Archive | August, 2012

What the ACT college readiness assessment means

25 Aug

Moi wrote about the ACT assessment of “college readiness” in ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades:

Carlalee Adams writes in the Education Week article, ACT to Roll Out Career and College Readiness Tests for 3rd-10th Grades:

ACT Inc. announced today that it is developing a new series of assessments for every grade level, from 3rd through 10th, to measure skills needed in college and careers….

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. The testing straightjacket is strangling innovation and corrupting the system. Yes, there should be a way to measure results and people must be held accountable, but relying solely on tests, especially when not taking into consideration where different populations of children are when they arrive at school is lunacy.

Huffington Post reports in the article, ACT Results Show 60 Percent Of 2012 High School Graduates Are At Risk Of Struggling In College, Career::

Sixty percent of 2012 high school graduates are at risk of struggling in college and a career, according to the ACT’s The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 report released Wednesday. The annual report takes into consideration scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT college and career readiness exam, which this year amounted to more than 1.66 million students, or a record 52 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class.

According to a statement, 28 percent of ACT-tested 2012 graduates did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science — a statistic that also held true in 2011. These benchmarks are empirically derived and based on actual grades ACT-tested students earned in college. The corresponding ACT benchmarks for English, reading, math and science are 18, 21, 22 and 24, respectively. Each of the four sections are scored out of 36 and averaged to determine a final composite score.

Fifteen percent of students met only one of the benchmarks, with a comparable 17 percent satisfying two. In total, 60 percent of test takers met no more than two of the four benchmarks, with only 25 percent of graduates hitting all four — on par with last year’s numbers.

Here is a portion of the ACT press release:

HOLD FOR RELEASE until 3 a.m. Eastern, Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

60 Percent of 2012 High School Graduates At Risk of Not Succeeding in College and Career

ACT® Exam Results Point to Need for Early Monitoring and Intervention

Readiness in Math and Science Improving Slightly

IOWA CITY, Iowa—Success in college and career is at risk for at least 60 percent of likely college-bound 2012 U.S. high school graduates, according to nonprofit ACT’s newly released report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012. The annual report focuses on the scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT college and career readiness exam—this year a record 52 percent of the U.S. graduating class.

More than a fourth (28 percent) of ACT-tested 2012 graduates did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science, suggesting they are likely to struggle in first-year college courses in all four of those subject areas. Another 15 percent met only one of the benchmarks, while 17 percent met just two. In short, a total of 60 percent of test takers met no more than two of the four benchmarks. In comparison, only 25 percent of tested 2012 grads met all four ACT benchmarks, unchanged from last year.

Far too many high school graduates are still falling short academically,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore. “We need to do more to ensure that our young people improve. The advanced global economy requires American students to perform at their highest level to compete in the future job market and maintain the long-term economic security of the U.S.”

ACT’s empirically derived College Readiness Benchmarks are based on actual grades earned in college by ACT-tested students. They specify the minimum score needed on each of the four ACT subject tests to indicate that a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area. ACT continually updates its research to ensure that the benchmarks are reflective of college success.

College readiness levels remain particularly low among African American and Hispanic students. None of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks were met by more than half of students in those racial/ethnic groups. In contrast, the majority of Asian American and white students met or surpassed the benchmarks in all areas except science.

Many states have already taken steps to address deficiencies in college and career readiness.

There is significant work going on here in Alabama, as well as the other states, to implement a set of high-quality academic expectations that define the knowledge and skills students should master by the end of each grade level in order to be on track for success in college and career,” said Alabama Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice. “This ACT report affirms the reason why we are moving our state work toward a new goal of college and career preparedness for all students. As we embark on this new trajectory, we will work through our local school districts to ensure they are equipped with the very best tools and resources to accelerate student success.”

Importance of Early Monitoring and Intervention

ACT research points to the importance of early monitoring and intervention to identify students who are at risk.

Our research supports what many educators and parents have long suspected—that the best way to help our students prepare for successful futures is by monitoring their achievement, academic behaviors and goals starting early in their academic careers and providing appropriate help whenever we find they are not on track for success,” said Whitmore….

Gap Between Career Interests and Projected Job Openings

The ACT data point to a disconnect between the types of careers that graduates are interested in pursuing and the types of jobs likely to be available to them. The percentage of ACT-tested graduates interested in careers in the five fastest growing fields according to the U.S. Department of Labor—education, computer/information specialties, community services, management and marketing/sales—was less than the projected demand for workers in each case…

Record Number of Test Takers

ACT score results are increasingly reflective of the state of learning in the U.S. with each passing year. More than 1.66 million 2012 graduates—52 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class—took the ACT, including virtually all students in nine states. This represents a record level of participation for the eighth consecutive year.

