Monday, February 22, 2016

Why U.S. states earn poor marks on public ed support - The Hechinger Report

Why U.S. states earn poor marks on public ed support - The Hechinger Report:

Why U.S. states earn poor marks on public ed support

A look at new legislation, and the report that shows there are no ‘silver bullets’ to improve schools



 The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can provide a new opportunity for states to engage in initiatives to strengthen their public schools.

After the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), states assumed the role of supervisors of compliance, rather than initiators of change.ESSA will shift considerable responsibility for education policy and accountability from the federal government back to the states. Now states will have freedom to alter teacher evaluation systems as they see fit, and will have greater freedom in how they develop accountability systems and how they use the results of tests.
As we embark on this new era of state responsibility and reform, it is important to step back and evaluate the extent to which each state is already supporting (or undermining) its public schools. Such analysis would provide a glimpse into the direction in which states are likely to use their new freedom under ESSA.
The Network for Public Education’s new report entitled “Valuing Public Education: A 50 State Report Card,” provides a window into what policies and practices we can expect from our states. It evaluates how well each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia are presently supporting their public schools, based on objective and measurable factors identified by the Network for Public Education and a research team at the University of Arizona.
The report card gives high grades to states for embracing policies that help make their public schools vibrant and strong — a well-trained, professional teaching force, adequate and equitable funding wisely spent, and social conditions that give all students a better opportunity for educational success. And it lowers the grades of states that have embraced privatization and rely on testing to set graduation standards, promotion standards and teacher accountability.
This is how the report card works: It evaluates states based on six different criteria related to their laws and policies. The report card also considers the measurable effects those laws and policies have on schools. For example, although there are no longer laws that allow racial segregation, a state’s housing and school choice laws affect the Why U.S. states earn poor marks on public ed support - The Hechinger Report:

Louisiana’s middle class finally gets a glimpse of what NOLA parents and students go through - The Hechinger Report

Louisiana’s middle class finally gets a glimpse of what NOLA parents and students go through - The Hechinger Report:

Louisiana’s middle class finally gets a glimpse of what NOLA parents and students go through

Why higher education is not a luxury

Students at Edna Carr High School in New Orleans celebrate graduation. Photo: Andre Perry

Gov. John Bel Edwards sent chills down the spines of Louisiana students and parents when he announced a $28 million funding cut in this year’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) due to the state’s inability to finance the merit-based state scholarship beyond previously set aside “statutory dedication” money.
Louisiana’s economy is moving into a downturn even as much of the country picks up. While news that colleges and universities would absorb the TOPS funding shortfall palliated Louisianans’ anxieties for the moment, the idea that thousands of people would pay unexpected tuition bills next fall made parents and collegians justifiably feel as if the state placed a basic right beyond its citizens’ reach.
In other words, Louisiana’s middle class families just got a glimpse of what it feels like to be New Orleans public school parents.
Highlighting cuts to TOPS certainly raised the consciousness of the importance of financial access to higher education. But if Edwards’s tactic of using TOPS doomsday scenarios to attract scrutiny to Louisiana’s budget crisis has a greater utility, it is to make the middle class sympathetic to those in which higher education is perpetually out of reach.
Higher education isn’t a luxury.
High school graduation rates have risen over time, but the value of the degree has declined. In 2014 The Pew Research Center found that 22 percent of Americans with a high school diploma lived in poverty, compared with 7 percent of Baby Boomers who held a high school diploma in 1979, when they were in their late 20s and early 30s. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median weekly earnings of someone holding a bachelors degree in 2014 is $1101 compared with $668 for those with just a high school diploma. The unemployment rate among those with a high school degree is 6 Louisiana’s middle class finally gets a glimpse of what NOLA parents and students go through - The Hechinger Report:




Why are many students with ‘A’ averages being barred from college-level classes?

Remediation is still the rule, despite research showing its limitations



If  community colleges are going to be the new pathway to the middle class, they have a lot of work to do, according to a new study.

They offer degrees that can help low-income and first-generation students gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market, yet for years community college graduation rates have remained low. Despite research showing reforms that can improve those rates, most colleges haven’t put those changes in place, the new report shows.
For example, a recent wave of researchsuggests that placement exams are ineffective at judging whether students are ready for college-level work – yet 87 percent of community college students say they are still required to take these exams.
Even more striking, the report found that 40 percent of students who had an A average in high school were placed into remedial classes.
And while there is increasing evidence that remedial education courses act more as obstacles than gateways to graduation, the vast majority of colleges still adhere to that traditional model.
Still, “Expectations Meet Reality: The Underprepared Student and Community College” shows that some colleges have shown significant improvement using models that could be fairly easily replicated and don’t require loads more money.
“There’s been a lot of innovation, and sometimes it comes across as though things are really changing, but this report is really a reality check,” said Evelyn Waiwaiole, the director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, which produced the report and released it Tuesday.
Most students – 86 percent of the 70,000 surveyed – believed they were prepared for college when they first enrolled. Nonetheless, 67 percent tested into “developmental education” – remedial courses that students are required to take before they can enter college classes. Students don’t earn credits for most developmental education classes, but still have to pay for them, and they often eat Why are many students with ‘A’ averages being barred from college-level classes?

