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Education News Bulletin, September 19-23

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    Education News Bulletin September 19 – 23, 2005 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Charters Get Better but Lag Traditional Schools, Study Says LOS ANGELES –
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2005
      Education News Bulletin
      September 19 – 23, 2005


      Charters Get Better but Lag Traditional Schools, Study Says

      LOS ANGELES – California charter schools trailed traditionally
      run public schools, but charters showed stronger year-to-year
      improvement, according to results from the state's annual testing
      and accountability system. The findings are based on schools' scores
      on the Academic Performance Index, the state's method of assessing
      public school performance. The Times found that California charters
      as a whole scored 700, an average gain of 28 points over last year's
      results, while traditional schools posted 719 and showed a 20-point
      improvement. That pattern is similar to a year ago, when charters
      scored about 20 points lower than their district-run counterparts
      but showed a somewhat better improvement rate. But the traditional
      schools' advantage is limited to the elementary level, where they
      exceeded charters 753 to 743. In secondary schools, where gains in
      student achievement have remained well below those in the earlier
      grades, charters outdistanced district schools, 742 to 717 for
      middle schools and 633 to 622 for high schools. In Los Angeles
      Unified, charters exceeded district schools, 715 to 677; their
      scores grew by 30 points overall, while district schools grew by 20.
      … In a less affluent part of town, View Park Preparatory, a
      charter high school in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, earned
      774 on the performance index. Nearby Los Angeles Unified schools,
      Crenshaw and Dorsey high schools, scored 511 and 501, respectively.
      Michael Piscal, founder of the charter high school and its
      elementary and middle school counterparts, said the key was a
      challenging curriculum and high expectations for the schools' mainly
      African American students. "We want to prepare every student to
      attend and compete at one of the top 100 colleges in the U.S.,"
      Piscal said. (Los Angeles Times – registration required)

      charter22sep22,1,5683580,full.story?coll=la-news-learning (also
      posted to Apollo at https://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-


      Tenure, Turnover and the Quality of Teaching

      TEXAS – Teacher quality has become a highly politicized issue. In
      November, Californians will vote on Proposition 74, which weakens
      tenure rules for kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers. Not
      surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats are lined up on opposite
      sides of the issue, with debate focusing on the impact of the
      proposition on teacher quality. But what is teacher quality? How can
      one measure it reliably? How does it relate to student learning?
      What can be done to improve it? Though these issues are endlessly
      debated, there is little consensus. Generally, good teachers like to
      teach good students in good schools. Well, sure, but what is cause
      and what is effect? A National Bureau of Economic Research working
      paper by Eric Hanushek, John Kain, Daniel O'Brien and Steven Rivkin
      called "The Market for Teacher Quality" sheds some light on these
      contentious issues. Their analysis is based on a sample of data from
      a Texas school district. They argue convincingly that teacher
      effectiveness should be measured by students' gains on standardized
      tests. Though this approach is appealing, there are tricky issues.
      (by Hal R. Varian, professor of business, economics and information
      management at the UC Berkeley, for the New York Times –
      registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/business/22scene.html (for a
      summary and link to the paper discussed in this article, see


      Assessment of 21st Century Skills: The Current Landscape

      NATIONAL – In its 2003 report, Learning for the 21st Century, the
      Partnership synthesized the perspectives of business, education, and
      government leaders to create a common language and strategic
      direction for efforts to infuse 21st century skills into K-12
      education and make U.S. education more globally competitive. In
      order to bring its vision to fruition and successfully integrate
      21st century skills into our educational system, the Partnership
      recognizes that another critical question must be asked: "How do
      we measure 21st century learning?" The Partnership believes that
      the movement to embrace and foster widespread adoption of 21st
      century skills hinges on identifying ways to assess students'
      acquisition and application of this knowledge. In light of this, the
      Partnership has developed its current report, Assessment of 21st
      Century Skills: the Current Landscape. In it, we have not reviewed
      assessments of traditional core content areas, understanding that
      many studies and reports have already addressed these types of
      assessments. Rather, we have surveyed the current landscape of
      assessments that measure key dimensions of 21st century learning:
      21st Century Content (Global Awareness, Financial, Economic and
      Business Literacy and Civic Literacy), Learning Skills (Information
      and Communication Skills, Thinking and Problem Solving Skills, and
      Interpersonal & Self-Directional Skills), and Information and
      Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy. … While the assessment
      landscape is replete with assessments that measure knowledge of core
      content areas such as language arts, mathematics, science and social
      studies, there is a comparative lack of assessments and analyses
      focused on elements of 21st century learning. Additionally, there is
      a growing consensus that current assessments are not adequately
      measuring a student's ability to engage in the kinds of complex
      thinking and problem-solving tasks required of a 21st century
      learner. (Partnership for 21st Century Skills)

