Tag Archives: Education Reform

University of Arkansas study: The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?

10 Mar

Moi has posted quite a bit about vouchers. Moi discussed vouchers as one element of school choice in Given school choice, many students thrive:

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 https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/university-of-arkansas-study-finds-milwaukee-voucher-students-go-to-college-at-higher-rate/

The Brookings Institute (Brookings) 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 http://educationnext.org/vouchers-help-african-american-students-go-to-college/    and New Research on the Impact of Vouchers http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/314852/new-research-impact-vouchers-reihan-salam

https://drwilda.com/2012/08/23/given-school-choice-many-students-thrive/

The University of Arkansas released How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students?

Posted by UArk Dept. of Ed. Reform – February 19, 2016 – LSP-Y2, SCDP, SCDP and a policy paper which examined the Milwaukee voucher program was part of the research project.

Ameila Hamilton wrote in A new paper looks at school vouchers and lower crime rates:

School choice is frequently hailed as a way to change the trajectories of lives in ways that will resonate for generations. While this is certainly true in terms of the educational achievement that leads to college, employment and the social mobility those bring, a new study is taking a look at how school choice also reduces crime.

In the past, families with the financial means to pay for private school have always had school choice. School vouchers are one way to expand choice to those without such advantages, by providing tuition assistance to students who could otherwise not afford it.

Wisconsin has one such program and The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?, a paper released Tuesday by the University of Arkansas, examines crime rates in Milwaukee among students in voucher programs compared to students in traditional public schools. The study was conducted by Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, professor and 21st Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas.

It found that, not only do crime rates decline among students who participate in voucher programs, they continue to decline the longer a student is enrolled. “We conclude,” the paper says, “that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistently attending a private school through a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity, especially for males.”

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) is the longest-running school choice program in the country, giving researchers the most data possible….                                                                http://watchdog.org/259034/a-new-paper-looks-at-school-vouchers-and-lower-crime-rates/

See, School Voucher Program Students Commit Fewer Crimes, Study Suggests, http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/school-voucher-program-students-commit-fewer-crimes-study-suggests/#sthash.yvn0hXeQ.dpuf

Citation:

The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?
Source: Corey DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf,EDRE Working Paper No. 2016-01, January 6, 2016

Abstract:
In this article we examine crime rates for students in Milwaukee’s citywide voucher program and a comparable group of public school students. Using unique data collected as part of a state-mandated evaluation of the program, we consider criminal activity by students initially exposed to voucher schools and those in public schools at the same time. We also consider criminal activity by students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade compared to those who were in public schools at the same time. We show that the mere exposure to private schooling through a voucher is associated with lower rates of criminal activity but the relationship is not robust to different analytic samples or measures of crime. We find a more consistent statistically significant negative relationship between students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade and criminal activity (meaning persistent voucher students commit fewer crimes). These results are apparent when controlling for student demographics, test scores, and parental characteristics. We conclude that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistence in a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity.

– See more at: http://www.afscmeinfocenter.org/privatizationupdate/2016/01/organizational-failure-in-the-hollow-state-lessons-from-the-milwaukee-voucher-experience.htm#.VuJd7zEi1dg

Here is the press release from the University of Arkansas:

Study Finds Connection Between School Voucher Use, Lower Crime Rates

March 08, 2016

An evaluation by University of Arkansas researchers of a Milwaukee school voucher program found that students who used the vouchers to attend a private high school were less likely to commit crimes than comparable students who attended Milwaukee public schools.

Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, who holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice, describe the results of the analysis in their paper titled “The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?” They presented the paper in January at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The School Choice Demonstration Project based at the U of A and directed by Wolf has conducted several previous studies of the Milwaukee program, looking at student achievement, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, promotion of civic values and parental satisfaction and views of safety.

Schools also can be thought of as social institutions that aim to improve the non-cognitive skills of students, according to the paper, and the combination of academic achievement and non-cognitive advancement of students can lead to better life outcomes as measured by lifetime earnings, employment and citizenship. In the current study, citizenship of a given student was evaluated by looking at criminal activity as adults.

DeAngelis and Wolf used data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to conduct the first analysis of the effect of a private school choice program on the criminal behavior of young adults. Milwaukee’s is the first urban publicly funded tuition voucher system, launched in 1990, and currently enrolls more than 27,000 students in more than 110 private schools.

The researchers matched students using the voucher with students in public schools using data on grade, neighborhood, race, gender, English language learner status, and math and reading tests. They also controlled for family characteristics such as income, family composition and parental education. They used the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access system to search for cases involving former students who had been in the program during a longitudinal study from 2006 to 2011 and were 22 to 25 years old during the criminal database search.

The results indicated that using a voucher to attend private school reduces the likelihood of a student committing a misdemeanor as a young adult by 5 to 7 percentage points, or committing a felony by 3 percentage points, and of being accused of any crime by 5 to 12 percentage points. The effects of the voucher program on reducing crime rates are especially clear and large for men, who commit more crimes than do women.

The complete study can be found on the School Choice Demonstration Project website.