The testing population is also becoming increasingly diverse and representative in terms of race and ethnicity. The current proportions of African American (13 percent) and Hispanic/Latino (14 percent) students in the ACT testing pool closely match those in the general U.S. population.

The full national report and each state ACT report can be viewed and downloaded for free on ACT’s website at the following URL:

# # #

About ACT

ACT is an independent, nonprofit organization with a 53-year history of generating data-driven assessments and research. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, and with offices throughout the world, ACT is trusted for its continual development of next-generation assessments that determine college and career readiness and provide the most advanced measure of workplace skills. To learn more about ACT, go to


Ed Colby or Scott Gomer, ACT Public Relations


ACT has information at their site, Understand your scores:

How ACT figures the multiple-choice test scores and the Composite score

  1. First we count the number of questions on each test that you answered correctly. We do not deduct any points for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
  2. Then we convert your raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to “scale scores.” Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT, no matter which test date a test was taken.
  3. Your Composite score and each test score (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite Score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
  4. We compute your seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but subscores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high). There is no direct, arithmetic relationship between your subscores and your test scores—this means your subscores don’t add up to your test score….
  5. If you want to know more about what your test scores can tell you about the skills you are likely to know and what you are likely to be able to do in each content area measured by the ACT, see ACT College Readiness Standards.

The ACT test highlights the failure of schools to teach critical thinking skills.

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi said:

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the state of education in America. A lot of that dissatisfaction comes from the belief that the education system fails to actually educate children and to teach them critical thinking skills. The University of Maine at Augusta defines an educated person:

An educated person exhibits knowledge and wisdom; recognizes and respects the diversity of nature and society; demonstrates problem solving skills; engages in planning and managing practices; navigates the on-line world; writes and speaks well; acts with integrity; and appreciates the traditions of art, culture, and ideas. Developing these abilities is a life-long process.

Essential to this definition is the development of critical thinking skills.

The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and

  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;

  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought,
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and

  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008).

The question is how to teach critical thinking skills. David Carnes wrote the excellent Livestrong article, How to Build Critical Thinking Skills in Children.


Is a woman’s college the right college for you?

Georgetown University study: Even in a depression, college grads enjoy advantage                                 

Report: For-profit colleges more concerned with executive pay than student achievement                          

What , if anything, do education tests mean?

Complete College America report: The failure of remediation

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

New Virginia education standards are racial profiling

24 Aug

In 3rd world America: The link between poverty and education, moi wrote:

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview  There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this state, we are the next third world country.

The Casey Foundation reports in 2011 Kids Count Data Book about the well-being of children. Readers can create a custom profile for each state using the data center, which describe in detail how children in each state are doing. Two articles detail why this society must be focused on job creation and the expansion and preservation of the middle class. Too many people are financially insecure in the current economic climate.

The Huffington Post article, Poor Students With Poorly Educated Parents More Disadvantaged In U.S. Than Other Countries about the effect of income inequality:

Intuitively, a child’s academic performance is likely higher if he or she has highly educated parents, and lower if the child has less educated parents. A new report confirms that’s true, but reveals that American children of poorly educated parents do a lot worse than their counterparts in other countries.

Income mobility just within the U.S. has significantly declined since the mid-90s, according to a report this month by the Boston Federal Reserve. In recent years, families were more likely to stay within their income class than before — the rich are staying rich, and the poor and middle-class are struggling to move up the economic ladder….

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.   

What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   

Many educators and policymakers are at a lost to deal with the complex social and economic stew of America.

Samreen Hooda reports in the Huffington Post article, Virginia New Achievement Standards Based On Race And Background:

Virginia’s new achievement standards have raised eyebrows.

Part of the state’s new standards dictate a specific percentage of racial group that should pass school exams, a move that has angered the Virginia Black Caucus. The caucus’ chairwoman, Democratic state Sen. Mamie Locke, says the new standards marginalize students by creating different goals for students of various backgrounds.

“Nothing is going to work for me if there is a differentiation being established for different groups of students,” Locke told the Daily Press. “Whether that’s race, socio-economic status or intellectual ability. If there is a differentiation, I have a problem with it.”

Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash disagrees with Virginia Black Caucus’ assertions.

“Please be assured that the McDonnell administration does not hold a student of a particular race or income level, or those of any other subgroup, to a different standard,” Fornash wrote in a three-page letter explaining the changed standards.

