Virtual School Meanderings

May 23, 2017

Policy Brief Explores School Closure As A Reform Policy

From the inbox last week…

May 18, 2017

Contact:
Gail L. Sunderman, (443) 932-1934, gsunderm@umd.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Policy Brief Explores School Closure as a Reform Policy

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 18, 2017) — Closing a “low-performing” school and sending students to a “better-performing” one has been offered as a school improvement strategy, which the logic suggests will motivate schools to improve. A new policy brief released today investigates whether closing schools is an option that policymakers should pursue.

The brief, School Closure as a Strategy to Remedy Low Performance, was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), and written by Gail L. Sunderman, University of Maryland, Erin Coghlan, University of California Berkeley, and Rick Mintrop, University of California Berkeley. It was funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the brief, the limited evidence base suggests that school closures are not a promising strategy for remedying low performance. The authors write, “School closures have at best weak and decidedly mixed benefits; at worst they have detrimental repercussions for students if districts do not ensure that seats at higher-performing schools are available for transfer students.”

In addition to reviewing the evidence base, the authors answer four overarching research questions:

  • How often do school closings occur and for what reasons?
  • What is the impact on students of closing schools for reasons of performance?
  • What is the impact of closing schools on the public school system in which closure has taken place? and
  • What is the impact of school closures on students of various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and on local communities and neighborhoods?

Based on their analysis, the authors offer the following cautions: (1) Because this turnaround option is so infrequently used, policy and district actors should approach this option with caution; (2) “Closure and transfer” is a decidedly undesirable option in districts where transferring to a higher-performing school is not available; (3) School closures are especially inadvisable for middle school students, due to the shorter grade span of such schools; (4) Closing schools for any reason has costs, but closing schools solely for performance has unanticipated consequences; and (5) Closures tend to differentially affect low-income communities of color.

The authors, in their conclusion, state that school closure as a strategy for school improvement is a “high-risk/low-gain strategy that fails to hold promise for improving student achievement and non-cognitive well-being.” They continue, “In many instances, students, parents, local communities, district and state policymakers may be better off investing in persistently low-performing schools than closing them.”

Find School Closure as a Strategy to Remedy Low Performance on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The brief can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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.

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May 21, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


Segregation still prevalent in Indiana schools, data show

Posted: 16 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Jodi S. Moon and Lauren Krull investigated school segregation in Indiana for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (CEEP) at Indiana University. “Although Indiana has seen rapid growth in the enrollment of nonwhite students, overall interactions between white and nonwhite students remain low. For example, the average black student in Indiana attends a school where 68 percent of the students are nonwhite, while the average white student in Indiana attends a school where 19 percent of the students are nonwhite.”

The Takeover Lie

Posted: 15 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Peter Greene discusses school takeovers as a school reform strategy. He concludes, “The heart of the takeover idea is that there are people out there who know special secrets – how to educate students, how to run schools, how to do it all for less money – that somehow nobody in public education knows. But we’ve had these companies in business for years now, and there’s no reason to believe that the heart of the takeover idea is anything but a profitable falsehood.”

Toward Equity and Coherence? California’s Funding Formula in Year 3

Posted: 14 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

The Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative recently released a report on the implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). “After three years of following the implementation of the LCFF and hundreds of interviews with district officials, principals, teachers, school board members, parents, union officials, and community organizations, we have yet to find anyone who wants to return to the old categorical system of school funding.  At the same time, we have encountered a fair amount of confusion and apprehension about whether districts are moving quickly enough to realize the equity intent of the law, which was the reason for including S & C funds in LCFF in the first place.”

Cracking the teacher recruitment and retention code

Posted: 14 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Justin Minkel writes about teacher retention, recruitment, and rewards. “I teach in a school that is 99% poverty yet has virtually 0% turnover. See if you can figure out which of the following are responsible for so many skilled teachers choosing to teach at Jones Elementary, a school where virtually every child lives in poverty.”

How Did Chronic Absenteeism Become a Thing?

