Virtual School Meanderings

November 18, 2016

News from the NEPC: ESSA: Learning from the Past

The second in a series being released by the NEPC this week…

In order for ESSA to achieve significant equity-minded improvements, state-level policymakers must be willing to significantly depart from NCLB practices and norms.
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ESSA: Learning from the Past

Key Takeaway: In order for ESSA to achieve significant equity-minded improvements, state-level policymakers must be willing to significantly depart from NCLB practices and norms.

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BOULDER, CO (November 17, 2016) – Motivated out of strong concerns about the shortcomings and federal overreach of the No Child Left Behind law, supporters of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) enthusiastically embraced it as a suitable replacement. Yet, the new legislation maintains a predominately test-based accountability system with a federal mandate for interventions in well over five thousand public schools every year.

In a brief released today, Lessons from NCLB for the Every Student Succeeds Act, William J. Mathis of the University of Colorado Boulder and Tina Trujillo of the University of California Berkeley draw primarily from their book, Learning from the Federal Market-Based Reforms: Lessons for the Every Student Succeeds Act, to offer recommendations on how states and districts can most effectively implement the statute.

The brief comes at a key moment in our national affairs. In light of the recent election results, it is imperative that education agencies understand what evidence-based strategies they can use to preserve the institution of public education, and to limit efforts to privatize elements of their systems. This brief details how policymakers can do that.

ESSA continues to disaggregate data by race, wealth, English learner status, and special needs status (and adds new sub-groups), but the law and the anticipated appropriations show little promise of remedying the systemic under-resourcing of needy students. That is, the focus remains on measuring and holding accountable, as opposed to providing the resources needed to close opportunity gaps. Students’ opportunities to learn inside and outside of schools depend on addressing the economic bifurcation in the nation and in the schools.

Mathis and Trujillo offer more than a dozen comprehensive recommendations for state policymakers on both broad and focused implementation issues. Here are five of the most significant:

  • Above all else, each state must ensure that students have adequate opportunities, funding and resources to achieve state goals. Funds must be available in an equitable manner and must be sufficient to meet students’ needs. Schools and school personnel must not be evaluated on elements where they are denied the resources and supports they need to be successful.
  • Under ESSA, school performance will now be measured using a system that incorporates one or more non-academic indicators—chosen separately by each state. These non-academic indicators provide states their strongest new tool for maximizing educational equity and opportunity and bringing attention to the nation’s broader educational purposes.
  • States and districts must collaborate with social service and labor departments to ensure adequate personal, social and economic opportunities. Without a livable wage and adequate support services, social problems will be manifest in the schools. Public and private schools must adopt assignment policies and practices that ensure integration and that disperse pockets of poverty.
  • Charter schools should not be expanded, and state caps on their approval should be reduced. On average, charter schools do not perform at higher levels than public schools, yet they segregate, remain prone to fiscal mismanagement, and often have opaque management and accountability.
  • States should establish, develop, train and implement school visitation teams that address both quantitative and qualitative factors. Sites most in need of improvement should be prioritized. Standardized test scores can be validly used to establish initial priorities.

Find Lessons from NCLB for the Every Student Succeeds Act, by William J. Mathis and Tina M. Trujillo, on the web at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/lessons-from-NCLB

Find the book Learning from the Federal Market-Based Reforms, by William J. Mathis and Tina M. Trujillo, at http://www.infoagepub.com/products/Learning-from-the-Federal-Market%E2%80%90Based-Reforms

When ordering the book, use discount code LFMBR 30350.

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.

November 16, 2016

News from the NEPC: Making the Most of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Helping States Focus on School Equity, Quality and Climate

From yesterday’s inbox…

State policymakers can emphasize the importance of school quality and climate by following wise guidelines for selecting non-academic indicators that maximize educational equity and opportunity in their schools.
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Making the Most of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Helping States Focus on School Equity, Quality and Climate

Key Takeaway: State policymakers can emphasize the importance of school quality and climate by following wise guidelines for selecting non-academic indicators that maximize educational equity and opportunity in their schools.

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BOULDER, CO (November 15, 2016) – As staff in state departments of education across the U.S. diligently review and revise their accountability systems to meet the new requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), they have opportunities to promote equity and positive school climate.

In a policy memo released today, William Penuel, Elizabeth Meyer, and Michelle Renée Valladares of the University of Colorado Boulder provide guidance to states for selecting more inclusive school quality and student success indicators for accountability systems.

ESSA is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, replacing No Child Left Behind as the primary federal law guiding K-12 education policy. Though the federal accountability system under ESSA is still primarily focused on a familiar set of academic indicators, such as state assessments, the new act brought many significant changes.

“What makes ESSA different is that it also requires state decision-makers to include a ‘non-academic’ indicator, which can offer a window of opportunity for states to consider issues of school quality or student success beyond test scores,” explains Professor Penuel. “Our goal with this memo is to help states weigh their options.”

Rather than provide a fixed list of indicators that each state should adopt, or even a fixed list of categories for states to consider, the authors of Making the Most of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Helping States Focus on School Equity, Quality and Climate describe the risks and possibilities that states should consider when deciding on indicators. In doing so, they point toward the twin areas of opportunities to learn and school climate.

