Virtual School Meanderings

June 18, 2021

Universal Pre-K

Note this item from the folks at the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

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Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

June 17, 2021READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

Universal Pre-K programs are having a moment, thanks in large part to President Biden’s advocacy for significant expansion. In recent history, early childhood program expansion has enjoyed bipartisan support in many states. The Manhattan Institute recently published “The Drawbacks of Universal Pre-K: A review of the Evidence.” We commissioned W. Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, to review the Manhattan report.
Read on to learn what Barnett found.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz

Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice

SUMMARY

  • Research shows public investments in early childcare and education can produce significant benefits including increased maternal employment, family earnings, improved child well-being, school readiness and a host of later educational, social and economic outcomes.
  • Because of omissions of research and unjustified assumptions, the Manhattan report is a misleading and inadequate policy guide.
  • The title of the Manhattan report is misleading as it specifies only universal Pre-K, but the actual brief also reviews evidence on means-tested programs as well. Mean-tested programs use family income to determine eligibility.
  • The policy recommendations in the Manhattan brief are too simplistic given the complexity of early childhood care and education.
  • The brief’s assertion that highly disadvantaged children benefit most from high-quality early childhood education is supported by research.
  • Universal programs with high quality early childhood education may be better than means-test programs at enrolling disadvantaged children while benefitting other children.
  • If universal subsidies for cheap childcare are substituted for investments in high-quality Pre-K, the promised benefits will not materialize.
Read the full review on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

There are many likely benefits to American children and families from expansion of high-quality early childhood education programs. However, achieving the benefits of universal early education is not done through simplistic recommendations or political pandering. It is vital that we to take a wide look at policy recommendations on universal early education based on a non-biased, non-political, look at the research.

TALKING POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. The Manhattan Institute on Universal Pre-K brief makes critical omissions and assumptions that cause it to be misleading and inadequate as a guide for policymakers.
  1. Simply subsidizing low-quality childcare without investing in high quality early childhood education will mean that the promised benefits of universal Pre-K will not materialize.
  1. The Manhattan report makes several unwarranted assertions that short-term benefits are ignorable, that cognitive benefits are unimportant, and that women’s employment should not be a consideration.
  1. The Manhattan report espouses direct payments to parents but provides no evidence of any positive effect on child development.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
A new brief recommends rolling back coverage of existing #preschool education programs, but its recommendations are too simplistic and skewed. #universalprek #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute Read more: A new brief recommends rolling back coverage of existing #preschool education programs, but its recommendations are too simplistic and skewed. #universalprek #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute Read more:
A @NEPCtweet review found a brief on #UniversalPreK ignored existing research and is misleading for policymakers. #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute A @NEPCtweet review found a brief on #UniversalPreK ignored existing research and is misleading for policymakers. #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute
Policymakers proposing to expand access to #preschool should assure that programs are quality. #universalpreK #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute Policymakers proposing to expand access to #preschool should assure that programs are quality. #universalpreK #earlychildhood #manhattaninstitute
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:
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PO Box 1263
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June 16, 2021

Report Uses Weak Data and Methods to Promote School Choice

Note this item from the folks at the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

June 15, 2021

Contact:
Michelle Renée Valladares: (720) 505-1958, michelle.valladares@colorado.edu
T. Jameson Brewer: (678) 910-2744, Jameson.Brewer@ung.edu

Report Uses Weak Data and Methods to Promote School Choice

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: Methodological flaws and inattention to the larger research base on school choice lead to the authors’ preferred conclusions.

EAST LANSING, MI (June 15, 2021) – A recent brief from the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas is being used by voucher advocates to argue that increasing school choice can spur broad test score improvements.

However, T. Jameson Brewer of the University of North Georgia and Joel Malin of Miami University reviewed Education Freedom and Student Achievement: Is More School Choice Associated with Higher State-Level Performance on the NAEP?, and found significant methodological weaknesses and flaws that render the report useless for guiding policy.

