Tag Archives: report

New Rankings Should Lead to New, Better Conversations

While Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report is just one of many K-12 state rankings out there, it tends to get a lot of attention because it’s more accessible and easier to interpret that data directly from, say, the U.S. Census Bureau or the National Center for Education Statistics. The latest edition of that report was just released, which means we’re about to see a bevy of questionably accurate news articles, accusations, and assertions crop up in the near future. In the meantime, we can talk a little about the latest results and what they may or may not tell us. Some of you may remember that the Education Policy Center spent some time talking about Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts report in a recent paper on Colorado school finance. Here’s a refresher on last year’s report: Published annually by Education Week, this report ranks states on “chance for success,” academic achievement, and school finance, with ratings in each of these categories consisting of both an overall grade and a number of more granular rankings. The 2016 report, which relied upon 2013 data, ranked Colorado 37th overall in the area of school finance. As some interest groups have reported, the […]

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ESSA, Accountability, and High-Achieving Students

Happy Friday, fellow policy explorers. I usually try to let you off easy on Friday afternoons when it comes to policy discussions, but this week’s ridiculous distractions in Douglas County forced me to push back a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while about ESSA and how it relates to high-performing students. With the next ESSA Hub Committee meeting scheduled for this coming Monday, it seems appropriate to talk about that interesting issue sooner rather than later. Plus, there’s no such thing as a bad day for policy discussions! A big focus of the ESSA conversation has been on accountability systems. What will we measure? For whom? How? When? What about weights? In Colorado, we just had a major conversation about the notion of combined subgroups and what they might mean for accountability systems. All these discussions tend to revolve around how we best help lower-performing kids, schools, and districts. And don’t get me wrong, that’s an incredibly important question for those of us who view education as an opportunity to provide every kid with a chance at a fair fight and an opportunity to build his or her own success story. But what about the other side […]

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CO Charter Schools Knocking It Out of the Park in Latest Report

It’s back-to-school season in Colorado. Some kiddos started class today, and many more will be hitting the books again over the next couple of weeks. By the time August is over, most of Colorado’s 900,000 PK-12 students will be back to learning and growing in the state’s public school system. Well north of 100,000 of these students will be heading back to public charter schools. And as my policy friend Ross Izard points out in a recent column, that’s a pretty good place to be.

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Independent Investigation Clears Dougco Conservatives… And Raises Important Questions

Remember that student protest at Ponderosa High School in Douglas County back in March? I wrote then: The cynical side of me believes that this is but the first step in the march toward a full-blown assault on Dougco’s (now one-seat) conservative majority in 2017. As is usually (and depressingly) the case, my cynicism was well founded. The protest spawned a fabricated “bullying” fiasco that became the first major political play in what I believe is a wider game to purge conservative thought and policy from Douglas County School District. Now, however, it’s become clear that this particular political maneuver didn’t pan out as the establishment-minded board members Anne-Marie Lemieux, David Ray, and Wendy Vogel had hoped.

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New Report Reviews Research on Educational Choice

I know this isn’t a “cool” thing to say, but I get really excited about new research. I eat up statistical analyses like most people eat donuts (I eat those, as well). But do you know what is way more exciting than a single new study on a fascinating education topic? A review of a whole bunch of tasty research. Enter the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice’s new edition of “A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice.” Written by Dr. Greg Forster, these reports are a great way to stay up to date with the latest research on educational choice. The last report was published in 2013, so this new edition brings a bunch of new information to the table.

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Inadequate Funding or Inadequate Information?

Welcome back, friends. I apologize for my absence during the second half of last week. Do you have any idea how busy an intrepid policy explorer like myself gets in the closing weeks of the legislative session? Plus, I had to carve out some extra time to watch interesting education TV shows hosted by my Independence Institute policy friend Ross Izard. See here for a segment on charter funding equity, and here for one of my favorite Colorado private schools, Arrupe Jesuit High School. I’m sorry I left you hanging. But now we’re back. And we’ve got some serious edu-policy work to do. Today’s topic: school finance in Colorado. No, no. Don’t run. I promise it’ll be (mostly) painless. I started thinking about how important it is to get accurate information out there about school finance in Colorado when I read a Colorado Public Radio story about our state’s supposed failure to adequately fund its public schools despite a “booming” economy.

