Virtual School Meanderings

June 17, 2015

News From The NEPC: Reviewed Ohio Study Suggests Possible Benefits of School Closure on Test Scores

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Reviewed Ohio Study Suggests Possible Benefits of School Closure on Test Scores

Despite encouraging results, concerns limit study’s application

 

Contact:

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

Ben Kirshner, (303) 492-6122, kirshner@colorado.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/o6b6fq6BOULDER, CO (June 15, 2015) – A recent report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute investigated school closures in Ohio for urban district and charter schools. The report found a general increase in the test scores of displaced students. An academic review of the report finds that, despite the encouraging results, they leave un-addressed core questions about closure policy.The report, School Closures and Student Achievement: An Analysis of Ohio’s Urban District and Charter Schools, was authored by Deven Carlson and Stéphane Lavertu. It was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Professor Ben Kirshner of University of Colorado Boulder and Matthew Gaertner a senior research scientist at Pearson’s Research and Innovation Network. Think Twice is a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the CU Boulder School of Education.

The Fordham report found that students displaced from closed district schools showed greater gains in math and reading relative to students from non-closed schools, after controlling for student characteristics; students displaced from closed charter schools showed gains in math but not reading. Achievement gains associated with closure were greater for those displaced students who transferred to schools with higher levels of test performance (“higher-performing schools”). The overall achievement growth of students in the receiving schools, however, decreased in the year that they accommodated displaced students.

Although the finding that displaced students showed improvement in test scores is encouraging, several factors limit the policy implications of the study. The report itself cautions that the potential for test score gains is dependent on the availability of higher-performing schools for displaced students, a condition that was only partly met in the Ohio case and is not assured in other major urban districts. Forty percent of students in closed schools transferred to schools that were not higher performing; the study did not separately report the academic performance of this sub-population of students. School closure also raises moral and political questions about who gets to make such consequential decisions, which are not answered by empirical data alone.

The reviewers conclude that the report offers some guidance for policy, though they offer four cautions. First, the study suggests benefits only if higher-quality receiving schools are available. Second, nearby schooling options must be accompanied by a guarantee of reliable transportation options. Third, understanding whether the closure resulted in students attending a truly better school requires looking at more than just test scores.

Finally, the nature of the closed and receiving schools in the Fordham study suggests that closure may have resulted in students leaving schools with relatively greater concentrated poverty and racial isolation and then attending more economically and racially integrated schools. This alternative explanation, which would suggest policy implications for reducing segregation and poverty, was not explored in the study. If integration is the goal, then surely there are other strategies than the blunt instrument of school closure.

The reviewers stress that “until people’s fundamental moral right to be part of decisions that affect their children’s lives are taken seriously, discussions about changes in test score performance are important but insufficient.”

Find  Review of School Closures and Student Achievement  by Kirshner and Gaertner on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-school-closures
.The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on NEPC, please visit
http://nepc.colorado.edu/.
This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (greatlakescenter.org).

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
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The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2015 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO  80309-0249

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This email was sent to mkbarbour@gmail.com
National Education Policy Center · School of Education, 249 UCB · University of Colorado · Boulder, CO 80309-0249 · USA

June 11, 2015

News from the NEPC: Have the Vergara Plaintiffs Unwittingly Helped Their Reform Adversaries?

From Tuesday’s inbox…

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Have the Vergara Plaintiffs Unwittingly Helped Their Reform Adversaries?

Contact:
Kevin Welner: welner@colorado.edu; (303) 492-8370
William J. Mathis: wmathis@sover.net; (802) 383-0058

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/ppjo6rw
Boulder, CO (June 9, 2015) – The California Court of Appeals is currently considering arguments about whether the uphold or reverse the trial court decision in Vergara v. State of California, which declared unconstitutional a set of state statutes that provide teachers with due process protections, seniority-based layoffs, and a two-year review period before a tenure decision. Yet a new law review article contends that the Vergara plaintiffs, in their eagerness to take on teachers, may be inviting litigation by those with rival goals for school policy and reform.

When the Vergara decision was first handed down last August, it was met with celebration among advocates who see a need to boost the process of teacher dismissal, particularly dismissal of teachers with low results derived from value-added models of gains in students’ standardized test scores. These accountability-focused reformers have been engaged in a pitched battle with a very different set of reformers, who argue for enriched learning opportunities and more resources for students.

Kevin Welner contends in the new article, titled Silver Linings Casebook: How Vergara’s Backers May Lose by Winning, that Vergara’s advocates of test-based accountability and easier teacher dismissal may be unwittingly setting the legal table for those who seek student resources and opportunities.

