Tag Archives: Failing Schools

Institute of Education Sciences study: States lack capacity to improve failing schools

10 May

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.

Lyndsey Layton wrote in the Washington Post article, Most states lacked expertise to improve worst schools:

The Obama administration handed out more than $3 billion to the states and the District of Columbia to help them turn around their worst-performing schools as part of the federal stimulus spending that took place after the 2008 recession.

But most states lacked the capacity to improve those schools, according to a new analysis by federal researchers.

Although turning around the worst schools was a priority for nearly every state, most did not have the staff, technology and expertise to pull those schools out of the bottom rankings, according to a brief released Tuesday by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

With funds allocated by Congress under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration spent $3.5 million on School Improvement Grants to states, directing them to focus the money on their lowest-performing schools.

School Improvement Grants had been part of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal education law. But stimulus spending increased the budget for the grants sixfold.

Under the Obama administration, schools could receive up to $2 million annually for three years. The money was divided among the states and D.C. according a federal formula. About 1,500 schools received grants.

Any school accepting a grant had to agree to adopt one of four strategies favored by the administration: Replace the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff; close the school and enroll students in another, better-performing school; close the school and reopen it as a charter school; or transform the school through new instructional strategies and other techniques.

While 84 percent of states told the researchers that improving the worst schools was a top priority, 58 percent said it was one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. Eighty percent of states and the District told federal researchers that their states had at least one significant gap in expertise needed to significantly improve the worst schools….
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/most-states-lacked-expertise-to-improve-worst-schools/2015/05/05/0eb82b98-f35f-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html

Here is the abstract:

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround

One objective of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) School Improvement Grants (SIG) and Race to the Top (RTT) program is to help states enhance their capacity to support the turnaround of low-performing schools. This capacity may be important, given how difficult it is to produce substantial and sustained achievement gains in low-performing schools. There is limited existing research on the extent to which states have the capacity to support school turnaround and are pursuing strategies to enhance that capacity. This brief documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013. It examines capacity issues for all states and for those that reported both prioritizing turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it. Key findings, based on interviews with administrators from 49 states and the District of Columbia, include the following:

• More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools.
• 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.
• More than 85 percent of states reported using strategies to enhance their capacity to support school turnaround, with the use of intermediaries decreasing over time and the use of organizational or administrative structures increasing over time.
• States that reported both prioritizing school turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it were no more likely to report using intermediaries than other states but all 21 of these states reported having at least one organizational or administrative structure compared with 86 percent (25 of 29) of all other states.

View, download, and print the report as a PDF file (2.8 MB)
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20154012/pdf/20154012.pdf

Here is the press release:

Press Release

New Brief by AIR, Mathematica Experts Examines States’ Capacity to Support Turnaround in Low-Performing Schools

A new research brief released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013. The brief found that at least three-quarters of states reported having “significant gaps” in expertise to support turning around low-performing schools.

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) May 05, 2015

A new research brief released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013.
The study found that at least three-quarters of states reported having “significant gaps” in expertise to support turning around low-performing schools.

The brief resulted from collaboration between experts at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Mathematica Policy Research. It is the fourth brief in a large-scale evaluation of School Improvement Grant (SIG) and Race to the Top (RTT) programs
.
“Improving low-performing schools does not happen overnight,” said Courtney Tanenbaum, a senior researcher at AIR. “Turning them around is a complex and challenging endeavor. So it is not surprising that states would feel a need for more support in this area.”
Through structured telephone interviews with administrators in 49 states and the District of Columbia, the study found:

• More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent of all states found turnaround very difficult.
• Thirty-eight states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 states (80 percent) in 2013.
• More than 85 percent of states reported using strategies to enhance their capacity to support school turnaround. The use of intermediaries decreased over time, and the use of organizational or administrative structures increased over time.
• Twenty-one states reported prioritizing school turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it. Although these states were no more likely to use intermediaries than other states, all 21 reported having at least one organizational or administrative structure to improve their capacity to support turnaround, compared with 86 percent (25 of 29) of other states.