The report ranks states based on their expansion of market-oriented school policies such as vouchers, charters, homeschooling, and inter-district choice. It then constructs a regression model using this “education freedom” ranking along with per-pupil spending and student/teacher ratio, and using each state’s combined math plus reading NAEP scores as the dependent variable.

This creative approach yields an unexpected negative relationship between higher spending and the combined NAEP levels. The student/teacher ratio variable does show the expected inverse relationship to outcomes (the more students per teacher, the lower NAEP scores). Oddly, while the two variables-spending and student/teacher ratio-would be expected to be highly correlated, the study does not explore or address this concern by, for example, exploring alternative modeling choices.

The report’s main finding is that, after controlling for spending, student/teacher ratio, household income, and percent White students, the model shows a positive correlation between “freedom” and these scores (as well as NAEP score gains since 2003). While repeatedly stating that their data and methods “cannot establish conclusively whether education freedom caused those changes,” the authors also repeatedly trumpet the association teased out by their model and urge policymakers to embrace school choice policies. Readers are ultimately informed of the “reality” that “[s]chool choice has its best chance to influence NAEP scores and gains across an entire state by delivering competitive pressure to district-run public schools.”

Professors Brewer and Malin point out, however, that the report’s data and methods can, at best, suggest a relationship that should then be examined using a stronger research design. They also explain that the report, by ignoring relevant peer-reviewed research that has found negative consequences of school choice reforms, does not engage meaningfully with the larger body of research. Indeed, the reviewers identify significant methodological flaws that cast doubt on the report’s findings. Major faults include issues related to independent variable construction, the use of an unusually combined dependent variable, and the inclusion of a student group that is untested via the NAEP.

Moreover, the methodology fails to scrutinize dubious findings emerging from their models-particularly with regard to spending on education. Instead, the report uses such findings to buttress its concluding claim that a package of school choice reforms is desirable and beneficial.

These shortcomings undermine the report’s conclusions and render the study, as currently presented, useless for purposes of guiding policymaking.

Find the review, by T. Jameson Brewer and Joel Malin, at:
https://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Education Freedom and Student Achievement: Is More School Choice Associated with Higher State-Level Performance on the NAEP?, written by Patrick J. Wolf, Jay P. Greene, Matthew Ladner, and James D. Paul and published by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas, at:
https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/wordpressua.uark.edu/dist/9/544/files/2018/10/education-freedom-and-naep-scores.pdf

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: https://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center 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/

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: https://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 https://www.greatlakescenter.org/

June 14, 2021

The Price Tag of Racial Inequality in Schools

Another item, unrelated to the last, from the folks at the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

June 10, 2021

Contact:
Michelle Renée Valladares: (720) 505-1958, michelle.valladares@colorado.edu
Clive Belfield: (917) 821-9219, clive.belfield@qc.cuny.edu

The Price Tag of Racial Inequality in Schools

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: New brief examines the effects of racism through an economic perspective to document the burden of inequity in the U.S. K-12 education system.

EAST LANSING, MI (June 10, 2021) – Even as the U.S. education system becomes more ethnically and racially diverse, racial disparities persist with regard to school segregation, educational resources, disciplinary treatment, and ultimately educational outcomes. These disparities harm students individually and have significant societal impacts as well, including economic consequences. Educational resources are misallocated, while Black and Hispanic students often leave school with substantially lower levels of human capital and, as a result, have lower lifetime earnings on average.

Together, these misallocations and losses in human capital are examined in a new NEPC policy brief, The Economic Burden of Racism from the U.S. Education System. The brief, authored by Clive Belfield of Queens College, City University of New York, explores this economic burden, asking what level of resources-not just direct money outlays but also time and effort that must be ultimately be paid for in some way-is lost because of racial discrimination.

Racism within the formal K-12 educational system is best understood as a carryover or symptom of societal racism. By focusing on schools, this brief should not distract from that reality. Just as importantly, focusing on just the economic price tag of racism should not distract from or minimize the human cost of racismin terms of lost lives and other physical and psychological brutality, as well as economic inequities that may not impact the bottom-line numbers. All of these harms are part of the same systemic whole wrought by racism. And seriously addressing racism in schools and in the society housing those schools will lead to across-the-board benefits, however measured.

