Virtual School Meanderings

June 13, 2018

Latest NCTQ Report On Teacher Prep Programs Provides Another Example Of Misleading, Confusing Analysis

Note this review from the National Education Policy Center.

Report exacerbates the dysfunctional dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes and offers little guidance for policymakers, practitioners, or the general public.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Publication Announcement

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Report exacerbates the dysfunctional dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes and offers little guidance for policymakers, practitioners, or the general public.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Marilyn Cochran-Smith:

(617) 552-4591

cochrans@bc.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (June 12, 2018) – The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently released its 2018 Teacher Prep Review. The report examines whether U.S. teacher preparation programs are aligned with NCTQ’s standards. This alignment, the report insists, will produce teachers “not only ready to achieve individual successes, but also [ready] to start a broader movement toward increased student learning and proficiency.”

The NCTQ report regularly garners generally credulous coverage from media outlets, including this year from Education Week and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe of Lesley University, Wen-Chia Chang of Boston College, and Molly Cummings Carney of Boston College reviewed the report for NEPC. The reviewers are all members of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), a group of teacher education scholars and practitioners who have been studying U.S. teacher education in the context of larger reform movements since 2014. Their review found the report to have multiple logical, conceptual, and methodological flaws.

The report determines that most teacher preparation programs are not aligned with the NCTQ standards. Accordingly, it finds “severe structural problems with both graduate and alternative route programs that should make anyone considering them cautious.”

However, the report’s rationale includes widely critiqued assumptions about the nature of teaching, learning, and teacher credentials. Its methodology, which employs a highly questionable documents-only evaluation system, is a maze of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and contradictions. Further, the report ignores accumulating evidence that there is little relationship between the NCTQ’s ratings of a program and its graduates’ later classroom performance.

Finally, the report fails to substantively account for broad shifts in the field of teacher education that are nuanced, hybridized, and dynamic. It also exacerbates the dysfunctional dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes. For years now, researchers and analysts have pointed out that this distinction is not very useful, given that there is as much or more variation within these categories as between them. Ultimately, the report offers little guidance for policymakers, practitioners, or the general public.

Find the review, by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, Wen-Chia Chang, and Molly Cummings Carney, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-teacher-prep-2018

Find 2018 Teacher Prep Review, written by Robert Rickenbrode, Graham Drake, Laura Pomerance, and Kate Walsh and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at:

https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/2018_Teacher_Prep_Review_733174

This policy memo is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 8, 2018

Lessons from Chile’s Universal Voucher System Can Inform U.S. Education Policy

Note this item from the National Education Policy Center.

Evidence indicates that Chile’s voucher policy not only failed to meet its objectives, it also elicited several harmful outcomes for middle-class families, disadvantaged students, and the teaching profession.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Publication Announcement

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Evidence indicates that Chile’s voucher policy not only failed to meet its objectives, it also elicited several harmful outcomes for middle-class families, disadvantaged students, and the teaching profession.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Rick Mintrop:

(415) 250-0156

mintrop@berkeley.edu

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BOULDER, CO (June 7, 2018) – The Trump administration is actively supporting vouchers to fund private school tuition, and some state governments have followed suit. The main goal of these choice programs is to expand alternatives to traditional public schools, especially for students who do not have access to a quality education. Additionally, supporters contend, such competition will motivate improvement in public schools. In contrast, opponents contend that in taking money away from traditional public schools, vouchers and privatization will exacerbate inequalities, benefit few, and leave many students behind.

To help inform these issues, the National Education Policy Center released a brief today, What Might Happen If School Vouchers and Privatization of Schools Were to Become Universal in the U.S.: Learning from a National Test Case—Chile, written by Ernesto Treviño, Rick Mintrop, Cristóbal Villalobos, and Miguel Órdenes.

Experiments with vouchers are still relatively peripheral in the U.S., where the vast majority of students attend public schools. Accordingly, the authors of this new brief turn to Chile’s universal-voucher experience, in order to explore what might happen if vouchers were to become universal features of American publicly funded education. By looking at Chile’s experience, of a failed policy which also elicited several harmful outcomes, we can imagine what might happen if the U.S. were to take the route of universal privatization and vouchers.

Find What Might Happen If School Vouchers and Privatization of Schools Were to Become Universal in the U.S.: Learning from a National Test Case—Chile, by Ernesto Treviño, Rick Mintrop, Cristóbal Villalobos, and Miguel Órdenes, at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/chilean-voucher

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 6, 2018

Steps In The Right Direction For Post-ESSA Assessments

Note the release of this National Education Policy Center report.

NEPC releases a “state of the states” brief on modest changes to student and teacher evaluation systems since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Publication Announcement

KEY TAKEAWAY:

NEPC releases a “state of the states” brief on modest changes to student and teacher evaluation systems since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley:

(602) 561-4731

audrey.beardsley@asu.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (June 5, 2018) – Federally mandated standardized testing (i.e., in core subject areas and certain grade levels), as an element of educational accountability, began in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act. With that step, large-scale assessments came to serve as one of the foundations of accountability-based systems and policies not only for districts, schools and students, but for teachers as well.

Yet, as a result of identified weaknesses of such practices, especially at the student and teacher levels, Congress passed the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new law reduced federal oversight and gave states more control over their state assessment and accountability systems.

To examine the results of this element of ESSA, the National Education Policy Center released a brief today that offers a thematic analysis of state-level assessments in ESSA plans from every state and the District of Columbia. It also includes results of a detailed survey, completed by department of education personnel from 34 states and the District of Columbia, which explores additional information pertinent to state teacher evaluation systems.

