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Education News Bulletin, May 22-26

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    Education News Bulletin May 22 – 26, 2006 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Charter Schools and No Child Left Behind: An Oncoming Collision? NATIONAL – The
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2006
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      Education News Bulletin
      May 22 – 26, 2006


      Charter Schools and No Child Left Behind: An Oncoming Collision?

      NATIONAL – The general lack of progress for K-12 students—flat NAEP
      scores, persistent achievement gaps, falling high school graduation
      rates—does not stem from a lack of resources going into education.
      These have grown steadily. A more likely culprit, in our view, is an
      outmoded district system of school governance that lacks genuine
      results-based accountability. Charter schools seek to remove school
      districts' "exclusive franchise" to create and run public schools
      and to inject into the system accountability for results. A nascent
      reform strategy, the full extent of chartering's potential is
      unknown. Will No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the elephant in the
      school-reform room, give chartering a lift or trample it entirely?
      And could chartering help achieve the law's lofty goals for raising
      student achievement and closing achievement gaps? These abstract
      questions are given substance by the NCLB provisions permitting
      schools that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" for five
      consecutive years be converted into charter schools. Should states
      encourage or even force districts to pursue this remedy? If so, what
      is necessary for it to be effective? (by Martin West of the
      Brookings Institution and Bruno Manno of the Annie E. Casey
      Foundation for the Foundation for Child Development and the
      Brookings Institution forum "Measuring Child Well-being")


      Editorial: Urban Decay: Catholic schools in cities are closing. We
      need vouchers now (from the editors of the Wall Street Journal)

      NATIONAL – There is less sorrow at Our Lady of Sorrows these days.
      In March, the Manhattan grade school was placed on a list of 14
      schools that the Catholic Archdiocese of New York was considering
      closing. But a few weeks later, after protests from parents, the
      archdiocese decided that Our Lady would be spared. We couldn't be
      happier, but we can't help wondering: How long can the Catholic
      Church keep this up? For the past 30 years, it has seen a shift of
      its parishioners from cities to suburbs, a decline in the ranks of
      its clergy and huge budget shortfalls. Still, it has remained a
      beacon in the stormy waters of urban education. … Many of us had
      hoped that the school-choice movement would have spread further by
      now, allowing poor parents to use tax-funded vouchers at these
      excellent Catholic schools. It just hasn't happened. Urban Catholic
      schools may not be able to wait. (Wall Street Journal – subscription



      Under Pressure, NBPTS Releases Full Study

      NATIONAL – The national organization that grants teachers advanced
      certification released the text of an unflattering study last week.
      Officials of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
      decided to post the report by veteran researcher William L. Sanders
      on the group's Web site after saying earlier that they intended to
      stick with an "overview." The overview, which was largely critical
      of the study, appeared after the board was pressed to "publish
      something" by a prominent education blogger. The research concluded
      that nationally certified teachers are for the most part no more
      effective in producing student academic progress than teachers
      without the credential. It is among a dozen studies of board
      certification's relationship to student achievement that the group
      mentions on its Web site, but it uses a far larger data set than
      most of the others—some 35,000 student records linked to more than
      800 teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake County school
      districts in North Carolina. Most of those other studies showed a
      positive relationship. … Andrew J. Rotherham, a co-founder and the
      director of the Washington-based Education Sector, a nonprofit think
      tank, first raised questions publicly about the research in his
      Eduwonk blog earlier this month, saying that the NBPTS had
      apparently been "sitting on" the study because its conclusions were
      unfavorable. Board officials have maintained that the study overview
      was not posted in response to that item, and that their decision to
      use a summary rather than the full text was in keeping with similar
      decisions. (Education Week – registration required)

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/05/24/38nbpts.h25.html (see
      the study, "Comparison of the Effects of NBPTS Certified Teachers
      with Other Teachers on the Rate Of Student Academic Progress" at

