12/24/2014 – What Education Numbers Miss

THIS WEEK: Teachers Starved Of Resources … Today’s Jammed Schools … Lack Of Resources For Common Core … ‘Failing Schools’ Suddenly Not Failing … More Post-Secondary Students Needed


The Education Story The Numbers Don’t Tell

By Jeff Bryant

“As 2013 closed out, the education world was roiled by yet another controversy over the calculation and interpretation of statistical data used to govern teachers and school services … The whole idea that teaching and learning is a pursuit that can be expressed and judged by numbers and rankings … is increasingly an unsettled matter to most Americans. What they see instead more and more looks like a nation turning its back on the well being of students – especially those who are most in need.”
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Needing Pencils, iPads Or Piccolos, Teachers Turn To Crowdsourcing

The Hechinger Report

“According to a 2013 study … teachers spent $1.6 billion of their own money on school and instructional supplies in the 2012-2013 school year. Some districts offer teachers limited reimbursements but even those have been shrinking under budget pressures. That money crunch has led more and more teachers to turn to crowdsourcing websites … Teachers need money for books, musical instruments, art supplies and just about everything else in the classroom … [These] sites do not give cash donations to teachers, but direct them to a network of affiliated vendors from which to purchase the needed materials … Teachers can’t count on money from these sites and that can be a problem.”
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Subtract Teachers, Add Pupils: Math Of Today’s Jammed Schools

The New York Times

“Despite the recovery, many schools face unwieldy class sizes and a lack of specialists to help those students who struggle academically, are learning English as a second language or need extra emotional support … Across the country, public schools employ about 250,000 fewer people than before the recession … Enrollment in public schools, meanwhile, has increased by more than 800,000 students. To maintain prerecession staffing ratios, public school employment should have actually grown by about 132,000 jobs in the past four years, in addition to replacing those that were lost … Districts are making these difficult trade-offs at a time when schools are raising academic standards and business leaders are pushing schools to prepare a work force with better skills … The cutbacks have been particularly pronounced in less affluent school districts.”
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Survey: Principals Prioritize Common Core, But Report Lack of Readiness

Education Week

“America’s school principals overwhelmingly have put the rollout of the Common Core State Standards at the top of their agenda, but the vast majority also say they are not adequately prepared to manage both the budgeting and the overall shift in instruction that is demanded by the new learning goals … More than 80% said the common-core standards have the potential to provide students with deeper learning and more meaningful assessments … Most principals said they had not yet been able to upgrade curriculum materials or technology to support the new standards … More than 70% also reported that they had not yet taken action to integrate the standards into existing services for English-language learners and students with disabilities.”
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Most of NCLB’s ‘Failing’ Schools Were Not Targeted the Following Year

U.S. News And World Report

“Most of the schools that were deemed as failing under the sweeping education law known as No Child Left Behind were no longer identified as such one year later, once several states received waivers that increased their flexibility in developing school accountability systems … On average, two-thirds of the schools identified for improvement under NCLB for the 2011-12 school year were not identified once waivers allowed states to develop accountability systems that ranked schools on a relative basis of school performance, rather than an absolute basis … But because school accountability systems vary so widely from state to state, it’s hard to determine if the ‘right’ schools are making the cut … A large percentage of the schools in the most dire category of NCLB improvement, called ‘restructuring,’ were not identified as schools for improvement the next year.”
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An Upside Down Economy-Education Cycle


“Historical trends suggest that when the economy takes a dive, more people seek improvement in their education as a means to provide them with a competitive edge when the economy returns. As the economy improves, enrollments decline under the theory that plenty of jobs will be available and a higher education may not be as important in a job search … What is noticeably different this time around than during previous recoveries is that the number of jobs requiring a postsecondary credential is higher now than ever before and will continue to be the case … The historical, counter-cyclical relationship between an economic upturn and college enrollments is now upside down … The decline in college enrollments, especially for the over 25 adult learner, is counter-productive for them and the nation.'”
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