Welner is an attorney and professor of education policy at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, where he also directs the National Education Policy Center. Although he is critical of legal and factual reasoning in the trial court’s written opinion, he contends that the legal rule as outlined and applied by the trial court judge would – if embraced by the appellate court – open the door for considerable progress by a wide variety of education rights litigants.

Among other possibilities, Welner points to litigation challenging (a) tracking systems that ration college-prep classes, (b) disparities in working conditions between teachers in wealthier and in lower-income communities, (c) laws and policies that result in inequities in class size, (d) access to high-quality preschool, (e) grade retention, (f) exclusionary discipline, (g) access to enriched and engaging curriculum, (h) transportation, (i) buildings and facilities, (j) funding formulas, (k) access to and use of technology, (l) testing and accountability policies, and (m) school choice policies.

“The Vergara case itself may be poorly targeted, but there are plenty of worthy targets roaming in the fields,” said Welner.

His article, titled, Silver Linings Casebook: How Vergara’s Backers May Lose by Winning, is published in the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class available at http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/silver-linings-casebook and at http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1243&context=rrgc.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested. You can learn more about NEPC and sign up for publication updates by visiting http://nepc.colorado.edu/. To learn more about the Think Twice think tank review project, visit http://thinktankreview.org.

 
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National Education Policy Center · School of Education, 249 UCB · University of Colorado · Boulder, CO 80309-0249 · USA

June 10, 2015

News From The NEPC: Testing, Students With Disabilities, And Causal Confusion

From Monday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Testing, Students with Disabilities, and Causal Confusion

Report wrongly ties test-based accountability policies to better student outcomes
 

Contact:

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

Edward Fierros, (610) 519-6969,edward.fierros@villanova.edu

URL for this press release:BOULDER, CO (June 8, 2015) — A recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) claims that the quality of education for students with disabilities has improved and that stringent accountability measures are somehow behind those improvements. Yet a review published today explains that, while some student outcomes have improved, the report’s data and analyses are far too weak to provide any causal evidence.

Edward G. Fierros and Katherine Cosner of Villanova University reviewed ESEA Reauthorization: How We Can Build Upon No Child Left Behind’s Progress for Students with Disabilities in a Reauthorized ESEA for the Think Twice think tank review project. The CAP report was authored by Chelsea Straus. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Dr. Fierros is an Associate Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Education and Counseling at Villanova University. Katherine Cosner is a graduate assistant at Villanova.

As Congress considers the reauthorization of the ESEA, the new CAP report tries to convince legislators that they must continue a test-based system designed to hold students with disabilities to high standards. The argument is based on superficial comparisons—the year 2000 versus the year 2013—of NAEP performance outcomes (average NAEP scale scores), graduation rates, and dropout rates for students with disabilities.

While the report correctly states, “We cannot demonstrate causality” (p. 2), it then proceeds to strongly imply causality (i.e., that NCLB-like policies must be continued in order to sustain increases in educational outcomes for students with disabilities). Professor Fierros explains, “This report tries to have it both ways. Its entire reason for existence is to convince readers of a causal link between these policies and the improved outcomes. But it carefully includes a statement saying that it can’t do just that.”

The reviewers point out that aggregating national data over a 14-year period obscures a number of possible other interpretations and variations. There was “not a single reference to a peer reviewed or generally accepted research report” that would have provided a more complete picture of the performance of students with disabilities. Education Week’sDiploma Counts 2015 Report finds a great deal of state variation in the percentage of students with disabilities graduating with a standard diploma. Moreover, states use a variety of ways to determine what constitutes “graduating” for students with disabilities.

Because of the failure to use all available data, consider intervening variables, or utilize a more focused research approach, the report’s interpretations and conclusions are unjustified and cannot be used to advance public policy.

Find Fierros and Cosner’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-ESEA-reauthorization
Find ESEA Reauthorization: How We Can Build Upon No Child Left Behind’s Progress for Students with Disabilities in a Reauthorized ESEA by Chelsea Straus on the web at:
https://cdn.americanprogress.
org/wp-content/uploads/
2015/04/NCLB-Students
Disability-brief1.pdf
.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC)provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visithttp://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website athttp://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2015 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message because you have opted in at our website or have asked to be added to this list. To subscribe or unsubscribe, see the links in the footer below. To communicate with NEPC about our work, use our main email address.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.
This email was sent to mkbarbour@gmail.com
National Education Policy Center · School of Education, 249 UCB · University of Colorado · Boulder, CO 80309-0249 · USA

