Virtual School Meanderings

January 22, 2021

Review Finds a Misguided Guide for Implementing Innovation Schools

An interesting think tank report review from the National Education Policy Center.

January 21, 2021

Contact:
Michelle Renée Valladares: (720) 505-1958, michelle.valladares@colorado.edu
Carrie Sampson: (602) 543-2820, csampso4@asu.edu

Review Finds a Misguided Guide for Implementing Innovation Schools

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: Policymakers who consider using this guide risk adopting a model of school governance that not only fails to resolve educational inequities, but may even perpetuate them.

EAST LANSING, MI (January 21, 2021) -The Progressive Policy Institute recently published a “how-to” guide for entities such as charter management companies that seek to develop innovation schools in urban communities.

Carrie Sampson of Arizona State University and Sarah Diem of the University of Missouri reviewed The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools and found it to lack research-based evidence to support its recommendations.

Unlike charter schools, which often do not have access to district resources (e.g., facilities, transportation), the companies/entities that operate innovation schools are provided with both district resources and the authority to autonomously lead and govern these schools in exchange for improving student performance. The guide argues that equitable educational opportunity is achievable when schools have complete autonomy and strong accountability to increase academic performance and to adopt diverse learning models and expand school choice.

Sampson and Diem explain, however, that many of the report’s long list of 53 recommendations are improbable and overlook the potential disadvantages of innovation schools. These recommendations, they conclude, are highly complicated, largely unexamined, and likely infeasible, especially if a district’s goal is to serve all students and their families equitably.

Find the review, by Carrie Sampson and Sarah Diem, at:
https://www.greatlakescenter.org/

Find The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools, written by Tressa Pankovits and David Osbourne and published by Progressive Policy Institute, at:
https://www.progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PPI_ReinventingAmericasSchoolsInnovationGuide.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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December 9, 2020

Think Twice Review: Report falsely claims economic benefits of using tax credits for private school vouchers

Another report review from the NEPC folks.

Inside Look

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

Dec. 8, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

A report from the Commonwealth Foundation argues the state of Pennsylvania could make economic gains by expanding a program that uses tax credits to create vouchers for private schools. However, a review of the report found its conclusions are based on flawed research claiming voucher recipients have higher academic achievement, are more likely to attend and graduate from college, and are less likely to commit felonies.

Read on to learn more.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz

Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice

REPORT REVIEWED

Think Twice Reviewer Bruce Baker of Rutgers University reviewed “Unleashing Educational Opportunity: The Untapped Potential of Expanded Tax Credit Scholarships” and found issues that conflict with the report’s conclusions and usefulness.

WHAT THE REVIEWERS FOUND

The Commonwealth Foundation report argues economic gains in Pennsylvania would result from two alleged benefits: increased lifetime earnings for those who attend private schools on vouchers and reduced social costs associated with crime.

The report estimates a 10 percent annual increase in scholarship funding could lead to $6 billion in economic benefits from those increased lifetime earnings and $2.1 billion from additional high school graduates. It also claims a $228 million reduction in the social costs associated with crime.

Verifying these claims would require sufficient evidence that expanding vouchers for private schooling in Pennsylvania would lead to the projected outcomes. The report cannot honestly produce the evidence, Baker wrote. Instead, it ignores recent negative studies of statewide private school choice programs, incorrectly applies findings on charter schools, and misinterprets research on crime reduction.

Baker also finds the report’s claim that vouchers improve reading achievement is based on data from charter school studies, rather than research about students who attend private school on vouchers. The data included in the report is suspect because of known negative side effects of vouchers on student achievement which have been found in recent studies on voucher programs.

The report ignores complexities of the issue to suggest vouchers generate cost savings. It does this by using costs for public expenditure vouchers that are lower than the average amount per-pupil spent by districts. Baker concludes the report is not useful to policymakers.

Read the full review on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because some of the report’s claims are based on false premises, misrepresentation and misapplication of research, the report has little, if any, value for shaping policy. The report’s recommendations for a tuition tax credit program would likely result in significant economic losses if applied in Pennsylvania or other states.

TALKING POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. A report from the Commonwealth Foundation argues using tax credits to create private school vouchers would result in economic gains for the state of Pennsylvania.
  1. A review showed the report’s claims are based on false premises and misapplication of existing research, making the report of little, if any, value, in policymaking.
  1. The report’s recommendations would likely result in significant economic losses.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
A report uses false premises to argue for the use of tax credits to create #privateschoolvouchers, claiming it would create economic benefits for the state of Pennsylvania. A report uses false premises to argue for the use of tax credits to create #privateschoolvouchers, claiming it would create economic benefits for the state of Pennsylvania.
A @NEPCtweet review found a report arguing for the use of tax credits to create private school vouchers is not useful to policymakers because it is based on misapplication of research. A @NEPCtweet review found a report arguing for the use of tax credits to create private school vouchers is not useful to policymakers because it is based on misapplication of research.
A report claims using tax credits for private school vouchers in Pennsylvania would yield economic benefits because of higher student achievement and crime reduction, but uses false premises to make those claims. A report claims using tax credits for private school vouchers in Pennsylvania would yield economic benefits because of higher student achievement and crime reduction, but uses false premises to make those claims.
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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:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

Helpful Report on Middle School CTE Programs Comes Up Short on Confronting Inequities

A report from the NEPC as a part of their think tank report review project.

December 8, 2020

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Marisa Saunders: (310) 866-2263, m.saunders@ucla.edu

Helpful Report on Middle School CTE Programs Comes Up Short on Confronting Inequities

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: While the report makes broadly appealing recommendations, it misses the opportunity to directly confront stratified opportunities within middle school career and technical education programs.