  • Contacts

  • Heidi Stambuck, director of communications College of Education and Health Professions 479-575-3138, stambuck@uark.edu

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. Moi does not have the dread of a well-defined voucher program targeted at at-risk children. The tax credit program is entirely a horse of a different color and should be discouraged.

Related:

What is the Indiana voucher program?                                                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/08/26/what-is-the-indiana-voucher-program/

Are tax credits disguised vouchers?                                                                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/06/17/are-tax-credits-disguised-vouchers/

University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate   https://drwilda.com/2012/03/05/university-of-arkansas-study-finds-milwaukee-voucher-students-go-to-college-at-higher-rate/

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Landmark California case regarding teacher tenure: Vergara v. California

1 Feb

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential
2. Student Successes
3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject
4. Daily Humor
5. Affecting the Future
6. Staying Younger
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
8. Conducive to Family Life
9. Job Security
10. Summers Off
http://712educators.about.com/od/teacherresources/tp/teachergood.htm

Because of the recession, many are turning to teaching as a career that might have employment possibilities. Although there may be job cuts as states and some locales cope with diminishing tax revenue, the education sector still looks good in comparison with other sectors. Information about teaching requirements can be found at Education Week Career Community http://resources.topschooljobs.org/tsj/states/

The issue of teacher tenure is important because:

There is no shortage of data that show a significant percentage of teachers leave just when they are becoming consistently effective. However, at the same time, too many teachers who have not become consistently effective achieve permanent status, also referred to as tenure.

The question surrounding teacher tenure is how to protect quality teachers from unfair termination?

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html?artId=1859505?contType=article?chn=us

What are the Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure?

One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure The reasons are:

A) The teacher shortage is not evenly distributed. High performing schools don’t have the same problems attracting teacher. High paying district don’t have the same problems attracting teachers….
B) This really comes down to the question of why principals might want to be rid of a teacher. I would suggest that any manager would want to be rid of any employee who makes his/her job or life harder. Ideally, this would only be low performing teachers, but that is a fantasy view.
Any kind of rabble rouser can make a principal’s job harder. …Obviously, union activists are already protected by other labor laws.
C) Academic freedom in K12 is not like in higher education, that’s true. But it is still an issue.
A teacher who tries to raise the bar in his/her classes can create no end of problems for a principal. If standards in school have been too low, and a teacher demands more than students are accustomed to, students and their parents can demand enormous amounts of principal’s time. This is a different form of rocking the boat, but can still be enough for a principal to wish to be rid of the teacher.
Principals cannot be experts on everything. Once, when teaching high school English, my principal as a former middle school math teacher. He insisted that I as an English teacher, “not worry about critical and analytical thinking” and “just teach English.” Though he had no training or experience with high school English, he had ideas about what it meant. He did not approve of the fact that I was spending as much time on teaching my student how to reason as on the mechanics of writing. …
Another principal might be an old school traditionalist and insist that English classes only be about books. He might not approve of using film or video to teach about theme, plot, symbolism, character development, story arcs, allegory and any of the rest. But a teacher might feel that this would be the best way for students to learn these lessons….
No, we don’t need tenure if principals can be counted on to make good decisions in the best interests of children. But they are human, and therefore often make decisions in their own interests. Moreover, we have a real shortage of high quality principals, even as we are breaking up large schools into multiple small schools and opening up charter schools….
I do not suggest that there are not problems with our tenure system. A lot falls to principals, perhaps too much. Teacher observation and evaluation is not easy, and the tenure process in dependent on principals making good decisions about teachers during those first three years. …And that is why we still need tenure. It takes a series of bad decisions over a number of years for a poor teacher to get tenure. But without tenure, it only takes one bad decision for a good to be dismissed. http://ceolaf.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-k12-teachers-need-tenure.html

Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work. Vergara v. California is a California case about teacher tenure.

Jennifer Medina reported in the New York Times article, Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom:

