Virtual School Meanderings

September 16, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read


News article: Charter Board vote allows Eddie Farnsworth, AZ school operator and lawmaker, to make millions

Posted: 09 Sep 2018 09:00 PM PDT

East Valley charter-school owner and state lawmaker Eddie Farnsworth is poised for a payday of up to $30 million after the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the transfer of his for-profit charter-school chain to a newly formed non-profit company on Monday. That move will allow Farnsworth, a longtime Republican state representative, to sell the campuses — paid for with state tax dollars — to the non-profit company for between $11.8 million and $29.9 million, according to Charter Board records. “They just gave a charter to a non-profit, but they didn’t vet them,” said McHood, a charter school critic whose relatives attended Farnsworth’s schools. “Here we are paying for his private property with our tax dollars, and then he can sell them.”

September 13, 2018

Review: Time To Change Course: Reclaiming The Potential Of Texas Charter Schools

Another notice of this recent NEPC review.

September 11, 2018

Contacts
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Edward J. Fuller: (814) 865-2233, ejf20@psu.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Review: Time to Change Course: Reclaiming the Potential of Texas Charter Schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (September 11, 2018) —A recent report from ExcelinEd and Texas Public Policy Foundation examines the charter-school authorizing process in Texas and contends that a 2013 legislative policy change made the authorization process too restrictive, thus reducing the number of applicants and stifling innovation.

Professor Edward J. Fuller of Penn State University reviewed Time to Change Course: Reclaiming the Potential of Texas Charter Schools and found that its findings and conclusions are not supported by research or other compelling evidence and thus do not provide useful guidance for policymakers. The report is part of Think Twice Review, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Fuller’s key finding is that although the report is billed as a case study, it fails to supply solid evidence. The report’s lack of research and analysis results in an unsupported advocacy paper instead.

After surveying current and past Texas authorizing policies, the report claims Texas had formerly been a leader in creating high-performing charter schools. It further claims that Texas’ past low barriers for entry into the market (i.e., ease of having an application approved by an authorizer) was a contributing factor to this success. The report then provides recommendations for creating an easier authorization process.

While the report contends it is a case study, Professor Fuller notes that it does not employ case study methodology. Moreover, the report fails to review or cite relevant research; it instead relies on unsubstantiated claims, anecdotes, misleading statements, and even demonstrably false statements to promote the development of more charter schools in Texas.

In short, Fuller concludes, this report is an advocacy paper masquerading as a case study. Policymakers would be well advised to skip the report and look for evidence-based reviews of the Texas charter authorizing process.

Find the Think Twice Review by Fuller on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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.

Find Time to Change Course: Reclaiming the Potential of Texas Charter Schools, written by Adam Jones and Amanda List and published by ExcelinEd and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, at
https://www.excelined.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ExcelinEd.TexasCharterSchoolPaper.TimeToChangeCourse.June2018.pdf

You can also find the review by Edward Fuller on the NEPC website:
https://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-texas-charters

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September 9, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature has returned.

Worth A Read


The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high

Posted: 04 Sep 2018 09:00 PM PDT

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found the teacher pay gap–the difference between private and public sector pay for individuals with the same levels of experience and education–has increased to an all-time high. According to EPI, the trend “reflects state policy decisions (mainly tax cuts) rather than . . . revenue challenges brought on by the Great Recession.”  The report includes state level comparisons in addition to national trend data.      The report concludes: “If the policy goal is to improve the quality of the entire teaching workforce, then raising the level of teacher compensation, including wages, is critical to recruiting and retaining higher-quality teachers. Policies that solely focus on changing the composition of current compensation (e.g., merit or pay-for-performance schemes) without actually increasing compensation levels are unlikely to be effective.”

June 19, 2018

Review: Hard Work And Soft Skills: The Attitudes, Abilities, And Character Of Students In Career And Technical Education

Another press release on this National Education Policy Center review.