The standards do not pose different pass rates for different groups: regardless of race, each student has to correctly answer the same number of test questions in order to pass. The difference lies in the expectation of passing from groups of different backgrounds. The new rules were designed as part of Virginia’s waiver from No Child Left Behind, along with 31 other states and Washington, D.C.

For instance, only 45 percent of black students are required to pass the math state test while 82 percent for Asian Americans, 68 percent for whites and 52 percent for Hispanics are required to pass. In reading, 92 percent of Asian students, 90 percent of white students, 80 percent of hispanic students, 76 percent of black students, and 59 percent of students with disabilities are required to pass the state exam.

Instead of lowering standards, maybe Virginia should be asking the question of how to raise standards for ALL children.

In Race, class, and education in America, moi said:

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the country and there must be good schools in all parts of this society. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

The lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This society cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.


Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color                        

Report: Black students more likely to be suspended

Study: When teachers overcompensate for prejudice

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it

Harlem movie and the hard question: Does indigenous African-American culture support academic success?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Given school choice, many students thrive

23 Aug

In University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate, moi said:

Perhaps, the best testimonial about parental choice comes from an editorial which describes the emotions of one parent. In the NY Daily News editorial, My Baby is Learning this was the description of the protest in support of charter schools:

Those words were spoken by a mother who had brought her child for the first day of classes at Harlem Success Academy  Charter School – and faced loud protesters with her youngster.

The demonstrators were part of a movement that portrays charter schools as an elitist threat to public education. They are not. They are publicly funded schools that admit neighborhood kids by lottery. Their students far outperform children in traditional public schools.

Charters have proliferated in Harlem, and thousands of parents have children on waiting lists – a trend that has driven activists, including state Sen. Bill Perkins, into shamefully charging that charters are creating a separate and “unequal” system.

But parents, the vast majority of them minorities, know better. Like the woman who confronted the protesters, they’re flocking to charters as a way out of failing local schools. And the bottom line for them is crystal-clear: Their babies are learning. 

The only way to overcome the great class divide is to give all children a first class education.

The only perfect choice is school choice.

The Center for Education Reform defines School Choice

The term “school choice” means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the school their child will attend. Traditionally, children are assigned to a public school according to where they live. People of means already have school choice, because they can afford to move to an area according to the schools available (i.e. where the quality of public schools is high), or they can choose to enroll their child in a private school. Parents without such means, until recently, generally had no choice of school, and had to send their child to the school assigned to them by the district, regardless of the school’s quality or appropriateness for their child.

School choice means better educational opportunity, because it uses the dynamics of consumer opportunity and provider competition to drive service quality. This principle is found anywhere you look, from cars to colleges and universities, but it’s largely absent in our public school system and the poor results are evident, especially in the centers of American culture – our cities. School choice programs foster parental involvement and high expectations by giving parents the option to educate their children as they see fit. It re-asserts the rights of the parent and the best interests of child over the convenience of the system, infuses accountability and quality into the system, and provides educational opportunity where none existed before.

Many school choice issues are also discussed in the school choice section.

School Choices has information about School Vouchers                                                

The Brookings Institute (Brookings) has released the report, The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City.  See also, Vouchers Help African American Students Go to College    and New Research on the Impact of Vouchers

Here is the press release from Brookings:

The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City

In the first study, using a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment, Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson, professor of government at Harvard University, examine the college-going behavior through 2011 of students who participated in a voucher experiment as elementary school students in the late 1990s. They find no overall impacts on college enrollment but do find large, statistically significant positive impacts on the college going of African-American students who participated in the study.

Their estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African Americans by 24 percent. The original data for the analysis come from an experimental evaluation of the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program, which in the spring of 1997 offered three-year scholarships worth up to a maximum of $1,400 annually to as many as 1,000 low-income families.  Chingos and Peterson obtained student information that allowed them to identify over 99 percent of the students who participated in the original experiment so that their college enrollment status could be ascertained by means of the college enrollment database maintained by the National Student Clearinghouse for institutions of higher education that serve 96 percent of all students in the United States.

In addition to finding impacts on overall college-going for African Americans, the authors report significant increases in full-time college attendance, enrollment in private four-year colleges, and enrollment in selective four-year colleges for this group of students.

Download » PDF

Andrew Rotherham has an excellent article in Time, The 5 Biggest Myths About School Vouchers

1. Vouchers skim the best students from public schools. Although many voucher proponents want universal vouchers, today, the programs are targeted to specific populations, for instance low-income students or students with disabilities. So while vouchers don’t generally serve the absolute poorest of the poor, they do not skim off the most affluent or easiest-to-educate students either….