In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage….
At issue is a set of rules that grant permanent employment status to California teachers after 18 months on the job, require a lengthy procedure to dismiss a teacher, and set up a seniority system in which the teachers most recently hired must be the first to lose their jobs when layoffs occur, as they have regularly in recent years.
Teachers’ unions, which hold powerful sway among lawmakers here, contend that the protections are necessary to ensure that teachers are not fired unfairly. Without these safeguards, the unions say, the profession will not attract new teachers….
The month long trial promises to be a closely watched national test case on employment laws for teachers, one of the most contentious debates in education. Many school superintendents and advocates across the country call such laws detrimental and anachronistic, and have pressed for the past decade for changes, with mixed success. Tenure for teachers has been eliminated in three states and in Washington, D.C., and a handful of states prohibit seniority as a factor in teacher layoffs. But in many large states with urban school districts, including California and New York, efforts to push through such changes in the legislature have repeatedly failed.
While several lawsuits demanding more money for schools have succeeded across the country, the California case is the most sweeping legal challenge claiming that students are hurt by employment laws for teachers. The case also relies on a civil rights argument that so far is untested: that poor and minority students are denied equal access to education because they are more likely to have “grossly ineffective” teachers.
Judge Rolf Michael Treu, of Los Angeles County Superior Court, will decide the nonjury trial. His ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court…
The first witness for the plaintiffs was John E. Deasy, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and a staunch opponent of tenure rules and “last in, first out” seniority for teachers. Mr. Deasy testified that attempts to dismiss ineffective teachers can cost $250,000 to $450,000 and include years of appeals and legal proceedings. Often, he said, the district is forced to decide that the time and money would be too much to spend on a case with an unclear outcome, in part because a separate governing board can reinstate the teachers. Such rules make it impossible not to place ineffective teachers at schools with high poverty rates, he told the court….
Teachers’ unions contend that such job protections help schools keep the best teachers and recruit new ones to a job that is often exhausting, challenging and low paid. Mr. Finberg, the lawyer for the unions, said in court that the fact that Mr. Deasy has increased the number of ineffective teachers dismissed from the classroom — to about 100 of the district’s 30,000 teachers — suggests that the laws are working.
The plaintiffs’ legal team, from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, includes not only Mr. Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush, but also Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Apple in its antitrust case on e-book pricing. The lawyers and public relations firm behind Students Matter previously teamed to overturn the California ballot measure against same-sex marriage and say this case could have a similar ripple effect across the country. Among the boldface names siding publicly with the plaintiffs is Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who joined them in a news conference outside the courthouse this week….
Teachers’ unions nationwide have fought changes in employment laws, contending that their members must be protected from capricious or vengeful administrators. In Colorado, where a sweeping law in 2010 created a new system to evaluate teachers, the unions are suing over a provision that lets principals decide whether to hire veteran teachers who lost jobs because of budget cuts or drops in enrollment.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a telephone interview that the California case echoes the fights she had when she led the teachers’ union in New York, and called the lawsuit “worse than troubling….”
State education laws across the country are changing. School districts in 29 states use poor effectiveness as grounds for dismissal, according to a report released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank that tracks teacher policies. Just five years ago, no states allowed student performance to be considered in teachers’ evaluations, said Kate Walsh, the executive director of the center. Now, 20 states require such data.
“We have really seen mountains move in some places — the trend in the country has been toward meaningful ways to evaluate teachers and to use that evaluation to make tenure decisions,” Ms. Walsh said in an interview. “But I don’t think anyone has figured out how to implement them particularly well yet.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/education/fight-over-effective-teachers-shifts-to-courtroom.html?ref=education&_r=0

See, Students Matter http://studentsmatter.org/

Here is the case summary for Vergara v. California:

Vergara v. California Case Summary: Californians shouldn’t have to choose: we can create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher and gives effective teachers the respect and rewarding careers they deserve. We believe every child, everywhere, deserves great teachers, and so does the California Supreme Court and the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court has long recognized that equal opportunity to access quality education is every child’s fundamental constitutional right.
With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers. Meet the Plaintiffs.
We think it’s simple: reward and retain passionate, motivating, effective teachers and hold those accountable who are failing our children. By striking down the following laws, Vergara v. California will create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators and community leaders to design a system that’s good for teachers and students. Because when it comes to educating our kids, there should only be winners.
Permanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment law forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after only 18 months—before new teachers even complete their beginner teacher programs and before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be effective long-term.
Dismissal Statutes: The process for dismissing a single ineffective teacher involves a borderline infinite number of steps, requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and still, rarely ever works. In the past 10 years in the entire state of California, only 91 teachers have been dismissed, and the vast majority of those dismissals were for egregious conduct. Only 19 dismissals were based, in whole or in part, on unsatisfactory performance.
“Last-In, First-Out” Layoff Statute: The LIFO law reduces teachers to faceless seniority numbers. The LIFO law forces administrators to let go of passionate and motivating newer teachers and keep ineffective teachers instead, just because they have seniority.
In May 2013, the state’s two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, intervened in the case to defend these statutes alongside the State. The 20-day trial for Vergara v. California begins on January 27, 2014.
View the full Vergara v. California case timeline and read about what happens if we win.
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-status/timeline/
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/if-we-win/
Also, view and download a one-pager on Students Matter and the Vergara v. California lawsuit.
http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SM_One-Pager-FINAL_01.25.14.pdf
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case. According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured,gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure. http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/law/centers/childlaw/childed/pdfs/2009studentpapers/roulbet_teacher_tenure.pdf

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation. Teacher Evaluation Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.

In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.

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MDRC study: ‘Success for All’ shows promise

1 Nov

Moi wrote in Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform:
Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi said
The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/ Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids
https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/

Sarah D. Sparks wrote in the Education Week article, v:

