School choice accountability debate: The same thing over and over
By Terry Ryan
In the 1993 movie Groundhog
Day Bill Murray’s lead character finds himself reliving the same day in
Punxsutawney, PA, over and over again. He despairs and ultimately tries to kill
himself over and over again, but after discovering the futility of his effort
starts to reexamine his life and priorities.
This is a fitting analogy for the school choice debate in
Ohio. Every other year at budget time, lawmakers debate school choice and
money. Republicans and their supporters argue for increasing choice, while
Democrats and their supporters argue for more rules to constrict choice. This
year is no different, but as Republicans took control over the House and the
governor’s office earlier this year (they’ve controlled the Senate since 1985)
it is their turn to go on the offensive. Over the previous four year’s Governor
Strickland and his allies in the Democratic-controlled House tried to defund
choice programs and/or bury them with new regulations.
Since February, Republicans have proposed three bills
(including the state budget bill) calling for the expansion of both charter
schools and voucher. The most expansive proposal (House Bill 136) would make 85
percent of Ohio’s students eligible for scholarships to attend private school. The
Cincinnati Enquirer captured the feelings of the
current debate when it reported the following exchange:
It’s high time, said Rep. Matt
Huffman, the Lima Republican who introduced the bill. Ohio should focus
education funding on what individual parents and students want, instead of on
what public school officials and teachers say they want, he said.
“This is…about parents and children
first and taxpayers second,” he said.
“This is giving away an enormous
amount of money,” said state Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron. “There is no oversight
in this at all. It’s one of the grave shortcomings in this proposal. But,
anytime you’re giving away money, it becomes very popular.”
And, as in previous years, my colleagues and I at the Thomas
B. Fordham Institute have entered the fray somewhere in the middle, advocating
for a balance between expanding choice and holding all schools accountability
for their academic performance. School choice and results-based accountability
need to go hand in glove. At least 35 percent of children in the “Ohio 8”
cities attend a school other than their district operated neighborhood school.
Further, many other Ohio families exercise choice via the real estate market –
that is, they buy or rent in a particular neighborhood because of its schools – we are looking at a majority of young Ohioans.
As choice mechanisms proliferate (now including virtual
schooling, home schooling, and vouchers along with charters, magnets, and sundry
intra- and inter-district options), communities and parents are beginning to
understand that educating children is not just something bureaucratic systems
do. It’s something that parents select and shape for their daughters and sons –
and can change and reshape when needed – much as they select clothes, food,
churches, activities, and vacation destinations. But because society also has
an interest in the education of its next generation, public policy must set
standards, assessments, and accountability mechanisms by which to ensure that
educational outcomes are satisfactory, whatever school or mode of schooling a
family may elect.
With more than a decade of experience to build on in Ohio,
we know the education marketplace left to its own device does not work to the
benefit of all children and families. It is supposed to result in parents
selecting high-performing schools for their children while shunning low
performers. In time, it should lead to either the improvement or closure of
weak schools as the good ones gain market share. But in practice, really
atrocious schools can languish for years when nobody intervenes. Too many
families, particularly in troubled communities simply aren’t – or don’t know
how to be – very picky when it comes to choosing schools. They are wont to
settle for such (admittedly important) basics as safety, convenience and
friendliness and not pay much attention to math scores, graduation rates, and
|| When children's education is paid for with public dollars, no matter what sort of school these children attend, the public has the right, even the obligation, to know how well those children are learning....
This is why the Fordham Institute supports legislative efforts
to more effectively rate the performance of all schools. As voucher programs
expand, the academic performance of the children in these programs should be
tracked and reported publicly using the state’s value-added progress measure.
This will allow for the documentation of student progress and help determine
whether or not the programs receiving state support add value to children and
taxpayers over time.
When children’s education is paid for with public dollars,
no matter what sort of school those children attend, the public has the right,
even the obligation, to know how well those children are learning the skills
and knowledge that they will need to succeed in further education and in life.
Schools that take public dollars to educate children but that cannot demonstrate
their educational efficacy in transparent ways should be put on notice. If they
can’t fix themselves in a reasonable period of time, this situation must be
addressed for the good of the children.
