Virtual School Meanderings

April 22, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Growing Disparities in Enrollment, Investments, and Quality: 2002-2017

Posted: 17 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Allison Friedman-Krauss, W. Steven Barnett, G.G. Weisenfeld, Richard Kasmin, Nicole DiCrecchio, Michelle Horowitz authored a new national report on preschool programs across the U.S. “‘The State of Preschool 2017’ annual report, based on 2016-17 academic year data, finds states heeding the demand for pre-K and expanding access to publicly funded programs in a variety of settings. But instead of supporting quality early learning with adequate resources, most state programs invest too little to help children catch up with their more advantaged peers by kindergarten.”

Career and Technical Education Programs in Public School Districts: 2016-17

Posted: 16 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Lucinda Gray and Laurie Lewis compiled a report on Career and Technical Education Programs in U.S. school districts. “The survey defines a CTE program as a sequence of courses at the high school level that provides students with the academic and technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and careers in current or emerging professions. During the 2016–17 school year, 98 percent of public school districts offered CTE programs to students at the high school level. Nationwide, 10 percent of districts reported that students in their enrollment area have the option of enrolling in a CTE district that provides only CTE programs instead of enrolling in their home district.”

We Can’t Graph Our Way Out Of The Research On Education Spending

Posted: 16 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Matthiew Di Carlo discusses the misuse of ‘The Graph,’ which attempts to compare per pupil spending against NAEP average test scores. “Call me crazy, but I, like many people, expect a certain level of intellectual rigor and honesty from an institution such as USED. Yes, I know it’s a department run by political appointees, and this is hardly the first time USED has been a little fast and loose with the evidence. I don’t expect long literature reviews and cautious conclusions that end up not taking a concrete policy stance, or Twitter posts accompanied by tables full of coefficients from statistical models. I do, however, expect more than ‘The Graph.’”

50-State Comparison: Instructional Time Policies

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Sarah Pompelia compiled an overview of state instructional time requirements for K-12 across the country for the Education Commission of the States. “Key Takeaways: Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia require at least 180 days of instruction; Twelve states place parameters around school start and/or finish dates; Thirty-five states differentiate the hours in a day or year, or the days in a year based on grade levels.”

Universal preschool is most cost-effective, study finds

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

A new study finds that universal preschool programs have a significant positive effect on reading scores that targeted programs do not. “The new research contradicts the current strategy in most states of targeting public preschool only to low-income kids. That approach is based on the results of many earlier studies that have found attending preschool helps kids from disadvantaged backgrounds start kindergarten on a stronger academic footing. The benefits for higher income children are less pronounced. That is why most states and the federal government choose to spend taxpayer dollars on ‘targeted’ preschool programs open only to low-income families.”

A Better Way to Compare State Performance on NAEP

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Matthew Chingos and Kristin Blagg share a new NAEP interactive that adjusts the performance of states’ performance based on demographics. “Our adjustment is not perfect. In particular, socioeconomic data based on free- and reduced-price lunch status are weak and getting worse. And while demographically-adjusted data allow for fairer comparisons across states, they still do not reveal why some states perform much better than others. Despite some drawbacks, demographically-adjusted data provide important insights into differences in state-level school performance, and show that there are substantial differences across states, even after adjusting for demographics.”

April 15, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Who’s really driving student outcomes?

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Anthony R. Meals shares the important role that education support professionals (ESP) play in supporting students in schools. “School buses are more than just modes of transportation, and drivers offer more than a safe passage to and from school. Research suggests that simply by greeting students at the classroom door, teachers can have positive effects on their attention throughout a lesson (Allan Allday & Pakurar, 2007). Similarly, our bus drivers are the first to greet students as they head to school, and that morning interaction can set the tone for their day. An unpleasant exchange can put students on edge before they even arrive on campus; a positive one can give them a boost.”

