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  • Courtney Schroeder
    CHARTERS AND CHOICE LEARNING CURVE: Trial and Error at D.C. s Charter Schools Part I: Quality Uneven, Despite Popularity The District s experiment with charter
    Message 1 of 117 , Jun 25, 2003
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      LEARNING CURVE: Trial and Error at D.C.'s Charter Schools

      Part I: Quality Uneven, Despite Popularity

      The District's experiment with charter schools has proved hugely popular with parents, but the schools vary widely in quality and have yet to demonstrate that they are doing better than the city's regular public schools in raising student achievement. Visits to the 39 D.C. charter school campuses, reports from monitoring agencies, interviews with educators and a review of student test results indicate that the schools' overall record is uneven. Some charter schools have hired talented principals and teachers, chosen effective curriculums and set high standards for students. Others have brought in untrained instructors, misspent money and failed to adopt a sound academic program. (Washington Post)



      Part II: Staying the Course, Despite Competition

      Contrary to the predictions of many charter school advocates, the vigorous competition from charters has not forced improvements in the regular public schools, according to a number of school activists and analysts. The city's 39 charter schools, which are publicly funded based on their enrollment but run independently of the school system's bureaucracy, now enroll one out of seven D.C. public school students. The primary reason for allowing such schools in the District was to expand families' public education options, and charters are widely praised for having done that. But many charter supporters also argued that the presence of the independent schools would make the regular public schools better. Their theory was that D.C. school officials, worried about losing students -- and the public funding that accompanies them -- to charter schools, would be motivated to improve a system long criticized for low student achievement, administrative shortcomings and mediocre teaching. Yet the consensus among school officials, parents and education analysts is that the charters' success in attracting students has not prompted much change at the traditional schools. (Washington Post)




      School facilities run gamut of haves and have-nots

      When it comes to facilities, the city's 39 charter schools increasingly are separating into tiers of haves and have-nots. Some schools, such as SEED, have spacious new or remodeled quarters thanks to their access to generous private funding. Others, like Cesar Chavez, rely almost exclusively on public funding -- and a rise in commercial real estate prices, coupled with a shortage of vacant school buildings, has forced them into old, cramped and poorly configured space. Some schools have avoided crowding only by postponing plans to add grades. Insufficient space is making it difficult for charter schools to serve all the children who want to enroll, said Robert Cane, executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, a nonprofit advocacy group. "We could end up with the charter schools being a great reform for those kids who are lucky enough to be in them, but never reaching the point where they make a big difference in public schooling for the District," Cane said. The long waiting lists at many charters are evidence that demand for a charter-school education far outstrips supply. (Washington Post)





      A new deal for teachers


      In the July 2003 Atlantic Monthly, Matthew Miller proposes a deal: the federal government would commit $30 billion per year to raise the salaries of teachers in the nation’s toughest schools by 50 percent. In return, these teachers would agree to abandon lockstep pay scales and make it easier to fire incompetent teachers. Miller calls it “Title I for Teachers.” (Atlantic Monthly)


      (Not yet online but copies available on Julie’s desk)


      Keys to Effective Reform Partnerships

      "Reforming Relationships: School Districts, External Organizations, and Systemic Change" (commissioned by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform) is a study of the relationships between "reform support organizations" (RSOs) and the school districts they partner with in systemic reform. The report introduces the term "reform support organization" to describe the range of groups that work with school districts. This term is offered as a replacement for "intermediary," which researchers have found inadequate to encompass the depth and breadth of external organizations that help foster education reform. The study found that reform partnerships work best when the school superintendent's vision drives the relationship and when the superintendent involves a range of stakeholders -- including the school board, teachers' unions, and the community -- to support the reform goals. Superintendents also need to empower district staff to help manage the reform and to work with the reform support organization to implement changes, the report found. (Annenberg Institute for School Reform)

      <http://www.schoolcommunities.org/new/RR_pr.html> (study also posted to Apollo at http://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-1.9.22652)




      School research gets to race gap


      After years of hand-wringing over an "intolerable and persistent" racial achievement gap at Oak Park and River Forest High School, school leaders have released new research that suggests grade inflation for white students and identity issues for black students play major roles. The research, begun two years ago, was an attempt by the diverse suburban high school to move beyond the conventional hunches to more evidence-based findings that include detailed grade data from feeder schools and exhaustive interviews with African-American students. "This study has some broad implications for other schools struggling with this issue," said Ted Manley, a DePaul University sociologist who served on the research team. "This demonstrates that the achievement gap affects all students. We tend to see this as problem for [minority] students, but there are some hidden consequences for white students." (Chicago Tribune)