Like the Groundhog Day
experience of Bill Murray’s character, the debate around school choice in
Ohio seems to repeat itself over and over. Yet, unlike in the movie, Ohio still
struggles to learn from the experience. After more than a decade of school
choice debates in Ohio, it is obvious that choice alone is no panacea for what
ails education. Yet, in tandem with a rigorous accountability system that
faithfully tracks and reports student achievement over time school choice
offers the best hope for expanding quality education for all of the state’s children.
News & Analysis
ESEA reauthorization: What Ohioans should know
By Emmy L.
education policy debates at the Statehouse might have some of us forgetting
that another education debate is afoot on Capitol Hill, over the
reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
ESEA is the law authorizing federal funding and policy directives for K-12
education; for the past ten years it’s been better known as No Child Left
What are the
major policies related to ESEA? What are the thorny issues holding up its
reauthorization? In a new briefing book, Fordham’s Mike Petrilli and
Chester E. Finn, Jr. take a look at the reauthorization of ESEA to identify the
key questions Congress and the Obama Administration must answer in order to
reach an agreement on the Act and offer up Fordham’s recommendations for moving
forward. You can read the entire briefing book here, an opinion piece from last
week’s Education Gadfly here, and continued coverage on
Fordham’s Flypaper blog here.
focused on the impact of ESEA here in the Buckeye State, below is a quick take on
the ten big issues that Finn and Petrilli identified, Fordham’s recommendation
for the direction the feds take, and where Ohio currently stands on each point.
Standards and Assessments
1. College and career readiness. Should
states be required to adopt academic standards tied to college- and
career-readiness (such as the Common Core)?
Fordham says: Expect states, as a condition of Title I funding, to
adopt rigorous (i.e., “college- and career-ready”) academic standards in
reading and math (either the Common Core standards or equally rigorous ones).
Where Ohio stands: Ohio has adopted the Common Core standards in
math and English language arts.
2. Cut scores. What requirements, if
any, should be placed upon states with respect to achievement standards (i.e.,
Fordham says: Likewise, expect states to adopt
rigorous “cut scores” on tests aligned to those standards–cut scores that
signify true readiness for college and career.
Where Ohio stands: Ohio’s State Board of Education has not
revisited or raised the “cut scores” for the state’s most recent iteration of tests
since the exams were rolled out in 2003, despite a promise at that time to do
so. And Ohio’s bar for achievement is demonstrably not a high one. For example,
while 78 percent and 82 percent of fourth graders passed the state’s math and
reading tests, respectively, in 2009, just 45 percent and 36 percent were
“proficient” in the same subjects on the National Assessment of Educational
Progress, aka the Nation’s Report Card. In Fordham’s 2007 report The
Proficiency Illusion, Ohio’s state assessments were consistently ranked in the bottom half of
all states in terms of difficulty.
3. Growth measures. Should states be required to develop
assessments that enable measures of individual student growth?
Fordham says: Require states to develop the
capacity to measure student growth over time.
Where Ohio stands: In reading and math in grades four through
eight, Ohio has a strong measure of student progress (value-added) and the
state has promised via Race to the Top to develop growth measures in additional
grades and subjects.
4. Science and history. Must states
develop standards and assessments in additional subjects beyond English
language arts and math?
Fordham says: Demand regular testing in science
and history, not just reading and math, in order to push back against the
narrowing of the curriculum.
Where Ohio stands: Ohio has academic standards across multiple subject areas; however, the state eliminated testing in
writing and social studies in 2009 as a cost-savings measure (science tests are
5. School ratings. Should Adequate
Yearly Progress (AYP) be maintained, tweaked, or scrapped?
Fordham says: Eliminate AYP and instead require
states, as a condition of Title I funding, to adopt school rating systems that
provide transparent information to educators, parents, taxpayers, and voters.
Such state reporting systems would have to be pegged to college and career
readiness and, for high schools, to graduation rates. They would have to rate
all schools annually on their effectiveness and include certain elements such
as disaggregated data about subgroup performance.