June 3, 2015

News from the NEPC: Student Mobility’s Causes and Consequences

From Monday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Student Mobility’s Causes and Consequences

Research report explores how to reduce negative effects

 

Contact:

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

Russell W. Rumberger, (805) 893-2250,russ@education.ucsb.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/o8wcxa8BOULDER, CO (June 1, 2015) — Student mobility is a widespread but often unnoticed problem facing U.S. education. The majority of students make at least one and sometimes multiple moves, unrelated to normal transitions between schools, over the course of their schooling, and this mobility can be harmful, according to a new policy brief published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.In Student Mobility: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions, Russell Rumberger, professor of education at the University of California Santa Barbara, describes the research in this area and explains that changing schools can negatively impact child and adolescent development by disrupting peer and teacher relationships and altering a student’s educational program.

Reasons for changing schools vary greatly, with moves resulting from events such as a family member changing jobs or residences, or even more disruptive events such as eviction or divorce. Schools can initiate the change as well, expelling a student or closing down entirely.

While moves are not always harmful, the overall body of research suggests that students suffer in terms of test scores and high school graduation and, to a lesser extent, student behavior. Multiple moves and those accompanied by family disruptions produce more severe consequences.

Due to the complexity of causes and consequences, policies that address the issue must be adaptable to a variety of circumstances. Professor Rumberger’s recommendations focus on reducing unnecessary mobility and on making the moving experience, when it does occur, as positive as possible. Harm can also be mitigated by developing open enrollment policies to retain local students who have moved.

If school closures are necessary, programs and supports should be available to the students. Parents should be given sufficient information with which to make informed decisions about school transfers. Transitions can also be eased with preparation on the part of the receiving school, along with funding allocated to improve new student integration. Mobility rates should be used as a measure of school effectiveness, ensuring that the original school is at least partially accountable for students who have transferred out.

The root causes of mobility must be addressed as well, Rumberger writes, including “policies to promote housing stability, such as affordable housing and fair housing laws, and policies to promote economic security in the form of better-paying and more secure jobs.”

Find Student Mobility: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions by Russell W. Rumberger on the web at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
publication/student-mobility
.
The mission of theNational Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on NEPC, please visithttp://nepc.colorado.edu/.This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (greatlakescenter.org).

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2015 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message because you have opted in at our website or have asked to be added to this list. To subscribe or unsubscribe, see the links in the footer below. To communicate with NEPC about our work, use our main email address.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.
This email was sent to mkbarbour@gmail.com
National Education Policy Center · School of Education, 249 UCB · University of Colorado · Boulder, CO 80309-0249 · USA

June 2, 2015

News from the NEPC: **ICYMI: Answer Sheet Profiles Two Schools of Opportunity

This came through my inbox late last week…

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*ICYMI:
Schools of Opportunity Provide Models
for Outstanding, Equitable High Schools

First Two Profiles Published on Washington Post’s Answer Sheet

Contacts:

Kevin Welner, (303) 492-8370, kevin.welner@colorado.edu

Carol Burris, Rockville Centre, (516) 993-2141, burriscarol@gmail.com

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/ncmrt49Boulder, CO (May 29, 2015) – At a time when advocates for school improvement are looking for better paths forward, the Schools of Opportunity project at the National Education Policy Center has identified 17 public high schools that can serve as models. This week, theWashington Post’s Answer Sheet published a rich description of one of those schools, describing how Malverne High School in New York is closing opportunity gaps. This follows last week’s profile of Centaurus High School in Colorado.These outstanding schools demonstrate practices to ensure that all students have rich opportunities to succeed. The program was piloted in just two states in the 2014-2015 school year: Colorado and New York. Next school year, the project will include high schools nationwide.

“When people read about Malverne and Centaurus, they’ll be struck by the similarities—how both schools demand excellence but always in a way that provides strong supports for students and their teachers and that is grounded in extremely healthy and kind school cultures,” said NEPC director Professor Kevin Welner of the CU-Boulder School of Education. “Rich opportunities to learn are the result of sustained, hard work, but the payoff is enormous.”

The Schools of Opportunity project is jointly led by Welner and by Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY. It is based on 11 specific principles identified by experts in the 2013 Oxford University Press book, Closing the Opportunity Gap, which Welner edited along with Stanford University Professor Prudence Carter. Specific practices include effective student and faculty support systems, outreach to the community, health and psychological support, judicious and fair discipline policies, little or no tracking, and high-quality teacher induction and mentoring programs.

For more information please visit the Schools of Opportunity website athttp://opportunitygap.org.

*In case you missed it

 
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