Virtual School Meanderings

September 8, 2017

News From The NEPC: CREDO Report Fails To Build Upon Prior Research In Creating Charter School Classification System

Another NEPC item from the inbox yesterday…

Report overstates its findings, ignores relevant literature, and fails to address known methodological issues, suggesting an agenda other than sound policymaking.
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CREDO Report Fails to Build Upon Prior Research in Creating Charter School Classification System

Key Review Takeaway: Report overstates its findings, ignores relevant literature, and fails to address known methodological issues, suggesting an agenda other than sound policymaking.

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BOULDER, CO (September 7, 2017) – Charter Management Organizations 2017, written by James Woodworth, Margaret Raymond, Chunping Han, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, and released by Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), assessed the impact of different types of charter school-operating organizations on student outcomes in 24 states, plus New York City and Washington, D.C. The study finds that students in charter schools display slightly greater gains in performance than their peers in traditional public schools, especially students in charter schools operated by certain types of organizations.

Gary Miron and Christopher Shank of Western Michigan University reviewed the report and found CREDO’s distinctions between organization types to be arbitrary and unsupported by other research in the field. This raises concerns about the practical utility of the CREDO findings.

In addition, Miron and Shank contend that CREDO researchers made several dubious methodological decisions that threaten the validity of the study. A number of these problems have been raised in reviews of prior CREDO studies. Specifically, CREDO studies have been criticized for:

  • Over-interpreting small effect sizes;
  • Failing to justify the statistical assumptions underlying the group comparisons made;
  • Not taking into account or acknowledging the large body of charter school research beyond CREDO’s own work;
  • Ignoring the limitations inherent in the research approach they have taken, or at least failing to clearly communicate limitations to readers.

These problems have not only gone unaddressed in Charter Management Organizations 2017, but have been compounded by the CREDO researchers’ confusing and illogical charter organization classification system. As a result, the reviewers conclude that the report is of limited value. Policymakers should interpret the report’s general findings about charter school effectiveness with extreme caution, but might find CREDO’s work useful as a tool to understand how specific charter school management organizations perform relative to their peers.

Find the review, by Gary Miron and Christopher Shank, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-CMOs

Find Charter Management Organizations 2017, by James Woodworth, Margaret Raymond, Chunping Han, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, published by CREDO, at:
https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CMO FINAL.pdf

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

News From The NEPC: A Call To Action To Protect And Strengthen Public Education

From yesterday’s inbox…

Education deans add their voices to the growing movement to counter Washington’s destructive policies and promote research-based reforms to build equitable schools.
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A Call to Action to Protect and Strengthen Public Education

Key Takeaway: Education deans add their voices to the growing movement to counter Washington’s destructive policies and promote research-based reforms to build equitable schools.

Contact:

Kevin Kumashirokevin@kevinkumashiro.com
William J. Mathis(802) 383-0058wmathis@sover.net

BOULDER, CO (September 6, 2017) – Headed for the start to a new academic year, the threats to public education are increasing. As education deans we cannot remain silent.

Building on the Declaration of Principles that was released in January of this year, the Education Deans for Justice and Equity(EDJE), in partnership with the National Education Policy Center, have prepared a new statement, Our Children Deserve Better.

Signed by 205 education deans and endorsed by 17 national education and civil-rights organizations and centers, Our Children Deserve Better details the values that underlie our vision for education in a democratic society: protecting and nurturing our children, empowering educators, and investing in public schools.

We join with countless others in demanding a better future for our children and our country, and we stand ready to collaborate with federal leaders and all who care about public education as we work to bring this vision into reality.

Our Children Deserve Better: A Call to Resist Washington’s Dangerous Vision for U.S. Education, including the list of signatories and endorsements, can be found on the NEPC website at http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/children-deserve-better

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

September 1, 2017

News from the NEPC: Community Schools Need Strong Community Relationships

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research on educational leadership shows the importance of strong collaborative relationships between community partners, teachers, and school leaders.
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Community Schools Need Strong Community Relationships

Key Takeaway: Research on educational leadership shows the importance of strong collaborative relationships between community partners, teachers, and school leaders.

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BOULDER, CO (August 31, 2017) – Community schools have gained attention as an effective means of implementing reforms such as extended learning time, high-quality learning opportunities, and integrated student supports. A new NEPC Policy Memo argues that community school leaders should employ specific strategies and collaborative practices that help ensure that the benefits of such reforms are shared equitably.

In Strong Collaborative Relationships for Strong Community Schools, Julia Daniel of the University of Colorado Boulder examines research on educational leadership and the impact of strong collaborative relationships between community partners, teachers, and school leaders.

Collaborative relationships among teachers, parents, and other school stakeholders can lead to several positive outcomes such as improving the organization of the school, improving student learning, and increasing the commitment from and trust between people working at a school and living in the surrounding community. In a community school, collaboration between stakeholders can support the successful implementation of integrated student supports, expanded learning time, and meaningful family and community engagement. Successful collaborative leadership in schools is built on the following long-established but crucial strategies:

  • Creating time for collaboration so that stakeholders can assess issues, set common goals, make plans, reflect and build on practice, and deepen relationships.
  • Prioritizing processes that allow people to engage honestly and constructively in problem solving and creating shared ownership of the process by creating designated spaces for open dialogue, collective reflection and improved practices.
  • Creating structures and roles that provide meaningful ways for stakeholders to sustain participation and develop leadership, including regular meetings and supportive but challenging leadership.
  • Committing to collective leadership development that builds the capacity of community members and other stakeholders to participate in improving conditions for learning and growth both inside and outside of the school.