Where Ohio stands: Ohio’s current school rating system relies
heavily on student test performance in the middle grades and the state’s
low-rigor high school exit exam. Graduation rates currently account for 1/26
“indicators” for a district and 1/12 for a high school. While the state
provides some college-readiness information (ACT and SAT scores and
participation rates, AP test information), it does not figure those into the
ratings schools and districts receive.
6. Interventions. What requirements, if
any, should be placed on states in terms of rewarding and sanctioning schools
and turning around the lowest performers?
Fordham says: Eliminate all federally mandated
interventions in low-performing schools. Allow states to decide when and how to
address failing schools.
Where Ohio stands: The state has proved timid to force
interventions in low-performing schools under NCLB and other federally
incentivized turnaround measures, like School Improvement Grants. Governor
Kasich’s pending budget proposals put more rhetorical emphasis on accountability
and intervention, but it remains to be seen how strong the new administration
will be in forcing district schools to improve. They will surely face a lot of
pushback from school districts and arguments about local control.
7. Teacher effectiveness. Should
Congress regulate teacher credentials (as with the current Highly Qualified
Teachers mandate) and/or require the evaluation of teacher effectiveness?
Fordham says: Eliminate the Highly Qualified
Where Ohio stands: “Highly qualified,” as a determiner of
teacher effectiveness, has taken root in Ohio. Even Senate Bill 5, which seeks
to eliminate seniority-based layoffs and tenure for teachers (and other public
workers), leans on highly qualified status and other measures based largely on
credentials and years of service to “replace” seniority.
8. Comparability. Should school
districts be required to demonstrate comparability of services between Title I
and non–Title I schools, and if so, may they point to a uniform salary schedule
in order to do so?
Fordham says: Rather than demand “comparability”
of services across Title I and non-Title I schools, require districts to report
detailed school-level spending information (so as to make spending inequities
across and within districts more transparent).
Where Ohio stands: Governor Strickland’s House Bill 1 made some
good moves toward better reporting and transparency of building-level spending,
and Governor Kasich has indicated that his education reform budget (to be
unveiled later in his term) will move the state further toward student-based
funding and building-level spending accountability.
9. Flexibility. Should the new ESEA provide greater
flexibility to states and school districts to deviate from the law’s
Fordham says: Offer states the option of signing
flexibility agreements that would give them greater leeway over the use of
their federal funds and that would enable them to target resources more tightly
on the neediest schools.
Where Ohio stands: It is unclear how Ohio might take
advantage of such opportunities. As said above, the state has been timid about
forcing improvement among its worst schools under NCLB and the last governor
moved Ohio toward a one-size-fits-all approach to school funding and spending. However,
Governor Kasich’s early policy proposals indicate his belief that local school
leaders need more flexibility in how they spend their funds and educate their
students, so he may be disposed to such flexibility agreements.
10. Competitive grants. Should reform-oriented competitive grant
programs, including Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation (i3), be
authorized in the new ESEA?
Fordham says: Whenever possible, turn
reform-oriented formula grant programs into competitive ones. Specifically,
transform Title II into a series of competitive grant programs, including Race
to the Top, I3, charter-school expansion and improvement, a competitive version
of School Improvement Grants, and an expanded Teacher Incentive Fund.
Where Ohio stands: While Ohio won Race to the Top funds, the
state did not use the opportunity to pass major reform legislation, nor will all of the state’s students and districts benefit from the reforms.
Illinois' reforms taking placing in dramatically different context than Ohio's
The Prairie State has captured attention
for its recent overhaul of policies governing teacher tenure, transfer, and
Bill 7 – which has yet to make its way through the Illinois House of
Representatives – is significant in that it not only passed unanimously
in the Illinois Senate (59-0) but also was introduced by a Democrat (Sen.
Kimberly Lightford) and garnered the support of the Illinois Federation of
Teachers, the Illinois Education Association, and the Chicago Teachers Union.
The substance of SB 7 is good news for schools and students
– it ends last in, first out layoffs and allows teachers’ seniority to only
serve as a “tie breaker” after performance is considered; gets rid of forced
(seniority-based) transfers; and ties dismissal and tenure to meaningful
performance reviews. (It also makes the Chicago Teachers Union’s ability to
strike contingent on 75 percent approval by membership. For more details, read
of the bill by the reform group Advance Illinois.) But what’s more notable than
the bill’s details is the broad bipartisan support it earned, the political
process behind its passage, and the lessons this bears for Ohio – where similar
teacher personnel changes are being passed but in dramatically different fashion.