One of the biggest early bets in the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation prShows Promise in First i3 Evaluationogram seems to be paying off: Success for All, a literacy-related, whole-school improvement model, shows signs of changing teaching practice and boosting students’ early-literacy skills after a year in schools.
The findings come from a new study by the New York City-based research group MDRC, the first of three installments in an ongoing $6.7 million evaluation of Success for All, a popular school-improvement model used in 1,000 schools representing 300,000 students nationwide. The program, which includes schoolwide curriculum, tutors, bimonthly student assessments, and teacher training, received $49.3 million from the federal i3 program in 2009 to expand its school improvement model and increase training for teachers and staff.
A year after 19 K-5 and K-6 schools in four states were randomly selected to launch the program in the 2011-12 school year, MDRC researchers found that kindergartners in those schools significantly outperformed demographically similar peers in a control group of 18 schools in a standardized test of phonics, the Woodcock-Johnson Word Attack. Success for All students got a boost roughly equal to 12 percent of the average annual growth for a kindergartner. Moreover, the same benefits were found for poor and minority students.
Painting a Picture of Teacher Practice
In the classroom, teachers at Success for All schools differed from those in the control-group schools in a number of ways. They were more likely, for example, to group and regroup students by ability for reading lessons—even across grades.
Those benefits are in line with the learning gains found in previous studies of Success for All, which has been studied extensively since its founding in 1987, but the MDRC study “goes into more depth in relating implementation to outcomes than any study that’s come before,” said Robert E. Slavin, the chairman of the Success for All Foundation and the director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “It’s outstanding in giving a more detailed picture of what’s actually happening in the schools.”
Compared with teachers in schools that did not implement the program, researchers found that the teachers in the Success for All schools had more, and more varied, training in reading instruction. They later proved more likely to focus on comprehension, even in kindergarten, than teachers in control schools, and were also more likely to use cooperative-learning strategies. Also, following the Success for All design, teachers in those schools were more likely to group and regroup students across multiple grades based on their reading skills, to provide more focused instruction.
“Some of the cooperative learning that students undertake—like turning to your neighbor and telling them something about the text—are among the ways comprehension can get reinforced even with very young children,” noted Janet C. Quint, an MDRC senior research associate and the study director for the evaluation project…
The evaluation report also details the challenge of implementing the whole-school program, which requires strictly scripted and paced lessons and regular assessments and regrouping of students. Surveys of teachers during the first year of implementation found many wanted clearer guidance on how to structure lessons, for example…
Teachers and administrators also repeated long-held concerns about balancing the many moving parts of SFA’s comprehensive-school-reform model, with many schools reporting they did not have sufficient staff to provide tutors for all students who needed them or put in place the school committees needed to implement the program’s whole-schools reforms. Similar complaints about comprehensive school reform programs stymied previous federal efforts to expand such programs in the late 1990s.
The complexity of the program may partly explain why Success For All has not been keeping pace with its scale-up targets under i3: The group initially proposed expanding its whole-school program to 1,100 schools in five years, 550 of which would receive startup support via the i3 grant. (Central Elementary was one of these.) Now, Mr. Slavin said Success for All will be lucky to recruit half that many new schools for expansion during the duration of the i3 grant, and all, not half, of them will receive the startup money.
“The economy has been so awful, schools have been struggling just to keep their staff, not to mention taking on any kind of reform program,” Mr. Slavin said. “We expected to have a real rush of schools interested in signing up, particularly with the i3 incentives, but … that hasn’t happened. We’ve had to do some real marketing.”
Still, researchers will continue to study students in the first group of expansion schools as they progress through elementary school. Two additional studies will look more broadly at whole-school changes, as well as longitudinal progress for 2nd graders and older students. These will also include comprehension skills, which Ms. Quint said are more difficult to test in early grades…http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/10/30/11successforall.h33.html?tkn=PQZFBWe7vcoucd7HsmaTAtuDHLlwCnkyz2So&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is the press release:

The Success for All Model of School Reform
Early Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up
10/2013 | Janet Quint, Rekha Balu, Micah DeLaurentis, Shelley Rappaport, Thomas J. Smith, Pei Zhu
First implemented in 1987, the Success for All (SFA) school reform model combines three basic elements:
• Reading instruction that is characterized by an emphasis on phonics for beginning readers and comprehension for students at all levels, a highly structured curriculum, an emphasis on cooperative learning, across-grade ability grouping and periodic regrouping, frequent assessments, and tutoring for students who need extra help
• Whole-school improvement components that address noninstructional issues
• Strategies to secure teacher buy-in, provide school personnel with initial and ongoing training, and foster shared school leadership
Success for All was selected to receive a five-year scale-up grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s first Investing in Innovation (i3) competition. This report, the first of three, examines the program’s implementation and impacts in 2011-2012, the first year of operation, at 37 kindergarten through grades 5 and 6 (K-5 and K-6) schools in five school districts that agreed to be part of the scale-up evaluation: 19 “program group” schools were randomly selected to operate SFA, and 18 “control group” schools did not receive the intervention. Program and control group schools were very similar at the start of the study. The analysis compares the experiences of school staff as well as the reading performance of a cohort of kindergarten students who remained in SFA schools throughout the year (and therefore received the maximum “dosage” of the program) with those of their counterparts in the control group schools.
Key Findings

• While teachers in the SFA schools initially expressed concerns about implementing this new, complex, and demanding initiative, by the end of the first year, many teachers were beginning to feel more comfortable with the program.
• Almost all the program group schools had reached a satisfactory level of early implementation as determined by the Success for All Foundation, the nonprofit organization that provides materials, training, and support to schools operating the reform. Yet there was also ample room for schools to implement additional program elements and to refine the elements that they had put in place.
• Reading instruction in the two sets of schools was found to differ in key ways.
• Kindergartners in the SFA schools scored significantly higher than their control group counterparts on one of two standardized measures of early reading. The impact on this measure seems to be robust across a range of demographic and socioeconomic subgroups, as well as across students with different levels of literacy skills at baseline.
Subsequent reports will examine the reading skills of these students as they progress through first and second grades and will also measure the reading skills of students in the upper elementary grades.
Full Report http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/The_Success_for_All_Model_FR_0.pdf
Executive Summary http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/The_Success_for_All_Model_ES_0.pdf

The Success for All Foundation describes the Success for All program.

