Articles in the Center for Public Education category

School boards need more flexibility with turnaround reform models

School board members who attended NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday were briefed on the latest research and status of the turnaround reform model embedded into many federal and state reform laws and requirements, including federal Race to the Top grants.

“These strategies are in all the major federal programs at this point,” said Katherine Shek, a legislative analyst with NSBA. She outlined the four reform models of the turnaround program, including turnaround (replace principal and at least 50 percent of staff); conversion to a charter school or giving the governance to private management group; closuring the school and sending students to higher performing schools in the district; and transformation, which requires replacing the principal and putting in a number of reforms and supports.

By far the most popular option for school board members and state leaders is transformation, which gives the district the most flexibility in making decisions and changes.

Jim Hull, senior policy analyst of NSBA’s Center for Public Education told the audience about an upcoming research report from CPE that shows that the research on the effectiveness of these turnaround strategies is mixed. Several strategies are clearly meant for urban schools – rural schools don’t have the labor pool to fire half of their teachers and it is difficult for them to recruit new principals.

Hull said, “For federal and state law to be so prescriptive doesn’t match with the research. Flexibility is needed. It should be up to local school officials to decide.

Kathleen Vail|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , |

Facts on vouchers to counter National School Choice Week

As the National School Choice Week begins, the Voucher Strategy Center at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends several resources to counter arguments for vouchers and the privatization of K-12 education.

Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE), recently wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post outlining many of the problems with vouchers and other forms of choice that do not hold private and parochial schools accountable for their students’ learning. In  “School Choice Does Not Mean All Choices are Equal,” Barth  discusses recent research that shows many school options have not lived up to their promises, and instead merely drain resources and funds from each community’s public schools.

Barth also wrote a blog for CPE’s EDifier this week discussing recent allegations that a cybercharter school in Pennsylvania inflated enrollment numbers to gain taxpayer funds.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) is promoting a Twitter hashtag, #Vouchersfail, to share stories where school vouchers have proven problematic.

The AU has also set up a website,, with research debunking propaganda being put forth by voucher proponents.

“No matter their motivation, these organizations share the same goal: shifting as many tax resources as possible from the public school system, which serves 90 percent of America’s schoolchildren, to private academies that play by their own rules and aren’t accountable to the taxpayer. Proponents of ‘School Choice Week’ would rather not talk about the many problems inherent in voucher programs,” the website states.

The Voucher Strategy Center also has resources and articles on the evolving field of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Conferences and Events, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Online learning, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

High school graduation rates rise, but NSBA researcher questions rigor

Public schools got good news this week when the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the nation’s four-year high school graduation rate has surged to 78 percent, the highest it has been since 1974. The federal report also showed increases in the numbers of students for every racial category, particularly Hispanic students.

Allison Gulamhussein, intern at the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, has analyzed the report and notes that, “while we as a nation should certainly take pride in the fact that the year 2010 ushered in a greater percentage of graduates, such celebration shouldn’t eclipse the reality that increasing the number of diplomas without knowing the level of rigor those diplomas represent could be a fool’s errand.”

Read more of the analysis in CPE’s Edifier blog.


Joetta Sack-Min|January 24th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s Center for Public Education featured on Education Talk Radio

The National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE) was featured on Education Talk Radio today. CPE’s Director Patte Barth and CPE’s Senior Policy Analyst Jim Hull were guest on the show discussing recent CPE’s education research. Discussion occurred on two of CPE’s recent reports  “Getting Back to the Top: An International Comparison of College Attainment, Where the U.S. Stands” and  “Time in School: How does the U.S. Compare,” as well as technology in education and school board leadership utilizing educational research.

Listen to the show:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

CPE is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. The Center provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools.

Alexis Rice|January 14th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

School choice doesn’t lead to equal choices, CPE director writes for Huffington Post

Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association, writes about the perils of the school choice movement in a new blog for the Huffington Post. Barth, a leading researcher, takes on claims that more choices lead to a better education for children.

She writes: “Unfortunately, the opportunities choice advocates propose do not bring a guarantee that the choice will be a good one for kids, and it can even be worse. School districts have been experimenting with choices for over 20 years, first in the form of charter schools and vouchers that individuals can take to private schools, and more recently, virtual schools. Clearly, some myth-busting schools of choice have demonstrated that low-income children can absolutely achieve to the highest levels — just as some noteworthy traditional public schools have. But research to date has not produced any evidence that ‘choice and competition’ in itself produces consistently better results.”