50-State Comparison: State Summative Assessments

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Jill Mullen and Julie Rowland Woods have compiled a 50-state comparison of state summative assessments after ESSA implementation. “This information was collected from state department of education websites and through contact with state department staff, and therefore may not reflect what is required in state statute or regulation. State assessment systems vary widely, and the information below may not fully capture the unique qualities of each system.”

Educators Push Teacher Pay Penalty Into National Spotlight

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Tim Walker discusses teacher walkouts and the teacher pay penalty. “According to a new EPI analysis by Sylvia Allegretto, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, teacher pay (adjusted for inflation) fell by $30 per week from 1996 to 2015, while pay for other college graduates increased by $124. Even when accounting for benefits, the teacher compensation gap widened by 9 percent, to 11.1 percent over that same time frame.”

The 2017 NAEP Results: Nothing To See Here?

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Morgan Polikoff writes about the recent release of the 2017 NAEP results. “Overall, while this year’s results are not the sexiest, the NAEP data offer an important barometer. I conclude that educational progress is real, but stalled, and that we may need new and sustained policy efforts to resume the gains we saw in the 1990s and 2000s.”

School nurses: An investment in student achievement

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Erin Maughan looks at the important role school nurses across the country play in schools. “Regardless of how nursing positions are funded, they provide a strong return on investment, especially in the areas of immunizations, mental health services, and the treatment of chronic conditions.”

On nation’s report card, Michigan students remain in back of class

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Ron French and Mike Wilkinson discuss the release of the 2017 NAEP results and implications for Michigan. “According to NAEP results ‒ from tests given to a sample of students in every state in 2017 ‒ Michigan ranks 35th in fourth-grade reading skills. That’s up from 41st in 2015, but still notably lower than the 28th the state was ranked in 2003, the first year Michigan participated in the test. Michigan also saw a small improvement in state rankings in fourth-grade math (38th, from 42nd), eighth-grade math (33rd, from 34th) and eighth-grade reading (30th, from 31st).”

How Can We Build Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools?

Posted: 08 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

John Jackson shares the results of a new report on community-labor partnerships. The report utilizes case study examples from St. Paul, MN and Austin, TX. “This report is designed to support community and labor groups that are ready and willing to engage in meaningful relationship building and collaboration to work together to address systemic and policy issues that have contributed to the achievement gap, especially for youth of color.”

Evidence-Based Learning Opportunities Help Both Teachers and Students

Posted: 04 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Liam Goldrick discusses coaching and mentoring programs for teachers. “More work is required to expand the collection of evidence-based models that help teachers learn and improve on the job. We fundamentally believe in funding what works, not what doesn’t. But we oppose the elimination of public funding for educator learning… The promise of educator development is tremendous but, as yet, unfulfilled. As an educational community, we must work harder to ensure that every teacher has the chance to thrive professionally and that every student receives quality teaching no matter their school or classroom.”

Michigan schoolchildren facing high rates of homelessness

Posted: 04 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Kristen Kerecman shares data from a recently released analysis of educational outcomes experienced by homeless students. “To complement the data, U-M also released a student homelessness map to illustrate how many children in the state’s school districts experience homelessness and housing instability. Poverty Solutions — a U-M initiative dedicated to the prevention and alleviation of poverty — developed the map to help policymakers and local stakeholders think about the impact of homelessness in their area and to identify resources to support some of the state’s most vulnerable children. The map focuses on the percentage and number of students experiencing homelessness in each school district and the percentage of low-income students experiencing homelessness, where data is available.”

Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities

Posted: 03 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed discipline disparities in schools. “This report examines (1) patterns in disciplinary actions among public schools, (2) challenges selected school districts reported with student behavior and how they are approaching school discipline, and (3) actions Education and Justice have taken to identify and address disparities or discrimination in school discipline.”

April 12, 2018

Report Recommending The Expansion Of “No-Excuses” Charter Practices Fails To Recognize The Problems Associated With Replication

Note more on this report review.