      Collective Bargaining

      NATIONAL – The harsh glare of state accountability systems has
      brought to public attention the expansive collective-bargaining
      agreements that local school boards negotiate with their employees.
      Big-city school superintendents such as New York City's Joel Klein
      and Philadelphia's Paul Vallas have decried the agreements under
      which they have labored. In this forum Linda Kaboolian says that
      collective bargaining is here to stay, but offers ways to make it
      more educationally productive; Howard Fuller and George Mitchell
      lament the impediments that collective bargaining has imposed on the
      learning process and call for more transparency; and Eva Moskowitz,
      a former New York City councilwoman, wonders if the system
      isn't "too broke to fix." (Education Next)

      http://www.educationnext.org/20063/13.html (see also "Table Talk" by
      Linda Kaboolian of Harvard University at
      http://www.educationnext.org/20063/14.html, "A Culture of Complaint"
      by Howard Fuller of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning
      at Marquette University and researcher George Mitchell,
      http://www.educationnext.org/20063/18.html, and "Breakdown" by Eva
      Moskowitz of the Harlem Success Charter School at


      Keeping an Eye on State Standards

      NATIONAL - While No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires all students
      to be "proficient" in math and reading by 2014, the precedent-
      setting 2002 federal law also allows each state to determine its own
      level of proficiency. It's an odd discordance at best. It has led to
      the bizarre situation in which some states achieve handsome
      proficiency results by grading their students against low standards,
      while other states suffer poor proficiency ratings only because they
      have high standards. A year ago, we first sought to quantify this
      discrepancy, showing which states were upholding rigorous standards
      and which were not. We return to the subject now, with the latest
      available data, to update our ratings. … When we conducted the first
      of our checkups on the rigor of the standards, we gave each state
      the same kind of grade students receive. Where the requisite
      information was available, states with the highest standards were
      given an A; those with the lowest standards, an F. Last year, the
      requisite data were available for only 40 states. This time around,
      48 states have been graded, including nine "new" states providing
      the necessary information for the first time. While the fact that
      these nine are now in compliance with NCLB is a laudable
      accomplishment, it is not clear how committed they are to the
      enterprise: among the nine, only the District of Columbia and New
      Mexico scored a grade higher than C, and Nebraska, Utah, Iowa,
      Oregon, and Nevada could do no better than a mediocre C or D.
      Clearly, student proficiency has entirely different meanings in
      different parts of the country. (by Paul Peterson and Rick Hess for
      Education Next)


      No Child Left Behind: Giving the States a Break

      NATIONAL - After three years of criticism for being too strict in
      the application of its No Child Left Behind law, which established
      strict standards for measuring students' progress, the Bush
      administration is finally beginning to show some leniency. Last
      week, the Department of the Education announced it would allow two
      states, Tennessee and North Carolina, to get credit for improvements
      in individual student test scores, even if the students aren't yet
      passing the state exam. … This change is one in a series of moves
      over the last year by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
      intended to placate critics of NCLB, the education law passed in
      2002 that requires states to test their students in math and reading
      in grades three through eight, and once more in high school. In the
      first years of the law, Bush administration officials rejected most
      attempts to give states any leeway in complying with the law. But as
      support has flagged among educators and in state legislatures, the
      Education Department has shown signs of leniency. It is now
      considering allowing states to create special exams for students
      with disabilities, rather than mandating those students to take the
      traditional state tests. The law originally required school
      districts to allow students to transfer from a school if its test
      scores lagged for two straight years; now those schools don't have
      to provide transfers for those students if they are offered free
      tutoring instead. And the Department is allowing some failing school
      districts to offer the tutoring themselves, rather than requiring
      districts to hire independent companies as previously mandated by
      the law. (Time Magazine)



      Commentary: `Supplemental Services': Theory vs. Practice (by Jeffrey
      Cohen, president of Education Station, a provider of supplemental
      instructional programs)

