlain, at: http://greatlakescenter.org/

Find Making a Difference: Six Places Where Teacher Evaluation Systems Are Getting Results, written by Hannah Putman, Kate Walsh, and Elizabeth Ross and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at: https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/NCTQ_Report_-_Making_a_Difference

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and 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 Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.   Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent.  Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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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/

November 29, 2018

Review: School Rankings Based On Spending And Outcomes Suffers From Severe Methodological Flaws And Insufficient Research

Another notice of the recent National Education Policy Center review.

November 27, 2018

Contacts

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Bruce D. Baker: (732) 932-7496, x8232, bruce.baker@gse.rutgers.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

School Rankings Based on Spending and Outcomes Suffers from Severe Methodological Flaws and Insufficient Research

BOULDER, CO (November 27, 2018) – The Reason Foundation recently published a policy brief that offers an alternative ranking of states’ education systems. The brief, which was based on a working paper from the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas, purports to offer needed adjustments and nuance, but makes its own serious mistakes, according to a new review.

Rutgers professor Bruce D. Baker reviewed Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong and the underlying working paper, Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings. He found the analyses provided did little or nothing to advance the conversation about the effectiveness of state education systems.

The twin reports begin with the presumption that high average test scores combined with lower school spending should be the basis for state rankings, which are reasonable premises, depending upon how the analyses are approached. But the reports then head off the rails, Professor Baker explains.

Offering a ‘corrected’ representation of student outcomes and a crude analysis asserting that spending has no relation to those outcomes, the reports declare states such as New Jersey and Vermont to be poor-performing, highly inefficient systems by comparison to many states. The reports then estimate a regression model and assert that the higher performing states are those with (a) weaker teachers’ unions and (b) more children in charter schools.

However, Baker’s review details how the reports’ so-called corrections involved unreasonable and illogical assumptions and adjustments. For example, the reports re-weight racial and ethnic subgroups so that it inappropriately places equal weight in states like Vermont or Wyoming on students comprising 1 to 2% of the population as the other 98 to 99%. Other problems concern a decision to ignore economic status entirely and a poorly executed adjustment for cost of living.

Regressing multiple, highly related, interdependent measures against a specious outcome measure leads to even more suspect findings and, Baker concludes, would only mislead policymakers.

Find the review, by Bruce D. Baker, at: http://greatlakescenter.org/

Find Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Reason Foundation, at: https://reason.com/archives/2018/10/07/everything-you-know-about-stat

Find Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3185152

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and 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 Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.   Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent.  Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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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/

October 12, 2018

Review: Review Describes Remarkably Weak Study Of School Cost And Productivity

Another notice on that NEPC think twice review.

October 11, 2018

Contacts

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Beth C. Rubin: (848) 932-0677, beth.rubin@gse.rutgers.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Review: Review Describes Remarkably Weak Study of School Cost and Productivity

EAST LANSING, Mich. (October 11, 2018) — A recent report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty claims that Wisconsin does not get a good return on its educational investment. This study has been found to have overwhelming methodological shortcomings.

William J. Mathis, Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed Money for Nothing: The Relationship Between Various Types of School Spending and Academic Outcomes.

The original report suggests that districts employ too many non-teachers, that per-pupil spending is not linked to higher outcomes, and that teacher pay makes no difference in test scores. Dr. Mathis’ review points to critical errors in study design that fundamentally negate these conclusions. The report flounders in arguing causality from correlation and misinterpreting statistical significance as representing meaningful policy effects.

This leads to false or unsupported conclusions clouded by the omission of critical details that prevent replication or confirmation. Rife with undocumented policy claims, the results run contrary to the literature on spending, administrator effects, and teacher effects. In fact, no literature review is provided at all, and the report fails to address the efficacy of interventions such as class size and early high-quality childhood education.

The off-point theoretical base, flawed assumptions and meager findings lead Mathis to conclude that the report earned its title, “money for nothing,” which could leave unsuspecting policymakers in dire straits if they were to use these findings to guide policy.

Find the review, by William J. Mathis, at:
http://greatlakescenter.org/

Find Money for Nothing: The Relationship Between Various Types of School Spending and Academic Outcomes, written by Will Flanders and published by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, at:
http://www.will-law.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/mfn-final.pdf

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and 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 Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.   Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent.  Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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 Friend on Facebook

 Follow on Twitter

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/

October 5, 2018

Review: Fiscal And Education Spillovers From Charter School Expansion

Another notice of this NEPC review.

October 4, 2018

Contacts
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Clive Belfield: (917) 821-9219, Clive.Belfield@gmail.com
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Review: Fiscal and Education Spillovers from Charter School Expansion

EAST LANSING, Mich. (October 4, 2018) — A recent report from the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examines the consequences that followed from an expansion in the number of charter school places available for enrollment.

The study uses data from Massachusetts, where charter school growth has been carefully managed and where there was significant excess demand for charter school places. In 2011, the state increased the cap on enrollments for charter schools located in school districts with low test scores, resulting in an increase in charter school enrollment in some of these districts.

Professor Clive Belfield of Queens College, City University of New York, reviewed Fiscal and Education Spillovers from Charter School Expansion and found that it provides important, high-quality evidence about the effects of expanding charter schools under a well-regulated set of conditions.

The report is part of Think Twice Review, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Belfield’s key finding is that the report is a useful and informative study of charter school expansion. The paper presents a high-quality study by MIT which finds that charter expansion, under the unique set of conditions found in Massachusetts, is benign and slightly positive.

The paper reaches three key findings. First, due to a subsidy provided by Massachusetts law, per-pupil expenditures in the impacted public schools increased as charter schools expanded. Second, these districts appeared to respond to competitive pressures from charter schools by moving funding to inputs directly related to instruction. Third, test scores in math and English language arts in the existing public schools increased very slightly. All three of these impacts, however, disappear after six years of initial charter school expansion.

The paper affirms a two-part consensus from past studies on the economic and academic impacts of charter schooling. First, the flows of public funds to charter and public schools are complex, idiosyncratic, and variable. These features make economic evaluation of charter schooling very difficult. Second, the academic influence of competition between charter schools and public schools is small and, in this case, positive. This second finding suggests that expanding charter schools, at least under the relatively restrictive conditions that existed in Massachusetts, will have a benign effect on the overall education system. However, because of funding complexities identified in the first finding, it is extremely difficult to determine how cost-effective or equitable such expansions might be.

Find the Think Twice Review by Belfield on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

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.

Find Fiscal and Education Spillovers from Charter School Expansion, written by Matt Ridley and Camille Terrier and published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at: https://seii.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SEII-Discussion-Paper-2018.02-Ridley-Terrier.pdf

You can also find the review by Clive Belfield at the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-charter-spillover

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