      Report examines supplemental education programs


      A June 2003 report by the the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University's Teachers College analyzes the effectiveness of two non-remedial, supplementary education programs targeting urban youth in New York City, and examines each program's use of "performatory activity" to promote youth development. (Institute for Urban and Minority Education)


      <http://www.allstars.org/content/06_03_iume_report.pdf> (Also posted to Apollo at http://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-1.9.22562)




      Grading the Philadelphia Experiment


      Schoolkids aren't the only ones in Philadelphia praying for a good report card this month. Last fall, with most of the city's students testing well below state averages in reading and math, Philadelphia's assertive new schools chief, Paul Vallas, handed over control of 45 of the city's worst schools to seven private operators, including nonprofit organizations, universities and, most controversially, three for-profit companies. Now that the school year is ending, everyone is looking to see how the newcomers have done. Vallas has already given privatization a qualified endorsement by reaching agreements with six of the seven managers on contract terms for next year. This week a critical batch of test scores will provide the first hard data on how students have fared under privatization, a wrenching process that involved new principals, teaching methods, rules and expectations. (Time Magazine)




      Other updates on reforms in Philadelphia:




      An Economic Perspective on Urban Education


      Participants in the annual symposium on The Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs-convened by Brookings and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School-present research on issues unique to urban areas as well as on broader economic and policy topics that can apply to urban settings. This year's participants focused on urban education and presented findings on the results of an experiment designed to detect cheating on standardized tests, the impact of school reform in an urban setting, the effect of school quality on housing values, and the determinants of improved academic performance. Two other studies addressed other urban economic issues: the increase in economic inequality across and within geographic regions, and local variation in land use regulations. (Brookings Institution)


      <http://www.brookings.org/comm/policybriefs/cr15.pdf> (Also posted to Apollo at http://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-1.9.22563)


      Organizational lessons for nonprofits


      Organization matters to nonprofit organizations as much as it does to profit-making ones. But while nonprofit leaders zealously build programs and raise money, they often neglect the organizational structures and management processes that help institutions endure. The near-demise and dramatic turnaround of Teach For America (TFA) illustrates these perils-and the way out. (McKinsey Quarterly)


      <http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article_abstract.asp?ar=1314&L2=33&L3=93&srid=17&gp=0> (Also posted to Apollo at http://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-1.9.22584)


      The Challenge of the Multi-site Nonprofit

      Why is it more difficult for nonprofit organizations than, say, retail chains, to run efficient multi-site operations? A recent Harvard Business Review story concluded that nonprofits waste $100 billion a year through inefficient fundraising and dispersal practices and clumsy administrative operations. The problem, according to Harvard Business School professors Allen Grossman and V. Kasturi (“Kash”) Rangan, rests in inevitable tensions and battles for power that arise between national headquarters and local operations. Not helping the problem is the fact that many nonprofits employ management techniques developed for for-profit companies. “We say this is not a good approach,” said Grossman. Instead, nonprofits need their own management practices that recognize the unique characteristics of the nonprofit enterprise. (HBS Working Knowledge)




    • edupreneurs_moderator
      Education News Bulletin February 10 - 17, 2006 HUMAN CAPITAL COMMENTARY: Fast-Track Certification - Can We Prepare Teachers Both Quickly and Well? NATIONAL -
      Message 117 of 117 , Feb 21, 2006
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        Education News Bulletin
        February 10 - 17, 2006


        COMMENTARY: Fast-Track Certification - Can We Prepare Teachers Both
        Quickly and Well?

        NATIONAL - Teacher-preparation programs today come in many shapes
        and sizes. Traditional and alternative programs have morphed into
        one another, making broad comparisons between them useless. What
        matters instead is how particular programs work. Do they attract
        candidates to teaching? Do they provide what they promise? Do they
        give new teachers what they need to get started and grow on the job?
        Do participants report that they're prepared to teach their
        students? With such questions in mind, we studied 13 fast-track,
        alternative-certification programs in four states, observing the
        training and interviewing directors, faculty members, and
        participants. … Fast-track preparation is a deceptively simple idea.
        In fact, surprising capacity is required to train teachers both
        quickly and well. (by Susan Moore Johnson of Harvard University's
        graduate school of education and consultant Sarah Birkeland for
        Education Week - registration required)

        http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/02/15/23johnson.h25.html (see
        also "A Difficult Balance: Incentives and Quality Control in
        Alternative Certification Programs" at

