Virtual School Meanderings

November 22, 2017

News From The NEPC: Indiana Survey Fails In Its Attempt To Inform School Choice Policy Discussions

From yesterday’s inbox…

Problematic data collection and weak statistical analyses tell us little about parents’ experiences with their children’s schools.
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Indiana Survey Fails in Its Attempt to Inform School Choice Policy Discussions

Key Review Takeaway: Problematic data collection and weak statistical analyses tell us little about parents’ experiences with their children’s schools.

Contact:

William J. Mathis(802) 383-0058wmathis@sover.net
Jeanne M. Powers: (480) 965-0841jeanne.powers@asu.edu

BOULDER, CO (November 21, 2017) – Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-Sector Survey of Parents’ Views in a Robust School Choice Environment, authored by Andrew D. Catt and Evan Rhinesmith and published by EdChoice, presents results from a survey of K-12 parents within and across the public and private sectors.

Jeanne Powers, Professor at Arizona State University, reviewed the report and found significant problems with both the methods used to conduct the survey and the data analysis.

The report concludes that parents are highly satisfied with voucher and tax credit scholarship programs. The authors suggest that the findings support the expansion of school choice programs. However, even setting aside problems with the study’s data and methods, parent-satisfaction survey data almost always yield strongly positive findings. In fact, one underemphasized finding in this new survey is that substantial proportions of public school families—the largest constituency of K-12 parents in Indiana—did not participate in private school choice programs because they are happy with their current schools and want to support public schools.

But more importantly, Professor Powers finds that the survey and analysis fall short in four ways. First, three incompatible data collection methods were used to collect small samples of non-representative groups of Indiana parents. Second, the statistical analyses are too weak to draw clear conclusions. Third, while organized like a conventional research study, the report appears to be designed to advance an agenda rather than provide substantive answers to important policy questions. Finally, the report provides little new information about parents’ experiences with their children’s schools.

Thus, the report provides little useful information about school choice in Indiana or about public support for school choice programs.

Find the review, by Jeanne M. Powers, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-indiana-choice

Find Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-Sector Survey of Parents’ Views in a Robust School Choice Environment, by Andrew D. Catt and Evan Rhinesmith, published by EdChoice, at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Why-Indiana-Parents-Choose-2.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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 16, 2017

News from the NEPC: NEPC’s November Education Interview of the Month Podcast Explores Independent Teacher Prep Programs

From Tuesday’s inbox…

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.
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NEPC’s November Education Interview of the Month Podcast Explores Independent Teacher Prep Programs

Key Takeaway: NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

Contact:

BOULDER, CO (November 14, 2017) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education Gregory A. Smith explores the creation of independent teacher education programs, their implications for public schools, and teaching as a profession with University of Washington professor Ken Zeichner, author of Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence.

Join Smith and Zeichner as they discuss the implications of the growth of independent programs and the claims of excellence made by two of the five independent teacher preparation programs examined. In these two programs, “success” focuses very narrowly on the ability of their graduates to raise standardized test scores, which is troubling in terms of the multiple goals that have been historically associated with public schools.

The role of the teacher in these two programs leans more toward the “technician” end of the continuum as opposed to a professional who exercises judgment and has adaptive expertise to learn over time, Professor Zeichner continues. He found no independently vetted high-quality research to verify the programs’ self-serving claims of success.

These programs, he observes, help to perpetuate inequity in U.S. education. There is “clear evidence that an obsessive focus only on raising standardized test scores is connected to a narrowing of the curriculum, so that they contribute to expanding a two-tiered system where certain kids have access to a rich and broad curriculum, and to authentic interactions with knowledge, and other kids (mostly those living in communities highly impacted by poverty) spend a lot of time prepping and focusing on standardized tests.”

A new NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by Gregory A. Smith, will be released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In December, Greg’s guest will be Jeannie Oakes of UCLA. The conversation will explore creation of community schools that strive to establish much closer relationships with other local agencies to meet the needs not only of children, but of their families.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

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


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Copyright © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 9, 2017

News from the NEPC: Report Manufactures Alarmist Picture on Teacher Absenteeism

Note this review of another neo-liberal report.

Fordham report seems designed to discredit teachers rather than to provide a thoughtful analysis.
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Report Manufactures Alarmist Picture on Teacher Absenteeism

Key Review Takeaway: Fordham report seems designed to discredit teachers rather than to provide a thoughtful analysis.

Contact:

William J. Mathis(802) 383-0058wmathis@sover.net
Patricia H. Hinchey: (570) 479-1794phhinchey@psu.edu

BOULDER, CO (November 7, 2017) – Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, authored by David Griffith and published by the Fordham Institute, compares average rates of frequent teacher absence for teachers with and without union or union-like contracts in public schools and charter schools.

Patricia Hinchey, Professor Emerita of Education at Penn State University, reviewed the report and found that it lacks support for its major claims, ignores known discrepancies in data, uses cited resources in highly selective ways, ignores large bodies of contradictory research, and draws unwarranted conclusions.

The study focuses on teachers who are absent for more than 10 days in a school year, contending that these higher levels of teacher absence substantively harm students and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It finds that teachers contractually allowed more absences are absent at the “frequent” level more often than teachers allowed fewer absences. Based on these averages, the report assumes a causal relationship between the contracts and the absences, and it concludes that the higher average number of absences is uncalled-for—based on illegitimate reasons. The report recommends that contracts be made less generous.