For starters, it’s worth pointing out that the political
situation in Illinois is quite different from that in Ohio, where unions have
wholly rejected teacher policy reforms. The Buckeye State passed a bill ending
LIFO, streamlining teacher dismissal procedures, and putting performance
metrics in place that would supersede seniority – yet a quick glance at local
and national news coverage would seem to belie the fact that Ohio has reforms
worth celebrating. The obvious reason is that teacher personnel reforms are
couched in the controversial collective bargaining bill, Ohio’s Senate Bill 5.
Contrast this with Illinois Education Associate President Ken Swanson’s statement
regarding his union’s support of similar changes: “You don’t need to attack
collective bargaining rights. It should be recognized that unions have a great
deal to bring to the table in shaping reforms that work.”
But it’s not just the messaging behind each set of bills
that’s different (with Illinois’s original “Performance Counts” legislation
sounding emphatically more pro-teacher than Ohio’s collective bargaining
rollback). Other political factors were at play. Andy Rotherham, former
domestic policy advisor to President Clinton, points out about SB 7’s unanimous
passage in the Illinois Senate:
While the narrative is all about
collaboration, it’s important to note the context in which that collaboration
happened – the teachers unions were boxed in because legislation was going to
move and there was a lot of pressure on key elected players.
And in reading the official response from Chicago
Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the union’s negotiating position does
In an unprecedented effort, the
three unions… joined forces to stop these millionaires from turning teaching
into a low-wage, high turnover job.
successfully made the case that the right to strike, seniority, due process and
a solid evaluation system all play an integral role to make possible the
promise of democracy, equity and quality in public education. Our next
challenge is to ensure that that evaluation under the PERA law being
constructed now is indeed fair and equitable.
PERA, referring to the 2010 Performance Evaluation
Reform Act that was
passed to make Illinois’s bid for Race to the Top more competitive, laid the
groundwork for SB 7 and is clearly at the top of the unions’ list of concerns.
As education observer Alexander Russo suggested on his blog, cooperation from the state’s
major teachers unions on Senate Bill 7 may represent an attempt to water down
teacher evaluations put in place last
A quick look at the bill
raises several questions about its ability to improve teaching effectiveness
when the time comes for actual implementation: The bill requires
locally-approved teacher evaluation plans in "good faith"
consultation with unions serving on a joint committee with administrators, and
sets a 90 day window after which all bets are off. There’s no hard
requirement that 50 percent of evaluation be based on student
achievement. There's no hard deadline for developing a new
plan. Districts can request a waiver and it will be granted automatically
if the state doesn’t respond within 45 days.
Campaign for Change
There is another significant difference between Illinois and Ohio:
The Prairie State overhauled the state’s teacher evaluation system over 16
months ago, and SB 7 builds on top of those reforms. Stand for Children’s
policy director noted that “without PERA, it would have been very difficult to get at a lot of what we did… PERA laid some great foundation for
what's coming next.”
In contrast, Ohio is pushing hard and fast on teacher personnel
policies, but putting the proverbial cart before the horse when it comes to
ending LIFO, streamlining dismissal, and setting up a merit pay system as
there’s not yet a robust, fair, transparent teacher evaluation system in place.
This is an important lesson for the Buckeye State. Until teachers and their
unions see the roll-out of a meaningful evaluation system that differentiates
varying levels of effectiveness, can the state expect them to follow willingly
on ending tenure, LIFO, or installing merit pay? To what extent does
collaboration a la Illinois matter?