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A Little Rain on the Graduation Rate Parade

What’s in a number? If you’re talking about educational choice, numbers like the ones coming out of Arrupe Jesuit High School can be beacons of hope for tough populations of kids. In other cases, numbers can convey more concerning trends. And in still other cases, numbers can be rigged in such a way that they don’t tell the full story. I was reminded of the importance of questioning numbers in the education debate yesterday as I read a great Denver Post piece from the Education Commission of the States’ Peter Huidekoper. The piece points out a disconcerting disconnect (alliteration!) between higher graduation numbers, low ACT scores, and ugly remediation rates in some Colorado schools. For those who don’t know, “remediation rate” refers to the percentage of students who require remedial courses in college before they begin full-fledged coursework. If you’re feeling a bit nerdy and want to dive deeper, the Colorado Department of Higher Education just released the 2014 Legislative Report on Remedial Education, which somewhat paradoxically covers 2013 high school graduates. (For the record, I believe there are significant limitations when it comes to how Colorado calculates its remediation rate. But that’s a discussion for another time…) Huidekoper starts […]

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New CTBA Report on School Choice Smells Like Bologna

The last few Fridays have been absolutely lovely. They were sunny, warm, and filled with delicious new stops on the school choice train. Today is different. It’s cold, rainy, and all around a little icky outside. If I were older and knew what the word “foreshadow” meant, I might say that I should have expected today to involve reading something like a yucky, choice-bashing report from the heavily left-leaning Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA). Unfortunately, I didn’t see it coming. And after reading through the report’s findings, I have to say I walked away pretty irked about the report’s tilted observations and the motivations driving them. But just as I was warming up my little fingers for a vigorous defense of choice, I noticed that my good pal Jason Bedrick beat me to the punch. Jason has said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I’m also going to stick my nose into the debate on a couple of the biggest issues anyway.

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Customized Success: New Study Hints at the Power of Personalized Learning

Earlier this month, I wrote about some new brain science (sorry for the technical terminology) highlighting the potential benefits of personalized learning for children with ADHD. And as if that wasn’t interesting enough, I soon discovered another juicy piece of new research on personalized learning in charter schools. Before I could really chow down on the wonky goodness, though, reality demanded that I detour back to Jeffco for a quick update on the district’s ongoing, still-nonsensical drama. Then Douglas County, that pesky bastion of meaningful school reform, had to go and regain its spot in the top tier of Colorado’s school accreditation system. Yeah, it was a busy couple of weeks in Colorado education. Things have settled a bit now, so I’ve been able to sit down and devour my latest tasty wonk morsel: A study on the effects of personalized learning from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the RAND Corporation. Using test data, teacher logs, teacher surveys, student surveys, and a few interviews with administrators, the study looks at 23 charter schools that have implemented personalized learning approaches. Importantly, most of the schools included in the study are located in urban areas and have high percentages of […]

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Teachers as Entrepreneurs: A Refreshing Race to the Top Idea?

Knowing that teacher quality is so essential to successful student learning, Colorado’s lawmakers and education officials should be doing more to enact policies that promote teacher autonomy, excellence, and accountability. The Maryland Public Policy Institute does just that with its new report calling for “Teachers as Entrepreneurs” (PDF). The idea? Instead of placing all instructors under the terms of a centralized bargaining contract, allow for some individual teachers or teams of teachers to contract with a school district to perform instructional services. Either union or non-union, they could agree on setting terms regarding class size, basic working conditions, performance and differential pay, and retirement plans. This approach would give individual teachers greater freedom to determine whether they want to support and subsidize political activities. It would require state law to take a neutral position on the issue of unionization and exclusive representation.

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