April 10, 2018

A. Chris Torres, (517) 432-0136,
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Report recommending the expansion of “no-excuses” charter practices fails to recognize the problems associated with replication

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Apr. 10, 2018) — A recent report published by the Future of Children, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, recommended the expansion of intensive school discipline practices to drive academic results. Despite charter schools performing no better than traditional public schools on average, the report found “no-excuses” charter schools demonstrate promising results. The report advanced that the practices should be expanded within and outside the charter school sector. However, a new academic review of the report finds that the report leaves readers with an incomplete understanding of the recommended practices and fails to address limits and potential problems.

The report, Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap, was reviewed by A. Chris Torres, Michigan State University, and Joanne Golann, Vanderbilt University, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the reviewers, the report provided a standard literature review, which was appropriate for its purposes. The reviewers add, “We see several important problems with the recommendation to replicate ‘no-excuses’ schools and their practices based purely on the evidence reviewed.” More specifically, the reviewers find three primary flaws with the report’s conclusions:

  1. The report bases its recommendations only on academic success, and does not address the controversy over the use of harsh discipline methods;
  2. The report fails to identify which practices included in “no-excuses” charters should be replicated; and
  3. The report ignores some of the factors that would allow “no-excuses” charters to be successful.

In their conclusion, the reviewers add: “Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers need to do much more to understand and address the potential costs of the ‘no-excuses’ model before giving thought to expanding these practices in either the charter or traditional school sector.”

Find the review on the web:

Find Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap here:

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:

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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.

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April 8, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

School-Choice Supporters Should Drop the Overheated Rhetoric

Posted: 03 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Rick Hess and Sofia Gallo discuss school choice policies, public opinion, and the rhetoric used by school choice advocates. “Much of the bold rhetoric employed on behalf of contemporary school choice may do more to alienate than to attract supporters. Talk of failing schools, Uber-style disruption, and market competition is off-putting to parents and voters who support choice in principle, but also like their local schools, are skeptical of educational disruption, and don’t want to see children shuttled about like freight. And we’ve seen plenty of first-hand evidence that the more aggressive talking points can drown out arguments better calibrated to connect with those parents and voters who have a soft spot for both school choice and their local schools.”

The Larger Concerns Behind the Teachers’ Strikes

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Alia Wong looks at teacher pay and growing concerns from teachers in Oklahoma and other states. “But the teachers’ complaints go far beyond compensation, and when viewed in the context of their other demands, it’s clear that the strike gets at the heart of some of the biggest issues facing America’s children: access to effective teachers, high-quality learning materials, and modern facilities.”

ESSA Progress Report: How the New Law Is Moving From Policy to Practice

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Alyson Klein shares recent findings from a special report on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from Education Week. “The Every Student Succeeds Act becomes a working reality in district central offices and schools this fall. But it’s unclear if the law, which passed in a haze of rare bipartisanship more than two years ago, will live up to its promise… But already, clashes are occurring at the state and federal levels over the right balance between those two priorities, on issues such as calculating school grades.”

As teachers across the country demand higher pay, here’s how much salaries have stalled – and why it matters for kids

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Matt Barnum discusses recent trends in teacher salaries, teacher strikes, and planned walkouts. “Nationally, teacher salary has been stagnant for decades and has been falling behind that of other professionals… The average American public school teacher earned $58,950 in the 2016–17 school year, according to federal statistics. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $1,000 less than in 1989 and $3,000 less than in 2009.”

Oklahoma And Kentucky Teachers Go On Strike, Demanding More Education Funding

Posted: 01 Apr 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Emily Wendler shares the transcript of a recent broadcast of ‘All Things Considered’ from NPR. “Thousands of Oklahoma teachers did not go to school Monday. Instead they are protesting at the state capitol. They’ve walked off the job to draw attention to funding and salary shortfalls… Teachers are protesting in the state capitals of Oklahoma and Kentucky, as heard here.”

April 1, 2018

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature.