Finally, the experience in Illinois points to the usefulness
of state education advocacy organizations (EAOs) in building momentum for
legislation through months of careful planning and strategy. Advance Illinois
and Stand for Children helped broker three
months worth of negotiations between all relevant groups and also messaged
SB 7 as part of the state’s charge to “build better schools in Illinois.” A
quick look at the “Performance Counts” website illustrates the how the
messaging behind the campaign matters. The site is user friendly, links into
various social media outlets, and the EAOS have helped build a broad coalition of
supporters. While Ohio has various non-EAOs that conduct important policy work,
research, and some on-the-ground outreach (think School Choice Ohio on
vouchers, and KidsOhio and Fordham on research and policy), Ohio has no
purebred EAO doing the sort of micro-targeting and messaging that might be
necessary to bolster the palatability of Ohio’s teacher reforms.
Double Jeopardy: How Third Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
By Bianca Speranza
A recent study
produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation confirms what educators and
researchers have long hypothesized: reading at grade level by the third grade
is a critical indicator as to whether students will graduate from high school.
This study found a strong link between graduation rates and third-grade reading
levels, discovering that students who don’t read at grade level by the third
grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers
who are proficient readers.
To determine the correlation between a student’s ability to
read on grade level by the third grade, and his/her likelihood to graduate (by
the age of 19) researchers collected data on 3,975 students born between 1979
and 1989. Reading progress was tracked using the Peabody Individual Achievement
Reading subtest (the database shows whether kids graduate from school by the
age of 19). To make reporting more consistent with the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) the researchers divided reading performance scores
into three groups: proficient, basic, and below basic. Furthermore, to gain a
better understanding of the impact that poverty can have on reading proficiency,
researchers surveyed students’ families every two years, asking them questions
about their economic status.
The findings are stark. While 88 percent of students
nationwide graduate high school by the age of 19, this fluctuates dramatically
for students with different levels of reading proficiency in the third grade.
Among proficient readers only four percent fail to graduate; however, students
scoring below basic proficiency in third grade reading account for 63 percent
of those who don’t graduate from high school. Unsurprisingly, third-grade
reading is hugely predictive of success later in school and in life.
Poverty also predicts whether a student will graduate from
high school. Twenty-two percent of students who live in poverty don’t graduate
from high school and this number jumps to 32 percent for those students who
have spent more than half their lifetime in poverty. Subsequently students
coming from poverty-stricken families are in “double jeopardy” – they are more
likely to have lower reading scores and thus be at higher risk of not
graduating. Twenty-six percent of children experiencing both poverty and low
reading scores fail to graduate from high school.
In the 2009-10 school year, 10 percent of all third grade
student who took the Ohio Achievement Assessment test had a below basic reading
proficiency. When broken down further 17 percent of students coming from
economically disadvantaged families had below basic
proficiency in third-grade reading. Furthermore, only 71 percent of
economically disadvantage students in Ohio graduated last year. Ohio must find
a way to increase third-grade reading scores among all students to bolster
their chances of graduating later on in life.
How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Donald J. Hernandez
|- BACK TO TOP -
Incentivizing School Turnaround: A Proposal for Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
recent months, education reformers have started buzzing about the
reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and
several, including Fordham’s own Checker
Finn and Mike
Petrilli, have proposed
substantial revisions. In its latest report, Incentivizing School Turnaround: A Proposal for
Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Center for American
Progress (CAP) lays out its own set of proposals regarding the act’s school
turnaround provisions. The
report names four key recommendations:
- Dispense School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds
only to consistently under-performing schools in districts with strong pools of
teachers, the ability to use student data effectively, widespread support of
large-scale reforms, and the flexibility required to implement such reforms.
- Allow schools flexibility in selecting a
suitable turnaround strategy, but encourage schools to adopt sweeping reforms
(e.g., extensive staff replacement) based on “data-driven needs assessment.”
- Evaluate state applications for turnaround
grants based on demonstrated commitments to empowering State Education Agencies
(SEAs) to intervene substantially in turnaround schools by clustering them into
separate districts, expanding school data collection and analysis, and training
teachers and administrators specifically to work in turnaround schools.
- Use the provision and withholding of federal
funds to hold states, districts, and individual schools accountable for their
success or failure in transforming under-performing schools.
to ESEA, particularly the SIG provisions, will certainly affect Ohio, which received
$19.5 million in SIG funds earlier this year. Even with the law in its current
form, some Ohio schools have already implemented
large-scale staff replacements, and one
school will likely be run by an education management organization starting
this fall. However, some schools receiving SIG funds have not made progress in
implementing substantial reforms, as we’ve pointed
out in the past, one of many reasons an ESEA overhaul is long-overdue.