Kevin Close, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, and Clarin Collins of Arizona State University authored the brief, titled State-Level Assessments and Teacher Evaluation Systems after the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act: Some Steps in the Right Direction.

Analyses of the ESSA plans and the survey responses indicate that, in general, states continue to use the same large-scale student assessments that were in place before ESSA. Further, states continue to give those test results a role in evaluating teacher effectiveness. However, greater local control has led to some signs of change, which the report’s authors describe as encouraging. These include the following:

  • Efforts to redefine student growth as something other than growth in just test scores;
  • Movement toward more varied multiple measurement tools, including student learning objectives and student surveys (although the efficacy of these instruments for accountability purposes still warrants research);
  • Emphasis by fewer states on value-added assessments in teacher evaluations; and
  • A move away from high-stakes consequences and toward formative rather than summative assessments.

Find State-Level Assessments and Teacher Evaluation Systems after the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act: Some Steps in the Right Direction, by Kevin Close, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, and Clarin Collins, at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/state-assessment

This policy brief is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 1, 2018

Apples To Aardvarks: WILL Replicates Erroneous Private School Findings

A review of an ideologically biased report by the National Education Policy Center.

Apples to Aardvarks: WILL Replicates Erroneous Private School Findings

Thursday, May 31, 2018

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Last year, NEPC published a review of a report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) titled, Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Our reviewer found the report more opaque and misleading than definitive. A year later, WILL has released a new “Apples to Apples” report, which fundamentally repeats the errors of the first.

Each report compares public and private school sectors for a single year. Yet measuring effectiveness requires at least two years of data, since different schools start from different places. This shortcoming is compounded by selection bias: Different populations with different test scores choose to attend different schools. When schools have different scores, is it the type of school that makes the difference or is it the students who attend? In Wisconsin, as in many other states, private or charter schools sometimes even have admission requirements, which means some schools have test score advantages before they get out of the gate.

The WILL researchers attempt to resolve this selection bias problem by considering (controlling for) outside factors in their analyses. This is the basis for the “apples to apples” claim. Unfortunately, this consideration is limited to five apples out of a decent-sized barrel: (1) school-based enrollment counts, (2) race, (3) ELL status, (4) economically disadvantaged and (5) grade levels served by the school (p. 5). The analyses do not include prior test scores of individuals or even schools. That is insufficient for claiming one sector is performing better or worse than another.

Our reviewer noted substantial missing data for private schools — which the WILL report acknowledges, yet still insists it is producing “something approximating an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison.” Then, the school is rated on the aggregated percent proficiency for schools, rather than a full continuum of test scores. This is arbitrary and different grades and subject matters have different cut scores. An improvement from last year is the use of the now commonly required ACT test, but how this is used is unclear.

Perhaps the most unusual research method they applied involves the calculation of disability rates. Not trusting the state’s reported rates, they used estimates from an earlier University of Arkansas study on Milwaukee. This assumes the whole state has the same disability rates as the city. But that’s not all. The earlier study was based on an estimated range rather than a count. Referring to the high end of this estimated distribution, “I assume (emphasis added) the disability rate is a factor of 8.125.” (p. 14). That is, they eyeballed the data, plucked a number and used it as the basis of their statistical analysis. Strange things happen when you pick a number — such as one school having “a disability rate exceed(ing) 100%” of their enrollment. The report acknowledges that these assumptions are “very rough.”

Most of these shortcomings were explained in last year’s expert review by Professor Ben Shear, and they were thus available to the WILL researcher, yet they were repeated in the latest report. The result is not apples-to-apples, it is applesauce.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

May 25, 2018

NCTQ Recommendations For Improving Teacher Quality Have Little Basis In Research

An NEPC review of a “research” report that contains very little in the way of research.

Report fails to specify the criteria and methods used to determine what makes teacher policy practices “the best” and ignores the variations and complexities of individual state contexts.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Publication Announcement

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Report fails to specify the criteria and methods used to determine what makes teacher policy practices “the best” and ignores the variations and complexities of individual state contexts.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Marilyn Cochran-Smith:

(617) 552-4591

cochrans@bc.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (May 24, 2018) – 2018 State Teacher Policy Best Practices Guide, published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), purports to offer examples of “leading state work” in 37 policy areas related to teacher quality. Its intent is to hold up these state policies as exemplars for other state policymakers to replicate.

The report was reviewed for NEPC by a team led by Professor Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College, along with three other members of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), a group of teacher education scholars and practitioners who have been studying U.S. teacher education in the context of larger reform movements since 2014. The review found multiple flaws that undermine its validity, and it found little research evidence to back up the report’s claims.

One key problem is simply that the report offers no explanation about how the 37 best practices were selected in the first place and no justification for its selection of “leading” policy work. It fails to describe the original development of its nine fundamental goals, nor does it cite any supportive research evidence. It makes no use of (or even reference to) the nuanced and complex research literature in this area. The report assumes reader buy-in to its goals, to its focus on test scores, and to its assumption that “great teachers” have an “outsize impact” on students’ learning and lives.

The report focuses primarily on policies targeting the qualifications and evaluation of the teacher workforce. This ignores the growing consensus that many other factors matter in creating high-quality teaching that enhances students’ learning, including supports that help teachers succeed, school contexts and cultures, state and regional labor markets, teachers’ relationship-building capacities, and the social organization of teachers’ work.

In the end, the reviewers conclude, the report “lacks both the nuance and the detail required to be useful.”

Find the review, by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, Wen-Chia Chang, and Molly Cummings Carney, at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-teacher-quality

Find 2018 State Teacher Policy Best Practices Guide, written by Elizabeth Ross and Catherine Worth and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at:

https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/NCTQ_BestPractices_FINAL_(2)

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

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