2. Students who receive vouchers do better academically than their public school peers. That depends on the measure. Overall the test scores of students who use vouchers are largely indistinguishable from students who stay behind in public schools. On the other hand, parent satisfaction is generally greater among parents whose children received vouchers. And while it’s too soon to tell for sure, there is some evidence that other outcomes, for instance graduation rates, may be better for students who receive vouchers. ….

3. Vouchers drain money from the public schools. It seems obvious that taking money from the public schools and sending it to private schools would leave public schools with less money. But in the through the looking glass world of school finance, things rarely are what they seem. In Milwaukee for instance, Robert Costrell of the School Choice Demonstration Project analyzed the financial outcomes of the voucher program and found that it is saving money in Wisconsin. And, in Washington, D.C. there was an infusion of federal funds into the city’s public schools in exchange for the passage of the voucher program.

4. Vouchers make all schools get better because they have to compete for students. It seems logical to assume that forcing schools to vie for students will improve quality. But schools are not economic entities like a store and respond differently to competition — for instance by going to court or to lobby state legislators. There have been vouchers for years in Cleveland and Milwaukee yet the schools there are still generally poor quality. In Washington almost a third of the city’s students were using various choice options (mostly charter schools) before the public schools began to make real changes. But, we’re still learning. Researchers at the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research have found evidence that competition improved schools in Florida.

5. Private, parochial, or even public charter schools are better than regular public schools. Parents should worry a lot less about the legal status of a particular school than whether it’s the right school for their child. A good fit depends on a host of factors including a strong academic program, successful outcomes, a clear curriculum, areas of emphasis like arts or technology, and even lifestyle factors such as limiting time spent in transit or a year-round schedule. Just because a school is private doesn’t mean it is better overall or better for your child and even in places where the public schools are struggling overall there are often hidden gems. ….

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.


Are tax credits disguised vouchers?                                                           

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color

22 Aug

In 3rd world America: Money changes everything, moi said:

Sabrina Tavernise wrote an excellent New York Times article, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say:

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.

We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education.

Daniel de Vise has written the thought provoking Washington Post article, State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy:

But what the report really advocates is that all states base their grant programs primarily on need. Its top recommendation: “Focus resources on students whose chance of enrolling and succeeding in college will be most improved by the receipt of state support.”

A surprisingly large number of states don’t do that….

The report de Vise refers to is Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs, which was released by Brookings Institute (Brookings) .

State Profiles


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The Center for American Progress (CAP) has just issued the report, Students of color are being shortchanged across the country when compared to their white peers which analyzes disparity in education spending.

Here is the press release for the CAP report:

Students of color are being shortchanged across the country when compared to their white peers.

By Ary Spatig-Amerikaner | August 22, 2012

  • Download the report:
  • Download introduction & summary:
  • Read it in your browser:

Endnotes and citations are included in the PDF version of this report.

In 1954 the Supreme Court declared that public education is “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”That landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education stood for the proposition that the federal government would no longer allow states and municipalities to deny equal educational opportunity to a historically oppressed racial minority. Ruling unanimously, the justices overturned the noxious concept that “separate” education could ever be “equal.”

Yet today, nearly 60 years later, our schools remain separate and unequal. Almost 40 percent of black and Hispanic students attend schools where more than 90 percent of students are nonwhite. The average white student attends a school where 77 percent of his or her peers are also white. Schools today are “as segregated as they were in the 1960s before busing began.” We are living in a world in which schools are patently separate.

In Brown the Court focused on the detrimental impact of legal separation—the fact that official segregation symbolized and reinforced the degraded status of blacks in America. Today’s racial separation in schools may not have the formal mandate of local law, but it just as surely reflects and reinforces lingering status differences between whites and nonwhites by enabling a system of public education funding that shortchanges students of color.

Separate will always be unequal. But just how unequal is the education we offer our students of color today? This paper answers this question using one small but important measure—per-pupil state and local spending. This fraction of spending is certainly not the only useful measure of educational opportunity. How we spend our money is perhaps more important.But newly released data give us the opportunity to shed new light, specifically on inequity in spending from state and local sources.

For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 collected school-level expenditure data that includes real teacher salaries. Amazingly, this had never been done before. I use these data to examine per-pupil spending in public schools, finding that:

  • Students of color are being shortchanged across the country when compared to their white peers.
  • The traditional explanation—that variation in schools’ per-pupil spending stems almost entirely from different property-tax bases between school districts—is inaccurate. In fact, approximately 40 percent of variation in per-pupil spending occurs within school districts.
  • Changing a particular provision of federal education law—closing the so-called comparability loophole—would result in districts making more equitable expenditures on students of color.