Quality Authorizing for Online and Blended-Learning Charter Schools
By Kathryn Mullen Upton
A new monograph from the National Association of Charter
School Authorizers examines authorizer (aka sponsor) oversight practices for
online and “blended” (online instruction combined with traditional classroom
instruction) charter schools, and finds that the development of authorizing
practices for these schools lags behind the rate at which such schools are
opening across the county.
According to the report, online authorizing practices –
including the review of applications, school renewal, and annual oversight –
are still in their early stages. (It’s worth noting, though, that some online
programs are roughly 10 years old; one hopes that this finding is limited to
states where online schools are much newer.) The report also finds that
accounting for student achievement is a challenge, given the sometimes unique
situations of students in online/blended schools (e.g., students who enroll in
online school temporarily to deal with an unusual life circumstance); that
governing boards of online schools sometimes do not have the expertise or
capacity to adequately oversee the school; that special education presents
special challenges in an online context; and, that funding levels and methods
for enrollment counts are in flux at a policy level in several states.
Some of these issues are not unique to online/blended
models; for example, governance and funding present challenges for any
authorizer of any type of charter school. And there are of course minimum
performance expectations that can and should be written into a charter (aka
contract for sponsorship) regardless of whether the school is online, blended,
or brick and mortar (e.g., goals for academic and operational performance).
Most importantly, the report points out that policy must
keep pace with the growth of online learning. The absence of best authorizing
practices could hamper the long-term viability and quality of online and
blended programs which, to be sure, will be part of the nation’s K-12
educational landscape for the foreseeable future. Note to selves, Ohio, on both
the online and blended fronts.
The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-career Teachers
By Jamie Davies O’Leary
As states and districts
seek to overhaul teacher-evaluation systems, this NBER paper answers a salient
question: Do evaluations actually improve a teacher’s performance?
That’s one hope of reformers and unions alike—that clear and regular feedback
will help instructors improve their craft. Based on eight years of data from
Cincinnati’s Teacher Evaluation System (TES), the answer is yes—in math,
anyway. TES is an evaluation system that uses periodic, unannounced classroom
observations coupled with student-work portfolios. For this report, researchers
examined data from 2003-04 to 2009-10 to ascertain the impact of TES on
mid-career teachers (those in the system for five to 19 years). Building on
performance-evaluation research, these analyses looked not just at any
immediate improvements incurred during a teacher’s evaluation period, but at
the long-term impacts resulting from participation in TES itself.
They do this by comparing
achievement of students taught before teacher participation in TES with
student achievement during or after TES participation, while also
controlling for students’ prior achievement, teacher experience, and relevant
demographic variables. Though there were no significant differences found in
reading, teacher performance in math improved both during the evaluation period
and afterwards. For example, a teacher whose pupils had typically scored in the
50th percentile on math tests before being evaluated begins to see results in
the 55th percentile range in the years after evaluation. Teachers who scored in
the lowest quartile on their evaluations showed the greatest improvements. As
we rethink teacher evaluation, these are promising findings indeed. But be
forewarned: A system like TES comes with a lofty price tag—roughly $7,500 for
each teacher evaluated (over the course of the six studied years). If districts
or states plan on taking it to scale, some financial juggling will be in order.
The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction
By Andrew Proctor
The title really says it all in the latest Center for
American Progress report,
The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction.
Author Matthew Chingos highlighted research on class-size reduction (CSR) and
found that placing students in smaller classes had no real impact on student
achievement. This is especially problematic due to the exorbitant costs that
CSR imposes. Twenty-four states including Ohio have or recently had policies that require schools to
reduce class sizes (the Buckeye State just repealed class-size mandates imposed
by the last governor). Previous legislation required class sizes as low as 15
(per one teacher), but provided no funding for schools to incur the additional
costs imposed by CSR.
Under CSR, schools are often forced to hire new teachers, as
well as build new facilities to accommodate an increase in the number of
classes. This places additional strain
on districts to find resources and personnel.
