Posts tagged ‘Charter school’

April 24, 2013

Quick Links – Online learning similar to charter schools; financial literacy instruction doesn’t help much; high school grads avoiding college

by Grace

‘ Online learning faces many of the same obstacles that charter schools do.’

… It also has to overcome the same legitimate concerns about how to assess quality of a product offered by largely untested companies. Skeptics are right to note that many, perhaps most, of the online education providers out there won’t survive the decade—competition is intense, the technologies are new and changing rapidly, and not everyone can be a winner. Someone will be the Pets.com of the ed-tech boom. That prospect is alarming to the traditional school bureaucracy, which tends to make contracts with vendors that span years or decades. They’re not set up to contract with firms offering services for a monthly fee that can be canceled at any time. And parents are rightly concerned about the long-term value of a degree from Pets.edu.

In a perfect world, both online learning and charter schools would only be imposed on our children after rigorous testing and screening to be assured of their efficacy.  But in the real world, repeated unproven “innovations” are inflicted on students – No Child Left Behind being one of the latest examples.  So it is inevitable that some lucky students will continue to reap the benefits from the best of education’s innovations (think Amazon) and some unfortunate ones will suffer from the worst (think Pets.com).

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Financial literacy education doesn’t seem to work.

U.S. students who’d taken personal finance or money management courses weren’t more financially savvy than those who hadn’t, according to a study by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Maybe innumeracy is part of the problem, and schools should focus more on better math education.

New York State requires some personal finance instruction as part of its Economics, the Enterprise System, and Finance, a half-semester high school course taken senior year.  It uses course content from the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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Smaller Share of High School Grads Going to College

The college enrollment rate — the share of recent U.S. high-school graduates enrolling in college or a university in the same year — dropped in 2012 to 66.2%, the lowest level since 2006, the Labor Department said in a report on Wednesday. For 2012 graduates, the rate dropped for both men and women, to 61.3% from 64.6% in 2011, and 71.3% from 72.3%, respectively.

The findings suggest some high-school graduates are becoming more confident about their job prospects after years of hiding out by going to college. When the economy sank into recession between 2007 and 2009, the college enrollment rate rose steadily to a record high of 70.1%. The implosion of America’s construction industry, for example, meant fewer jobs for young men looking for work right out of high school. Now it appears some of these young graduates are going on the job market again.

Of course, finding a job isn’t that much easier. America’s job-market recovery remains uneven: The unemployment rate is still unusually high at 7.6%, and the economy added only 88,000 jobs last month — the weakest job gains since June 2012.

Perhaps the rising cost of higher education is a factor.

March 20, 2013

Quick Links – Pay to play in New York; academic standards rule at elite colleges; Massachusetts charter schools

by Grace

◊◊◊  Pay to play outlawed in N.Y., for now (lohud.com)

Unlike most states, including nearby Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, New York does not currently allow schools to charge students extra to participate in extracurricular programs.  But as the tax cap continues to put pressure on school spending, New York might join other states in requiring students to “pay to play”.

State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, expresses the concerns of many.

“I believe extracurricular activities provide children with extra opportunities and extra potential for learning. There’s enough disparity for poor families. They already have a disadvantage,” she said. “In my mind, pay-to-play means we all pay later on.”

The rules vary widely across the country, with some states/districts only requiring athletes to pay.  Even in New York, the spirit of the law seems to be violated in some cases.  For example, a student must pay $90 or sell program ads as a condition of participating in our local high school play.  Isn’t that a form of pay-to-play?

◊◊◊  In their first cut for admissions, academic standards rule for most elite colleges.

Before they’re holistic, colleges look at grades and test scores.

… The most common winnowing process (used by 76 percent of the colleges that answered Rubin) is some measure of academic merit. This may be based on grades, rigor of high school courses, test scores and so forth. While there is some difference in the relative weight given to various factors, there is a straightforward value on doing better than others in whatever formula the college uses.

The survey included responses from “63 of the 75 most competitive colleges, mostly private, with just a few public flagships”.

◊◊◊  Massachusetts has seen a 20% increase in charter enrollment over the last four years.

Legislation to eliminate a cap on the number of charter schools has been proposed by Democrat state senators.

BOSTON—Massachusetts lawmakers are considering eliminating a cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in the lowest-performing school districts, including here in the capital city.

While other states also have weighed lifting caps, charter advocates point to left-leaning Massachusetts as a somewhat unlikely model for the movement. “This demonstrates that charter schools are a viable reform,” said Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit aimed at advancing the movement. “If it can happen in Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere.”…

The 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association is likely to oppose the bill, said union president Paul Toner. Under state law, schools’ funding is linked to the number of attending students, so charter schools divert much-needed funds from traditional schools, he said….

Because other states look to Massachusetts—where students overall routinely rank at the top of national and international tests—for lessons on academic achievement and innovation, the Bay State’s policies on charter schools are being followed closely, former Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson told charter advocates gathered in Boston recently.

Nationally, charter schools are educating more than 2.3 million students in the 2012-13 school year, 275,000 more than last year, the largest single-year jump since the movement began 20 years ago, according to the National Alliance for Charter Schools.

More than 31,000 Massachusetts students attend charter schools, an increase of 20% in the past four years. …

Unlike many other states, advocates say, Massachusetts’ governance system designates state education officials as sole authorizers of independently run charter schools, overruling local mayors and unions.

September 4, 2012

Survey ranks homeschooling higher than public schools

by Grace

The latest Gallup poll shows Americans rank homeschooling higher than they do public schools.