Variation within a district is largely due to district budgeting policies that ignore how much money teachers actually earn. When veteran teachers elect to move to low-need schools in richer, whiter neighborhoods, they bring higher salaries to those schools. New teachers who tend to start out in high-need schools, serving many students of color and poor students, earn comparatively low salaries. This leads to significantly lower per-pupil spending in the schools with the highest concentrations of nonwhite students.

To date, the size of the problem has been difficult to measure due to a lack of data. Other researchers have made important contributions to these conversations by documenting a pattern of underinvestment in minority students, but they have been hampered by a frustrating lack of information. In 2009 the Obama administration showed that it recognized the importance of this issue by including a requirement in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 that districts report actual state and local spending on school-level personnel and nonpersonnel resources in school year 2008–09. In December 2011 the administration released the information to the public.

My analysis based on these new data calls into question a specific federal policy that is supposed to guard against within-district inequities. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the federal government’s primary contribution to public education for students living in poverty. In order to receive Title I money, school districts have to promise to provide educational services to their higher-poverty schools that are “comparable” to those provided to the lower-poverty schools.

School districts across the country routinely tell the federal government that they are meeting this requirement. But the law explicitly requires districts to exclude teacher salary differentials tied to experience when determining comparability compliance. This is a major exclusion because experience is a chief driver of teachers’ salaries. This misleading process leads to a misleading result—districts think they are providing equal spending on high-need schools and low-need schools, even though they aren’t. This problem has been frequently called the comparability loophole.

The comparability requirement is, similar to most federal education law, silent on race. This paper builds upon the well-documented correlation between people of color and people living in poverty to assess the ongoing impact of the comparability loophole on students of color.

In the first part of this paper, I paint a detailed picture of what is happening for our students of color across the country. The second part models two alternative futures in which state and local spending experience a one-time growth of approximately 4 percent. In the first model, present policy trends continue—we do not close the comparability loophole. In the second, we close the loophole by “leveling up” spending in schools that are currently being shortchanged. Table 1 presents the top-line findings.

Ary Spatig-Amerikaner has a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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In 3rd world America: The economy affects the society of the future, moi said:

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this country, we are the next third world country. All over the country plans are being floated to cut back the school year or eliminate programs which help the most disadvantaged.

In The next great civil rights struggle: Disparity in education funding moi said:

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

I know that the lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.


Report: Black students more likely to be suspended

Is there a ‘model minority’ ??                        

Book: Inequality in America affects education outcome

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

No one-size-fits-all: New Haven school run by teachers

21 Aug

Moi first wrote about teacher run schools in Teachers running schools:

Different forms of schools run by teachers are beginning to evolve. See, School teachers in charge? Why some schools are forgoing principals.

Melissa Bailey reported in the New Haven Independent article which was posted at Huffington Post, High School In The Community, New Haven Turnaround School, To Be Run By Teachers, Union:

New Haven’s turning one of its low-performing schools over to its teachers and the teachers’ union in an experiment that shatters traditional definitions of American school reform.  Bailey follows-up her report in another article.

Melissa Bailey writes in the New Haven Independent article, School Ditches Factory “Assembly Line”:

Sixty-five freshmen are about to embark on a new journey to reimagine a high school education—one that may take three, five, or even six years, depending on how quickly they learn.

Just don’t call them “freshmen.”

And say good-bye to social promotion.

We’re pushing all the assumptions of how school is supposed to work,” said Erik Good, who’s steering the experimental journey.

The journey begins a week from Wednesday as the academic year begins at High School in the Community (HSC). The radical restructuring is taking place as the Water Street magnet school becomes a “turnaround”—a school with special permission to reconstitute its staff, extend the school day, and overhaul the school rules in order to lift lagging student performance.

A teacher-run school since its inception in 1970, HSC launched two months ago as a turnaround directly managed by the teachers union instead of the school district central office staff. It’s among the most prominent examples to date of how, unlike in other cities, the teachers union and school board here are working together rather than fight on school reform experiments.

HSC, which has 250 students from New Haven and surrounding suburbs, is the city’s sixth turnaround school. Earlier this month it joined the first batch of schools to become part of the state’s new “Commissioner’s Network” of state-sanctioned turnarounds. The state Board of Education approved an extra $7.5 million for HSC and three other turnarounds in other cities. HSC will receive about $1 to $1.5 million to pay for its plans, according to state Department of Education spokesman Jim Polites.

The school got a head start on its transformation last spring, when staff had to re-interview for their jobs, prompting a third of the 31 teachers to leave. The leadership team, which was elected by teachers at the school, will remain in place.

