Education Opportunity Network

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11/13/2014 – Can We Stop Using Tests To Drive Education Reform?

THIS WEEK: Where Education Won … What $160 Gets You … Importance Of School Absentee Rates … Choice Breeds Segregation … For-Profit College Stocks May Soar

TOP STORY

Can We, “Stop Using Tests To Drive Education Reform?”

By Jeff Bryant

“With the new standards seemingly a potentially beneficial ends being undone by a stifling, narrow-minded means … the best idea may be to ‘stop using tests to try to drive education reform.’ That conclusion is in fact rapidly becoming the center of the debate over education policy across the country… Reports about widespread protests against standardized tests are now routine … Politicians and public officials are starting to hear the growing chorus against testing … We’ve yet to hear a coherent answer to, ‘Can we stop using tests to drive education reform?’ But any legitimate notion of ‘reform’ will have to come up with one.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Ballot Measure Wins Show Strong Support For Pro-Public Education Policies

National Education Association

“Many voters who had the opportunity to vote on specific issues supported policies that are good for students and working families. That held true even in states that elected candidates who are less-friendly or downright hostile toward public education … Missouri voters took a stand on behalf of their educators and public schools when they voted overwhelmingly against … an initiative to change the state constitution to use student performance on high-stakes standardized tests to determine teacher pay; demote or terminate educators; or punish struggling schools … Illinois voters said ‘heck yeah’ when they were asked whether individuals with incomes greater than $1 million should pay more of their fair share in taxes in order to increase support for public schools … Voters in Hawaii rejected a ballot measure that would have used public money on private pre-kindergarten programs. Opponents of the measure strongly believe that the state should indeed expand early learning programs, but by establishing fully funded preschool through the public education system … Washington state passed its class size ballot measure. [Update here]”
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Running A School On $160

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The number couldn’t possibly be right, Marc Gosselin thought: $160. That was the total discretionary budget he was handed as the brand-new principal of Anna Lane Lingelbach Elementary … Gosselin zeroed in on students’ reading levels – just 42% were meeting state standards. He wanted to administer short tests to gauge children’s reading … But there was no money to buy the test – or even paper to copy it … The school has no music class nor playground equipment … Nearly 90% of pupils live in poverty … Still, the school is calm. It runs smoothly, and its staff want to be there. They have been the glue holding Lingelbach together, and classrooms are bright with materials teachers have purchased themselves.”
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Absenteeism: Another Way To Measure School Poverty

The Hechinger Report

“A new report out of New York City suggests that policy makers should identify troubled schools by their absenteeism rates – a relatively easy data point to obtain – and then work to fix the schools by addressing each one’s unique problems, from homelessness and child abuse to teacher turnover and safety … Only 11% of the students at schools with chronic absenteeism passed the city’s math and reading tests in 2012-13. Other schools with similar poverty levels but better attendance rates posted much higher test scores … Schools with chronic absenteeism were likely to be beset by other poverty-related problems, such as male unemployment in the neighborhood and high rates of homelessness.”
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Cliques Thrive in Schools That Give Students More Choices, Study Says

Education Week

“Students are more likely to organize in homogenous and hierarchical cliques in schools that offer them more choices … ‘Schools that offer students more choice – more elective courses, more ways to complete requirements, a bigger range of potential friends, more freedom to select seats in a classroom – are more likely to be rank-ordered, cliquish, and segregated by race, age, gender, and social status,’ … Such tight social arrangements are less likely to form at schools that limit social choices – encouraging students to interact based on school work rather than on the basis of their social lives – and at smaller schools … Choice in schools just makes it easier for students to form those social clusters. So maybe the answer can be found in addressing those social and emotional elements, rather than taking the choices away all together.”
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Banks Urge Investors To Buy For-Profit College Stocks Now That The GOP Is Taking Back Congress

Think Progress

“The Republican resurgence on Capitol Hill makes for-profit education company stock a hot commodity, according to industry analysts who expect a GOP-controlled Congress to loosen oversight of both student lending firms and for-profit colleges … The analyses were based primarily on future legislative predictions … much friendlier to the companies that run for-profit schools … ‘diminished regulatory risk characteristics of a Republican-controlled electorate’ makes student lending company stocks likely to rise in value … Stock in Strayer Education Inc., one of the largest for-profit college companies, was up almost 10% from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning. DeVry’s stock is up nearly 3% and Apollo Education Group’s is up over 2.5% … The companies that operate these high-cost, low-value degree-granting institutions are immensely profitable, spend a billion dollars more on recruiting than on educating annually, and reward their executive officers with massive pay packages. In many cases, these companies get 90 percent of their income from federal student loan dollars.”
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Category: EON Newsletters

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