        Parents, teachers have educational divide

        WASHINGTON (AP) -- Considering they share responsibility for 50
        million children, parents and teachers sure have some different
        views about what goes on in school. From discipline to standardized
        tests to the quality of high schools, parents and teachers disagree
        on basic aspects of education, an AP-AOL Learning Services Poll
        finds. They come together, though, on the need to hire and keep good
        teachers. … On testing, the poll found teachers are much more likely
        than parents to say standardized exams get too much emphasis. Yet
        most parents and teachers agree testing has weakened the ability of
        educators to give individual attention to students. (Associated
        Press via CNN)

        html (see also "Press Release: 87% of Teachers Say Parents Should
        Spend More Time with Children on Homework" at


        Assessment Testing >> In Their Hands: Handheld devices empower
        teachers with assessment data they can put to immediate use

        NATIONAL - At the Orange County Public School District in Orlando,
        FL, assessing reading skills among the youngest students used to be
        quite a process. Relying on rudimentary products such as paper and
        pencils, the strategy hinged on the bubble sheets teachers
        administered to students once a year. After teachers scored the
        exams, they sent them to the district office, where results were
        scanned, analyzed, and combined to form summary reports. These
        reports gave teachers information about which students needed extra
        help, and which subjects were proving to be troublesome. But because
        the reports took weeks to generate, it was difficult for teachers to
        use them to better serve the needs of their students. Everything
        changed with the implementation of a three-year pilot program that
        kicked off the 2003-2004 school year. District officials, eager to
        improve their assessment techniques, turned to Wireless Generation
        to find a way to assess students so that teachers could actually do
        something with their data. Change came in the form of Palm handheld
        devices. Teachers used them to record student performance on a
        series of questions designed to gauge reading skills. (T.H.E.


        Grading Equity: Tisch Lecturer Outlines Report Card on Education

        NATIONAL - Richard Rothstein agrees with No Child Left Behind
        supporters on at least one point: Holding schools accountable for
        improving children's reading and math skills may, in fact,
        eventually lead to improvement in those skills. The problem, as
        Rothstein outlined it on Monday evening, January 30th during the
        first of a three-part Teachers College lecture series known as the
        Tisch Lectures, is that those skills could improve -- to the
        detriment of others that are equally important. "What gets measured,
        gets done," said Rothstein, Tisch Visiting Professor at TC and
        research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, in a talk he
        titled Equity in What? Defining the Goals of American Education for
        which We Seek Equity. For the past year and half, Rothstein and two
        graduate assistants, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder, have been
        working to create a new "report card" that will assess the nation's
        progress in providing equal educational opportunities across a much
        broader range of skills. The list, unveiled at the first Tisch
        lecture, includes basic academic skills; critical thinking; social
        skills and work ethic; citizenship; physical health; emotional
        health; the arts and literature; and vocational education. (Teachers
        College at Columbia University)



        Can Bush make America more competitive in math and science?

        WASHINGTON - Americans have heard the warnings for decades: The
        nation is in danger of falling behind other technological
        powerhouses in the world, posing a threat to its way of life.
        President Bush's competitiveness initiative, outlined in his federal
        budget, would focus $136 billion over 10 years on boosting research
        and education. Much of that cost would come in the form of tax
        incentives for research and development; the rest represents new
        funding, including a doubling of the budgets of three federal
        agencies focused on science and technology. The education piece of
        Mr. Bush's plan seems relatively small - $380 million in fiscal
        2007 - but it is getting most of the attention. Overall, Bush's AP
        Incentive Program aims to boost the number of students taking AP
        math and science exams from 380,000 today to 1.5 million in 2012. In
        a nation that seems to have a cultural aversion to tackling "hard"
        subjects like math and science, can those numbers be achieved? And
        without the stark image of Sputnik - the Soviet satellite whose
        launch in 1957 caught the US by surprise - to spur a fear of
        national decline, will the nation rally to the "competitiveness"
        cause and push Congress to fund the plan? (Christian Science Monitor)



