Friday, January 16, 2015

How the Ghost of Booker T. Washington Haunts Today’s Testing Advocates – The Anarres Project

How the Ghost of Booker T. Washington Haunts Today’s Testing Advocates – The Anarres Project:



How the Ghost of Booker T. Washington Haunts Today’s Testing Advocates

 
By Mark Naison
When I read the statement from 19 Civil Rights organizations supporting universal testing in the nation’s public schools, I couldn’t help but recall a time in American History when an African American educator named Booker T Washington stepped forward with a plan to have character training and instruction in skilled trades supplant liberal arts education in schools serving African Americans, and in so doing managed to neutralize opposition to Black Education in the South, while attracting the support of education philanthropists in the North.
Washington put forward his plan at a time, eerily akin to ours, when the rights of African Americans and working class Americans were under assault. In the South, white supremacists were moving forward with plans to put a final end to the voting rights of African Americans which had been secured during Reconstruction, while passing laws requiring segregation of Blacks and whites in both public and private institutions. In the North, powerful industrialists were banding together to crush an emerging industrial labor movement, imposing devastating defeats on organizing efforts among steel workers in the Homestead Strike of 1892 and to efforts to build a national railroad union in the Pullman Strike of 1894.
Washington, one of the most astute political thinkers of his age, saw which way the wind was blowing and decided that to create any space for Black education, he had to make an accommodation with both Southern segregationists and Northern industrialists. As a result, he put forward his plans to remake Black education as a narrow skill and character enterprise, while proclaiming his opposition to civil rights agitation, labor organizing and efforts by Blacks to seek political power.
Washington’s program, by most standards, was an astonishing success. Not only were schools on his model allowed to survive in the south at time of fierce anti-black violence, and the imposition of the Jim Crow regime, he became the How the Ghost of Booker T. Washington Haunts Today’s Testing Advocates – The Anarres Project:

Sen. Alexander's Draft NCLB Bill: Cheat Sheet - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Sen. Alexander's Draft NCLB Bill: Cheat Sheet - Politics K-12 - Education Week:



Sen. Alexander's Draft NCLB Bill: Cheat Sheet

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee, put out his opening bid for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act earlier this week.
And so far, all the interesting discussion has been about testing, testing, and more testing. But there's a lot more to the draft.
What would it actually do?
Testing is up in the air, right? Right. Two options floated to spark conversation. Option A: Let states choose their own testing adventure, including annual tests, portfolios, grade-span tests (a policy the National Education Association hearts), formative assessments, competency-based education, the whole shebang. Districts could also cook up their own assessment systems to use instead, with permission from their states.
The language here seems to have been crafted just to show the edu-world that absolutely everything is on the table. But lots of anti-testing groups, including Parents Across America, arejumping for joy just to see it enshrined in real live legislative language.
Option B: The current NCLB testing regime, which calls for reading and math tests in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But there's a big twist. Under this option, districts could also go their own way on assessments, with the permission of their states.
The district route in both options is similar to what the Council of Chief State School Officers asked for in its NCLB recommendations. The key difference between the two: Under the draft, the feds would get absolutely no role in approving these local systems. They would in CCSSO's proposal.
What would happen to accountability? States would have way more control over what their systems look like than they do under NCLB Classic, or under the Obama administration's NCLB waivers. Unsurprisingly, the sections on Adequate Yearly Progress, the yardstick at the heart of the NCLB law, are totally cut, and the NCLB sanctions like tutoring and public school choice are out the window. That's not such a big deal because the waivers pretty much made AYP moot anyway, at least in most states.
Instead, the bill would let states come up with their own accountability methods, within certain parameters. State systems would have to consider student achievement, but measuring year-to-year student-growth would be optional. And states would have to consider the performance of student subgroups (like students in special education and English-language learners), and use a four-year graduation rate. There don't seem to be major requirements beyond that.
Do states and districts still have to identify low-performing schools? Yep. States would have to single out low-performing schools—but the draft doesn't say that it would have to be a particular percentage of schools, or that certain kinds of struggling schools—such as those with big achievement gaps or low grad rates—would have to be in the mix. 
That's a key difference from the waivers, which require states to single out the lowest-performing 5 percent "priority" schools for dramatic interventions (involving things like extending the day or getting rid of half the staff), and another 10 percent of "focus" schools with big achievement gaps or other problems, for more targeted help.
So what happens to these low-performing schools? Pretty much whatever districts think would work, although states would be allowed to come up with interventions too, and have districts carry them out, as long as that's in line with state law.
Meanwhile, the administration's School Improvement Grant models would be toast, a move thateveryone saw coming a gazillion miles away. In fact, the language authorizing the original SIG program in the law would be kaput, too. And, unlike an earlier Alexander bill, states wouldn't have to identify a particular percentage of schools for serious turnaround efforts.
Instead, states would be permitted to reserve 8 percent of their Title I money for school Sen. Alexander's Draft NCLB Bill: Cheat Sheet - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty - The Washington Post

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty - The Washington Post:



Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty






 January 16 at 5:00 AM  
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were eligible under the federal program for free and reduced-price lunches in the 2012-2013 school year. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.
“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell, the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”
The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, more than half of the children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home to succeed, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.
It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the swelling ranks of needy children arriving at the schoolhouse door each morning.

Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children so that they approach the same level Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty - The Washington Post:

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools : NPR Ed : NPR

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools : NPR Ed : NPR:



A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

JANUARY 15, 201512:08 AM ET



The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.




The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.
It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won't have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.
But an intriguing new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleanssuggests that parent choice doesn't always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars — preferences that can outweigh academics.

New Orleans offers a unique opportunity to study parent choice. As we've reported earlier, more than 9 out of 10 New Orleans children attend charter schools. Choice, in other words, is hardly optional there.
By analyzing student enrollment records going back before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the authors of this study were able to look at parents' "revealed preferences." That is, not what they say they are looking for in a school when interviewed by researchers, but the schools they actually pick. Here's what the research found:
  • Parents care about academics, but not as much as they say they do. "The role of academics seemed somewhat lower [than in other studies]," says Douglas Harris, lead author on the report. And because of the nature of the study, which shows where families actually enroll, "we're actually able to quantify that in ways that other studies couldn't."
  • Distance matters. A lot. Schools in New Orleans are ranked by letter grades, depending mostly on their scores on state tests. What the researchers found was that three-quarters of a mile in distance was equal to a letter grade in terms of family preferences. In other words, a C-grade school across the street was slightly preferable to a B-grade school just a mile away.
  • Extended hours matter. Parents of younger children preferred extended school hours and after-school programs.
  • Extracurriculars matter. Especially for high school students — and perhaps even more so in this city famous for its music and its love of the NFL's Saints. A C-grade school with a well-known football and band program could beat out a B-grade school without them. (Of note: In traditional public school systems, most high schools offer these extracurriculars; New Orleans has many smaller specialized schools that don't.)
  • Poorer families care more about other factors — and less about academics. The study split families up into thirds based on the median income in their census tract. What they found was that the lowest-income New Orleans families were even more likely to pick schools that were close by, that offered extended days, and that had football and band in high school — and, conversely, they had a weaker preference for schools based on test scores.
This last point is crucial because it suggests that a choice-based system all by itself won't necessarily increase equity. The most economically disadvantaged students may have parents who are making decisions differently from other families. These parents appear to be more interested in factors other than academic quality as the state defines A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools : NPR Ed : NPR:

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