Posted: 11 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Phyllis Jordan, FutureEd’s editorial director, discusses how student chronic absenteeism became so popular among states seeking to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “In some ways, the push for tracking chronic absenteeism benefitted from timing, given the increased emphasis on education data and the ESSA’s commitment to going beyond test scores to measure school success. But it also shows the value of building support for an idea locally, getting buy-in from stakeholders and experimenting at the state level before making a move nationally. In a time of gridlock in Washington, this might just be the right model to pursue.”

‘Moonlight’ schooled Hollywood on race. Can it take on school discipline, too?

Posted: 08 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Derek Black, professor of law, University of South Carolina, discusses the impact that the movie ‘Moonlight’ might have on school discipline disparities in the U.S. He writes, “When school discipline responds to students’ needs, it produces better behavior and academic achievement for all students – not just struggling students. Schools with the highest achievement are those that deal with misbehavior through means other than just suspension, expulsion and law enforcement.”

May 14, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature…

Worth A Read


Nation’s ‘Report Card’ Looks At Student Achievement in Visual Arts, Music

Posted: 10 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Nicolle Schorchit writes about recent findings of the national assessment of students’ performance in visual and music arts (using information from the NAEP). Some of the findings include: “In both music and visual arts: Female students scored higher on average than their male peers; Students not eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) scored higher on average than eligible students; and Students in suburban schools scored higher on average than those in city schools.”

Indiana Virtual Charter School Escapes the Ax Again, Despite Poor Academic Record

Posted: 10 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Arianna Prothero discusses the poor performance of a virtual charter school in Indiana, which was kept open by the state. “Hoosier Academy Virtual School is run by one of those companies, K12 Inc. which is based in Herndon, Va. K12 Inc. is the country’s largest for-profit operator of full-time, online charter schools and runs effective lobbying efforts in more than 20 states, including Indiana, where, according to Education Week’s investigation, it had spent around $1 million dollars lobbying state lawmakers and donating to their campaigns and political parties since 2007.”

New Report Released: ‘Teachers’ Perspectives on Learning and Work Environments under the New Orleans School Reforms’

Posted: 08 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Lindsay Bell Weixler, Douglas N. Harris, and Nathan Barrett investigated “teachers’ perceptions of how learning and work environments changed in New Orleans publicly funded schools after Hurricane Katrina.” Regarding the impact of school working conditions, the researchers wrote: “Policymakers and school leaders should create environments in which both students and teachers are set up for success, as teachers’ work environments directly affect the learning environments and experiences of students.”

‘Moonlight’ schooled Hollywood on race. Can it take on school discipline, too

Posted: 08 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Derek Black, professor of law, University of South Carolina, discusses the impact that the movie ‘Moonlight’ might have on school discipline disparities in the U.S. He writes, “When school discipline responds to students’ needs, it produces better behavior and academic achievement for all students – not just struggling students. Schools with the highest achievement are those that deal with misbehavior through means other than just suspension, expulsion and law enforcement.”

Here Are Interactive Highlights From the First Round of State ESSA Plans

Posted: 08 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Andrew Ujifusa links to Education Week’s interactive presentation of states’ ESSA plans in six key policy areas. “We highlight what states want to do with respect to goals, school ratings, academic indicators, school quality, the minimum ’n’-size for which subgroups of students at a school must be included in accountability calculations, and testing opt-outs.”

May 11, 2017

Understanding “Cream-Skimming” In NYC Charters Will Require Better Data, Review Finds

Note this important report…

May 9, 2017

Contact:
Sarah A. Cordes, (215) 204-6332, sarah.cordes@temple.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Understanding “cream-skimming” in NYC charters will require better data, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 9, 2017) — In March, the Manhattan Institute released a report that explored the extent to which charter schools’ success could be attributed to “cream-skimming” from struggling public schools in New York. The report claimed that NYC’s charter schools performed better than selective non-charter public schools. An academic review of the report released today finds that the report is of limited use for policy and practice.

