ARCHIVE FOR MAY 2007
COUNCIL OF GREAT CITY SCHOOLS ISSUES 2007 EDITION OF BEATING THE ODDS (5/1/2007)
The Council of Great City Schools has released Beating the Odds VII: An Analysis of Student Performance and Achievement Gaps on State Assessments, Results from the 2005-2006 School Year, which reports on how inner-city schools are performing on the academic goals and standards set by the states. The 67 school districts included in the report are in 37 states and the District of Columbia, and include Newark as the one New Jersey city represented. The national results were mixed—urban students’ scores in language arts and mathematics are improving, and achievement gaps in these subjects are narrowing, but urban student achievement in these subjects is still below the state average.
The report includes demographic data that helps place the academic gains in context. In 2004-05, 7,384,270 students—15 percent of the nation’s total—attended 11,419 schools in these districts. Of that 15 percent, 76 percent were African-American, Hispanic, Asian American or other minority, while 24 percent were white, as compared to the national average of minority students, which is approximately 43 percent. Fourteen percent of students in the 67 districts were English language learners, compared to the nationwide average of eight percent. Sixty-one percent of students in the Great City districts are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, compared to 38 percent nationwide.
Council of Great City Schools: Beating the Odds VII (4/2007)
POLICY FORUM ISSUES SPECIAL EDUCATION VOUCHER ANALYSIS (5/4/2007)
Project Forum has issued Special Education Vouchers: Four State Approaches, a policy analysis on educational voucher programs for special education students in Florida, Ohio, Utah and Arizona. The report includes information and data on each program’s history and administration, pupil and school eligibility criteria, student participation and enrollment trends, per-pupil voucher amount, method of payment, and other program components for each state.
The report has no information, however, on student achievement or program quality. It ends with the following statement: “Although these programs have created educational options for parents and students, there is a lack of public accountability under either NCLB or IDEA for students participating in states’ special education voucher programs and data remain unavailable as to whether or not students participating in voucher programs are receiving appropriate services and/or performing competitively with their public school peers.”
InForum: Special Education Vouchers: Four State Approaches (4/2007)
REPORT CRITICAL OF SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICES (5/9/2007)
A new report jointly issued by the Education Policy Research Unit of Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center of the University of Colorado-Boulder takes issue with the supplemental educational services (SES) provision of NCLB. According to the report, SES programs, under which school districts pay the cost of third-party and district-provided tutoring services for eligible students, experience low participation rates, have limited services available to English language learners and special education students, and are not well-monitored or implemented. The report also says that “even with improvement in such areas…it is unclear how SES might affect academic achievement, because existing research leaves many questions unanswered.”
The report includes four recommendations:
1) Redesign the law so that administrators are better able to fund and successfully administer SES;
2) Commission federally funded evaluations to determine how SES affects student achievement, and whether at-risk students have adequate access to SES;
3) Investigate the feasibility and desirability of reallocating Title I funds from SES programs to existing successful state and local reform efforts.
4) Examine and reconsider NCLB’s apparent tension between high-stakes accountability imposed on schools and more limited measures for holding SES providers accountable for their contributions to student achievement.
Supplemental Educational Services Under NCLB: Emerging Evidence and Policy Issues (May 2007)
CEP ISSUES NCLB IMPLEMENTATION STUDY (5/16/2007)
The Center on Education Policy has issued Educational Architects: Do State Education Agencies Have the Tools Necessary to Implement NCLB?, a study of sate education agency (SEA) implementation of NCLB, based on survey data from all 50 states and in-depth interviews with education officials in 11 states.
The report concludes that mandates imposed on SEAs are more extensive than ever before, and NCLB is adding to their already heavy load; that states with large percentages of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) have reported more difficulty in meeting capacity challenges than other states; that states lack the funding, staff and technology to successfully implement reform efforts mandated by NCLB; and that most states report a lack of sufficient guidance or technical support from the U.S. Department of Education.
The report includes four recommendations:
1) the reauthorized NCLB should establish a grant program for states to rethink the mission and organization of SEAs to make them more effective school improvement leaders;
2) additional federal funding should be provided to SEAs to enable them to effectively implement NCLB;
3) the U.S. Department of Education should review and enhance its efforts to assist SEAs in implementing federal programs; and
4) the reauthorized NCLB should be amended to help states assist schools more effectively, such as by allowing states to provide differentiated levels of technical assistance based on the needs of each individual school.
CEP: Educational Architects: Do State Education Agencies Have the Tools Necessary to Implement NCLB? (May 2007)
NEW SUPERINTENDENT FOR CAMDEN NAMED (5/24/2007)
Last week, Bessie LeFra Young was named superintendent of schools in the Camden school district. Young currently serves as Central Region superintendent in North Philadelphia, and is expected to assume the position in Camden on July 1. She is a veteran of the Philadelphia schools, having served for 35 years in positions ranging from kindergarten teacher to superintendent. The Camden board of education unanimously approved Young’s appointment to the position at a meeting on Thursday, May 17.
Young’s predecessor, superintendent Annette Knox, resigned in June of last year, under allegations of impropriety. Since that time, the Camden district has been under the supervision of two interim superintendents.
Courier-Post: Overseer for District in Camden Selected (5/22/2007)
N.J. SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION IN ABBOTT DISTRICTS (5/25/2007)
The New Jersey Supreme Court has denied, without prejudice, a motion by the Education Law Center that would have required the state legislature to authorize additional funding for school construction in the state’s 31 “special needs” school districts. The Court ruled that the motion was premature, since the 2008 state budget has not yet been adopted, but it also said that ELC may renew its motion if the legislature does not provide sufficient funding to satisfy the school facilities mandate of Abbott v. Burke.
NJ Supreme Court: Abbott v. Burke (order dated 5/24/2007)
ECS ISSUES NOTE ON ADEQUACY STUDIES (5/30/2007)
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has issued a “state note” entitled A Survey of Finance Adequacy Studies. The note explains that adequacy studies, which are used to determine the cost of providing an “adequate education,” can vary from state to state, based on each state’s education laws, regulations and standards, federal requirements such as those in No Child Left Behind, the definition of “adequacy” used in the study, and the methodology employed. It then describes the three most common methodologies used in adequacy studies, the “evidence based” model, the professional judgment model and the successful school districts model.
The note also includes examples of adequacy studies undertaken in 12 states over the last ten years. Each example includes the study’s timeframe, the reason it was undertaken, and a summary of findings, as well as a link to the full study. Of the 12, four states—Arkansas, New York, Ohio and Wyoming—undertook adequacy studies as a result of court cases; four through legislative initiative (Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oregon); and four as a result of initiatives by advocacy organizations (Connecticut, Kentucky, South Carolina and South Dakota). One state’s study (Arkansas) used the evidence-based model; five used the professional judgment model or a variation thereof (Kentucky, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming); four used the successful school districts model (Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio); and two used both the professional judgment and successful schools models (Connecticut and South Dakota). New Jersey is not among the 12 states included in the survey.
ECS: A Survey of Finance Adequacy Studies (5/2007)