      Landscape.pdf (see also


      AYP Rules Miss Many in Spec.Ed: More Students Left Out of
      Accountability Ratings

      National – More special education students are being excluded
      from federal accountability provisions, driving up the number of
      public schools able to make adequate yearly progress and raising
      questions about the pledge to "leave no child behind." To
      make adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act,
      public schools and districts need to meet annual targets for the
      percent of students scoring at least at the proficient level on
      state tests. That goes both for their student populations as a whole
      and for certain subgroups, including students who are poor, speak
      limited English, are members of racial or ethnic minorities, or have
      disabilities. But a yet-to-be-published analysis, based on test
      score data in five states, found that more than 80 percent of
      schools that made AYP under the federal law in 2003 or 2004 did so
      without having to meet standards of proficiency for their special
      education students as a separate subgroup. One of the biggest
      reasons, according to the study by the Dover, N.H.-based Center for
      Assessment, is the threshold sizes states are setting before a
      subgroup counts in calculating AYP. (Education Week –
      registration required)



      Column: School 'reform' in state: More nibbling at the edges (by the
      Sacramento Bee's Peter Schrag)

      SACRAMENTO – California hardly needed another reminder that its
      least experienced teachers are nested in the schools serving the
      neediest children - the schools with the highest proportions of poor
      and minority students - and that the most experienced and highest
      paid are concentrated in the schools serving the most affluent. Last
      week, the Education Trust-West provided still more evidence - not
      just for the state generally but each individual school. With some
      significant exceptions, the gaps, as measured in average teacher
      salaries, are large and sometimes huge, running to $10,000 a year
      per teacher and sometimes more.On almost the same day, the Paris-
      based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a
      report showing that American schools were rapidly falling behind
      many other nations in high school graduation and college attendance
      rates. The two sets of data, of course, pointed to the same thing
      because it's the poor performance of poor and minority students
      that's the prime cause of the low national school completion rates
      and the low level of achievement that goes with them. But as those
      numbers were being released, California's leaders were battling over
      two ballot measures, one, Proposition 74, to increase the
      probationary time for teachers from two years to five, the other,
      Proposition 76, capping state spending and restricting growth in
      education funding. Given the scope of our educational problems,
      they're worse than irrelevant. Both are part of the
      governor's "reform" agenda; neither addresses the challenge of
      bringing better teachers and other resources to the neediest
      students. If anything, Proposition 76 will make it harder.
      (Sacramento Bee – registration required)


      Some Lessons in Frustration: L.A.'s high schools struggle to divide
      crowded campuses into small learning centers. Critics cite a lack of
      district support

      LOS ANGELES – It was meant to be the blueprint of the future in a
      city pockmarked with failing, old-style high schools. The gleaming
      new South Los Angeles campus would be divided into five small
      schools within the school. Students would choose one based on their
      interests and would receive personal attention from teachers. Test
      scores would improve. Things, however, have not gone according to
      plan. Since the campus opened in July on the old Santee Dairy site,
      its teachers and administrators have received little or no training
      in how to run the so-called small learning communities. Staffing
      shortages have caused students and teachers to bounce among the
      groups, blurring their supposedly separate identities. Fights and
      other discipline problems have been common. The Los Angeles Unified
      School District, under pressure to reverse years of low graduation
      rates and student achievement, has turned to a long-term reform
      effort aimed at dividing its crowded high schools into smaller, semi-
      autonomous groups. But after years of focus on elementary school
      reform and a massive building program, the district is left
      scrambling to catch up with other urban districts. An uneven pace of
      change in Los Angeles, critics say, is being followed by a poorly
      defined strategy tightly controlled by a reluctant district
      leadership. The result, they say, is teachers and principals without
      the autonomy, resources and support needed to carry out the move
      toward the smaller learning clusters. Supt. Roy Romer is
      unapologetic about the tight grip he has maintained on the reform
      plan. Caution, he believes, is needed because there are dangers to
      granting wide-ranging freedom to school leaders in such a large,
      troubled district. (Los Angeles Times – registration required)


      Success in the City: A once troubled urban school system is lauded
      for blazing a new path to academic progress