Although teachers and parents generally support smaller class sizes
because they are easier to manage and provide students with more individual
interaction with the teacher, Chingos cites research showing that teacher
effectiveness, not class size, is the chief in-school determinant of student
achievement. He proposes that states and
districts might benefit by redirecting resources from class size reduction to
teacher quality-focused initiatives, as this could simultaneously cut costs and
boost student achievement. Additionally, Chingos suggests that districts
interested in accessing the benefits of additional individualized instruction might
employ the lower-cost option of using new technologies that tailor lessons to
individual students instead of the expensive practice of hiring multiple new
teachers to achieve smaller class sizes.
With weak evidence that CSR is effective, and schools being
forced to make do with limited resources, states should undo CSR policies and
free districts up to reward the best teachers for taking on larger class sizes,
an idea that is currently in the governor’s budget proposal.
A selection of the finest offerings from Fordham's blog, Flypaper.
An early history of teacher pay systems in Ohio
By Terry Ryan
Ohio’s recently passed SB5 would make Ohio the first state in the country to mandate performance pay for
educators. The law wipes out the step-and-lane salary schedule that has been
the basis of teacher pay since the early part of the 20th century…
It is interesting to go back in time and see how the current step-and-lane
system emerged. My friend and long-time Daytonian Nancy Diggs wrote a book in
1997 on the life of Evangeline Lindsley called My Century: An Outspoken Memoir. Lindsley was one of Dayton’s
truly outstanding 20th century educators and was recognized as one
of city’s Ten Top Women in 1981. Lindsley also served as president of the
Classroom Teachers Association in Dayton, and was elected as only the second
member of the Executive Committee of the Ohio Education Association in the
1930s. In My Century Lindsley
shared how the single-salary schedule came to be in Dayton during the Great
Depression. Read the full post here.
Ohio district leaders should force more concessions in hurried-up contracts
By Emmy L.
Ohioans are waiting to see if Senate Bill 5… can be repealed at the ballot box in November.
Meanwhile, teachers unions and local school districts are working fast to avoid
the legislation’s consequences, at least anytime soon… Changes to state law
cannot trump existing collective bargaining agreements…We’ve seen a rash of one- or two-year contracts
agreed to recently as a result of SB 5…A few locals have negotiated longer
agreements, like Bexley, outside Columbus, where
teachers and the district agreed to a four-year contract in quick fashion (a single
day!)…What’s missing from many of these agreements are attempts to deal with
the fiscal cliff the state and local governments are driving off that would
require dramatically different budget cutting than what’s been
done in the past. I understand that unions are eager to rush contracts to avoid
the effects of SB 5 on their members. But shouldn’t district leaders, in
exchange, be demanding at least a few
changes that will actually put them in a position to deal with the “new normal”
they will soon face? Read the full post here.
Fighting the mathematics blues... with a museum?
By Nick Joch
- In case you missed it, the Alliance for
Excellent Education recently held a webinar discussing the results of the National
Assessment Governing Board (NAGB)’s 2009 National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) High School Transcript Study, America’s High School Graduates.
Discussants included NAGB chairman David Driscoll and Jack Buckley,
Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. A video of the
webinar is available here.
- The one-teacher-per-classroom model does not fit
all, says the Center for American Progress in its latest study, Beyond Classroom Walls: Developing
Innovative Work Roles for Teachers. The study examines two school
systems in which teachers’ strengths are maximized through block scheduling,
peer mentoring, delegation of role learning tasks, and other similar methods of
improving student learning via teacher specialization.
- Wondering what implementation of the Common Core
standards will look like in reality? Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York
City, is trying the standards out through a pilot program, writes
the New York Times, and is seeing its
teachers make significant changes in their teaching methods as a result.
- Bored with math? Glen Whitney, entrepreneur and
former hedge-fund quantitative analyst, believes he is creating a cure for the
mathematics blues: MoMath, a museum that
focuses on the intersections of math and art. Weighing in at $30 million, the
project is no small investment, says
Education Week, but Whitney hopes the
museum will help children understand that math can be understandable and even