Virtual School Meanderings

August 13, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


Where Do Achievement Gaps Come From?

Posted: 09 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Matt DiCarlo’s recent blog is a reaction to an analysis by David Figlio and Krzystof Karbownik, which attempted to uncover why some schools are better at closing the achievement gap than others. DiCarlo writes, “…it is misleading and potentially damaging to hold a school accountable for the persistence of that [achievement] gap in later grades – particularly in cases where public policy has failed to provide the extra resources and supports that might help lower-performing students make accelerated achievement gains every year. In addition, the coarseness of current educational variables, particularly those usually used as income proxies, limits the detail and utility of some subgroup measures.”

Why the NAACP said ‘enough’ to school privatization

Posted: 08 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Rann Miller discusses the NAACP’s new report on charter schools, which calls for tighter regulation and an end to for-profit schools. “Charter advocates and school choice proponents painted the NAACP as out of touch, or worse, doing the bidding of the teachers unions. These critics are missing what’s most important about the civil rights group’s strong statement. School privatization has allowed state governments to avoid their obligation to educate children of color, especially the poor. The NAACP said ’enough’ this week.”

When Privatization Means Segregation: Setting the Record Straight on School Vouchers

Posted: 08 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Leo Casey discusses the issue of private school vouchers. “Try as privatization advocates might, there is no getting around the segregationist history of school vouchers in the United States. From Milton Friedman to the recalcitrant white elites of Prince Edward County and the legislators they voted in, the forerunners of today’s ‘school choice’ movement understood their freedom as the freedom to deny others an equal education. That history continues into the present: empirical studies of voucher programs in the United States and internationally show that they increase segregation in schools.”

The complications of state-level education policymaking

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Andy Smarick looks at state-level education policymaking in the current policy climate. “It is sometimes said that the last 15 years of federal over-activity in education caused ‘learned helplessness’ among state policymakers — they don’t know what to do or are afraid to do it because of Uncle Sam’s intrusiveness. I, respectfully, disagree.”

The predictable result of demonizing teachers: Detroit schools face massive teacher shortage

Posted: 06 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Chris Savage writes about a looming teacher shortage in Detroit. “If you’ve been watching the ever-increasing demonization of teachers in Michigan over the past decade, you probably have asked yourself at one time or another, ‘Why the hell would ANYONE want to be a teacher in Michigan?’”

States’ New Plans for Complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act Confirms Just How Little the Law Expects of States

Posted: 06 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Derek Black looks at the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “In the end, these plans reveal the central flaw in the ESSA:  its success rests on the extent to which states are willing to engage in good faith efforts to provide equal and adequate opportunities.  As NPR writes, parents must simply trust their states.  Unfortunately, recent history reveals there is almost no reason to place this faith in states.  They have slashed public education budgets, manipulated test scores, and watched school segregation increase.”

CREDO Charter School Studies’ ‘X Days Of Learning’ Conversion: Still Unvalidated

Posted: 04 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Mark Weber writes about a recent CREDO report on charter schools from Texas. “In the case of the CREDO reports, avoiding a validity argument for presenting effect sizes in ‘days of learning’ has led to media reports on the effects of charter schools and policy decisions regarding charter proliferation that are based on conclusions that have not been validated. That is not to say these decisions are necessarily harmful; rather, that they are based on a reporting of the effects of charter schools that avoided having to make an argument for the validity of using test scores.”

Louisiana teachers to face tougher job reviews in new school year under controversial evaluations

Posted: 04 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Will Sentell discusses controversial teacher evaluations in Louisiana. “After a four-year moratorium, around 15,000 of the state’s roughly 50,000 teachers will again have their annual job reviews linked to how students fare on key tests.”

August 6, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


Performance Pay Law Not Paying Off for Top-Rated Teachers, According to Report

Posted: 02 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Brenda Iasevoli shares the findings from a recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) on pay-for-performance for teachers in Florida. The report found that pay increases for educational attainment had  outpaced performance pay. The report also found that with 98 percent of the teachers earning effective or highly effective ratings the rewards were relatively easy to get. Researcher Matthew Springer responded in the article: “Now, maybe all teachers deserve more pay in Florida. I’m not going to weigh in on that. But if the intent of the system is to reward and recognize the highest performers and somehow fundamentally alter the quality of those labor markets, then yeah, we wouldn’t expect that 98 percent of teachers hit that mark.”

Who suffers when charter schools fail? (HINT: It’s not the banks or the authorizers)

Posted: 02 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Chris Savage writes about what happens when charter schools fail. He writes, “I’d say this is a ‘cautionary tale’ about the disastrous trend of putting charter schools in charge of public education but we’ve gone far beyond cautionary tales. It’s clear that far too many of these charter schools and their management companies, most of which are for-profit, don’t see education as a social good for them to foster, nurture, and encourage. Rather, it’s just one more way to siphon public education tax dollars into the coffers of corporations. Just because Matchbook Learning is a rare charter management company that is not for-profit doesn’t mean that they and their creditors didn’t hope to enrich themselves by investing in education.”