In FAQs the Success for All Foundation answers some basic questions:

Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Success for All?

A. The Success for All whole-school improvement model weaves together four essential strategies to help you ensure the success of your students:

Leadership for Continuous Improvement: School leaders, teachers, and other school staff work in collaboration to set quarterly goals, select leverage points for improvement, measure progress, and celebrate success. An online data-management system makes data accessible to all.

Schoolwide Support and Intervention Tools: Proven strategies focus on attendance, parental involvement, positive school culture, family needs, health issues, and individual student support and intervention to make sure that students are in school and ready to learn.

Powerful Instruction: All instruction in Success for All is built around a cooperative-learning framework that engages students in rich discussion and motivating challenges every day. Detailed lesson resources for reading make planning easy and include rich media supports to develop vocabulary, background knowledge, fluency, and discussion skills. Computer-assisted tutoring tools provide individualization and extra time.

Professional Development and Coaching: Implementation is supported by extensive job-embedded professional development and coaching that enables teachers and school leaders to make the most of the research-proven approach.

Q. How does it work?

A. Success for All makes reading the cornerstone of the curriculum. For children to succeed in school, they must be reading on grade level by the end of the third grade and keep building reading skills through secondary school. They also need effective teachers, so SFA includes intensive professional development, ongoing coaching support, and data tools to give teachers feedback on how students are learning and where they need additional instruction or extra help. SFA involves the whole community in implementing effective instruction that is based on the best research on what works. Success for All makes learning fun and engaging for kids and helps teachers become knowledgeable, skilled instructional leaders.

Q. How is SFA different from everything else out there?

A. Success for All is unique in so many ways!
• Cooperative learning is used all the time. Students work together productively to learn and take responsibility for one another.
• Technology is deeply embedded in daily teaching and learning.
• Students are highly motivated, engaged, noisy, and on task.
• The pace of instruction is fast, and the kids keep up with it.
• Every minute of teaching is well planned, exciting, and engaging.
• Learning is constantly monitored, and problems are solved the right way.
• Teachers teach the whole child. Social and emotional learning, behavior, and cooperation are as important as academics.
• Professional development is top notch and going on every day. Teachers know their craft and apply it with intelligence, adapting it to their students’ needs.
• Everyone is involved in support of student success—teachers, parents, community members, and the kids themselves.
• A facilitator from the school’s own faculty works with teachers every day to help every teacher succeed and grow in skill and sophistication.
• There is a strong research base in every component of SFA and in the program as a whole.

Q. I’ve heard Success for All is expensive. What’s the story?

A. The average cost of Success for All for a school receiving our $50,000 i3 grant opportunity is just $104 per child, per year—or just 60 cents a day. And costs are even lower after the first three years of implementation. Title I funds, including funds from SES waivers, professional-development budgets, and school-improvement grants, can all be used to fund Success for All. Research documents that cost savings from reductions in special-education services and grade repetition more than pay for ALL the costs of Success for All within a five-year period…. http://www.successforall.org/About-Us/FAQs/

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style.

Good Schools really are relentless about the basics.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

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http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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The 10/20/13 Joy Jar

20 Oct

Moi is being stalked. This is the latest missive from the stalker:

boopbopbeep commented on The 10/17/13 Joy Jar
Awww….are you so insecure that you block negative comments about your blog? Tsk tsk “DOKTOR”….notsomuch as Yale has no record of your time at university.

Here is the IP address as forwarded by WordPress:

information about boopbopbeep
IP: 24.22.132.151, c-24-22-132-151.hsd1.wa.comcast.net
E-mail: nojoyjarhere@yahoo.com
URL:
Whois: http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/24.22.132.151

Now this is moi’s profile which stands by:

Dr. Wilda V. Heard, or “Dr. Wilda,” has a J.D. from Yale Law School and a doctorate in education leadership from Seattle University. She has been a volunteer at Legal Voice, formerly the Northwest Women’s Law Center. Currently, she volunteers at the Open Door Legal Clinic of the Union Gospel Mission. Dr. Wilda writes about schools, education reform, and the effect the culture has on education, children, and families. Her comments are of three types: opinion (these comments reflect her opinion on a subject), commentary (her assessment of another’s opinion or comment), and pot stirrer (these comments are written to arouse passion in the reader and to provoke discussion).