Public schools get a relatively poor rating, even though the vast majority of American children are educated in public schools. The poll finds 83% of parents with children in grades kindergarten through 12 saying their oldest child attends public school, compared with 9% who say private school, 4% home school, and 2% parochial school. The poll did not assess the percentage of children attending charter schools, a relatively new type of school.

Parents of school-aged children generally rank the various school types in the same order, although they are somewhat more positive about the quality of public school education — 47% say it is excellent or good — than the broader adult population (37%).

While they’re unhappy with schools in general, parents tend like their children’s schools.  Should we blame it on the media?

Americans are much more inclined to believe students in private, parochial, or charter schools receive a high-quality education than to say this about students in public schools and those who are home schooled. Americans in general are not highly satisfied with the state of public schooling in the United States, although that is probably not a commentary on their own child’s school and schools in their local area because Americans have historically been quite satisfied with each of those. Rather, Americans may just have a general sense that U.S. public education is not where it needs to be, perhaps due to news media reports that American students lag behind students in other countries in basic academic skills.

It could be that  media reporting confirms what many people observe in the workplace and elsewhere – poorly educated young people.  Meanwhile, the pervasive negative media reporting on homeschooling does not seem to have affected the public’s views according to this survey.

Confidence in public schools is at a historic low.

July 11, 2012

Quick takes – July 11, 2012

by Grace

How Berkeley makes admissions decisions – the 2005 Hout report

… an in-depth quantitative analysis of the University of California, Berkeley, freshman admissions process confirms that the process is working as intended with academic considerations carrying the most weight in virtually all admissions decisions….

In his report, Hout wrote, “My statistical results reveal that comprehensive review conformed to most aspects of policy guidelines. Academic considerations predominated. Readers gave applicants’ grades the most weight in assigning read scores. They also considered how difficult the courses were and scores on SATs. Readers also fulfilled the policy guidelines that instruct them to consider applicants in their local context by giving some weight (less than the weight they gave to academics) to the barriers to achievement that some applicants face.”

The full report:  BERKELEY’S COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW METHOD FOR MAKING FRESHMAN ADMISSIONS DECISIONS:AN ASSESSMENT


A recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforc
e
says that certificates are the “fastest-growing postsecondary credential awarded” and have demonstrated “increasing clout … in the labor market”.


Randomized control trials show  “students in urban areas do significantly better in school if they attend a charter schools than if they attend a traditional public school.

According to the Global Report Card, more than a third of the 30 school districts with the highest math achievement in the United States are actually charter schools.  This is particularly impressive considering thatcharters constitute about 5% of all schools and about 3% of all public school students.  And it is even more amazing considering that some of the highest performing charter schools, like Roxbury Prep in Boston or KIPP Infinity in New York City, serve very disadvantaged students.

As impressive and amazing as these results by charter schools may be, it would be wrong to conclude from this that charter schools improve student achievement.  The only way to know with confidence whether charters cause better outcomes is to look at randomized control trials (RCTs) in which students are assigned by lottery to attending a charter school or a traditional public school.  RCTs are like medical experiments where some subjects by chance get the treatment and others by chance do not.  Since the two groups are on average identical, any difference observed in later outcomes can be attributed to the “treatment,” and not to some pre-existing and uncontrolled difference.  We demand this type of evidence before we approve any drug, but the evidence used to justify how our children are educated is usually nowhere near as rigorous.

Happily, we have four RCTs on the effects of charter schools that allow us to know something about the effects of charter schools with high confidence.  Here is what we know:  students in urban areas do significantly better in school if they attend a charter schools than if they attend a traditional public school.  These academic benefits of urban charter schools are quite large.  In Boston, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, Duke, and the University of Michigan, conducted a RCT and found:  “The charter school effects reported here are therefore large enough to reduce the black-white reading gap in middle school by two-thirds.”


Has NCLB been “essentially nullified”?

‘No Child’ Law Whittled Down by White House as more states receive waivers.


Thinking ahead – A “couple of extra weeks in the womb” might raise SAT scores?

On both reading and math exams, where a score of 50 was considered average, kids born at 41 weeks scored about one point higher, in general, than those born at 37 weeks, the researchers reported Monday in Pediatrics….

Noble said the finding doesn’t prove being born early-term can slow kids’ brain development and hurt their academic achievement. It’s possible, she said, that some other factor is related to both early births and academic difficulties.

July 17, 2011

Charter schools in the suburbs meet strong opposition

by Grace

Charters schools in the suburbs have encountered strong resistance from traditional public schools and some parent groups.

More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 1 in 5 of the 4,951 existing charter schools were located there in 2010, federal statistics show. Advocates say many proposed suburban charters have struggled because of a double standard that suggests charters are fine for poor urban areas, but are not needed in well-off neighborhoods.

“I think it has to do with comfort level and assumptions based on real estate and not reality,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, which studies and supports charter schools. “The houses are nice, people have money, and therefore the schools must be good.”

In wealthy Millburn, NJ, the school superintendent opposes the opening of two Mandarin-immersion schools in his town.

“We don’t have enough money to run the schools as it is,” Mr. Crisfield said, adding that the district eliminated 18 positions and reduced bus services this year.

Millburn offers Mandarin only in high school, fueling the arguments of those seeking the new charters. “Kids are like sponges,” said Yanbin Ma, a Hanyu founder. “There are so many things they can absorb and become good at, and I feel that our public schools haven’t done enough to take advantage of that.”

The conventional belief is that the affluent public schools are meeting the needs of all students.  Parents fighting against the Mandarin schools think it is selfish for other parents to want different types of schools.  Since I know that local public schools don’t always meet every student’s needs, I support charter schools as a way to give parents more choices.

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