Fewer college students want to be teachers, and why it matters (searchable database)

Posted: 02 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Nancy Derringer writes about teacher-prep programs in Michigan enrolling fewer students since 2008-9. “The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title II program, which supports teacher training and professional development, show enrollment in teacher prep at the college level is falling, sharply in some states. In Michigan, 11,099 students were enrolled in the state’s 39 teacher-prep programs in 2014-15, the most recent data available. That is a 3,273-student decline from just two years previous, in 2012-13. Since 2008, the total number of Michigan college students studying to become a teacher is down more than 50 percent.”

State Accountability Plans Fix Many NCLB-Era Mistakes

Posted: 01 Aug 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Brandon Wright and Mike Petrilli share the findings of a new report from the Fordham Institute that analyzed the first 17 ESSA accountability plans. They based their ratings on three measures and graded them strong, medium or weak. They conclude, “Will the remaining states do even better? We see no reason that they cannot, and we’ll be back in the autumn to find out how they do.”

What Works?: Research on Educational Leadership, Policy and Literacy in Black & Brown Communities

Posted: 31 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Julian Vasquez Heilig shares the responses of several nationally recognized professors regarding educational leadership, policy, and literacy in black and brown communities. The research citations and responses come from: Noelle Witherspoon Arnold, Ohio State University; Julian Vasquez Heilig, California State University Sacramento; Lorri J. Santamaría The University of Auckland, New Zealand; and Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, University of Missouri, Columbia.

July 30, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


Exposure to Same-Race Teachers and Student Disciplinary Outcomes for Black Students in North Carolina

Posted: 25 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Constance Lindsay and Cassandra Hart explore the impact of same-race teachers on Black students regarding exclusionary discipline. “We find consistent evidence that exposure to same-race teachers is associated with reduced rates of exclusionary discipline for Black students. This relationship holds for elementary, middle, and high school grade ranges for male and female students, and for students who do and do not use free and reduced-price lunch.”

These 6 themes emerged when we asked Michigan teachers about their pay

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jennifer Guerra writes about a survey of Michigan Public Radio listeners that asked teachers how they have seen their pay change in recent years; the survey revealed six dominant themes.

Teachers of color departing Cambridge, citing hostile workplace, failed intentions: Workforce doesn’t match student body in progressive district

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jean Cummings writes about racial disparities in schools and the departure of three teachers of color from several schools in Cambridge, MA. “While 78 percent of Cambridge Public School teachers are white, just around 40 percent of the student body is. At the high school, where 30 percent of this year’s 2,000 high school students are African-American, Allen reported that as of October there were 48 teachers of color at CRLS – 22 percent of the more than 200 full-time equivalent teachers in the school. There are no black men teaching the core academic courses at the school and just two or three black male teachers in the whole school, depending on how ‘teacher’ is defined: Non-permanent staff are not counted by the administration.”

Michigan dumps its school ranking system in favor of ‘dashboard’

Posted: 22 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jennifer Guerra looks at how Michigan’s school accountability system will be changed. “Michigan will no longer rank schools based on test scores. The state is working on a new accountability system as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law that goes into effect this coming school year.”

Florida’s education system – the one Betsy DeVos cites as a model – is in chaos

Posted: 21 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Valerie Strauss writes about school reforms in Florida. “Traditional public school districts are trying to absorb the loss of millions of dollars for the new school year that starts within weeks. That money, which comes from local property taxes, is used for capital funding, but now must be shared with charter schools as a result of a widely criticized $419 million K-12 public education bill crafted by Republican legislative leaders in secret and recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott — at a Catholic school.”

When ‘Miracle’ Charter Schools Shed Students

Posted: 19 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Mark Weber reacts to an NBC story about a “successful” charter school in Philadelphia. He writes: “… you really can’t make a comparison between two schools and call one ‘successful’ without taking into account the differences in resources available to both. Philadelphia’s public school district has been chronically underfunded for years. It’s hardly fair for Boys Latin to collect millions in extra revenue, then brag about their college persistence rate compared to schools that don’t have enough funding to provide an adequate education.”

Teacher Tests Test Teachers: The practice of evaluating teachers by their students’ performance on standardized tests is coming under serious challenge.

Posted: 17 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Rachel Cohen writes about value-added modeling (VAM), a controversial statistical method aimed at isolating a teacher’s effectiveness based on their students’ standardized test scores. “While the future of using value-added measures in teacher evaluations is unclear, some researchers have been advocating alternative ideas. One would be to use the statistical growth measures as a diagnostic tool, a preliminary screening test to help identify which districts, schools, and classrooms warrant closer attention.”