All moi can say to the stalker is it is too bad that you have such a miserable life and instead of contributing in positive ways to the world, feel the need to be destructive. Get help. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is forgiveness

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Mahatma Gandhi

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
Bruce Lee

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
John F. Kennedy

Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Mark Twain

Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.
Indira Gandhi

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.
Bernard Meltzer

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.
Thomas Fuller

Forgiveness is the final form of love.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
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Parent Trigger: ‘Won’t Back Down’

24 Sep

Moi has posted quite a bit about the “parent trigger.” This latest post deals with the movie. “Won’t Back Down.” Kelsey Sheehy writes in the U.S. News article, Pulling the ‘Parent Trigger’ on School Reform about the effect the “parent trigger” had on the school portrayed in the movie “Won’t Back Down.”

Trigger laws, which allow parents to intervene if their child’s school underperforms, are on the books in seven states—California, ConnecticutIndianaLouisianaMississippiOhio, and Texas—with as many as 20 states considering similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

While the laws vary by state, most include following provisions:

The school must be identified by the state as low-performing, often for consecutive years.

There must be a majority buy-in by parents of students either attending the school, or with students in lower grade levels who would likely attend the school in the future. This is typically in the form of a petition.

A handful of intervention options are typically available, including charter school conversion, forcing the school to replace the administrators and majority of teachers, or shutting the school down completely.

Proponents of trigger laws say they empower parents to step in when schools are failing their students, and give educators added incentive to take steps to improve schools that consistently fall short.

“[It] gives families leverage where they do not otherwise have it by increasing pressure on districts and others in charge of failing schools,” Dave Robertson, a state senator in Michigan said in a hearing last week on a proposed parent trigger bill, according to Michigan Live.

[Discover why students learn better with engaged parents.]

But critics argue that while the idea sounds good in theory, parent trigger laws lack transparency and risk doing more harm than good. http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2012/09/24/pulling-the-parent-trigger-on-school-reform

Stand for Children Washington hosted a screening of “Won’t Back Down” and moi received a complementary ticket to the screening.

Moi’s mantra for this blog is there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce education achievement in a given population of children. Having said that, there is no middle ground in the movie portrayals. The baddies are very bad and the the “good people” almost have halos. In moi’s opinion, a little more subtlety and shading of the motivation of the characters would have made the movie more effective. The script was just so-so. Still, the movie tugs at the heartstrings of those who feel that there is something drastically wrong with education. Overall, moi like the movie, because she believes that parents must have the option to be part of the solution in turning around failing schools.

Resources:

New movie ‘Won’t Back Down’ makes the case for education reform http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865563082/New-movie-Wont-Back-Down-makes-the-case-for-education-reform.html

Won’t Back Down’ rankles teachers unions but may resonate in trenches                                                            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/wont-back-down-rankles-teachers-unions-but-may-resonate-in-trenches/2012/09/10/38e1a9d0-fab5-11e1-a65a-d6e62f9f2a5a_blog.html

Related:

More states considering ‘Parent Trigger’ laws                           https://drwilda.com/2012/02/02/more-states-considering-parent-trigger-laws/

National Education Policy Center researches the ‘parent trigger’                                                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/09/05/national-education-policy-center-researches-the-parent-trigger/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

The love affair with the Finnish education system

17 Apr

In U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses, moi said:

Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids.

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/

Many educators around the world have a love affair with the Finnish education system. The question is what if anything which is successful about the Finnish system can be transported to other cultures?

The Pearson Foundation lists some key facts about Finland in their video series, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education

Key facts

Finland’s society is relatively homogeneous. Out of a population of 5.3 million, only 3.8% are foreign-born, against an OECD average of 12.9%. Finland spends 5.9% of its gross domestic product on education, slightly above the OECD average of 5.2%.

  • Finland recruits its teachers from the top 10% of graduates. From primary through upper secondary level, all teachers are required to have a Master’s degree.
  • Finnish teachers spend 592 hours per year teaching in class, less than the OECD average of 703 hours. This allows more time for supporting students with learning difficulties.
  • At least two out of five Finnish school students benefit from some type of special intervention during their secondary schooling.

Outcomes

Finland was the top performer in the PISA 2000 tests and it has consistently featured among the top performers since then. In 2009, the number of Finnish students reaching the top level of performance in science was three times the OECD average.

  • Upper secondary students are expected to design their own individual learning programs within a modular structure.
  • In 2008, Finland’s upper secondary graduation rate was 93%, against an OECD average of 80%.
  • In 2008, more than 40% of Finns between 20 and 29 were enrolled at university, well above the OECD average of 25%.

http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/oecd/finland.html

Pasi Sahlberg urges a measured analysis in his Washington Post article.

Pasi Sahlberg, author of “ Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland? ” writes in the Washington Post article, What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform:

What I have to say, however, is not always what they want to hear. While it is true that we can certainly learn from foreign systems and use them as backdrops for better understanding of our own, we cannot simply replicate them. What, then, can’t the United States learn from Finland?

First of all, although Finland can show the United States what equal opportunity looks like, Americans cannot achieve equity without first implementing fundamental changes in their school system. The following three issues require particular attention.

Funding of schools: Finnish schools are funded based on a formula guaranteeing equal allocation of resources to each school regardless of location or wealth of its community.

Well-being of children: All children in Finland have, by law, access to childcare, comprehensive health care, and pre-school in their own communities. Every school must have a welfare team to advance child happiness in school.

