Virtual School Meanderings

July 17, 2019

Building Educational Justice And Community Well-Being With Families And Communities

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

In contrast to current policies that aim to harm and criminalize families and communities, this policy memo details the value of using justice-based approaches to engage them as partners in transforming schools and communities to better serve all children.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Publication Announcement

Building Educational Justice and Community Well-Being with Families and Communities

KEY TAKEAWAY:

In contrast to current policies that aim to harm and criminalize families and communities, this policy memo details the value of using justice-based approaches to engage them as partners in transforming schools and communities to better serve all children.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Ann M. Ishimaru:

(206) 543-9840

aishi@uw.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (July 16, 2019) – At this moment in the United States, the blaming, criminalization and forced separations of families of color serve as an extreme example of the ways American public institutions like schools often approach families of color. The political tumult and violence being directed at immigrants, people of color, and other marginalized groups across the nation make it more important than ever for our education systems and local communities to support families rather than further harm them.

At the most fundamental level, high-quality schools and safe communities are basic human rights that all children in this country should enjoy. But ensuring that families can access these rights requires a new approach to advancing education justice and community well-being.

In a policy memo released today by the National Education Policy Center and the Family Leadership Design Collaborative, Recasting Families and Communities as Co-Designers of Education in Tumultuous Times, the authors describe how justice-based approaches to family engagement can enable parents and families, particularly from communities of color, to contribute as fellow leaders in transforming schools and educational systems to better serve all children, families, and communities. This approach is based on the idea that families and communities possess historical and lived knowledge about how to persist through such challenging times, and that they bring critical expertise to efforts to advance educational justice and community well-being. Such an approach stands in direct contrast to current U.S. policies that are traumatizing young people and harming, criminalizing and separating families.

The Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC) is a national network of scholars, educators, and family and community leaders who work to center racial equity in family engagement. They do this by reimagining how families and communities can create more equitable schools and educational systems.

This policy memo shares what they have learned, speaking in particular to public school leaders and others working to engage families and communities in education. The memo also provides policy recommendations based on the findings of the FLDC’s collaborative work. System, school, community and foundation leaders committed to racial equity and family co-design work should take steps that include:

  • Building and setting the co-design table: supporting initiatives that develop the collective leadership of families and communities of color in improving schools, communities, and broader systems;
  • Engaging in co-design: beginning processes with the priorities, concerns, and issues of families and communities; and
  • Sustaining co-design: redesigning key educational decision-making processes to ensure that those directly impacted by racial inequities have influence and agency.

Find Recasting Families and Communities as Co-Designers of Education in Tumultuous Times, by Ann M. Ishimaru, Megan Bang, Michelle Renée Valladares, Charlene Montaño Nolan, Henedina Tavares, Aditi Rajendran, and Katherine Chang, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/family-leadership

This policy memo was made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which funded the Family Leadership Design Collaborative and the research underlying this memo.

The Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC) is a national network of scholars, practitioners, and family and community leaders who seek to center racial equity in family engagement by catalyzing an expansive national research agenda and developing “next” (beyond current “best”) practices, measures and tools. We envision family and community wellbeing and educational justice as core aims in work that begins from non-dominant family and community ecologies, creates ongoing transformative possibilities, and builds solidarities towards collective action for racial equity in education. Visit FLDC at: http://familydesigncollab.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

July 11, 2019

This Teacher Evaluation Trend Was The Reform Du Jour. Now States Are Backing Away

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

This Teacher Evaluation Trend Was the Reform Du Jour. Now States Are Backing Away

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Newsletter

This Teacher Evaluation Trend Was the Reform Du Jour. Now States Are Backing Away

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Florida stopped requiring districts to do it in 2017.

The New Jersey Department of Education announced in August that it was reducing its reliance on the practice.

And, 20 years after it was first introduced in Wyoming, the practice was eliminated entirely this year by that state’s legislators.

A decade after the now-defunct Race to the Top grant competition dangled a financial carrot to entice legislatures throughout America to adopt teacher evaluation policies that rely on student test results, the about-face is picking up speed.

Even the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—which poured $700 million into initiatives related to teacher evaluations related to student performance—announced in 2017 that it was pivoting away from the practice.

But researchers, including those at the National Education Policy Center, raised caution flags early on. In 2006, when advocates of using students’ standardized test scores to evaluate teachers were enthusiastically trumpeting the approach, NEPC Fellow Edward Wiley wrote a practitioners guide that identified multiple concerns about so-called “value-added” models that use longitudinal student achievement results to assess teacher performance. Teachers are not randomly assigned to classes, and some groups of students are more likely than others to exhibit growth, regardless of the quality of their instruction in a particular school year. Student achievement tests tend not to be designed to evaluate teachers. And assessment errors may also impact results.

“Notwithstanding the federal enthusiasm for test scores, many researchers have warned against using a single measurement of any kind as the primary basis for such important personnel decisions as teacher retention, dismissal or pay,” Fellow and Pennsylvania State University emeritus professor Patricia Hinchey wrote in an NEPC policy brief published in 2010. She added:

While there are important questions about what achievement scores can—and cannot—indicate about individual teachers, there is no question that placing excessive emphasis on test scores alone can have unintended and undesirable consequences that undermine the goal of developing an excellent teaching force.

As districts and states end test score-based evaluations, what should they do instead?

In a recent Kappan article entitled Learning from what doesn’t work in teacher evaluationNEPC Fellow Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, an associate professor at Arizona State University, and her co-author Kevin Close offer some good advice. Their recommendations include using multiple measures to evaluate teachers, emphasizing formative assessment, and including teachers in the development of evaluation approaches.