“States can play an important role in tackling the challenges of school turnaround, for example, by arranging external support to address barriers to improvement,” said Susanne James-Burdumy, Mathematica senior fellow and director of the evaluation. “For this reason, SIG and RTT provided resources to improve state capacity to support turnaround, but concerns linger about state capacity to continue that support once SIG and RTT funding runs out. Our brief sheds light on the specific capacity constraints states are facing and where additional supports could be warranted.”
To view the full report, go to http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20154012/.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit http://www.air.org.
About Mathematica Policy Research

Mathematica Policy Research seeks to improve public well-being by conducting studies and assisting clients with program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data analytics and management. Its clients include foundations, federal and state governments, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, with offices in Ann Arbor, MI; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC. For more information, visit http://www.mathematica-mpr.com.
Andrew Brownstein
American Institutes for Research
+1 (202) 403-6043

Andrew J. Rotherham wrote in the Time article, Can Parents Take Over Schools? http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/08/can-parents-take-over-schools/#ixzz1ygVQ5kIA
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.

Related:
Teacher Cooperatives
http://educationnext.org/teacher-cooperatives/

Can Teachers Run Their Own Schools?
http://charlestkerchner.com/

Can Teachers Run Schools?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-vander-ark/can-teachers-run-schools_b_803312.html

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Brookings report: What failing public schools can learn from charters?

10 Nov

Mary Ann Zehr wrote a 2010 article in Education Week about the sharing of “best practices” between charters and public schools. In the article, Regular Public Schools Start to Mimic Charters Zehr reported:

Collaborations popping up across the country between charter and traditional public schools show promise that charter schools could fulfill their original purpose of becoming research-and-development hothouses for public education, champions of charters say….

“There’s not a lot to share. Charter schools are a lot like [regular] public schools,” said Joan Devlin, the senior associate director of the educational issues department at the American Federation of Teachers.

But others, such as the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, believe charter schools do have some distinctive practices that should be shared with traditional public schools. The alliance hosted a conference in September that featured 26 “promising cooperative practices” between the two kinds of schools. Examples included a Minnesota Spanish-immersion charter school working with a local district to create a Spanish-language-maintenance program, and California charter school and districts teaming up on a teacher-induction program.

“We were trying to move past the whole charter-war debates and move to a more productive place,” said Stephanie Klupinski, the alliance’s vice president of government and public affairs.

If the goal is that ALL children receive a good basic education, then ALL options must be available.

Kristin Kloberdanz has written an incisive critique for TakePart of the Brookings Institute report, Learning from the Successes and Failure of Charter Schools:

What makes a charter school succeed and how exactly can we transfer these ideas to failing public schools?

These questions are examined in Roland G. Fryer’s widely talked about report, “Learning From the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools.” Fryer is the CEO of EdLabs and an economics professor at Harvard University, the report was published as part of The Hamilton Project (the Brookings Institution).

The report has been touted as a great way for modeled successful charters to “cross-pollinate” with failing public schools. Critics, however, have said charters are being favored as education policy over reforms that might be more cohesive with the traditional public school system.

Fryer studied data from 35 charter schools of varying success levels in New York City to determine what separated the high achievers from those that failed. What he discovered was intriguing. The usual measurements, such as class size and amount spent per student, were not as important to reading and math scores as other school-wide implemented practices. In fact, Roland determined that the charter schools with evidence of the highest achievement consistently maintained these five factors:

Focus on human capital: “Effective teachers and quality principals are the bedrock of public schools.” Using student data to drive instruction: Set up an assessment system where students themselves help establish year-long goals. High-dosage tutoring: Intensive tutoring on site. Extended time on task: More days and hours for class time. Culture of high expectations: School-wide and individual goals clearly established for achievement, plus plenty of visible college materials.