Education as a human right: All education from preschool to university is free of charge for anybody living in Finland. This makes higher education affordable and accessible for all.

As long as these conditions don’t exist, the Finnish equality-based model bears little relevance in the United States.

Second, school autonomy and teacher professionalism are often mentioned as the dominant factors explaining strong educational performance in Finland. The school is the main author of curricula. And the teacher is the sole authority monitoring the progress of students.

In Finland, there is a strong sense of trust in schools and teachers to carry out these responsibilities. There is no external inspection of schools or standardized testing of all pupils in Finland. For our national analysis of educational performance, we rely on testing only a small sample of students. The United States really cannot leave curriculum design and student assessment in the hands of schools and teachers unless there is similar public confidence in schools and teachers. To get there, a more coherent national system of teacher education is one major step.

Finland is home to such a coherent national system of teacher education. And unlike in the United States, teaching is one of the top career choices among young Finns. Teachers in Finland are highly regarded professionals — akin to medical doctors and lawyers. There are eight universities educating teachers in Finland, and all their programs have the same high academic standards. Furthermore, a research-based master’s degree is the minimum requirement to teach in Finland.

Teaching in Finland is, in fact, such a desired profession that the University of Helsinki, where I teach part-time, received 2,300 applicants this spring for 120 spots in its primary school teacher education program. In this teacher education program and the seven others, teachers are prepared to design their own curricula, assess their own pupils’ progress, and continuously improve their own teaching and their school. Until the United States has improved its teacher education, its teachers cannot enjoy similar prestige, public confidence and autonomy.

Third, many education visitors to Finland expect to find schools filled with Finnish pedagogical innovation and state-of-the-art technology. Instead, they see teachers teaching and pupils learning as they would in any typical good school in the United States. Some observers call this “pedagogical conservatism” or “informal and relaxed” because there does not appear to be much going on in classrooms.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/what-the-us-cant-learn-from-finland-about-ed-reform/2012/04/16/gIQAGIvVMT_blog.html

See, Are Finnish schools the best in the world? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/are-finnish-schools-the-best-in-the-world-2289083.html

There are probably some lessons which can be learned from the Finnish experience, but we shouldn’t be looking through rose colored glasses.

Related:

Is it true that the dumbest become teachers?        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/is-it-true-that-the-dumbest-become-teachers/

The next great civil rights struggle: Disparity in education funding https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/the-next-great-civil-rights-struggle-disparity-in-education-funding/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Battle of the studies: Does class size matter?

30 Jan

There is an ongoing discussion or battle about whether class size matters in effective learning. Class size reduction theory has both supporters and skeptics. Leonie Hamson writes in the Washington Post article, 7 Class Size Myths — And the Truth

So perhaps its time to review what the research really says and what experience shows about the importance of reducing class size. Here are seven myths about class size, commonly repeated as gospel by the corporate-type reformers, juxtaposed with the facts.

1. Myth: Class size is an unproven or ineffective reform.

Studies from Tennessee, Wisconsin, and states throughout the country have demonstrated that students who are assigned to smaller classes in grades K-3rd do better in every way that can be measured: they score higher on tests, receive better grades, and exhibit improved attendance.

The Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education has concluded that class size reduction is one of only four, evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement through rigorous, randomized experiments — the “gold standard” of research. (The other three reforms are one-on-one tutoring by qualified tutors for at-risk readers in grades 1-3; life-skills training for junior high students, and instruction for early readers in phonics – and not one of the policies that the corporate reformers are pushing.

A recent re-evaluation of the STAR experiment in Tennessee revealed that students who were in smaller classes in Kindergarten had higher earnings in adulthood, as well as a greater likelihood of attending college and having a 410K retirement plan. In fact, according to this study, the only two “observable” classroom factors that led to better outcomes were being placed in a small class and having an experienced teacher.

2. Myth: There is a threshold that has to be reached before class size reduction provides benefits.

Since STAR involved comparing outcomes between students in classes of 22 to 25 students and those in classes of 13 to 17, many critics have argued that classes have to be reduced to a certain level to provide benefits.

Yet Alan Krueger of Princeton University analyzed the STAR results for the control group of students who were in the “larger” classes and found that within this range, the smaller the class, the better the outcome.

Indeed, esteemed researchers such as Peter Blatchford have found that there is no particular threshold that must be reached before students receive benefits from smaller classes, and any reduction in class size increases the probability that they will be on-task and positively engaged in learning.

3. Myth: Large scale programs such as class size reduction in California didn’t work.

Actually, every controlled study of the California class size reduction program –and there have been at least six so far—have shown significant gains from smaller classes.

Unlike the STAR studies, nearly all elementary schools in the state reduced class size at once –especially in grades K-2nd—so it was hard to find a control group with which to compare outcomes. Also, the state exam was new, making it difficult to compare achievement gains to past trends.

Yet given these limitations, the results were striking: even when analyzing the achievement of third graders who had the benefits of a smaller class for only one year, as compared to those who were in large classes, the gains were substantial, especially for disadvantaged students in inner-city schools.