In approaching his analysis, Professor Belfield notes that some harms cannot be included because resources haven’t been identified and calculated. But he conservatively estimates that, for each cohort of students age 18, the burden from lower human/social capital is between $42 and $92 billion in lost lifetime economic outcomes. For schools and districts, costs of racial disparities are incurred each year from K through 12th grade. Approximately and conservatively, these additional costs annually amount to $0.4 billion on school discipline, $3.8 billion on special education, $3.2 billion grade repetition, and $0.1 billion on direct spending to combat racism.

These conservative estimates of the main economic burdens of racial disparities point to the need for more complete and precise data. Professor Belfield concludes with recommendations calling for further investigation to fully understand both the economic burden of racism in U.S. education and how racism in other domains of society affects racial inequalities within schools.

Find The Economic Burden of Racism from the U.S. Education Systemby Clive Belfield, at: https://www.greatlakescenter.org

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

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center 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

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: https://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 https://www.greatlakescenter.org/

Instructional quality in virtual schools

An item from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice on our recent National Education Policy Center report.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

June 10, 2021READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

Teachers and students across the country needed to adjust to online learning rapidly when COVID-19 forced schools to close. Teachers quickly learned how to effectively administer online learning. Many believe education will look different post-pandemic. Many predictions point toward a hybrid style of learning that includes in-person and virtual learning.
Despite being around for years, for-profit virtual school companies have yet to ensure quality instruction. Policymakers must make some key changes to make sure every child is getting the education they need to thrive.
In our Virtual Schools Report 2021, we examined the extremely poor student performance of most for-profit virtual schools, the marketing and lobbying that goes into their popularity as well as the millions of taxpayer dollars that flow into these schools with little to no oversight.
Today we’ll examine the instructional quality of these schools.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz

Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice

SUMMARY

One of the large selling points for for-profit virtual school is that learning is highly individualized, but this is contested by experts. Students who use virtual learning options can progress through curriculum at their own pace, but that doesn’t mean learning is individualized. Often the virtual option only allows for one mode of instruction, while a teacher who instructs in person has more diverse options for covering the same content depending on a student’s learning style.
COVID-19 has also shown us that many students and teachers are unprepared for learning in an online environment. This hasn’t changed with the growth of for-profit virtual schools, and there’s been slow progress on research and policy to ensure high-quality teachers for virtual environments.
There is also little research on how to identify quality teachers for virtual learning, as well as how to recruit and retain them, to evaluate their effectiveness and provide support. Teacher training has not yet evolved to include learning how to teach in a virtual environment.
Many have raised concerns about the student-teacher ratio in virtual schooling. Across the country, some online teachers have had as many as 100 students per class. This greatly affects the quality of learning as well as teacher retention.
In the last two years, lawmakers have done little to address issues related to instructional program quality. In our Virtual Schools Report, we made the following recommendations to improve instructional quality in virtual schools:
  • Require curricula that are aligned with state and district standards.
  • Define training and licensure requirements specific to virtual learning.
  • Maintain data on teachers and staff that will allow policymakers to monitor patterns and assess quality.
  • Develop guidelines for appropriate student-teacher ratios to address retention issues.
  • Develop teacher evaluation rubrics using emerging research.
  • Examine the responsibilities of school principals to make sure they are prepared to be effective and use best practices.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

School will look different post-pandemic, and it’s likely we will see more students and families turning to virtual options. Unfortunately, policymaking has not caught up to the popularity surge of virtual schooling, meaning students are subject to the kinks of a new system that could potentially impact their overall learning. It’s important to take emerging research into account when considering policy decisions (or lack thereof) for virtual schools.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
High student-teacher ratios and a lack of training have led to problematic outcomes for #virtualschools. Policymakers can consider emerging research to help improve instructional quality at these schools. High student-teacher ratios and a lack of training have led to problematic outcomes for #virtualschools. Policymakers can consider emerging research to help improve instructional quality at these schools.
There’s little research on how to recruit and retain quality teachers for #virtuallearning, or how to train them to provide quality instruction. As for-profit virtual schools continue to grow, that needs to change. There’s little research on how to recruit and retain quality teachers for #virtuallearning, or how to train them to provide quality instruction. As for-profit virtual schools continue to grow, that needs to change.
COVID-19 has shown us that many teachers are unprepared for #onlineteaching. There’s been slow progress to ensure their preparation, something policymakers must act on as for-profit virtual schools continue to grow. COVID-19 has shown us that many teachers are unprepared for #onlineteaching. There’s been slow progress to ensure their preparation, something policymakers must act on as for-profit virtual schools continue to grow.
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

