Virtual School Meanderings

November 15, 2019

Michael, People Are Reading Your Work

An item from one of my open scholarship networks.

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Michael K. Barbour
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November 14, 2019

Report About Charters Being A “Rising Tide” Sinks Under Weight Of Flawed Data

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

Due to data and methods limitations, report fails to prove its claim that higher charter market share is associated with achievement gains for all students.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Publication Announcement

Report About Charters Being a

“Rising Tide” Sinks Under

Weight of Flawed Data

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Due to data and methods limitations, report fails to prove its claim that higher charter market share is associated with achievement gains for all students.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Yongmei Ni:

(801) 587-9298

yongmei.ni@utah.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (November 14, 2019) – A recent report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute examines whether average achievement in a school district increases as the “market share” of charter schools rises. The report argues that there is a positive competition effect.

Yongmei Ni of the University of Utah reviewed Rising Tide: Charter School Market Share and Student Achievement, and determined that its findings have limited use in guiding policy and practice, because of the flawed data and methods it employs.

Using a national data set of school districts with longitudinal records (allowing an analysis of each school district’s changes over time), the report found that overall, higher charter market share is associated with statistically significant increases in average reading achievement (but not math achievement). Further, the report finds some positive relationships for specific racial subgroups in districts of certain sizes and geographic locations. The report concludes that charter schools are “a rising tide” that “lifts all education boats.”

Professor Ni explains that these findings and conclusions should be interpreted with extreme caution because of major weaknesses surrounding the data and methods, including the measure of charter market share, the sample selection criteria, and the overreliance on results based on a small number of districts, especially those districts with over 95th percentile of charter market share.

Overall, she concludes, the findings have little use to policymakers because of these issues with data and methods, and because the report does not probe beneath the surface. For example, it does not examine possible policy factors that might be associated with charter market share in a given area having a positive or negative association with public school systems. Similarly, it does not consider which practices might benefit charter schools and/or public school systems as a whole.

Find the review, by Yongmei Ni, at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/rising-tide

Find Rising Tide: Charter School Market Share and Student Achievement, written by David Griffith and published by the Fordham Institute, at:

https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/research/rising-tide-charter-market-share

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), a university research center 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 2019 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 13, 2019

College Admissions Fraud And 504 Plans: A Q&A With NEPC Fellow Edward Garcia Fierros

An item from the National Education Policy Center.

College Admissions Fraud and 504 Plans: A Q&A with NEPC Fellow Edward Garcia Fierros

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Newsletter

College Admissions Fraud and 504 Plans: A Q&A with NEPC Fellow

Edward Garcia Fierros

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The “varsity blues” college admissions scandal earlier this year brought attention to a previously obscure section of federal law. Celebrities and other affluent parents were accused of, among other things, abusing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in order to get their children accommodations (such as additional time) on ACT and SAT exams. But even before these particular fraudulent activities began, the prevalence of so-called “504 plans” was already on the rise, especially in affluent schools like those attended by the families involved in the scandal.

In the Q&A below, National Education Policy Center Fellow Edward Garcia Fierros sheds light on these plans, which are intended to accommodate students with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. He concludes with recommendations for ensuring that students who need the plans receive them, regardless of the income levels of their families, while also cracking down on fraudulent claims.

Fierros is Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Education and Counseling, where he teaches courses on educational research, educational assessment and analysis, and diversity and inclusion in schools. His research focuses on providing equitable opportunities for all learners. His expertise includes testing and measurement, diversity and equity in assessment, placement patterns of students with special needs and students who are emerging bilinguals, and educational policy related to underrepresented students.

Q: What is a 504 plan? What is the plan’s relationship to the recent college admissions scandals?

A: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandates that students with physical or mental impairment must receive an equal opportunity to a “free and appropriate public education” among other important factors. 504 plans, as they are called, are designed to ensure that students in education programs receiving federal funds are not excluded, because of their real or perceived disabilities, from educational opportunities. In particular, the law provides as follows:

A student with a disability is any student who: has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (including standardized testing), has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. There are a number of common disabilities or conditions that would warrant a 504 plan (e.g., dyslexia, ADHD, diabetes, depression, allergies, and cancer). A 504 Plan ensures that a child with a disability receives the appropriate accommodations to succeed. Accommodations for students may include extra time on tests and schoolwork, taking tests in a different room with fewer distractions, or giving verbal answers to test questions instead of written ones. The plans are overseen/enforced by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

The college admissions scandal brought to light how dishonest parents may try to game the system by getting a child without a legitimately diagnosed disability placed on a 504 plan to gain additional time on college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT. The scandal also revealed that wealthier families often hire psychologists or other consultants to assess their children for 504 plan eligibility in their elementary and secondary school years. Studieshave shown that in affluent school districts, students are enrolled in 504 plans at higher rates than students in poorer school districts. The 504 designation and this extra time can provide a child a clear advantage in the college admission process. Furthermore, a 504 designation does not carry the same stigma that can sometimes come with being placed on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Q: How widespread are 504 plans? Are they increasing or decreasing in prevalence?

A: 504 plans are more common in wealthier school districts than in poor ones. Nationally, high school students on 504 plans make up three percent of enrollment, but in the wealthiest districts the percentage is closer to six percent, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. A majority of students on 504 plans are White (65%) and male (62.3%).

Over a short period of time—2002-2016—requests for these plans tripled. Some experts believe that 504 plans have increased in prevalence in wealthier school districts because they do not have the negative stigma of an IEP, which is defined under Part B of the IDEA. Wealthier school districts are able to pay for 504 accommodations which do not qualify for federal or state funding. Also, a common accommodation for students on 504 plans is additional time on standardized tests, which clearly has implications for college admissions exams.

Click here to read the rest of this Q&A.

This newsletter 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), a university research center 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 2019 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 12, 2019

Congratulations Michael, You Reached A Milestone

An item from another one of my open scholarship networks.

ResearchGate
Your publication has a new achievement:
CASTLE Brief No. 2 – A virtual shortfall: How full-time online learning models are not living up to the promise.
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Well done, Michael!
Your technical report reached 20 reads

Cathy Cavanaugh – New Articles

An item from one of my open scholarship networks.

[HTML] 4. Instructional Design Principles

M Rogers-Estable, C Cavanaugh, M Simonson… – Virtual Learning Design and …
When starting an online course design project, it is critical that course developers
have a clear understanding of what constitutes quality online learning and an
approximate amount of time required to design and develop an online course. Some …
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