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research ’ Category
Hedy N. Chang directs Attendance Works, a national initiative aimed at advancing student success by addressing chronic absence. She co-authored the seminal report, Present, Engaged and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades and has written numerous other articles about student attendance.
In February, Oregon became one of the first states to take a thorough look at its school attendance data, and the results surprised many of us. Nearly a quarter of students missed 10 percent or more of school year, a level of absenteeism that put them at risk academically.
This is true across the state, affecting many schools and districts where daily attendance rates look just fine. The reality is that most schools only track average daily attendance (ADA) but this aggregate figure can mask large numbers of individual students missing so much school that they are at risk academically. (more…)
Adam Davis is a Founder and Principal of DHM Research, an independent, non-partisan public opinion research and consultation firm in Portland, Oregon. With over 30 years of experience in all phases of public opinion research, Adam’s expertise ranges from survey research design to focus group moderating.
As parents and students settle into the new school year, K-12 public education advocates prepare for the new legislative session scheduled to begin only four months from now. A quick overview of Oregonians’ attitudes about K-12 public education may be valuable to these warriors as they gird for battle in Salem. Some of these considerations may not be news, but as I watch those advocating for a better K-12 public education system, I am often left wondering if it wouldn’t help to remind ourselves of some past lessons. Following are a few findings from our focus groups and surveys that may be valuable in developing effective communications with voters and state legislators.
It is not all about money. Remember, a significant number of Oregonians believe the system has enough money. They see the problem as not using the money wisely. Education advocates should talk about how public education is being more efficient at the state and local levels and how educators are using new ideas and methods to increase student achievement (e.g., Chalkboard). If you want to connect with more voters and legislators, this has to be as much a part of your advocacy language as pleas for more money.
K-3 is the sweet spot. In a time of limited resources, more Oregonians every day have to make tough decisions and set priorities. They expect the same from their elected representatives, who need to focus on getting the best return on taxpayer money. For many people, that means investing in the early grades. As one focus group participant put it, “You’ve lost them by the time they get to the middle grades and high school. You need to be sure they’re given a good foundation to succeed in life.” If any aspect of your advocacy represents an opportunity to improve K-3 education, then talk about it. You’ll be connecting with more voters and legislators. (more…)
This article was originally published by the
Statesman Journal on March 14, 2012 and can be found here.
With the controversy surrounding value-added models, including the recent release of teacher rankings in New York, it could be easy to give up on the models altogether as too controversial, unreliable or volatile.
Carol S. Witherell began her career in education teaching primary grades in the Fountain Valley Public Schools in California in the 1970s. She earned her M.A. degree in social ecology and human development from the University of California-Irvine and her Ph.D. degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. She retired from the Graduate School Education Faculty of Lewis & Clark College in 2005, where she chaired the teacher education program for 8 years. Today she is an avid supporter of the arts and a volunteer with the City Club of Portland.
A Series of Four Film-Dialogue Evenings sponsored by City Club of Portland’s Agora Programs Education Committee
This series aims to activate a deeper, sustained educator-student-citizen dialogue about what a good education for the 21st century looks like. The series includes portraits of highly successful schools and classrooms, both in our region and around the world, followed by presentations by a panel of educators, students, and community leaders and dialogue between audience participants and our panelists. Portraits like these can inspire ongoing civic dialogues on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as educators and citizens alike rethink and transform our educational system so that all students can enjoy excellence, engagement, and equity in our schools.
I like to ask my fourth graders what college they are planning to attend. Of course, they think I’m asking them if they are a Duck or a Beaver. I am really serious about this though. Kids and parents need to know that some sort of post high school education is the goal for all Oregon kids.
This economy has taught us all that education is vital. Economists can debate whether current unemployment is cyclical, a downturn that will rebound, or structural, a result of a tipping of economic needs away from low skilled labor to the need for a more educated workforce. Whatever the case, the jobs of the future will require more advanced math skills and the ability to quickly master new skills. We can’t have kids think that ending their education after high school is an option that will lead to future financial security.
Since post secondary education is a necessity, I like to peruse the web in search of what college prep schools are doing. What are charter school expectations? What are elite schools doing for their students? I checked in with the Dalton School (NYC) to see what their fourth graders will be doing. The Dalton School has a $38,000 price tag and 60 staff for approximately 350 students. It may sound unfair but graduates from these schools will be competing with my students to get into top colleges. Their 4th graders have an hour and half of homework a night and an extensive reading list. We should expect our public school kids to have the same. We should also expect families to realize this new reality and do what it takes to support a more vigorous program and to expect their child to attend college.
In looking further I found charter schools in low income areas with graduates in elite colleges. This week the New York Times reported about efforts in Houston public schools to replicate effective charter schools like KIPP and Harlem Children’s Zone where a high percentage of graduates head to college (“Troubled Schools Try Mimicking the Charters” Sept. 6).
I really appreciate these charters for showing us what is possible. It’s too easy to look at impoverished neighborhoods and think that kids there can’t make it at competitive colleges. With concerted effort effective charter schools are cranking out the productive citizens of the future from some of the least productive neighborhoods.
In the article the author cited the 5 common policies of effective charters.
- longer school days and years;
- more rigorous and selective hiring of principals and teachers;
- frequent quizzes whose results determine what needs to be retaught;
- “high-dosage tutoring”;
- and a “no excuses” culture.