      Norfolk, VA.--It's hard to tell exactly when the Norfolk Public
      Schools hit rock bottom, but 1998 was particularly dismal across the
      board: Just 38 percent of third graders passed the state's Standards
      of Learning, or SOL, test in English; 26 percent of eighth graders
      were proficient in mathematics; and a mere 18 percent of high
      schoolers passed Virginia and U.S. history. For John Simpson, who
      took over as superintendent that same year with a mandate to boost
      achievement for all of the district's 37,000 students, the only
      solution was to completely shake things up. "When I arrived, people
      were unhappy, but many of them had the attitude that given a fairly
      poor and high-minority population, that might be all that they could
      do," says Simpson, who shifted the district's focus to improving
      instruction, with an emphasis on testing, testing, and more testing--
      and a dash of accountability thrown in on the side. "There was no
      room for excuses anymore." Today, Norfolk is one of relatively few
      bright spots in the often bleak landscape of urban education,
      boasting impressive, ongoing gains of all sorts. In recognition of
      such successes, the district won the prestigious Broad Prize for
      Urban Education last week, beating out such rapidly improving big-
      city peers as New York City and San Francisco. (US News & World


      Plan Will Pay 90% of Costs for Students Hit by Storm

      WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 - The Department of Education announced a plan
      today to pay 90 percent of the educational costs of students and
      schools affected by Hurricane Katrina for one year. But the plan,
      which seeks $2.6 billion in new hurricane relief spending, came
      under immediate attack from Democrats and officials of the nation's
      two largest teachers' unions, who asserted that a major component -
      payments to families with children in private schools - amounted to
      a national voucher program. The department proposed that the bulk of
      the spending, $1.9 billion, be used to pay states and school
      districts for absorbing children from the affected areas into their
      public schools. An additional $227 million would be dedicated to
      displaced adults with outstanding student loans and to colleges and
      universities that have taken in students from the storm areas. The
      budget request also includes $488 million to compensate families
      with children in private schools, which critics said represented an
      effort by the Bush administration to initiate a favorite approach to
      school choice, the use of vouchers. Over all, more than 372,000
      schoolchildren were displaced by the storm and are now enrolled in
      schools as far from the Gulf Coast as California and New England.
      (New York Times – registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/16/education/16cnd-educ.html (see
      also "Relief Plans Spurring Debate Over Vouchers" at
      "Bush Proposes Vouchers for All Displaced Students" at
      dyn/content/article/2005/09/19/AR2005091901428.html and "Public
      Bailout. Private Agenda?" at

      An excerpt from Communities and Schools: A New View of Urban
      Education Reform

      NATIONAL – In this article, Mark R. Warren argues that if urban
      school reform in the United States is to be successful, it must be
      linked to the revitalization of the communities around our schools.
      Warren identifies a growing field of collaboration between public
      schools and community-based organizations, developing a typology
      that identifies three different approaches: the service approach
      (community schools); the development approach (community sponsorship
      of new charter schools); and the organizing approach (school-
      community organizing). The author elaborates a conceptual framework
      using theories of social capital and relational power, presenting
      case studies to illustrate each type. He also discusses a fourth
      case to demonstrate the possibilities for linking individual school
      change to political strategies that address structures of poverty.
      Warren identifies shared lessons across these approaches, and
      compares and contrasts the particular strengths and weaknesses of
      each. Warren concludes with a call for a new approach to urban
      education reform that links it theoretically and practically to
      social change in America's cities. (By Mark Warren of Harvard for
      the Harvard Educational Review)


      To finish high school, teens start college

      NATIONAL – They may seem counterintuitive, but early college high
      schools, as they're known, increase academic rigor while boosting
      support to help teens succeed. Usually set at a local community
      college, they expect that students will take at least some - and
      often two years' worth - of regular college classes. Rather than
      target the brightest students, the schools enroll the disengaged and
      unprepared, and almost all are in high-poverty, minority-heavy
      districts. "You think about the lack of engagement, the high dropout
      rate, the low college-going rate - something had to happen," says
      Michael Webb, an associate vice president of the Early College High
      School Initiative, an umbrella organization. The modern incarnation
      of the early college high school began four years ago with LaGuardia
      Community College's International High School in New York, and the
      movement is quickly gaining traction. Mr. Webb's group counts 48
      early college high schools that began last year, and this year, 64
      more will open their doors. In North Carolina, the governor's "Learn
      and Earn" program plans to launch 75 early college high schools by
      2008. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a powerful force in
      high-school reform efforts, has put more than $100 million behind
      the effort. Because the movement is so new, data is slim. But the
      results so far are encouraging. The first cohort of LaGuardia
      students graduate this fall; all 30 are expected to graduate, with
      college credit, and 23 are on course to earn full two-year
      associates degrees by next summer. And teachers say they've seen
      extraordinary progress among students. (Christian Science Monitor)

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