Good, who has worked at HSC for 12 years and was elected to serve as an administrator for the past two, is overseeing the overhaul as the “building leader.” (The school has no technical “principal.”)

Good and his colleagues have spent the summer diving into a daunting task: To reinvent how the school evaluates and promotes students.

To start, HSC is scrapping the term “freshmen.”

Instead of entering “freshman year,” incoming students will be placed at the “foundation level” of a new “competency-based learning” system. That means students have to demonstrate mastery of certain skills in order to move up.

That’s a big change from the current system, where students simply have to get passing grades to progress.

School will no longer be a “Henry Ford assembly line” where all kids get shuffled through at the same speed, Good said. Instead of getting promoted based on seat time, students will progress at their own pace, once they’re ready.

We’re pushing all the assumptions of how school is supposed to work,” Good said.

HSC is piloting the new system with its first-year students; next year, it plans to convert the entire school to competency-based promotion, he said.

Still another idea is put forth by Andrew J. Rotherham in the Time article, Can Parents Take Over Schools?

The point is, there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.


Teacher Cooperatives                                           

Can Teachers Run Their Own Schools?           

Can Teachers Run Schools?                         

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Brookings research paper: Retaining students in early grades

20 Aug

Moi discussed retaining students in Is holding kids back a grade the answer to some learning problems?

The goal of parents, teachers, students, and society should be that all children succeed in obtaining a good basic education. In order to achieve this goal, children must come to school ready to learn. See, Illiteracy in America

Sarah Garland of the Hechinger Report writes in the article, Repeating Grades: More States Requiring Students To Be Held Back, Is It The Right Thing To Do? This article was also posted at Huffington Post:

The report, which examined a decade-old retention policy in Florida, was authored by Martin West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He argues that “the decision to retain a student is typically made based on subtle considerations involving ability, maturity, and parental involvement that researchers are unable to incorporate into their analyses. As a result, the disappointing outcomes of retained students may well reflect the reasons they were held back in the first place rather than the consequences of being retained.”

West comes to the following conclusion:

Retained students continue to perform markedly better than their promoted peers when tested at the same grade level and, assuming they are as likely to graduate high school, stand to benefit from an additional year of instruction.”

The spread of stricter retention policies is connected to a wider movement to ensure all children are reading proficiently by third grade. The idea is based on research showing that children who don’t reach that target are often left behind as their classes move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Retention is not the only, or even the main, instrument in the toolbox promoted by advocates in the reading-by-third-grade movement. Intensive interventions, including pulling struggling readers out of class for individual or small-group tutorials, have become increasingly popular in many schools around the country. More states are also enshrining efforts to identify struggling readers and provide them early interventions in the law, as Education Week has reported.

Even so, the use of retention, even as a last resort for students who aren’t reading well enough on time, is still fraught with problems, many experts say. A report on third-grade literacy policies by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), published in March 2012, outlined what can go wrong with strict retention policies….

Here is a portion of the official release from Brookings:

Policy Implications

Reducing the number of students who do not acquire basic reading skills in the early grades remains an urgent priority for American public education. According to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, one third of all fourth grade students, and fully half of black and Hispanic fourth graders, fail to demonstrate even a basic level of reading proficiency. Improving on this record will require that states provide students at risk of reading difficulty with access to high-quality early childhood education programs, help districts develop early identification systems so that struggling readers can be targeted for intervention, and take steps to improve the quality of instruction in grades K-2. Although often overlooked, this latter issue is critical given evidence that schools often assign less experienced and less effective teachers to those grades, which are typically excluded from state accountability systems.

Policies encouraging the retention of students who have not acquired basic reading skills by third grade are no substitute for the development of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the number of struggling readers. Yet the best available evidence indicates that policies that include appropriate interventions for retained students may well be a useful component of a comprehensive strategy. There is nothing in the research literature proving that such a practice would be harmful to the students who are directly affected, and some evidence to suggest that those students may benefit. Test-based promotion policies may also create new incentives for educators and parents to improve student reading skills prior to third grade. Interestingly, after the initial spike to 21,799 (13.5 percent) retentions, the number of Florida students retained in third grade fell steadily in the six years following the introduction of its test-based promotion policy, reaching 9,562 (5.6 percent) in 2008. This decline was due primarily to a reduction in the number of students failing to meet the promotion standard.