Although there is a basic common sense to each of these four recommendations, they are often not sufficiently prioritized or pursued. Julia Daniel’s Policy Memo calls attention to the foundational research that supports school leadership based on collaborative relationships and explains its particular importance for community schools.

Find Strong Collaborative Relationships for Strong Community Schools, by Julia Daniel, on the web at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/leadership

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

August 25, 2017

News from the NEPC: Accurately Estimating the Cost of Subsidizing Public School Students Switching to Private Schools

From yesterday’s inbox…

Policymakers need much better information to make informed decisions about the costs and benefits of subsidizing private school choice programs.
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Accurately Estimating the Cost of Subsidizing Public School Students Switching to Private Schools

Key Review Takeaway: Policymakers need much better information to make informed decisions about the costs and benefits of subsidizing private school choice programs.

Contact:

William J. Mathis(802) 383-0058wmathis@sover.net
Luis A. Huerta: (212) 678-4199lah2013@tc.columbia.edu

BOULDER, CO (August 24, 2017) – The Tax-Credit Scholarship Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money?, authored by Martin F. Lueken and released by EdChoice, asserts that tax credit scholarship programs, that distribute scholarships to students via Scholarship Tuition Organizations (STOs), have saved state treasuries between $1.7 and $3.4 billion dollars since 1998.

Luis A. Huerta and Steven Koutsavlis of Teachers College-Columbia University reviewed the report and found that, although Lueken argues that these programs are able to realize fiscal savings as a result of students leaving public schools and entering private schools (defined as “switchers”), the method Lueken uses to estimate the percentage of switcher students across these various programs is flawed. Huerta and Koutsavlis point out that since no STO programs require officials to track data on which students transfer out of public schooling into private, the report’s estimates of fiscal savings are based on conjecture and not on hard data.

While Lueken claims that the percentage of students leaving public schools, coupled with the offset of variable per-student costs that districts no longer need to expend, have resulted in the sizable financial savings for state governments. Huerta and Koutsavlis note that these findings are much too speculative to provide useful guidance to policymakers. Huerta and Koutsavlis offer suggestions for more extensive student accounting procedures and more nuanced methodologies for accurately calculating variable student costs.

Find the review, by Luis Huerta and Steven Koutsavlis, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-tax-credits

Find The Tax-Credit Scholarship Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money?, by Martin Lueken, published by EdChoice, at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Tax-Credit-Scholarship-Audit-by-Martin-F.-Lueken.pdf

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

August 16, 2017

News from the NEPC: Sold to the Highest Bidder: Lack of Protections Puts the Privacy of Students and their Families at Risk

From yesterday’s inbox…

Technology and the lure of “personalization” are overwhelming efforts to protect the privacy of children and their families from marketers and others.
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Sold to the Highest Bidder: Lack of Protections Puts the Privacy of Students and their Families at Risk

Key Takeaway: Technology and the lure of “personalization” are overwhelming efforts to protect the privacy of children and their families from marketers and others.

Contact:

BOULDER, CO (August 15, 2017) – Digital technologies used in schools are increasingly being harnessed to amplify corporate marketing and profit-making and extend the reach of commercializing activities into every aspect of students’ school lives. In addition to the long-standing goal of providing brand exposure, marketing through education technology now routinely engages students in activities that facilitate the collection of valuable personal data and that socialize students to accept relentless monitoring and surveillance as normal, according to a new report released by the National Education Policy Center.

In Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking, the NEPC’s 19th annual report on schoolhouse commercialism trends, University of Colorado Boulder researchers Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar and Kevin Murray examine how technological advances, the lure of “personalization,” and lax regulation foster the collection of personal data and have overwhelmed efforts to protect children’s privacy. They find that for-profit entities are driving an escalation of reliance on education technology with the goal of transforming public education into an ever-larger profit center—by selling technology hardware, software, and services to schools; by turning student data into a marketable product; and by creating brand-loyal customers.

Boninger points out that “policymaking to protect children’s privacy or to evaluate the quality of the educational technology they use currently ranges from inadequate to nonexistent.”

“Schools and districts are paying huge sums of money to private vendors and creating systems to transfer vast amounts of children’s personal information to education technology companies,” explains Molnar. “Education applications, especially applications that ‘personalize’ student learning, are powered by proprietary algorithms, without anyone monitoring how student data are being collected or used.”

Asleep at the Switch documents the inadequacy of industry self-regulation and argues that to protect children’s privacy and the quality of their education, legislators and policymakers need to craft clear policies backed by strong, enforceable sanctions. Such policies should:

  • Prohibit schools from collecting student personal data unless rigorous, easily understood safeguards for the appropriate use, protection, and final disposition of those data are in place.
  • Hold schools, districts, and companies with access to student data accountable for violations of student privacy.
  • Require algorithms powering education software to be openly available for examination by educators and researchers.
  • Prohibit adoption of educational software applications that rely on algorithms unless a disinterested third party has examined the algorithms for bias and error, and unless research has shown that the algorithms produce intended results.
  • Require independent third-party assessments of the validity and utility of technologies, and the potential threats they pose to students’ well-being, to be conducted and addressed prior to adoption.

Additionally, the report authors encourage parents, teachers, and administrators to publicize the threats that unregulated educational technologies pose to children and the importance of allowing disinterested monitors access to the algorithms powering educational software.

Find Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking, by Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Kevin Murray, on the web at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/schoolhouse-commercialism-2017

Funding for the Annual Reports on Schoolhouse Commercialism is provided in part by Consumers Union.

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.
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