Virtual School Meanderings

September 27, 2016

News from the NEPC: Introducing the NEPC Widget!

From yesterday’s inbox…

Stay connected to NEPC. Put the NEPC widget on your mobile device home screen.
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Introducing the NEPC Widget!

Key Takeaway: Stay connected to NEPC. Put the NEPC widget on your mobile device home screen.
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Find Documents:

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/8046

Contact:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

BOULDER, CO (September 26, 2016) – Start the school year off right with high-quality education analysis from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). Now you’re never more than one click away from NEPC resources: Add the NEPC widget to your mobile device’s home screen!

NEPC mobile icon

For Apple devices:

  1. Go to the NEPC site (www.nepc.colorado.edu) using Safari.
  2. Click on the share icon at the bottom of your screen (a box with an arrow pointing up – the same button you use to share photos).
  3. Choose “add to home screen.”
  4. Click “add” when the confirmation screen appears.
  5. The NEPC widget icon will now appear on your home screen and when you click it, it will take you directly to the NEPC site!

 

For Android devices:

  1. Go to the NEPC site (www.nepc.colorado.edu) using your web browser.
  2. Click the three vertical dot context icon in the upper right of your screen.
  3. Choose “add to home screen.”
  4. Click “Add.”
  5. The NEPC widget icon will now appear on your home screen and when you click it, it will take you directly to the NEPC site!

 

Check Out NEPC’s Recent Publications:

Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence

Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – 2016 Collection

Review of A 21st Century School System in the Mile-High City
Happy reading!

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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

September 14, 2016

News from the NEPC: Schools of Opportunity Project Honors 20 Exemplary High Schools From Coast to Coast

From Monday’s inbox…

Excellent high schools are actively striving to close opportunity gaps.
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Schools of Opportunity Project Honors 20 Exemplary High Schools From Coast to Coast

Key Takeaway: Excellent high schools are actively striving to close opportunity gaps.
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Find Documents:

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/8221

BOULDER, CO (September 12, 2016) – From an innovative rural school in Vermont to a school serving international refugees in California, 20 inspiring schools are being acknowledged as 2016 “Schools of Opportunity.”

Based at the University of Colorado Boulder, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) sponsors the annual Schools of Opportunity project, which identifies and recognizes excellent public high schools that actively strive to close opportunity gaps – the differences in opportunities and resources that drive the well-known achievement gaps.

“Children learn when they have opportunities to learn,” said NEPC Director and CU Boulder Professor Kevin Welner, co-director for the project. “When those opportunities are denied, they fall behind.”

Following last year’s pilot of the project in just Colorado and New York, this year’s recognitions considered high schools from coast to coast.

“The project offers an alternative way of assessing school quality – one that rejects the idea that test scores identify the nation’s best schools,” said Carol Burris, co-director of the project. “Schools of Opportunity use research-based practices to support all students and their teachers, thereby creating engaged and successful learning environments.”

In addition to Burris and Welner, the effort was led by Linda Molner Kelley, Michelle Renée Valladares and Rhianna Kirk. The review team – comprised of 40 researchers, teachers, policymakers and administrators – based the “gold” and “silver” recognitions on specific principles identified in the book, Closing the Opportunity Gap, which was co-edited by Welner.

Applications went through four levels of screening, including rubric-based ratings and in-person evaluator visits to the recognized “gold” schools. Evaluators looked at school practices that fell into categories such as create and maintain healthy school culture; broaden and enrich school curriculum; use a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs; andsupport teachers as professionals.

The eight Gold Schools of Opportunity in 2016 are:

Crater Renaissance Academy, Central Point, Oregon
Hillsdale High School, San Mateo, California
Leland and Gray Union Middle and High School, Townshend, Vermont
Rainier Beach High School, Seattle, Washington
Revere High School, Revere, Massachusetts
Rochester International Academy, Rochester, New York
South Side High School, Rockville Centre, New York
William Smith High School, Aurora, Colorado

The 12 high schools that earned a Silver Schools of Opportunity designation in 2016 are:

Boston Arts Academy, Boston, Massachusetts
Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, Georgia
Clarke Central High School, Athens, Georgia
East Rockaway High School, East Rockaway, New York
New Vista High, Boulder, Colorado
Northwest High School, Germantown, Maryland
Oakland International High, Oakland, California
Ossining High School, Ossining, New York
Quilcene High School, Quilcene, Washington
Stillman Valley High School, Stillman Valley, Illinois
Urbana High School, Urbana, Illinois
Washington Technology Magnet School, St. Paul, Minnesota

To learn more about the schools, including descriptions for each, and the project, visit opportunitygap.org.