According to The Hamilton Project brief which accompanies this report, this kind of research is important not only for lifting charter schools to greater levels, but also to help failing traditional public schools: “Notwithstanding the difficulties and uncertainties surrounding charter schools, two things are certain. First, some charter schools drastically improve student achievement. Second, the practices that distinguish these high-performing charters from their low-performing counterparts can be implemented in traditional public schools. While some of the factors require more restructuring than others, all of them hold the potential to help turn around America’s flagging education system….”

O’Brien says Fryer’s research is important and that charter schools provide a wonderful opportunity to study education reforms. But she says she—and other scholars—do not think all lessons learned from a charter school can be so easily transferred as Fryer (who does state in his report that the goal is not “to replace public schools with charter schools”) suggests.

You cannot simply import something that has been learned in a specific context, and high performing charters and networks studied in a report like this do have a particular context,” she says. “They are filled with seats by lotteries, parents must sign them up and win a spot and they must commit to volunteer. It’s not the same type of environment as in typical public schools. Plus there are [different] government issues, charters might not be unionized, teachers might receive higher or lower pay, the calendars can be set differently and charter can be funded with more flexibility.”

O’Brien says too often people get excited by successes in charter schools, but neglect to understand that these differences can hinder making a transferable leap. She says she wishes more people were studying high performing typical public schools and coming up with a similar list as Fryer did….http://news.yahoo.com/failing-public-schools-learn-thriving-charters-234015660.html;_ylt=Ao_pKpjxXl3mUIe5VAXIwHBPXs8F;_ylu=X3oDMTQ0MXFrdXNlBG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBVU1NGIEVkdWNhdGlvblNTRgRwa2cDYWU1NzFlMzEtYzNiMC0zNDVmLTljZjEtNjM5NzRlZjZhYmY3BHBvcwMyBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyA2E1YTRlYzkwLTI5ZmQtMTFlMi04ZmZmLTZmMTFjYjQ2OWIyMA–;_ylg=X3oDMTFzcXM5ajBmBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lfGVkdWNhdGlvbgRwdANzZWN0aW9ucw–;_ylv=3

Citation:

Learning from the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools

Our education system is in desperate need of innovation. Despite radical advances in nearly every other sector, public school students continue to attend school in the same buildings and according to the same schedule as students did more than a hundred years ago, and performance is either stagnant or worsening. One of the most important innovations in the past halfcentury is the emergence of charter schools, which, when first introduced in 1991, came with two distinct promises: to serve as an escape hatch for students in failing schools, and to create and incubate new educational practices. We examine charter schools across the quality spectrum in order to learn which practices separate high-achieving from low-achieving schools. An expansive data collection and analysis project in New York City charter schools yielded an index of five educational practices that explains nearly half of the difference between high- and low-performing schools. We then draw on preliminary evidence from demonstration projects in Houston and Denver and find the effects on student achievement to be strikingly similar to those of many high-performing charter schools and networks. The magnitude of the problems in our education system is enormous, but this preliminary evidence points to a path forward to save the 3 million students in our nation’s worst-performing schools, for a price of about $6 billion, or less than $2,000 per student.

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In Focus on charter schools: There must be accountability, moi said:

Moi supports neighborhood schools which cater to the needs of the children and families in that neighborhood. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in education. It is for this reason that moi supports charter schools which are regulated by strong charter school legislation with accountability. Accountability means different things to different people. In 2005 Sheila A. Arens wrote Examining the Meaning of Accountability: Reframing the Construct for Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning which emphasizes the involvement of parents and community members. One of the goals of the charter movement is to involve parents and communities. http://www.mcrel.org/PDF/AssessmentAccountabilityDataUse/4002IR_Examining_Accountability.pdf https://drwilda.com/2011/12/24/focus-on-charter-schools-there-must-be-accountability/

There is no one approach that works in every situation, there is only what works to address the needs of a particular population of children.

Resources:

1.      YouTube Link of Professor Carolyn Hoxby Discussing Charters

2.      PBS Frontline – The Battle Over School Choice

3.      The Center for Education Reform’s FAQs About Charter Schools

4.      WSJ’s opinion piece about charters and student performance

5.      Charter School Students More Likely to Graduate and Attend College

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