With the exception of schools such as KIPP Academies and the Harlem Children’s Zone, many alternative schools have not produced better academic results than the students’ previous schools, Barth notes.

Read the full article in the Huffington Post.


Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Charter Schools, Educational Finance, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA report shows how the U.S. can get back on top in college degrees

Although the U.S. ranks near the top of the world in college degrees, it’s quickly losing ground because young adults in other countries are earning credentials at a higher rate, according to a new analysis.

But the U.S. can secure its standing and bolster the nation’s workforce by increasing the number of graduates with two-year degrees–and the jobs and the need for middle-skilled workers are there, reports the National School Board Association’s Center for Public Education.

“When it comes to attainment of four-year degrees, the U.S. surpasses many of the countries believed to be highly educated and ranks second only to Norway,” said Jim Hull, CPE’s senior policy analyst and author of the report. “We now need to focus on improving the 30 percent graduation rate at our two-year institutions, particularly given the calls for a better educated workforce.”

Hull gives a further analysis of the report, “Getting Back to the Top: An International Comparison of College Attainment,” in a commentary for CPE’s Edifier blog.

The U.S. ranks fifth in the world overall in the college attainment of all adults, but ranked 18th in the number of two-year degrees, Hull’s analysis of 41 countries found. Hull noted in a press conference that while international rankings may not seem to be important, the issue of college attainment is critically important to the health of the nation’s economy.

The U.S. has more older adults with college degrees than other countries. Meanwhile younger adults in a number of other countries are earning college degrees at much greater rates than young Americans, ages 25 to 34, Hull noted. The number of Americans with four-year degrees has remained stable over time, at about one-third of the population, while other countries now see significantly more young adults graduate with four-year degrees.

School board members and administrators can help prepare their students for post-secondary education by providing all students access to rigorous curriculum and the support they need to succeed in high-level, high school courses. They should also invest in well-trained counselors to help students with their after-graduation plans, including finding a post-secondary institution that best matches their goals, and collect data on the post-secondary progress of graduates as an indicator of the quality of the high school preparation they received, CPE reports.

Read the complete report at CPE’s website.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 6th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, High Schools|Tags: , , , |

Report: High-level high school courses and school counseling boost college graduations

Taking high-level math in high school as well as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses can have a dramatic impact on whether a student finishes college, according to a report released today from the National School Boards Association’s  Center for Public Education.

The “persistence rate” for students from above average socioeconomic backgrounds (SES) is 10 percent higher in four-year institutions if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus or math above Algebra II in high school. For low SES students, the effect is even greater: Those students who took higher level math are 22 percent more likely to persist in college. And the impact for both groups is even greater at two-year colleges.

In addition to AP, IB, and math classes, academic advising in college has a significant impact on a student’s propensity to stay in college, the report said.

“But we also believe that academic advising can be a great benefit when it starts earlier,” the report said. “Middle and high schools need enough counselors to monitor student progress so they can make sure all students are taking rigorous courses and have the support they need to be successful in them. Counselors also fill an important role in helping students plan for their futures after high school, including help choosing a post-secondary institution that best matches their goals, and navigating the college application and financial aid processes.”

Researchers project that by 2018, America will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than the labor market demands. But that could be changed by better college outcomes, says Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at the Center.

“If 90 percent of current freshmen continue and earn a credential, we would have an additional 3.8 million graduates by 2020, enough to meet the labor market’s needs,” Hull said. “This study points to clear-cut ways to help more students continue their work toward a degree, and that process begins in high school.”

Hull coauthored the report with lead researcher Kasey Klepfer, an Archer Graduate Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study identifies three main factors that affect postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to graduation, particularly for students who enter high school behind most of their peers and who come from families with low socioeconomic status:

  • Academic advising:  For both four-year and two-year students, talking to an academic advisor in college either “sometimes” or “often” significantly improved their chances to persist. Students in two-year institutions increased their chances of staying on track by as much as 53 percent just by meeting frequently with their academic advisor.
  • High-level mathematics: Consistent with previous studies, the Center’s researchers found the highest level of math in high school can be one of the largest predictors of college success. The analysis found that more affluent students who began high school with above average achievement had a 10 percent better chance of staying at a four-year institution if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus instead of completing math up to Algebra II, while students from low-income families and lesser academic achievements were 22 percent more likely to persist if they had taken high-level math classes. The impact is greatest for students in two-year institutions:  The persistence rates of students who took Pre-Calculus or Calculus in high school increased by 18 percent for the higher wealth, higher performing group and 27 percent for the lower wealth, lower performing students than had they only completed up to Algebra II.
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses:  Taking an AP/IB course had a dramatic effect on students’ chance of persisting even when students fail the end-of-course test. Low achieving and high poverty students who took an AP/IB course were 18 percent more likely to persist in four-year colleges and 30 percent more likely to persist in two-year institutions. The more courses a student took, the higher their persistence rates.
  • Other high school factors also impacted students’ persistence rates in college, including students’ grade point average and the amount of time spent on homework in high school.