Ohio’s Online Charter Scandal Is a Warning to the Nation

Posted: 13 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jan Ressenger writes about Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which has been at the center of a school funding scandal. “Telling the truth about Ohio’s charter school corruption is only a start. As lawmakers sort out ways to effectively address the political cronyism behind these schools, what should be abundantly clear to the state and the nation is that continuing to expand charters will only worsen the problem.”

July 23, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


DeVos Needs to Offer Principled Clarity on ESSA

Posted: 19 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Max Eden writes about the role that the U.S. Department of Education should play in guiding state education policy under ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act). “Limited government requires clear fixed rules, flexibility beyond them, and no specter of arbitrary executive interpretation. DeVos doesn’t need to issue hundreds of pages of guidance to set matters straight. But at this point, effective leadership will require more clear and direct communication than we’ve yet seen, and the U.S. Department of Education should resolve lingering confusion by making a clear statement of principles.”

Researchers Push Back As Betsy DeVos, ALEC Advance Virtual School Expansion

Posted: 17 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jenny Abamu writes about the protests at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). “ALEC works with legislators, nonprofits and corporations to introduce legislation that affects education.”

Teacher Pay Penalty Driving Educators Away From Profession

Posted: 16 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Cindy Long writes about teacher pay and the factors that keep aspiring teachers out of the profession. “Educator salaries across all the professions have never truly recovered from the recession-driven hit they took in the last few years, but a new study by the Economic Policy Institute provides some new insights particularly on K-12 classroom teachers.”

Unable to Solve Teacher Pay Issue, Oklahoma Will Promote Recruitment, Retention

Posted: 16 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Emmanuel Felton writes about a proposal to pay teachers more in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has been singled out for its low pay for teachers and high turnover in recent months. Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, the state chapter of the National Education Association, told the Enid News & Eagle: “This is just a gimmick.”

July 16, 2017

Worth A Read

And a regular Sunday feature on a slow blogging day…

Worth A Read


Charter Schools: Who Is Working Together to Improve Them?

Posted: 09 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Julian Vasquez Heilig writes about his participation in NEA’s charter school task force. At its Representative Assembly, the NEA adopted a new policy statement. “The new policy lays out three criteria charter schools must meet to provide students with the support and learning environments they deserve. The first is that charter schools should only be authorized by a local and democratically accountable authorizing entity – i.e. a local school district – so that local school officials can closely monitor charter performance, and spread any potential innovations to local public schools. The statement also calls for an empirical assessment of how a new charter school will serve to improve the local public system before any charter enters a community.”

How Can Schools Make a Firebreak for Teacher Burnout?

Posted: 09 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Sarah D. Sparks writes about a new study on teacher burnout and school environments. “The findings suggest that improving schoolwide climate and resources may be more helpful than focusing primarily on teacher-induction programs to retain new teachers. That may also buffer students against teacher stress, which prior research suggests can hurt student learning and behavior and create another burnout cycle for teachers.”

Performance lagging at Michigan’s virtual schools, study finds

Posted: 07 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Brian McVicar discusses new research from the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute on the lackluster performance of virtual schools. “The study lays out a series of other recommendations for virtual schools, including why they ‘perform poorly under a college- and career-ready accountability system and how their performance can be improved prior to expansion.’ Policymakers also should ‘define certification training and relative teacher licensure requirements specific to teaching in virtual schools’ and ‘require research-based professional development to promote effective online teaching models.’”

ESSA: An Opportunity For Research-Practice Partnerships To Support Districts And States

Posted: 04 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Bill Penuel and Caitlin Farrell discuss the role of research-practice partnerships under ESSA. “Our book chapter in ‘Teaching in Context: The Social Side of Reform’ presents a number of scenarios where long-term research-practice partnerships (RPPs) have helped districts select, adapt, and design evidence-based programs. RPPs are long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between practitioners and researchers around problems of practice. This promising strategy has been growing in popularity in recent years, and there is now even a network of RPPs to support exchange among them.”

‘A Failed and Damaging Experiment:’ NEA Takes on Unaccountable Charter Schools

Posted: 04 Jul 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Tim Walker writes about the NEA’s new policy statement on charter schools. “At its annual meeting on Tuesday, the educators of the National Education Association drew a sharp new line between charter schools that have a positive effect on public education and those unaccountable, privately managed charter schools that hurt public schools and students. A new policy statement adopted by the assembly denounces unaccountable charters as a ‘failed and damaging experiment,’ and calls for a stop to the proliferation of such schools by supporting state and local efforts to hold charters accountable, to preserve funding for public schools, and to organize charter educators.”

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