Education Reform’s Very Bad, God-Awful Week

THIS WEEK: Now Who’s Making Excuses … Capping Tests Won’t Help … School-To-Prison Pipeline … Online Charters Stink … Deaths From High School Football


Education Reform’s Very Bad, God-Awful Week

By Jeff Bryant

“Because of all the big money behind current education policies, it’s difficult to see any real break in the status quo, but anyone who believes that cracking down harder on neighborhood schools while pushing for privately operated charters are the necessary “reforms” our education system needs has to admit this past week was a huge downer … The big take-away is that education reform has never been as much about getting policy right as it has been about getting the politics right. So any work to improve education in the policy shop will be for naught if we don’t match or exceed that level of effort on the political front.”
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NAEPscuses: Making Sense Of Excuse-Making From The No-Excuses Contingent

National Education Policy Center

NEPC Director Kevin Welner and Managing Director William Mathis write, “Lower grades on the Nation’s Report Card are … bad news for those who have been vigorously advocating for ‘no excuses’ approaches – standards-based testing and accountability policies like No Child Left Behind … Promises of education’s test-driven reformers over the past couple decades have been unfulfilled … It has distracted policymakers’ attention away from the extensive research showing … achievement is caused by opportunities to learn … They assured us that success was a simple matter of adults looking beyond crumbling buildings and looking away from the real-life challenges of living with racism or poverty. As a substitute, we were told to look toward a ‘no excuses’ expectation for all children … Any benefits of test-based accountability policies are at best very small, and any meager benefits teased out are more than counterbalanced by negative unintended consequences.”
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Why Obama’s New Plan To Cap Standardized Testing Won’t Work

The Washington Post

Education journalist Valerie Strauss writes on her blog, “Solutions offered by the [Obama] administration – apparently to calm an anti-testing rebellion around the country – don’t much move the needle. They won’t cut into testing time and test prep all that much, if at all, and they won’t eliminate what is arguably a bigger problem: the high stakes associated with the exams … The Testing Action Plan does not, incidentally, recommend a specific limit on test prep time … The Testing Action Plan also does not call for the elimination of using standardized test scores to evaluate educators … For years we’ve heard teachers complain that test scores don’t come in a timely manner for them to use the scores to help individual students … The testing culture is entrenched in our schools and that those who profit both financially and academically from the tests won’t let it go easily.”
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The School-To-Prison Pipeline, Explained


“Juvenile crime rates are plummeting … But school discipline policies are moving in the opposite direction: out-of-school suspensions have increased about 10% since 2000. They have more than doubled since the 1970s … Black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students … Administrators started relying more heavily on actual police … About 92,000 students were arrested in school during the 2011-2012 school year … And most of those are low-level violations… When a school allows a School Resource Officer to arrest a student … they’re turning that student over to the juvenile justice system. That makes it that much easier for a student to get a juvenile record … Punishment for a second offense is likely to be much harsher … [Some] schools are exploring restorative justice programs, which focus on forming relationships between teachers, students, and administrators and giving students an opportunity to resolve problems by talking about them.”
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Cyber Charters Have ‘Overwhelming Negative Impact,’ CREDO Study Finds

Education Week

“Students who take classes over the Internet through online charter schools make dramatically less academic progress than their counterparts in traditional schools … Gains that online charter students saw in math were so limited, it was ‘literally as though the student did not go to school for the entire year’ … Such schools enroll about 200,000 full-time students across 26 states … More than two-thirds of online charter schools had weaker overall academic growth than similar brick-and-mortar schools. In math, 88% of online charters had weaker academic growth than their comparison schools … Full-time online charter schools now enroll about 8% of charter students nationwide.”
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We Had No Idea This Many Kids Have Died Playing High School Football This Year

Mother Jones

“Since the start of the high school football season, five high school football players have died following on-field injuries, matching both last year’s total and the average number of football-related deaths since the late 1990s … Between 2005 and 2014, another 92 high school football players died indirectly from the sport, with causes ranging from heart-related issues to heat stroke and water intoxication … Amid lingering unease over the long-term effects of concussions, some schools have considered getting rid of football altogether … Notably, only 37% of public high schools had access to a full-time athletic trainer … Historically, compared to other high school sports, football has accounted for a large majority of catastrophic injuries.”
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