Test-based promotion policies are most likely to be successful if they are accompanied by specific requirements that retained students be provided with additional, research-based instruction in reading and adequate funding to implement those requirements. The apparently positive effects of the Florida reform reflect the combined effect of retention and the remedial services made available to retained students, and common sense suggests that retention should not imply an exact repetition of what came before. Policymakers must also take care to provide local educators with sufficient discretion to make decisions they believe are in the best interest of the child without compromising the goal of increased accountability and access to focused support. Finally, continued research is needed to document the effects of test-based promotion policies on the long-run outcomes of retained students and on the quality of instruction available to all students in the critical early grades. Evidence on these issues is essential in order to determine how the benefits of test-based promotion policies compare to their costs.   



  • Martin R. West Assistant Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

See, Repeating Grades: More States Requiring Students To Be Held Back, Is It The Right Thing To Do?

Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved. Parents are an important part because they enforce lessons learned at school by reading to their children and taking their children for regular library time. Children who do not arrive at school ready to learn will not only face learning challenges, but in some states may face the prospect of being held back in the third grade.

Stephanie Banchero is reporting in the Wall Street Journal article, Bills Prod Schools to Hold Back Third-Graders:

Lawmakers in at least four states are considering legislation that would make students repeat third grade if they can’t pass state reading exams, reviving debates about whether retaining students boosts achievement or increases their odds of dropping out…

The goal is not to retain students, but to get parents, teachers and students all working collaboratively to address the literacy problems when they first show up,” said Colorado state Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democrat who is a sponsor of the bill. Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee also are considering bills on the issue.

All the bills, as well as similar ones that passed recently in Oklahoma, Arizona and Indiana, aim to address literacy deficiencies that exist nationwide. Only one-third of U.S. schoolchildren had proficient scores on the most recent national reading exam, and scores have barely budged in two decades. That comes as children have made steady gains in math…..

There is no guarantee that holding students back in the third grade is the answer.

Emily Richmond writes in the Atlantic article, Third Grade Again: The Trouble With Holding Students Back:

But, as the Wall Street Journal’s Stephanie Banchero points out, the findings on whether retention is good for students is more of a mixed bag. Florida implemented a third-grade retention initiative in 2002, and saw its fourth-grade reading scores soar. But reading scores for the state’s eighth grader have flatlined….

Research has shown that minority students attending inner-city campuses are more likely to be held back a grade than their white peers at more affluent neighborhood schools. Boys are also more likely to be retained than girls.

Berliner believes that for the overwhelming majority of students who are held back, it was the wrong decision.
“There are stories where it was clearly the right thing, and the student moves up to the next grade more confident — I don’t want to negate that,” Berliner said. “But it’s the wrong move for the vast majority of students. And since we don’t know in advance which kids won’t benefit, it’s simply the wrong

There’s plenty of evidence that the nation’s students are struggling with literacy. On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” reading scores had stagnated….

Many younger students miss too many days of class and never develop what Smith called “a culture and habit” of regular attendance. Investments in early childhood education and literacy programs have long-term benefits for society as a whole, Smith said, and not just individual students.

One of the mantras of this blog is there should not be a one-size-fits- all approach to education and that there should be a variety of options to achieve the goal of a good basic education for all children. One of the themes that has run through education is the “bandwagon effect” which means that an idea or study result gains traction and that the idea or procedure is replicated and promoted as “the answer.”


Oregon State University study: Ability to pay attention in preschool may predict college success

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school                                                 

Study: Early mastery of fractions is a predictor of math success                                                 

School Absenteeism: Absent from the classroom leads to absence from participation in this society

Study: When teachers overcompensate for prejudice

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Is a woman’s college the right college for you?

20 Aug

In Choosing the right college for you, moi said:

Now that many students are receiving letters of acceptance from colleges, they are deciding which college is the best fit for them. Given the tight economy, cost is a major consideration. Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of HigherEducation about the Department of Education’s new site about college costs. The College Affordability and Transparency Center is useful for students who are applying to college. It allows parents and students to calculate the costs of various college options. Once the costs of various college options are considered, then other considerations come into the decision.

Danielle Moss Lee, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund offers some great advice in the Washington Post article, Top 5 factors to weigh when picking a college (by May 1st deadline).

Many students apply to several colleges in order to improve their chances of being admitted to college. For some students, a woman’s college might be right for them.

Lorraine Ash and Alesha Williams Boyd write in the USA Today article, Women’s colleges struggle to keep identity and enrollment:

 “Less than 2% of the women going to college nationwide want a single-sex institution,” said Sister Rosemary Jeffries, president of Georgian Court.

The decision highlights how women’s colleges are changing — to meet the needs of a new generation of women, and, in some cases, to make ends meet. The number of women’s colleges in the U.S. dropped from more than 200 in 1960 to 83 in 1993, according to a U.S. Department of Education report. Today, the Women’s College Coalition lists 47 member colleges.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, collective national enrollment at women’s colleges fell from about 113,000 in 1998 to 86,000 in 2010.