The memo, published by the National Education Policy Center, recommends the following approaches for selecting indicators that address the importance of equity and of students’ perceptions of support, safety, and respect in the classroom:

  • Identify indicators that signal the importance of equity, including opportunities to learn and creating safe and inclusive learning environments.
  • Adopt multiple non-academic indicators that states and schools can report in their annual report cards.
  • Carefully combine indicators to signal what is important and avoid perverse incentives for manipulating any one indicator.
  • Create reciprocal accountability in which district and state leaders have responsibility to provide resources and create conditions needed to improve quality and student success indicators.
  • Help schools make sense of data on quality and student success indicators by coupling them with opportunity and resource indicators.
  • Identify potential evidence-based resources ahead of time that can support schools in improving performance on the indicators and where there may be gaps in available resources.
  • Develop an accountability plan that funds and supports school improvement for schools that need it.
  • Plan for a multi-stage rollout that can make new measurement approaches more successful and manageable over time.

“As states and districts work to implement ESSA, non-academic indicators can signal a move away from punitive, high-stakes testing and towards a more holistic understanding of what helps students and educators thrive in school settings,” said Elizabeth Meyer, Associate Dean for Teacher Education at CU Boulder. “Adapting measures that have a focus on equity and on improving school environments for the most vulnerable students can help states emphasize programs and interventions that can move schools in directions that promote positive, healthy, and high-achieving environments.”

Find Making the Most of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Helping States Focus on School Equity, Quality and Climate,by William Penuel, Elizabeth Meyer, and Michelle Renée Valladares, on the web at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/ESSA

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.

November 14, 2016

News from the NEPC: NEPC Statement on Violence and Intimidation in Schools and Communities

From Friday’s inbox…

NEPC releases new publication…
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NEPC Statement on Violence and Intimidation in Schools and Communities

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BOULDER, CO (November 11, 2016) – In the lead-up to this year’s election and in its aftermath there are widespread reports of violence and intimidation against people because of their race, religion, language, nationality, perceived immigration status, disability, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation. We at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder, deplore these acts.

As researchers working to improve our public education system, we are alarmed by the impact of this violence and intimidation on our nation’s young people, on the schools they attend, and in the communities where they live. Bigotry, bullying, xenophobia, and violence have no place in our society—especially in our schools. Children have a basic human right to live in communities and attend schools where adults will protect them. We commit ourselves to confronting hatred when we see it and to working with the targeted communities to ensure the safety of all people.

We ask all those who share our concerns to stand together to express strong support of a democratic society in which we all feel accepted, safe and protected. We urge students, parents, educators and members of our communities to reject the devaluing of civility, to embrace our diversity, and to listen to and learn from one another. Together we must strive to create a compassionate world for our children and ourselves.

For those who experience or witness acts of violence, please report to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Report Hate Website. #reporthate

Here are some additional resources for educators and parents:

Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project

Anti-Defamation League’s Curriculum Resource on Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories About Bias and Injustice

 

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 30, 2016

News from the NEPC: Review of Papers Estimating Budgetary Implications of Ending Louisiana Voucher Program

From yesterday’s inbox…

Terminating program may yield savings or add expenditures, depending on key assumptions.
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Review of Papers Estimating Budgetary Implications of Ending Louisiana Voucher Program

Key Review Takeaway: Terminating program may yield savings or add expenditures, depending on key assumptions.
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BOULDER, CO (September 29, 2016) – Two recent papers from researchers at the University of Arkansas offer predictions about the budgetary consequences of terminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a voucher program that funds over 7,100 Louisiana students to attend private schools.

Using an economic model, the papers offer several different scenarios and then conclude that terminating the LSP would increase the costs statewide and do so in almost all districts in the state. The papers’ findings are reasonable but depend on unproven assumption, according to NEPC reviewer Clive Belfield. Other reasonable assumptions would show termination generating savings. Accordingly, the papers do not make a fully convincing case that the state will incur extra expenditures without the LSP. But in any case, the net fiscal effect of terminating the LSP is unlikely to be large; in the context of a $9 billion state expenditure, the change would likely be less than $10 million.

Queens College, City University of New York professor Clive Belfield reviewed Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program and The Fiscal Effect of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program on State Education for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

There may be savings or additional expenditures, Professor Belfield states, depending on several key parameters that have not been precisely estimated. He also notes that the papers’ findings of extra costs run counter to those of the state’s Legislative Fiscal Office, which estimated savings from program termination. But the papers do not mention this contrary evidence.

Nevertheless, Professor Belfield concludes that these papers provide a useful analysis and application of a reasonable economic model to understanding the immediate fiscal impact of voucher systems.

Find Clive Belfield’s review at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-Louisiana

Find Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program, by Corey A. DeAngelis and Julie R. Trivitt, published by the University of Arkansas, at http://www.uaedreform.org/downloads/2016/08/squeezing-the-public-school-districts-the-fiscal-effects-of-eliminating-the-louisiana-scholarship-program.pdf. Find The Fiscal Effect of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program on State Education, by Julie R. Trivitt and Corey A. DeAngelis, also published by the University of Arkansas, at http://www.uaedreform.org/downloads/2016/04/12162.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 © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

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.
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