      NATIONAL – In theory, the rationale and benefits of supplemental
      educational services under the federal No Child Left Behind Act seem
      straightforward. The Supplemental Educational Services program, or
      SES, represents a national commitment to providing academic help for
      families who cannot afford to purchase such assistance on their own.
      It reflects the following logic: If a school cannot satisfy its
      state-established levels of academic proficiency, we must offer
      immediate academic alternatives for low-income students who attend
      that school, while the school takes the necessary steps to get back
      on track. In practice, however, SES has become bogged down in
      implementation challenges and district and provider squabbles that
      jeopardize the program's ultimate value. … Rather than blossoming
      into a free market of after-school services that invites low-income
      parents to become further engaged in their children's education
      through the "purchase" of high-quality educational services, SES is
      dying a death of a thousand cuts. The defenders of the status quo,
      who seem threatened by any new ideas that upset the current one-way
      system of public education, have clearly taken aim at the
      supplemental-services program. Yet there is hope. The following
      three modifications would change the landscape of SES and allow us
      to test whether a more collaborative approach to offering immediate
      relief for students in underperforming schools would yield the
      results contemplated at the creation of the program. (Education
      Week – registration required)



      A Kansas School Model Catches L.A.'s Eye

      LOS ANGELES – Since the [First Things First] program was instituted
      in Kansas City schools, the district's high school graduation rate
      has gone from 48% to 81%. On the Kansas State Assessment test, 32.7%
      of the district's fifth-graders tested proficient in reading in
      2002. Last year, as eighth-graders, 64.4% had reached proficiency.
      In recent years, the program has drawn increasing interest from low-
      performing school districts around the nation, including Los Angeles
      Unified, which received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates
      Foundation last year to implement First Things First in two of its
      troubled high schools. As district officials in Los Angeles attempt
      to persuade schools and parents to embrace the program, Kansas
      City's experience has become a guiding light. (Los Angeles Times –
      registration required)


      July 25 date set for exit exam appeal hearing

      CALIFORNIA – The California Court of Appeal won't hear a case on the
      merits of the controversial high school exit exam until July 25 --
      long after the last strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" have been
      played at graduation ceremonies around the state. That means
      thousands of seniors in the Class of 2006 who haven't passed the
      test stand to miss the chance to collect diplomas along with their
      classmates -- unless a San Francisco lawyer has his way. Arturo
      Gonzalez, the attorney who sued the state in February on behalf of
      students who have failed the test, asked the Court of Appeal on
      Thursday to decide one issue early: whether it's fair to prevent
      those teens who haven't passed from getting their diplomas before
      the merits of the case are settled. The latest figures show 46,768
      seniors have not passed the test, although the state is scheduled to
      update the total in a week or so to account for students who may
      have passed the test since March 1. (San Francisco Chronicle)


      Smaller Not Necessarily Better, School-Size Study Concludes

      Washington – When it comes to high school size, smaller might not be
      better, concludes a national study presented yesterday at a
      conference sponsored by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
      The study raises questions about high-profile efforts taking root
      across the country to reshape the nation's high schools. Spurred by
      generous financial support from groups such at the Bill & Melinda
      Gates Foundation, school districts in New York City, Chicago,
      Houston, and other major cities have undertaken extensive efforts in
      recent years to pare down high schools and establish smaller, more
      personal learning environments for students. But Barbara Schneider,
      the lead researcher for the study, said her data suggest those
      efforts may be headed in the wrong direction. "In an effort like
      this you are dismantling large high schools and putting money into
      creating small high schools," Ms. Schneider, an education professor
      at Michigan State University in East Lansing, said in a recent
      interview. "And we can't afford to continue down this path without
      serious and rigorous assessment of this thing." Ms. Schneider and
      her co-authors, Adam E. Wysse and Vanessa Keesler, based their
      conclusions on data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a
      federal survey that tracks students beginning in 10th grade.
      (Education Week – registration required)

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