June 4, 2021

Lobbying, marketing push popularity of virtual schools despite poor student achievement, little oversight

An item from the NEPC via the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

June 3, 2021READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

Even with the poorest overall student outcomes and many huge financial scandals, virtual schools are not only surviving, but growing at a record rate. COVID-19 pushed virtual schools into the national conversation, but these schools were expanding even before the pandemic. Why?
In our Virtual Schools Report 2021, we examined the extremely poor student performance of most for-profit virtual schools as well as the millions of taxpayer dollars that flow into these schools with little to no oversight.
Today we’ll examine the robust lobbying and marketing practices of for-profit virtual schools.
Read on to learn more.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz

Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice

SUMMARY

Almost every state that funds for-profit virtual schools (37 and counting) provide them with the same per-pupil funding as traditional brick-and-mortar schools. This makes the financial superiority of for-profit virtual schools massive.
With no need to pay rent on a school building, buy furniture, libraries, computer labs and no need to provide bussing or lunches, school nurses, counselors or librarians, these companies simply amass cash. Not only do they have fewer expenses, but teachers in these schools usually have many more students than their counterparts in traditional schools.
Unbelievably, while lobbying state legislators for even more money, some of these operators have argued that it is more costly to run a virtual school.
Unfortunately, it is mostly impossible to find out where virtual schools are spending their money because they are held by private shell companies that refuse to report where taxpayer dollars are spent.
But we can make estimates about where virtual schools spend a significant amount of money. If you search for virtual schools online, ad after ad will pop up. Almost 60 percent of the students enrolled in full-time virtual schools are in for-profit schools, even though student outcomes are significantly worse. Of course, this isn’t mentioned in the many advertisements of these companies. It is safe to say that they spend many more taxpayer dollars marketing themselves than do brick-and-mortar schools.
Most virtual schools do a more effective job of lobbying state legislatures than they do educating students. Education Week conducted a review in 2016 of for-profit virtual schools’ lobbying, and it has only increased. In Oklahoma, for example, where state auditors have battled with Epic Charter over its financial practices, legislators received large political donations. Indiana has experienced similar problems. And according to Open Secrets, in just the first quarter of 2021, K12 Inc. employs at least 11 lobbyists and spent at least $360,000 lobbying federal lawmakers.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

For-profit virtual schools may look great in their advertisements, but it’s important to look behind the curtain. Though they have robust advertising and lobbying efforts, for-profit virtual schools show abysmal student achievement and poor graduation rates. Following research and knowing the facts is imperative before dedicating more funds to these types of schools, especially since they have so few expenses compared to brick-and-mortar schools.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
For-profit #virtualschools have extensive marketing and lobbying efforts that have helped them gain popularity despite poor student achievement and graduation rates. More: For-profit #virtualschools have extensive marketing and lobbying efforts that have helped them gain popularity despite poor student achievement and graduation rates. More:
Millions of taxpayer dollars flow into for-profit #virtualschools with little to no oversight. A report from @greatlakescent details policy changes that need to be made to hold these companies accountable. Millions of taxpayer dollars flow into for-profit #virtualschools with little to no oversight. A report from @greatlakescent details policy changes that need to be made to hold these companies accountable.
Almost 60 percent of students in virtual schools are enrolled in for-profit companies, even though #studentachievement outcomes are significantly worse. Read more: Almost 60 percent of students in virtual schools are enrolled in for-profit companies, even though #studentachievement outcomes are significantly worse. Read more:
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

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