In the five largest school districts other than Los Angeles, namely San Diego, San Francisco, Long Beach, Oakland and Fresno, researchers found that class size reduction raised the proportion of third graders who exceeded the national median by l0.5 % in math, and 8.4 % in reading, after controlling for all other factors. Even larger gains occurred in schools with high numbers of poor students, and in schools that had 100% black enrollment, lowering class size resulted in 14.7% more students exceeding the national median in math, and 18.4% more in reading.

Another researcher, Fatih Unlu, avoided some of the pitfalls encountered by other researchers who were stymied by the fact that the state tests were new and there were few students to use as a control group. In his paper, he instead analyzed the change in National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, and by using two different statistical methods, he found very substantial gains from smaller classes.

4. Myth: Class size reduction lowers the quality of teachers.

This urban legend is often repeated by the corporate-style reformers. Typical is the claim from
Mr. Snider, that lowering class size in California “had the unintended effect of creating a run on good teachers: the best teachers tended to flee to the suburbs, which were suddenly hiring and which offered better pay and working conditions…

5. Myth: Class size matters, but only in the early grades.

Although there has been no large scale experiment done for the middle and upper grades, as STAR did in the early grades, there are numerous studiesthat show smaller classes are correlated with achievement gains and/or lower dropout rates in the middle and upper grades as well.

One comprehensive study, done for the U.S. Department of Education, analyzed the achievement levels of students in 2,561 schools across the country. After controlling for student background, the only objective factor found to be positively correlated with student performance was smaller classes, not school size or teacher qualifications, nor any other variable that the researchers could identify. Moreover, student achievement was even more strongly linked to class size reduction in the upper grades than the lower grades….

7. Myth: Even if class size matters, it’s just too expensive.

Many studies have shown that class size reduction is cost-effective because it results in higher wages later in life (see the above study, for example), and lower costs for health care and/or welfare dependency.

One re-analysis of the STAR data published in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that reducing class sizes may be more cost-effective than almost any other public health and medical intervention, with large savings in health care and almost two years of additional life for those students who were in smaller classes in the early grades….

Also, class size reduction is one of very few educational interventions that have been proven to narrow the achievement gap, with students from poor and minority backgrounds experiencing twice the gains as the average student. While many of the high-achieving charter schools, such as the Icahn charter schools in the Bronx, and those highly celebrated such as Harlem Children’s Zone, cap class sizes at 18 or less, class sizes in our inner-city public schools continue to grow.

As a recent issue brief on the achievement gap from the Educational Testing Service pointed out, schools having high numbers of minority students are more likely to feature large classes of 25 students or more, with the class size gap between high-minority schools and low-minority schools larger over time. Don’t we have a moral obligation to provide equitable opportunities to all children?

So the next time somebody with power or influence tells you that class size reduction is a waste of money, ask him what the evidence-base is for the policies he favors instead. Or ask him what class sizes were in the school his own child attends.

Many of the individuals who are driving education policy in this country, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Bill Gates, sent their own children to private schools where class sizes were low and yet continue to insist that resources, equitable funding, and class size don’t matter – when all the evidence points to the contrary.

As John Dewey wrote, “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.” If education is really the civil rights issue of our era, it is about time those people making policies for our schools begin to provide for other people’s children what they provide for their own.

There is of course, a contrary opinion.

The Center for American Progress has a report by Mathew M. Chingos, The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction

In the Executive Summary Chingos reports:

There is surprisingly little high-quality research, however, on the effects of class size on student achievement in the United States. The credible evidence that does exist is not consistent, and there are many low-quality studies

with results all over the map. The most encouraging results for CSR come from a single experiment conducted in the 1980s, which found that a large reduction in class size in the early grades increased test scores, particularly among low-income and African American students. But evaluations of large-scale CSR policies in California and Florida have yielded much less positive results, perhaps because of the need to hire so many (inexperienced and potentially less effective) new teachers.

Chingos does not believe the advocates for smaller class size have made their case.

Suzy Kihmm reports in the Washington Post article, Study: Class size doesn’t matter:

Two Harvard researchers looked at the factors that actually improve student achievement and those that don’t. In a new paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Will Dobbie and Roland Freyer analyzed 35 charter schools, which generally have greater flexibility in terms of school structure and strategy. They found that traditionally emphasized factors such as class size made little difference, compared with some new criteria:
We find that traditionally collected input measures — class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, we show that an index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research — frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations — explains approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness.                                            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/study-class-size-doesnt-matter/2012/01/28/gIQAaiZAYQ_blog.html?hpid=z3

Catherine Rampell wrote in the 2009 New York Times article, Class Size Around the World:

Note that some of the countries with some of the world’s highest achieving student bodies — like Korea and Japan — have the biggest class sizes. Perhaps this has to do with cultural differences; societies with Confucian roots may have stricter hierarchies within the classroom, so perhaps it’s easier (or more expected) for a single teacher to manage a bigger group of students. But presumably there are other explanations, too.http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/class-size-around-the-world/

Rampell includes charts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in her article.

Something to think about.

Here is the citation:

Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City

Will Dobbie, Roland G. Fryer, Jr

NBER Working Paper No. 17632

Issued in December 2011

NBER Program(s):   ED   LS                                                                                                                                      You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©