“If policy makers learn from the mistakes of the recent past, then they should be able to design teacher evaluation systems that are consistent, valid, fair, and useful,” they conclude.

This newsletter is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 26, 2019

Fixing The Morass of Special Education Funding

A new report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

Policy brief addresses areas of incoherence in funding of special education, providing guidelines for federal policymakers to establish a national policy framework.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Publication Announcement

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Policy brief addresses areas of incoherence in funding of special education, providing guidelines for federal policymakers to establish a national policy framework.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Tammy Kolbe:

(802) 656-0174

Tammy.Kolbe@uvm.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (June 25, 2019) – Today’s challenges for special education funding are rooted in a complex regulatory and policy environment that reflects little forethought about who can and will pay special education costs.

Despite the fact that states and school districts are legally required to ensure a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities – as a condition of accepting federal funding – the federal government does little to fund the special education that students with disabilities receive. This places the overwhelming burden on states and localities to implement and pay for special education programs.

The result is a diffuse funding system in which almost all states fail to provide enough funding to cover the cost of special education in their local districts. In a brief released today by the National Education Policy Center, Tammy Kolbe of the University of Vermont examines the complex – and largely incoherent – policy framework that creates this precarious system for funding special education.

Funding Special Education: Charting a Path that Confronts Complexity and Crafts Coherence describes how increased federal funding should be packaged with a new framework for federal policy that would establish a fair and effective system for funding special education.

Professor Kolbe provides specific and immediate steps for federal policymakers, with the goal of moving the country closer to a new, more coherent national policy framework grounded in thoughtful consideration of what special education should cost, who should pay the costs, and how best to align funding models with policy goals for identifying and providing appropriate educational opportunities for children with disabilities.

Find Funding Special Education: Charting a Path that Confronts Complexity and Crafts Coherence, by Tammy Kolbe, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/special-ed

This policy brief is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 18, 2019

Florida Report Offers Meager Insight Into Charter School Performance

A notice of another report review from the National Education Policy Center.

Simple comparisons reveal very little about the relative effectiveness of charter schools.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Publication Announcement

Florida Report Offers Meager Insight into Charter School Performance

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Simple comparisons reveal very little about the relative effectiveness of charter schools.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Robert Bifulco:

(315) 443-4000

rbifulco@syr.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (June 18, 2019) – The Florida Department of Education recently published a report consisting almost entirely of simple graphs comparing achievement levels, achievement gaps, and achievement gains on statewide tests among charter school students to those among traditional public school students. The Department’s press release touted the report as showing that the state’s “charter school students consistently outperform their peers in traditional public schools.”

The release also quotes Florida’s Education Commissioner, asserting that the “report provides further evidence that [school choice policies] are right for Florida” and that there’s “no denying that choice works.” The press release’s spin was then echoed in pieces published/broadcast by several television stationsnewspapers, and online outlets.

Yet simple comparisons such as those in this report reveal very little about the relative effectiveness of charter schools. Robert Bifulco of Syracuse University, reviewed Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools: A Comparison of the Performance of Charter School Students with Traditional Public School Students, and found it to be of extremely limited use.

Beyond the odd exercise of counting the number of comparisons that appear favorable to charter schools, the report offers no discussion. The comparisons are not even explained. The fact that the report merely presents comparisons required by law without putting any policy “spin” on them might be considered a virtue. But the danger is that such reports can (and do) encourage erroneous conclusions.

At the very least, Professor Bifulco believes, the report should have clarified the purposes of its comparisons and cautioned the reader against drawing unwarranted and potentially harmful conclusions.

Find the review, by Robert Bifulco, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/fl-charters

Find Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools: A Comparison of the Performance of Charter School Students with Traditional Public School Students, published by the Florida Department of Education, at:

http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7778/urlt/SAR1819.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: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

June 12, 2019

School Voucher Report Uses Shaky Methods To Misrepresent Research

A review of a research report by the National Education Policy Center.

Questionable methodology and misrepresentation of the research result in a misleading report not useful for decision-making or research purposes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Publication Announcement

School Voucher Report Uses Shaky Methods to Misrepresent Research

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Questionable methodology and misrepresentation of the research result in a misleading report not useful for decision-making or research purposes.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

T. Jameson Brewer:

(404) 941-4530

jameson.brewer@ung.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (June 11, 2019) – A recent report from EdChoice presents itself as a yearly updated list and synthesis of empirical studies exploring the impacts of school vouchers across a set of outcomes. But a new review of the report finds that it fails to provide a robust summary of the research literature on vouchers and their full range of positive and negative impacts.

T. Jameson Brewer, of the University of North Georgia, reviewed The 123s of School Choice: What the Research Says About Private School Choice: 2019 Edition.

EdChoice’s report attempts to convince readers that a solid body of research evidence shows voucher benefits such as an increase in test scores, parental satisfaction, increased civic values, improvements in racial segregation, and fiscal benefits through governmental cost savings.

What Dr. Brewer found instead was a limited collection of cherry-picked studies, largely from non-peer-reviewed sources, and primarily authored by voucher advocates. The report’s misrepresentation of the existing research, combined with its use of the questionable methodology of simply counting up results categorized as positive or negative, results in an overall appearance of stacking the deck to create an illusory compilation of studies that profess to bolster EdChoice’s predetermined commitment to cheerleading school vouchers.

Find the review, by T. Jameson Brewer, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/school-choice

Find The 123s of School Choice: What the Research Says About Private School Choice: 2019 Edition, written by Andrew Catt, Paul DiPerna, Martin Lueken, Michael McShane, and Michael Shaw, and published by EdChoice, at:

https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/123s-of-School-Choice.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: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

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