Worth A Read

Principals: More of Your Students Might Be Abused or Neglected Than You Think

Posted: 26 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Sarah Sparks digs into a new report from researchers at the University of Michigan about the impact of trauma on 3rd grade test scores. “While the study looked only at Michigan, it is in line with other studies that suggest about 20 percent of children experience this sort of trauma. And as the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to track the educational progress of vulnerable students like those in foster care, more states may begin to look at the rates of abused children in their own districts.”

In Their Own Words: Teachers Share the Personal Cost of Low Pay

Posted: 25 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Madeline Will shares the personal stories of several Oklahoma teachers struggling to make ends meet on their low salaries. “Of course, teachers in Oklahoma are not the only ones frustrated with their compensation. We are gathering stories from teachers around the country, many of whom say they feel buoyed by the successful strike in West Virginia, where teachers received a 5 percent pay raise. You can share your own experiences and thoughts about teacher pay with the hashtag #HowTeachersGetBy.”

How much would it cost to get all students up to average?

Posted: 25 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Jill Barshay summarizes a new report from the Education Law Center that can predict how much money it would cost each school district in the U.S. to reach average test scores in math and reading. “According to Baker and his colleagues, it can cost anywhere between roughly $5,000 and $30,000 a year per student in order to hit average test scores. Two factors mainly determine where a district lies along that range: location and mix of students.  Some school districts bear higher costs because they’re located in expensive regions where salaries, including those of teachers, are high. Population density matters too. The costs of educating poor children escalate faster in urban areas, the researchers found.”

In Washington, Trauma Feeds the School-To-Prison Pipeline, Particularly for Girls

Posted: 21 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Sarah Sparks summarizes a new report on discipline disproportionality from Georgetown’s Juvenile Justice Initiative and the group Rights for Girls. “The report comes as Congress debates an update of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the main federal law governing incarcerated children, which is more than a decade overdue for reauthorization. Advocates have argued for more trauma-informed care and better coordination with schools in the next iteration of the law.”

How life outside of a school affects student performance in school

Posted: 21 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Brian Jacob and Joseph Ryan (both from the University of Michigan) share the results of a recently released study on the impact of trauma on school children in Michigan. “We find that roughly 18 percent of third-grade students have been subject to at least one formal investigation for child maltreatment. In some schools, more than fifty percent of third graders have experienced an investigation for maltreatment. These estimates indicate that child abuse and neglect cannot simply be treated like a secondary issue, but must be a central concern of school personnel.”

Can money attract more minorities into the teaching profession?

Posted: 19 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Michael Hansen, Diana Quintero, and Li Feng write about diversifying and incentivizing the teaching profession. “What we find is that offering relocation assistance appears to be the strongest predictor of a more diverse teacher workforce, followed closely by loan forgiveness, bonuses for excellence in teaching, and teaching in less desirable locations. These four types of financial incentives are associated with increases of 2 to 4 percentage points in a school’s minority representation among teachers, which is quite large. For reference, the average school in the sample reports that 16 percent of their teachers are minorities.”

Teacher pay is falling. Their health insurance costs are rising

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PDT

Alvin Chang reveals that despite stagnate pay for teachers across most of the U.S., teachers are now paying more for their health care. “In fact, compared to 10 years ago, teachers are on average contributing nearly $1,500 more per year toward premiums, adjusted for inflation. It ends up costing teachers significantly more than other state and local government employees.”

How Did ESSA’s ‘Non-Academic’ Indicator Get So Academic?

Posted: 08 Mar 2018 09:00 PM PST

Phyllis Jordan and Paige Marley discuss what states are doing to comply with ‘school quality and success’ indicators required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “In the end, three-fourths of the states chose to include chronic absenteeism in their fifth indicators, providing a window into student engagement and other aspects of school culture that along with social emotional learning contribute to student success. But many of them simultaneously adopted a distinctly academic measure of school performance in their fifth indicators: college and career readiness. And often the readiness metrics are given much more weight than chronic absenteeism, a new FutureEd analysis shows.”

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