Thursday, November 5, 2015

What Congress Could Do Right Now To Improve Education

What Congress Could Do Right Now To Improve Education:

What Congress Could Do Right Now To Improve Education

The weather is turning colder for sure, but spring is in the air for those who believe there is an urgent need to change the nation’s federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
Seasoned education journalist Alyson Klein at Education Week believes recent changes in Congress “have lit a fire under negotiations on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” the name of the original law that eventually became NCLB.
In a more recent report, Klein explains, “ESEA reauthorization has been stalled since 2007. But earlier this year, the Senate overwhelming passeda bipartisan bill to rewrite the law, and a GOP-only measure barely skated through the House.”
The goal now is “to negotiate a deal that can make it through both houses of Congress and be signed by President Barack Obama, ideally by the end of the year.”
Calls for a revision of NCLB are coming from outside Congress too. US News and World Report reports the pressure is coming from “a coalition of 10 major education organizations – including the two national teachers unions and groups representing state education chiefs, superintendents, principals, school boards, and others.”
statement from the coalition posted by Politico says, “It’s time for Congress to finish the job of revising No Child Left Behind and not let another school year go by under the old law.” The coalition’s effort includes a “digital ad campaign” and a “letter to Congress”.

“The push,” notes US New correspondent Lauren Camera, “comes after the Obama administration’s announcement that it wants states and school districts to cut back on the number of tests administered to students. The issue of testing has been front and center in the ongoing reauthorization debate.”
Camera quotes Randi Weingarten, who leads the American Federation of Teachers, a member of the coalition. “The final bill should put an end to the unproductive fixation on high-stakes testing,” she says, “and protect the law’s original intent to target services to districts and schools serving high concentrations of low-income children.”
So there’s some evidence a revision to NCLB may be in the offing, which What Congress Could Do Right Now To Improve Education:


Here’s Why $7 Billion Didn’t Help America’s Worst Schools


“Why has the [School Improvement Grant] program … produced such uneven results at a total cost of about $7 billion? A comparison by POLITICO of two troubled high schools – one in Miami and one in Chicago – both of which received millions in SIG funds, both of which followed a similar turnaround strategy, reveals that education officials at the federal, state, and local levels paid too little attention to a key variable for success … The difference between the schools was in their readiness to make use of the sudden infusion of money … The SIG program may soon disappear … There would still be money to fix the lowest-performing schools – the federal government just wouldn’t have a say in how to do it.”
Read more …

Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout

The Wall Street Journal

“Five years into the … Common Core … big disparities remain in what and how students are taught, the materials and technology they use, the preparation of teachers, and the tests they are given … Many school districts discovered they didn’t have enough money to do all they needed to do. Some also found that meeting deadlines to implement the standards was nearly impossible … The new standards required more training and teaching materials than they would otherwise have needed … After a burst of momentum and a significant investment of money and time, the movement for commonality is in disarray … Some states turned to grants from the $4.3 billion federal educational-reform program called Race to the Top to help fund a move to the standards. But now most of that money is spent, leaving school districts to shoulder the continuing costs.”
Read more …

What Gets Students Motivated To Work Harder? Not Money

The Conversation

” Rewarding teachers financially for student achievement is an increasingly common practice, despite mixed evidence … Giving kids cash for grades and scores hasn’t proved straightforward either… Adolescents do not respond to incentives in ways that can be easily predicted by economic theory … When students received a certificate of recognition for attending tutoring sessions … the students in the certificate group attended 42.5% more of their allotted tutoring hours … Girls were significantly more responsive to the certificate of recognition than their male counterparts … A student’s effort was not necessarily observable to peers, which could have helped facilitate the positive response. Prior research suggests that the promise of certificates and trophies presented in a class or at a school assembly in front of peers might not necessarily act as a positive incentive … Working with the family to encourage and reward academic behaviors may hold more promise, compared to working directly through school settings where peer pressures and norms play an important role.”
Read more …

Study: Black Students – Not Crime – Determine If Schools Get Security

Talking Points Memo

“New research … showed the mere presence of African American students at a school makes it more likely the school will take on security measures, even when controlling for neighborhood crime and school misconduct … The study also found … greater racial disparities in student suspensions and arrests in schools where there are cops present or other security measures are taken. Those arrest and suspensions are believed to contribute to the so-called ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ … ‘In the average school without police, the black-white disparity in arrests was negligible,’ the authors wrote, with black students being 1.3 times more likely than white students. But with police present, African-American students were 2.2 times more likely to be arrested than white students.”
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School Vs. Society In America’s Failing Students

The New York Times

Columnist Eduardo Porter writes, “The rest of American society is failing its disadvantaged citizens even more than we realize. The question is, Should educators be responsible for fixing this? … A report released last week suggest[s] that socioeconomic deficits impose a particularly heavy burden on American schools … The score gap between American students and those in the highest-ranked countries … shrinks by 25% in math and 40% in reading once proper adjustments for gender, age, mother’s education, and books in the home are taken into account … A similar pattern shows up within the United States … There’s the wide disparity in resources devoted to education … There’s the informal tracking that happens when smart children are grouped separately … Teachers are paid poorly … And the best of them are not deployed to the most challenging schools.”
Read more …