June 14, 2018

Contacts:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
James Rosenbaum: (847) 491-3795, j-rosenbaum@northwestern.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Review: Hard Work and Soft Skills: The Attitudes, Abilities, and Character of Students in Career and Technical Education

EAST LANSING, Mich. (June 14, 2018) — Research has shown that, after controlling for the lower test scores on average of students who take Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, high school CTE programs are associated with higher high school graduation rates, and overall educational attainment and earnings than students in academic programs whose previous test scores were similar. But the reasons for this relationship are not clear. A new report from the American Enterprise Institute hypothesizes that noncognitive skills, such as work habits and effort, affect this relationship, and the report provides a sound test of this hypothesis.

The report suggests that CTE may improve attainments by improving noncognitive skills. The key implication is that, instead of a narrow focus on academic skills, schools need to consider how to improve students’ other skills to improve attainment and job outcomes. While the reviewer agrees that this implication is reasonably drawn from the report, he cautions that educators need a clearer interpretation of these “noncognitive skills” and whether they are persistent attributes or highly changeable behaviors.

Professor James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University reviewed Work and Soft Skills: The Attitudes, Abilities, and Character of Students in Career and Technical Education, and found it to be a strong, careful, and thoughtful empirical analysis of a strong dataset.  The report is part of Think Twice Review, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Rosenbaum’s key finding is that the report presents a strong empirical analysis illuminating how students in CTE programs demonstrate better outcomes than students with similar test scores in traditional academic programs.

The review notes that the most remarkable feature of this report is the broad array of indicators it compiles, including how much effort students exhibit on a routine task (e.g., a long and boring survey in school), and teacher reports of student effort. Professor Rosenbaum concludes that, despite a few limitations, the report has constructed “innovative and impressive new indicators of noncognitive behaviors.”

More clarity is needed, however, in defining the differences between “noncognitive skills” and “noncognitive behaviors.” Is “effort,” for example, a function of human behavior, or is it a learned skill?

In conclusion, the reviewer holds that this report was successful in constructing “innovative and impressive new indicators of noncognitive behaviors,” which should inform policy decisions about how nonacademic skills can help overall student achievement.

Find the Think Twice Review on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Hard Work and Soft Skills: The Attitudes, Abilities, and Character of Students in Career and Technical Education, written by Albert Cheng and Collin Hitt and published by American Enterprise Institute, at:
http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Hard-Work-and-Soft-Skills.pdf

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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.

You can also find the review on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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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 http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

June 14, 2018

Review: 2018 Teacher Prep Review, National Council On Teacher Quality

Another press release on that National Education Policy Center review.

June 12, 2018

Contacts:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Marilyn Cochran-Smith: (617) 552-4591, cochrans@bc.edu
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940, greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.org

Review: 2018 Teacher Prep Review, National Council on Teacher Quality

EAST LANSING, Mich. (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.”

Aimed at prospective “consumers” of teacher preparation programs, the report reviews 714 post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs. These are labeled: “graduate” or “traditional” (n=567 programs); “alternative-route” or “internship” (n=129 programs); and, “residency” (n=18 programs).  The report rated teacher preparation programs using internally developed input-based standards that were applied to syllabi and course documents.

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 assessed the report for Think Twice Review, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Their key finding is that the NCTQ report does not distinguish differences between university programs and alternative routes by failing to account for broad shifts in the field of teacher education that are nuanced, hybridized, and dynamic.

In addition, the reviewers found the report to have multiple logical, conceptual, and methodological flaws.

  • The report ignores accumulating evidence that there is little relationship between the NCTQ’s ratings of a program and its graduates’ later classroom performance.
  • Its methodology, which employs a highly questionable documents-only evaluation system to judge and rate preparation programs, is a maze of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and contradictions.
  • The report perpetuates a simplistic dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes, ignoring that researchers have suggested for years there is as much or more variation within each of these categories as there is between them.

In their conclusion, the authors contend that the latest NCTQ report on teacher prep programs provides another example of misleading, confusing analysis which “Ultimately . . . offers little guidance for consumers, policymakers, or practitioners.”

Find the Think Twice Review on the web:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find the 2018 Teacher Prep Review, National Council on Teacher Quality here:
https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/2018_Teacher_Prep_Review_733174

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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.

You can also find the review on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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