        Venture Capitalists Are Investing in Educational Reform

        CALIFORNIA - Venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, who have backed
        hundreds of high-technology entrepreneurs, are eagerly financing a
        new group these days: schoolmasters. "We give education
        entrepreneurs money to start or to speed up building their
        companies," said L. John Doerr, who over 26 years has helped start
        dozens of ventures, including Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com and
        Google. He help found the New Schools Venture Fund in San Francisco
        six years ago for a new breed of entrepreneur - the kind who doesn't
        have to produce a profit. … New Schools Venture Fund is still
        investing its first $80 million, contributed by individuals like Mr.
        Doerr and organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
        which gave $22 million. New Schools has begun raising another $125
        million to expand the reach of charter schools as models of reform
        for traditional public school systems. (by James Flanigan for the
        New York Times - registration required)


        Column: The New Engines of Reform (by David Gergen of US News &
        World Report)

        NATIONAL - There won't be any sleek limousines drawing up at the
        door, no red carpets, no paparazzi, no Vanity Fair afterglow, and,
        alas, no Annie Leibovitz. But when dozens of people roll into the
        Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley this week, they'll be
        holding their own Oscar party--one celebrating the stars of a new
        group of emerging leaders in the United States. They're
        called "social entrepreneurs," and if you haven't heard the phrase
        yet, you're missing one of the hottest movements to ripple across
        college campuses and into young urban communities. Social
        entrepreneurs do more than treat society's ills--they envision
        widespread, systemic change that could prevent those ills from ever
        occurring. They tackle social problems with entrepreneurial and
        innovative spirit. … The roster of all-stars in the social
        enterprise movement is growing rapidly--and just as in business and
        politics, they are forming networks among themselves. (US News &
        World Report)

        (see also "Two Guys...and a Dream" on the founders of KIPP in the
        same issue at


        Put Learning First: A Portfolio Approach to Public Schools

        NATIONAL - Today, public education policies and administrations are
        organized to serve the needs of the institutions and the adults that
        work in them. Addressing our stunning achievement gaps, particularly
        those affecting minority students in our cities, means that
        students, not the system, must become the primary organizing
        principle for educational policies -- and, more importantly, for
        schools themselves. The current system is intended to advance
        individual, community, and national goals, but is, in fact,
        engineered for stability. That is normally a good thing. We want
        schools to open on time, teachers to count on having jobs from one
        day to the next, and parents to feel secure knowing that their
        children will have a place to go to school. Stability alone,
        however, is the wrong goal in a complex, fast-changing, modern
        economy. Students -- disadvantaged students, in particular -- need
        schools that are focused on providing them with the skills they will
        need to succeed in today's society, schools that are flexible enough
        to try a variety of teaching methods until they succeed in reaching
        these goals. (by Paul Hill of the Center on Reinventing Public
        Education, for the Progressive Policy Institute)


        The New Reverse Class Struggle: Although Smaller Sizes Are Touted,
        Some Say Bigger May Be Beneficial

        NATIONAL - Billie-Jean Bensen, principal of Herbert Hoover Middle
        School in Rockville, called [math teacher Jane]
        Reiser "outstanding," "fabulous" and "truly amazing," able to get
        great results despite her large class size [32 students, way above
        the national class size average of 25]. So why, some experts are
        asking, are educators and politicians so bent on reducing class
        sizes? Wouldn't it be better to let classes get bigger? Then schools
        could reduce the number of teachers, keep good ones like Reiser and
        pay them more. The idea seems odd to many. But some scholars and
        administrators say raising class sizes and teacher pay might improve
        achievement. (by Jay Mathews for the Washington Post - registration


        President's Budget Would Cut Education Spending

        NATIONAL - President Bush's blueprint for federal education spending
        in the next fiscal year includes a high-profile plan to boost math
        and science education, new money for private school vouchers, a
        renewed push to improve high schools-and the most drastic cut in
        Department of Education funding in more than a decade. In his
        proposed federal budget for fiscal 2007, released last week, Mr.
        Bush calls for a 3.8 percent drop in the department's discretionary
        spending, or $2.1 billion less than the agency received for fiscal
        2006, excluding hurricane relief and adjusting for a recent
        accounting change for financial aid. If approved by Congress, his
        plan would mean the largest percentage cut for the department since
        fiscal 1996. The president would sink new federal education money
        into fresh initiatives, particularly those intended to strengthen
        learning in mathematics and science, and provide generally flat
        funding to K-12's two largest programs: Title I for low- income
        students and special education state grants. (Education Week -
        registration required)

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