“Women’s colleges had to shift, but they haven’t shifted entirely. The mission is still to educate women and develop them for leadership, service and excellence,” said Jacquelyn Litt, dean at Douglass College, which in 2007 went from being its own women’s college to a college that enrolls female undergraduates from any of the academic schools at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey.

Started in the mid-19th century, women’s colleges in the U.S. opened to level the educational playing field for women who couldn’t otherwise get a college education. Recent Census figures show that more women have undergraduate and advanced degrees than men. So, is the mission accomplished?

Not so, says Susan Lennon of the Connecticut-based Women’s College Coalition. Women’s colleges still serve a purpose, she says.

“Women continue to remain underrepresented in key leadership positions and the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Lennon said. “Even though women have been the majority on college campuses for more than two decades, they’re underrepresented on coed campuses in such leadership positions as the student government association, preferring to do other kinds of things.”

Still, women’s colleges’ numbers continue to drop, after closings and controversial shifts to coeducation.

Women’s colleges that have gone coed

Colleges and universities that have gone from all-women to coed in the past decade include:

Hood College, Frederick, Md., 2002

Seton Hill University, Greensburg, Pa., 2002

Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, 2003

Wells College, Aurora, N.Y., 2005

Immaculata University, Immaculata, Pa., 2005

Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass., 2005

Regis College, Weston, Mass., 2007

Randolph College, Ashland, Va., 2007

William Peace University, Raleigh, N.C., 2012

Georgian Court University, Lakewood, N.J., will go in 2013

Source: College and university information offices and web sites.

There are many myths about women who choose to go to a women’s college.

Krista Evans discusses the myths about women’s colleges in the USA Today article, The top 10 myths about all women’s colleges:

Here are the top 10 myths most women face:

1. We are all major feminists who are concerned with women’s issues

While some women at women’s colleges do fit this description, not everyone on campus is exactly like this. We all vary based on our backgrounds, experiences, etc.

2. Boys cannot come in our rooms or sleep over

False. We are not a seminary or school for women who want to become nuns. We can have guys over to study, watch movies, spend the night, or just to hangout. We are treated like adults and are allowed these privileges unless we abuse or take advantage of them.

3. For fun, we have late night pillow fights in our underwear

Again, false. Sorry men, but that is still just a fantasy dream or something you see in the movies.

4. We eat too much and do not dress up because there is no one to impress

While yes, we do have our bad days when we want to just pig out and eat Ben & Jerry’s, we do dress up for class and watch what we eat. We are just lucky to have the option of not having to dress up because we have no boys to impress in class and dressing a certain way does not have an influence on how we are graded. Teachers want us in class to learn, not for a fashion show.

5. We are all lesbians

No, of course we aren’t all lesbians. We like boys and some like girls, just like every other college campus in the United States.

6. We were not smart enough for coed schools

Super false. If anything all women’s colleges are more competitive because they only accept women.

7. We are all either boy deprived or never meet boys

Nope, many of us have boyfriends or go out on the weekends to meet boys. It is not like the college refuses to let us meet or ever see them. Back in the old days, the all women’s colleges used to set up mixers with the coed schools and host dances and invite boys only so the women could meet men.

8. We have a harder time getting jobs

Most people think we are socially deprived and will not be able to succeed in the “real” world because we have only been surrounded by women for our entire college experience. Actually, women who graduate from all women’s colleges are more successful and do very well in the “real” world.

9. We are all wealthy

The myth that we are all wealthy is completely false. Many students take out loans, have financial aid, scholarships, etc. to help them get through college. The exact same as if they were going to a co-ed college.

10. It is just a modern day finishing school, where we are getting our MRS degree

While some women do attend all women’s colleges to get the so called “MRS” degree, not everyone in attendance is there for that exact reason. Majority of women who graduate from women’s colleges go on to get law degrees, PhD’s, MBA’s, become doctors, etc.

In Georgetown University study: Even in a depression, college grads enjoy advantage, moi said:

A college degree is no guarantee of either employment or continued employment. Still, because of the economic uncertainty there is an “arms race” in education. Laura Pappano is reporting in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s Whether a person chooses to attend a four year college after high school is a very personal decision and there is no one right answer. One thing the current economic climate has taught many is there are no guarantees in life, even with a college degree.


“You go to a Women’s College?!” What It’s Like to Go to a Single-Sex School                                            

College isn’t about the boys: Why women’s colleges still matter

Is a Women’s College Right for Your Daughter?

Five Ways to Cut the Cost of College                                

Secrets to paying for college                                                             

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©