Student data being stored and swapped among many agencies | KTVB.COM

Student data being stored and swapped among many agencies | KTVB.COM:

Student data being stored and swapped among many agencies








BOISE - How would you feel if you found your child was being tracked from the minute you registered them for kindergarten, until they enter the work force? Idaho has several agreements that allow and require them to do just that.
Many parents don't realize that their student's personal information is being collected and shared at the state and federal level, among many different agencies.
KTVB talked with concerned parents, as well as the State Department of Education to get to the bottom of why students' data is being stored and shared.
"I believe our youngest, most vulnerable citizens probably should have the most protection of privacy," said Mila Wood, a concerned mother and spokesperson for Idahoans for Local Education.
From the very beginning of the school day, children are shedding data. From the bus stop to the classroom laptop, hundreds of data points are being collected by state, corporate and federal agencies.
"They collect everything, they absolutely collect everything," Wood added. "Actually one of the very first items that kind of brought my attention was this little card in my son's wallet when he was in eighth grade and it's an Idaho Department of Labor card." 
Stacey Knudsen is another parent active in finding out how, where and why her children's personal information is being stored. Sensitive information attached to their individual student ID numbers such as disciplinary actions, meal choices, socioeconomic status and much, much more.
"This information is really sensitive," Wood added.
"When we talk about keeping kids safe, and their data, that's extremely important," said Jeff Church, spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Education.
The Idaho State Board of Education is constitutionally responsible for supervising public education from kindergarten through college.
For that reason, a state-wide data system was created to evaluate and improve the process by which a student moves through the education system in Idaho. The Board works in conjunction with the State Department of Education, which tracks K-12 data.
"We only collect the data that we truly need, whether it be for federal reporting, state reporting or financial calculations and payments out to school districts," Church said. "Over the last year we have gone through a process of removing upwards of 200 data elements within that system."
Department officials say they have been working to collect a lot less data than they used to by asking the question: Do we need the data?
"If we don't for federal or state or financial calculations, we don't need it and we don't want it," Church added.
But parents say they are still concerned because the Department of Education still collects 390 elements and many of those elements are alarming.
"There's certainly not a need for us to be storing the amount of data that we're storing," said Knudsen.
Church argues that the aggregate academic information, like test scores, is crucial for policy-making decisions and measuring Idaho's success compared to other states.
"Seeing the data and how students across the state are doing on math informs the superintendent on policy decisions to say we need to make a change and move toward what works," he said.
Concerned parents believe the problems stem from personally identifiable information that other state, federal and private agencies have access to.
"Where is this information going? Who is utilizing my child's psychometric data?" Wood asked.
Parents also wonder why they are not given the option to give, or deny, consent for the data.
"Nobody can really give us a clear picture of who is accessing and how they're keeping that data safe," Knudsen said.
To protect that data, there is a federal law in place called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. But activists say it's become too relaxed over the last several years. In 2014, Idaho enacted its own student privacy law. The Board of Ed says the state-appointed Data Management Council does not allow a free-flow of information because the council oversees any requests to get ahold of any data.
"At no time is an individual student's data utilized for decision-making purposes or for individual purpose of any kind," Church added.
The department shares group and personal data with many state and federal departments, as well as private companies, including, but not limited to:
  • The Department of Health and Welfare
  • Federal Education Facts
  • Smarter Balanced Consortium
  • Title I Student Counts
  • Migrant Student Information Exchange
  • ISAT, College Board
  • Data Recognition Corp
  • Individual Student Identifier for K-12 Longitudinal Data System
"So they are all sharing the data together within our state longitudinal data system," Wood said.
They also share with the State Board of Education, which has agreements with other state and federal agencies such as the Department of Juvenile Corrections, Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, and National Student Clearinghouse.
Knudsen and Wood have plenty of advice for parents that are just finding out about this phenomenon.
"What you think is just between you and the teacher and the school, that's no longer the case," Knudsen said. "Be a little more wary of what you fill out, and really read through the documents that you're signing at school."
Church says parents can contact the the Department of Education and ask to see their child's personal data. Parents must file a public records request, and then meet with a representative in person.
The Board of Education says parents also have the option to go directly to their child's school and request to see the data there, at the source.Student data being stored and swapped among many agencies | KTVB.COM:

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