Sarah A. Cordes, Temple University, reviewed the report, New York Charter Schools Outperform Traditional Selective Public Schools: More Evidence that Cream-skimming is Not Driving Charters’ Success, for the Think Twice think thank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report compared the aggregate test scores in math and English of NYC’s charter middle schools with a set of selective non-charter public middle schools, finding that the charter schools performed no differently in ELA and significantly better in math. The report concluded that the success of NYC’s charter schools could not be explained by cream-skimming.

In her review, Cordes says that the conclusions of the report seem logical, but the report suffers from two primary flaws:

  1. It assumes that selective school applicants are higher performing and more motivated than charter school applicants; and
  2. The report relies on a single year of data to make comparisons.

In her conclusion, she says that this report misses the mark in response to evaluating cream-skimming in NYC charter schools. She writes, “Addressing the question of cream-skimming in NYC charter schools will require the use of longitudinal student-level data and much more rigorous methods.”

Find the review on the GLC website:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the original report on the web:
https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/new-york-charter-schools-outperform-traditional-selective-public-schools-10128.html

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.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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May 7, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature…

Worth A Read


Can We Trust Policymakers to Make Good Decisions for Schools?

Posted: 03 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Nancy Flanagan shares her recent encounter with an inexperienced state legislator, who mistakenly thinks that school choice would benefit his rural Michigan constituents. “I wondered if hanging out with other legislators in his party, and being visited and feted by ‘choice’ lobbyists, endemic in Michigan, had anything to do with this change of heart. I wondered how many times he would tell that story — ‘I met a family…’ — completely unaware that he was elevating the needs of one child over the needs of an entire district filled with children whose parents were counting on the public school to meet their needs.”

A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America

Posted: 02 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Terry Gross, NPR’s Fresh Air, interviews Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute, about his new book: ‘The Color of Law.’ Rothstein’s book examines federal and state housing policies that mandated segregation in the U.S. “Rothstein says these decades-old housing policies have had a lasting effect on American society. ‘The segregation of our metropolitan areas today leads … to stagnant inequality, because families are much less able to be upwardly mobile when they’re living in segregated neighborhoods where opportunity is absent.’”

Teacher Turnover in Alaska is Costing the State $20 Million Annually

Posted: 01 May 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Emmanuel Felton reports on a recent study by the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, which found that teacher turnover in Alaska costs the sate $20 million annually. “The study found that turnover rates in rural districts averaged about 20 percent between 2004 and 2014. While in about a dozen districts, annual turnover rates exceeded 30 percent.”

What teachers’ viral resignation letters reveal about the state of public education

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Michigan Public Radio recently ran an audio story on a  report by Alyssa Hadley Dunn, Michigan State University, which investigated teacher resignation letters. “Listen to the conversation [above] to hear what teachers’ viral resignation letters can reveal about the state of public teaching.”

School Desegregation in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 09:00 PM PDT

“In an excerpt from his new memoir ‘This African-American Life,’ former president of the National Urban League Hugh B. Price describes his elementary and secondary education in Washington, D.C. Price focused on his studies and dreamed of playing major-league baseball—all while he and his schoolmates made history in some of the city’s first integrated classrooms after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.”

Congress expected to reauthorize D.C. school vouchers in sweeping budget deal

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Emma Brown and Peter Jamison explain how DC school vouchers could be extended, despite new data showing that vouchers had a negative effect on some students. “The legislation would re­authorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps 1,100 low-income students attend private schools, through fiscal 2019. The program is the only federally funded effort of its kind.”

Experimenting with Multiple Measures of Teacher Effectiveness

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 09:00 PM PDT

Stephen Lipscomb and Ann Li attempt to answer some important questions regarding using multiple measures of teacher effectiveness. “Our report showed that these measures capture complementary teaching skills, and each measure has the potential to identify meaningful differences between teachers. Combining multiple measures provides a broader view of teacher performance that reflects not only how teachers are doing, but also what they are doing in their practices.”

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