The call for nominations for the 2017 Schools of Opportunity recognitions will launch in November 2016 and evaluations will take place in the spring. Nomination material will be available at opportunitygap.org.

The Schools of Opportunity project is supported by the Ford Foundation and the National Education Association Foundation.

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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

September 12, 2016

News from the NEPC: Ideology Not Evidence: What We (Don’t) Know about Independent Teacher Preparation Programs

From the inbox late last week…

The expansion of independent teacher education programs is not grounded in research evidence, raising equity concerns about how teachers are prepared to teach “other people’s children.”
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Ideology Not Evidence: What We (Don’t) Know about Independent Teacher Preparation Programs

Key Takeaway: The expansion of independent teacher education programs is not grounded in research evidence, raising equity concerns about how teachers are prepared to teach “other people’s children.”
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Contact:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Ken Zeichner: (608) 212-0693, kenzeich@uw.edu

BOULDER, CO (September 8, 2016) – Advocacy groups and self-proclaimed social entrepreneurs are working aggressively to deregulate the preparation of teachers and to expand independent, alternative routes into teaching. The policy push is so powerful that it raises a real possibility that the nation may dismantle its university system of teacher education and replace much of it with independent, private programs not connected to colleges or universities.

These new routes sometimes emphasize technical skills over deep, professional understanding. Accordingly, some of the new programs are very different from most teacher education programs provided by U.S. colleges and universities, which are usually grounded in core research knowledge—about the subject matter being taught as well as child and adolescent development and learning theory, all taught in the context of practice and of the students’ environment.

In a brief released today, Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence, Ken Zeichner of the University of Washington reviews what is known about the quality of five of the most prominent independent teacher education programs in the U.S., including their impact on teacher quality and student learning. Zeichner is the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at UW and is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Education.

The five independent programs examined in Zeichner’s brief are: The Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay), Match Teacher Residency (MTR), High Tech High’s Internship, iTeach, and TEACH-NOW. His analysis demonstrates that claims regarding the success of such programs are not substantiated by peer-reviewed research and program evaluations.

“The promotion and expansion of independent teacher preparation programs rests not on evidence, but largely on ideology,” says Professor Zeichner. “The lack of credible evidence supporting claims of success is particularly problematic given the current emphasis on evidence-based policy and practice in federal policy and professional standards.”

Zeichner’s analysis also concludes that two of the programs, MTR and Relay, prepare teachers to use highly controlling pedagogical and classroom management techniques that are primarily used in schools serving students of color whose communities are severely impacted by poverty. In doing so, they contribute to the inequitable distribution of professionally prepared teachers and to the stratification of schools according to the social class and racial composition of the student body.

“The teaching and management practices learned by the teachers in these two independent programs are based on a restricted definition of teaching and learning and would not be acceptable in more economically advantaged communities,” explains Zeichner. “Students in more economically advantaged areas have greater access to professionally trained teachers, less punitive and controlling management practices and broader and richer curricula and teaching practices.”

At a time when we are working to educate an increasingly diverse student body, this shift away from preparing teachers with deep professional knowledge may negatively impact teacher quality and student learning. Professor Zeichner offers four specific recommendations based on these findings:

  • State and federal policymakers should not implement policies and provide funding streams that promote the development and expansion of independent teacher education programs unless and until substantive credible evidence accrues to support them. There currently is minimal evidence.
  • State policymakers should be very cautious in authorizing “teacher preparation academies” under a provision in the new federal education law (Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA). Such authorization would exempt those programs from the higher standards for teacher preparation that states typically seek to enforce for other teacher education programs. Policies should hold all teacher preparation programs to clear, consistent, and high standards.
  • Teacher education program quality should be determined by an analysis of the costs and benefits of multiple outcomes associated with the programs. Policymakers should thus reject the argument made by two of these five programs (MTR and Relay) that the sole or overriding indicator of teacher and program quality should be students’ standardized test scores.
  • State and federal policies that are designed to support the development of independent teacher education programs should include monitoring provisions to ensure that they do not contribute to a stratified system, where teachers serving more economically advantaged communities complete programs in colleges and universities to become professional educators, while teachers serving low-income communities receive only more technical, narrow training on how to implement a defined set of curricular, instructional and managerial guidelines.