EAST LANSING, MI (December 8, 2020) – Creating Strong Building Blocks for Every Student: How Middle Schools Can Lay the Foundation for Rigorous High School Pathways, a recent report from the Center of American Progress, offers a set of recommendations for middle school career and technical education (CTE) programs. The included recommendations are sound, although the report fails to provide much-needed evidence that connects the implementation of middle school CTE to increased access to high-quality pathways.

Marisa Saunders, from the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, and Cynthia Estrada, from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, reviewed the new report and determined that its recommendations are helpful but come up short in confronting patterns of stratification, whereby marginalized students are being denied access to high-quality pathways that integrate an academic and CTE curriculum.

The report does document inequitable access to these high-quality pathways. In particular, it explains how many students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and minoritized populations, have not been provided the academic preparation needed to access pathways that prepare students for postsecondary education and career. In the face of these trends, the report contends that well-designed middle school CTE programs that support college and career exploration and guidance can prepare students for high-quality pathways and address current patterns of differential access.

Yet while the report offers appealing recommendations for states and districts as they move to implement middle school CTE, Saunders and Estrada explain in their review that the suggestions do not directly address the key challenge. The report’s landscape analysis identifies college and career exploration standards that emphasize career development. Middle school CTE programs following the report’s suggestions may therefore fail to prepare middle school students with the academics or knowledge they need to access high-quality pathways. In fact, beyond improved academic preparation, middle school CTE programs must provide the necessary student supports and resources that can ensure all students succeed in these programs.

Accordingly, the reviewers conclude, the report is helpful but incomplete and could lead states, districts, and schools to implementation strategies and practices that fall into familiar routines that maintain the harmful status quo for students from marginalized backgrounds.

Find the review, by Marisa Saunders and Cynthia Estrada, at:
https://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Creating Strong Building Blocks for Every Student: How Middle Schools Can Lay the Foundation for Rigorous High School Pathways, written by Meg Benner and Scott Sargrad and published by the Center for American Progress, at:
https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2020/07/31111946/Strong-Building-Blocks2.pdf?_ga=2.154356856.1745955946.1599782721-695044446.1546624010

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/

December 7, 2020

Policy Brief: Districts should exercise caution and hold ‘Innovation Schools’ accountable

Another item from 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

Dec. 3, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:
To expand autonomy for public schools, some school districts around the country have launched new reform strategies called “Innovation Schools.” These reforms create more autonomous schools that give authority to school leaders for curriculum, budgeting and hiring, among other responsibilities, as districts continue to manage services like teacher payroll and benefits. These schools tend to operate like charter schools because of their level of autonomy, with some important differences. However, similar to charters, this type of autonomy based school improvement plan tends to shift responsibilities for educating students from school districts to individual schools and their leaders.

Read on to learn more.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz
Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice 

REPORT REVIEWED

Reviewers Terrenda White and Anna Noble of the University of Colorado Boulder wrote the policy brief “Rethinking ‘Innovation Schools’: Strengths and Limitations of Autonomy-Based School Improvement Plans in the Contexts of Widening Racial Inequality.

SUMMARY

The authors consider two questions: 1) As systemic inequities persist in the form of poverty, racism, segregation and unequal school funding, what supports and conditions should districts provide to ensure educators are equipped to improve education quality? And 2) What role should districts play to ensure localized management and decision-making leads to greater democratic participation and community engagement from local stakeholders?
The brief highlights examples of initiatives at the state and local levels that rely on school-level autonomy as a primary improvement strategy. This includes using additional research on race and education policy and considering the role school districts play in advancing achievement and equity. The authors evaluate autonomous schools in different states and districts and their impact on student performance and equity. The authors also consider challenges schools face in assessing racial inequality and determining community support.
The brief provides seven recommendations for school district leaders:
  1. Districts should exercise caution in their calls for “unrestricted autonomy” in public schools.
  1. Districts should couple autonomy and accountability with centralized supports across autonomous schools to sustain progress over time.
  1. Districts should play a role in shaping priorities for equity in all their schools.
  1. Schools should be viewed as more than units of management with autonomy over school functions.
  1. School-level strategies should be tied to community based approaches in improving equity and opportunity.
  1. Efforts to retain teachers should be met with the same enthusiasm as gaining flexibility in staffing.
  1. School leaders should use community engagement and participation to guide decision-making.
Read the full policy brief on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

The autonomy granted to “Innovation Schools” could create issues for districts if the schools are not held accountable to districtwide standards. This also creates opportunities to hold individual schools and their leaders solely responsible for educating students. Finally, this level of autonomy may not meet equity standards established by districts and communities.

TALKING POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. “Innovation schools” tend to operate like charter schools due to their high level of autonomy, posing accountability limitations for public school districts.
  1. These autonomy based schools tend to shift responsibilities and blame for educational outcomes from school districts to individual schools and their leaders.
  1. The schools are challenged in improving student achievement and equity, especially when addressing racial inequality.

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 policy brief explores the implications of “innovation schools” and highlights important factors to consider about school autonomy. A new policy brief explores the implications of “innovation schools” and highlights important factors to consider about school autonomy.
A @NEPCtweet policy brief gives several recommendations for holding “innovation schools” accountable, especially when it comes to racial equality. A @NEPCtweet policy brief gives several recommendations for holding “innovation schools” accountable, especially when it comes to racial equality.
School leaders should make decisions about “innovation schools” with strong community engagement and participation, a new policy brief finds. School leaders should make decisions about “innovation schools” with strong community engagement and participation, a new policy brief finds.
Follow Us
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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

Report Attempts to Make Hay of Different Trends in Charter Schools and District Schools

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

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