Concerns about teacher absences, and more broadly concerns about classrooms without a full-time, certified and experienced teacher, can—if thoughtfully presented—be grounded in high-quality research evidence. But Professor Hinchey cautions that this report’s idiosyncratic use of the term “chronic absenteeism” misrepresents the data and, along with its use of graphics, appears intended to create a national alarmist picture about “chronic absenteeism” unwarranted either by the data or by other research. Accordingly, the report appears to be an effort to generate numbers and charts useful in discrediting teachers as irresponsible shirkers.

Find the review, by Patricia H. Hinchey, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-absenteeism

Find Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, by David Griffith, published by the Fordham Institute, at:
https://edexcellence.net/publications/teacher-absenteeism

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 © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

October 25, 2017

News from the NEPC: Review Finds Valuable Analysis of School Closure Research

Interestingly the NEPC finds this CREDO report fairly well done.

CREDO’s report is a careful and rigorous study, with a few missed opportunities for further analysis.
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Review Finds Valuable Analysis of School Closure Research

Key Review Takeaway: CREDO’s report is a careful and rigorous study, with a few missed opportunities for further analysis.

Contact:

BOULDER, CO (October 24, 2017) – Lights Off: Practice and Impact of Closing Low-Performing Schools, authored by Chunping Han, Margaret E. Raymond, James L. Woodworth, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, and released by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, provides an extensive analysis based on the most comprehensive dataset ever assembled for school closure research, including 1,522 low-performing schools that were closed across 26 states between 2006 and 2013.

Matthew Gaertner, a principal research scientist at SRI International, and Professor Ben Kirshner, of the School of Education at University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed the report and found it to be a careful and rigorous study, albeit with a few missed opportunities.

Substantiating concerns raised by closure opponents in cities such as Washington DC and Philadelphia, the report finds that even when holding constant academic performance, schools were more likely to be closed if they enrolled higher proportions of minority and low-income students. The report also finds test-score declines, relative to the comparison group, for two groups of students displaced by closures: students who transferred to “inferior” schools (with a prior record of low test-score performance relative to students’ closed schools) and those who transferred to “equivalent” schools (with test-score performance similar to students’ closed schools). Slightly less than half of students transferred to higher performing schools after a closure; those who did showed academic improvement relative to their matched peers.

Gaertner and Kirshner determined that the report’s focus on some tenuous analyses (involving pre-closure transfers) obscures its most important findings, involving inadequate numbers of higher quality receiving schools, which was associated with performance declines for most students, and disproportionality in school closures. Additionally, the reviewers were concerned about statistical modeling choices and matching challenges that may threaten the validity of the subgroup analyses focused on charter school students. Finally, Gaertner and Kirshner would have liked to see the report acknowledge the inescapable moral dimensions of school closure: Do the communities affected by closures have opportunities to participate in closure decisions?

Notwithstanding these concerns, the reviewers found the report to provide a valuable contribution to the growing body of school closure research.

Find the review, by Matthew Gaertner and Ben Kirshner, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-closures

Find Volumes I and II of Lights Off: Practice and Impact of Closing Low-Performing Schools, by Chunping Han, Margaret E. Raymond, James L. Woodworth, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, published by CREDO, at:
http://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/Closure_FINAL_Volume_I.pdf and
http://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/Closure_FINAL_Volume_II.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.

October 19, 2017

News from the NEPC: NEPC’s October Education Interview of the Month Podcast Features An Eye-Opening View of the Teaching Profession

From Tuesday’s inbox…

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
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NEPC’s October Education Interview of the Month Podcast Features an Eye-Opening View of the Teaching Profession

Key Takeaway: NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

Contact:

William J. Mathis(802) 383-0058wmathis@sover.net
Greg Smith: (503) 758-1020gasmith@lclark.edu
Alyssa Hadley Dunn: (404) 723-3826ahdunn@msu.edu

BOULDER, CO (October 17, 2017) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education Gregory A. Smith talks with Michigan State University Professor Alyssa Hadley Dunn, the author of a series of articles about teachers’ viral resignation letters, including Activism through attrition?: An exploration of viral resignation letters and the teachers who wrote themLeaving a Profession After It’s Left You: Teachers’ Public Resignation Letters as Resistance Amidst Neoliberalism, and With regret: The genre of teachers’ public resignation letters.

Join Smith and Dunn for an engaging conversation about what can be learned about working conditions in contemporary U.S. schools from teachers’ resignation letters.

In their studies of the letters, Professor Dunn and her colleagues found that no matter what state teachers were from or how long they had been in the profession, all were experiencing the current neoliberal policy context in much the same way. “They felt like learning had been reduced to teaching to the test, learning opportunities had been curtailed, and that their own voices as teachers were being continually silenced,” Dunn noted. They also experienced frustration in constantly dealing with top-down mandates and increasing bureaucracy at the same time as they saw their salaries and benefits stagnating or even decreasing. “We found that overall, the letters paint a very stark reality of teaching in public schools today.”

A new NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by Gregory A. Smith, will be released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In November, Greg’s guest will be Ken Zeichner of the University of Washington. Greg and Ken will explore the creation of independent teacher education programs and their implications for public schools.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

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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