The policies that public school teachers like me can control are limited. Without more support staff, high dosage tutoring is out. Without a better funding structure we are severely limited in the amount of instructional time we can give kids. For example, KIPP kids typically get twice as much math instruction as public school kids. Even the Texas schools mimicking the model of KIPP fell short by 300 hours of instructional time (50 6 hr school days).
My colleagues and I are working hard to tailor instruction to meet individual needs through data collection and targeted standards-based instruction. Along with this comes a beefed-up “no excuses” culture.
Teachers will continue to look at research and mimic what works. Meanwhile, we’ll look to the citizens of this state to fill in the other requirements on the list. How will we provide more instructional time? How will we mobilize tutors to target failing students? When will we start showing kids in Oregon that they are important, and give them the tools they need to make college an attainable goal?
Over the last several years, critics of public education in the United States have regularly turned to data provided by the Europe-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through its student assessment initiative, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA). (Two other international assessment programs similar to PISA have also been implemented. Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) is administered to a sample of 4th and 8th graders every 4 years, including 2011. Progress in International Reading (PIRLS) is administered to a sample of 4th graders every five years, including 2011. The methodologies employed in all three assessments are similar, so comments I make regarding PISA generally apply to the other assessment programs as well.)
Every three years, PISA administers a common assessment to a sample of 15-year-old students in participating countries. In the most recent 2009 cycle, PISA assessments were administered in 65 countries/economies. Each assessment surveys student achievement in three domains: (1) reading literacy, (2) mathematical literacy, and (3) science literacy, with one of these being the primary focus. For the 2009 cycle, the focus was reading literacy with questions in this domain comprising about 60 percent of the assessment.
From these assessment data, individual country profiles describing student achievement are prepared along with various reports seeking to compare achievement across participating countries/economies. The comparison reports have been popular within the United States as a basis for criticizing public education and justifying the call for education reform. Based on average test scores for 2009, the United States ranked 17th in reading literacy, 30th in mathematics literacy, and 23rd in science literacy. These “low” rankings must signal a problem, right? As we shall see, these ranking may or may not be correct, and even if they are, more analysis is needed to understand their significance. Simple rank order displays rarely reveal much about the complexities of student achievement.
Marc Tucker, in his recent report, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” made some strident observations about education reform in the United States, and after spending some time with it, I’d like to explore some of his proposals over the next few blog posts.
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to read the entire report, the Chalkboard team offered a summary in their recent Research Update. In short, Tucker is the head of the National Center on Education and the Economy, and crafted this report after a summit of various education ministers from around the globe. Commissioned by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the summit sought to investigate what the “best” nations were doing well in order to learn how to improve our beleaguered education system in the U.S.
This particular document drew some interesting conclusions—in fact, I found myself startled at some of Tucker’s claims. One was the ineffectiveness of charter schools as a means of true reform. Tucker feels that the gains made by charters are too sporadic and, ultimately, these schools are more prone to fail than succeed. I appreciated the insight since two of my children are educated in Portland charter schools.
There is so much education research out there focused on the myriad details that it’s hard to keep track of it all. But the latest study that’s generating buzz—and standing out—in reform circles zooms out and examines education from a big picture, global perspective.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform by Marc S. Tucker is a report that actually stems from the last two chapters of a book that will be published in September by Harvard Education Press. The project began when Education Secretary Arne Duncan asked the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to study the education strategies that other countries have used to outpace us.
American students are now ranked below those in almost 40 developed nations in terms of science, math and reading according to a study by the Programme for International Student Assessment, and this new report shows that the most popular tactics in the US—like smaller class sizes and charter schools—are not making the significant difference that has been hoped for.
The National Center on Education and Economy, a Washington DC think tank, picked up the work and focused on education systems in the highest performing countries—Finland, Singapore, Japan, China (Shanghai), and Canada (Ontario)—to see what we may learn from their successes.
In a blog post a few weeks ago, Liz Hummer wondered if the world uses too much edu-speak, too much jargon. She pointed out that jargon can remove us from what we are really talking about and it can turn people off from becoming part of the conversation.
She was right. Now, more than ever, Oregonians need to be joining the conversation about how we can improve our public education system, not shying away because they don’t have the facts, they can’t fathom the figures, or they aren’t familiar with the terminology.
In fact, many Oregonians aren’t familiar with the jargon of public education and who can blame them? Too many of us think we don’t have the time or the resources to really understand what a state public education budget of $5.7 billion means for our school district, or what a graduation rate of 66% means for the local economy. Even for data junkies, it can be overwhelming to try and find meaningful information. That’s why Chalkboard created the Open Books Project.
The last few months reflect a time of momentous change in public education. Weekly, it seems, headlines tout new developments from across the country. Much of this conversation has morphed into a broader, polarized rhetoric, portrayed with clear winners and losers. Whether it is the publication of VAM data by the LA Times, the exit of Michelle Rhee as chancellor of Washington, DC schools, or the redefining of tenure in Illinois, we sense that a battleground of high stakes change is afoot.
I suspect this positional media frenzy is more symptomatic of national political discourse than an accurate portrayal of the challenging yet rich high stakes conversations taking place in many states. Certainly in Oregon, we have chosen a more thoughtful path as we navigate the forces of reform together.
I was pleased to learn that President Obama specifically cited emerging work in Oregon and a few other states as part of his weekly radio address this past Saturday (watch the full address here). In fact, I believe there is a compelling and admirable story to be told within our state. This is not a headline story based in union bashing, erosion of contracts, or top-down directives from a governor; rather, it is a more subtle, compelling story of collaboration, hard work, and creativity in the midst of extreme economic hardship.