Find Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence, by Ken Zeichner, on the web at:http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teacher-education

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

August 24, 2016

News from the NEPC: Regulating Charter Schools

From yesterday’s inbox…

Charter schools were designed to be less regulated, but deregulation has gone too far.
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Regulating Charter Schools

Key Takeaway: Charter schools were designed to be less regulated, but deregulation has gone too far.
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Contact:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

BOULDER, CO (August 23, 2016) – A fundamental premise of charter schools is that deregulation will free teachers, principals and schools to excel. Regulation or accountability in the conventional sense can cause gridlock and inefficiencies, so charter schools were designed to free up schools for innovation. Instead of conventional regulatory accountability, charters would be accountable through competition and the market model.

While there is certainly merit to these arguments—that bureaucratic regulation can be nonsensical and burdensome, and that deregulation can allow beneficial innovation—the picture is not so black-and-white. Regulations arise because taxpayers are understandably wary of abusive and incompetent uses of public funds, particularly in areas such as public schooling that play such a central role in our democracy.

In a brief released today, Regulating Charter Schools, William Mathis examines these tensions and the need for balance. “There is no perfect amount of regulation or deregulation, but we need to be regularly reassessing the situation and responding to clear problems,” explains Dr. Mathis.

He explores the research behind the elements of charter accountability, including academic performance, equal opportunity and non-discrimination, financial solvency and stability, and safety. He notes that the rapid growth of charter schools has come with charges of corruption, fiscal exploitation, weak academic performance and segregation. Because market-based accountability has proven insufficient, legislators have in recent years called for more external accountability and regulation.

Mathis concludes that charter schools should not be excepted from the requirement that public money comes with reporting, transparency and guidelines for spending and business practices. Financial regulation, he contends, is essential in the charter sector, as irregularities and bankruptcies have been common. He also notes the importance of ensuring that charter facilities comply with all requirements for safety and access.

The brief concludes with recommendations that cover both general process and operational requirements, stating that charter school regulations need to be periodically updated for policymakers to fulfill their obligation to protect the safety, welfare and educational entitlements of children.

Dr. Mathis is Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. This brief is the one in a series of concise publications, Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

Find William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/research-based-options

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

August 19, 2016

News from the NEPC: Denver “Portfolio” Report’s Flaws Remain, Reviewer Confirms

From yesterday’s inbox…

Author response fails to address limitations in data and other problems.
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Denver “Portfolio” Report’s Flaws Remain, Reviewer Confirms

BOULDER, CO (August 18, 2016) – A May report from the Progressive Policy Institute highlights multiple trends and reforms adopted in Denver between 2005 and 2014, most notably a “portfolio strategy” that includes a mix of traditional, charter, and hybrid public schools. The report argues that school autonomy via charter schools has improved student outcomes across the city and serves as a model for other cities.

Terrenda White, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed the report, A 21st Century School System in the Mile High City, and criticized it for making causal claims to the effect that the author’s preferred Denver policies must have caused observed test-score gains and should therefore be emulated in other school districts. Professor White explained in her review that the data presented in the report were largely descriptive and did not control for the potential effects of multiple variables, thus posing insurmountable threats to the validity of any causal inferences. She also stressed that the district’s widening achievement gap, acknowledged in the report itself, should have given the author greater pause before proclaiming success and advocating emulation.

The report’s author responded to the review on July 28, 2016, and Professor White has now offered a rejoinder, engaging with that response and addressing each of the author’s two primary concerns. Though valuing the author’s effort to highlight markers of academic improvement among students, she maintains that the response does not address the important limitations of the data.

“The NEPC strongly welcomes these exchanges,” said Professor Kevin Welner, NEPC’s director. “A reader of the report plus the review and the continued exchange will understand the report’s strengths and weaknesses to a much greater extent than if the reader read the report alone.”

Find Terrenda White’s original review and her follow-up rejoinder at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-21st-century

Find A 21st Century School System in the Mile-High City, by David Osborne, published by Progressive Policy Institute, at:
http://www.progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016.05-Osborne_A-21st-Century-School-System-in-the-Mile-High-City.pdf

Find David Osborne’s response to the original review at:
http://www.progressivepolicy.org/blog/response-national-education-policy-center/

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project 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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.
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