Category Archives: Accountability

Rethinking Regulation

The newly released paper Rethinking Regulation by Michael McShane is a fundamental analysis of the effects regulation has on the rapidly evolving school choice market. Rethinking Regulation emphasizes the basic economic effects of deregulation and expounds the regulatory process that controls our educational system.

Read More...

NAEP Scores Confirm Colorado Charter Schools are Exceptional

Once again, Colorado’s charter public schools have ranked in the top of their class and continue to set the precedent for what school choice can achieve.

Read More...

Boston Study Proves Success of Charter Schools

This study is a thorough proof of the success of charter schools when compared to traditional public schools and pilot schools, and has greatly impacted the charter school market in Boston.

Read More...

Florida Charter Schools do More with Less

Boy, would I like to visit Florida. Walt Disney World, Legoland, and a flourishing assortment of innovative charter schools–what’s there that a five-year old wouldn’t love? OK, to be honest I’m more excited by the theme parks than the schools, but the growth and success of Florida’s charter schools is like Splash Mountain to my policy nerd friends over at the Independence Institute. One of the most recent testaments to the success of charter schools in Florida is the Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Student Achievements in Florida’s Charter Schools report. FLDOE’s report uses 4.2 million test scores from the 2015-2016 school year to compare charter school students to traditional public-school students “in terms of grade level achievement, learning gains, and achievement gap.” In 84% of the comparisons, students in charter schools had higher grade level performances, and in 85% of comparisons the average learning gains for charter school students were higher. Florida’s charter schools are thriving; it’s no wonder their enrollment has almost tripled in the last ten years. And no, the results of this report were not fueled by charter schools filled with preppy white suburban kids. The number of charter school minority students in this study exceeded […]

Read More...

PARCC Rides Off Into the Sunset… On a Circular Track

It’s no secret that people don’t love Pearson’s PARCC tests. Even way back in 2015, states were practically tripping on themselves trying to get away from the unpopular test, which was originally designed to provide comparable results across state lines. That trend has continued, and only a handful of the original dozens of PARCC states remain. Now, it looks like Colorado is jumping ship. It’s about time. But are we really leaving PARCC behind? Or are we just witnessing a rebranding effort? Colorado’s experience with PARCC has not been overly pleasant. For starters, and although there have been some improvements on this front, results have been slow to roll in despite promises from test-making giant Pearson Education that their technology would make those results available faster. It’s hard to do much with test scores that come in after the new school year is already in full swing. That makes it very tough to create buy-in on the part of educators, parents, or even education observers. PARCC has similarly failed to convince students and parents of its value, and opt-out numbers have soared. Those opt outs are a serious problem for a number of reasons. First, they signal that the state […]

Read More...

Bipartisan Vote Sinks Anti-Accountability Bill… Again

I’m back after a brief hiatus, and we’ve got some catching up to do on the legislative front. Specifically, we can celebrate the fact that Sen. Michael Merrifield has learned once again that doing the same thing over and over again may not be the best approach. I wrote a rather snarky post a few weeks ago about Merrifield’s SB 067, which was functionally identical to last year’s SB 105. Both bills sought to gut tenure reform, performance pay, and merit-based personnel decisions by essentially blowing up strong educator evaluations. In particular, Merrifield was once again attempting to eliminate the requirement that evaluations include multiple measures of student growth. And once again, he failed to do so.

Read More...

Say Bye Bye to High School PARCC Exams

It’s been a while since we talked about PARCC. Truthfully, there hasn’t been much to talk about. The test remains enormously unpopular—a fact that breeds high opt-out rates; limits student, educator, and parent buy-in; and fosters instability in our ability to measure schools’ performance and provide good information to parents looking to choose schools for their children. Now, thanks to a new bill at the legislature, PARCC will very likely be leaving Colorado high schools for good. It’s hard to talk about PARCC-era testing without talking about opt outs. That subject can get complicated quickly. There’s a lot more going on with the formal “opt-out movement” than meets the eye, a lot of which is pretty concerning. But a good deal of the fuel for that particular fire comes from opposition to PARCC. Don’t believe me? Consider this (from a previous post on the issue): I still believe PARCC—not the idea of standardizing testing itself—is a big part of the problem here. Americans overwhelmingly still support the idea of regular standardized testing, and this level of anti-testing angst didn’t exist back in the TCAP era. Don’t believe me? Check out the CDE graph from the last ESSA Hub Committee meeting below. […]

Read More...

So… What Happens Now? Thoughts on What President Trump Means for Education

Something happened last night. I was already in bed, of course, but I could hear strange shouting downstairs. I couldn’t quite make it out, but it sounded like someone saying, “Wisconsin?! What?!” This morning I found my dad still awake, sitting in an arm chair with bleary eyes and a strange expression that I’m not sure I’ve seen on his face before. It was weird. It was really, really weird. I am, of course, referring to Donald Trump’s utterly astonishing victory over Hillary Clinton in last night’s presidential election. He deserves a hearty congratulation for defying the political odds and, in the end, pulling off exactly the kind of map-changing, crushing victory he said he’d accomplish. Truthfully, I never thought I would write the words “President-elect Trump.” But here we are.

Read More...

Column Promotes Productive Conversations About Testing, Opt Outs

It’s no secret that I am deeply skeptical of the opt-out movement and its true motivations. I worry that the movement’s leaders are pushing (or maybe have already pushed) us down a road that is ultimately designed to lead to less choice, less change, and less opportunity for students. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are legitimate concerns buried down in the opt-out conversation, and those concerns should be the focus of our conversation. As I’ve often said, we should be careful about using an unpopular testing instrument (PARCC) that has failed to deliver on its promises as a way to argue that no measurement is needed in the enormous government enterprise that is public education. Similarly, we can acknowledge the power and importance of providing parents, educators, and taxpayers with reliable, valid data on educational performance while still recognizing that there are major issues in the current accountability system that need to be addressed. Sadly, I rarely see anyone attempt to find the reasonable middle ground in these conversations. Many folks are either vehemently opposed to everything or desperately trying to preserve the current system. That’s why I was so pleased yesterday to read a Chalkbeat op-ed […]

Read More...

High Opt-Out Rates, Accountability, and Choice

It’s been a while since we’ve had to talk about testing and/or opt outs. I bet you’ve enjoyed that break as much as I have. Sadly, though, the break’s over. I saw an article this morning that I feel compelled to pontificate about, and so pontificate I shall. If the thought of another testing-related blog post makes you feel physically ill, I won’t judge you for excusing yourself now. I opened my email this morning (yes, five-year-olds have email) to discover a story from Chalkbeat Colorado about how low state test participation rates have called school and district ratings into question. From that article: State education department officials putting together the latest annual school quality ratings have flagged more than half of the state’s districts and one-third of its schools for test participation below the federally required minimum of 95 percent. The ratings are preliminary, and districts and schools may appeal before they are finalized this winter. While districts that fell below that participation mark will not face negative consequences under Colorado law, state officials are urging the public to proceed with caution in considering ratings in places with high testing opt-out rates. Some school leaders and advocates are crying foul, however, […]

Read More...