The good news is that this study shows actions that school leaders can take to improve their graduates’ chances for success in college,” said Patte Barth, the Center’s director. “Rigorous high school curriculum is important for all students’ future success. And the value of academic advising in college tells us that high schools can get a jump on it by helping their students with their after high school plans.”

Barth added, “Opening these opportunities can have the most impact for students who have traditionally been the least likely to succeed in college — those from low-income families and those who began high school as low achievers.”

The report can be downloaded at the Center’s website:

Also check out the upcoming November issue of the  American School Board Journal where this issued will be featured.

Lawrence Hardy|October 11th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education, Dropout Prevention, High Schools, Mathematics Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

New voucher study doesn’t live up to hype, NSBA says

A new study released today by the Brookings Institute and Harvard University researcher Paul E. Peterson shows that low-income students who participated in a three-year voucher program in New York City in the late 1990s overall fared no better in college enrollments than their peers in public schools. However, the study found that African-American students did attend college at higher rates than those who did not receive vouchers.

Although the study was relatively small and narrowly focused, the authors and voucher proponents are using it to lobby for expanding voucher programs across the country. Peterson and researcher Matthew M. Chingos published an editorial in The Wall Street Journal calling on the Obama administration to support the voucher program for students in Washington D.C. Their claims have been challenged by the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

“The grandiose statements made in the executive summary are not substantiated by the data,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. One undetermined factor, she added, is the level of parental involvement with a child’s education, which research shows makes a significant difference in the child’s academic achievement.

“Clearly the parents who chose this program were dedicated, and parent involvement is key,” Bryant said.

The study examined longitudinal data from the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program, which offered three-year scholarships of up to $1,400 each year to as many as 1,000 low-income families. Those vouchers were primarily used at Catholic schools, and in most cases parents also paid a portion of the tuition. However, 22 percent of the students who were offered a voucher never used it, and most of the students returned to public schools for reasons unknown, some after the first or second year, noted Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

Several of the report’s methodologies are particularly troublesome, he noted:

  • The study neither isolates the impact of private schools nor school choice on students going to college;
  • The study never took into account what happened to those students who left the voucher program to return to the public school;
  • Results do not show that expanding vouchers programs will necessarily result in higher college going rates for low-income students in urban schools, even black students;
  • While the findings about African-American students appear impressive, the actual impact may in fact be minimal due to a large margin of error. An offer of a voucher may only increase a black student’s chances of going to college by as little as .4 percentage points but could be as large as increasing their chances by 13.8 percentage points. A more robust study is needed to more precisely determine the true impact that a voucher offer has on the enrollment of black students in college;
  • The more years a student uses a voucher does not necessarily mean a student is more likely to go on to college.

NSBA opposes publicly-funded vouchers for private schools because such programs abandon public schools, which are required to serve all students regardless of abilities, and eliminate public accountability for those tax dollars. Read more in NSBA’s issue brief.


Joetta Sack-Min|August 23rd, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Reports, School Board News, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , , , |

CPE names “10 Good Things About Public Education”

Can you name 10 good things about public education?

Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, recently wrote about the many successes in public education for American School Board Journal, and she also gave her suggestions for ways schools can improve.

For instance, she notes, fourth-graders have improved their reading skills by six points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over the past decade.

“If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that 10 points on the NAEP scale is approximately one year’s worth of learning,” Barth writes. “More significantly, the gains have largely been from the bottom up, and the achievement gap is narrowing between children of color and their white classmates.”

In high school, more students are taking higher-level courses, and schools are becoming better at addressing the needs of students at risk of dropping out, thus increasing their graduation rates. But there are still some 3,000 high schools that lack the capacity to offer Algebra II, and policymakers and the public must ensure that all students have access to higher-level courses and the supports they need to be prepared for college or the workforce, Barth says.

And polls show that local communities continue to support their local schools even as the public opinion of public education has declined.

The list includes:

1. Community support

2. Mathematics

3. High school graduation rates

4. High-quality prekindergarten

5. High-level high school courses

6. ESEA and IDEA: Monumental laws

7. English language learners

8. Civics

9. Beginning reading

10. A tradition of universal education

Barth’s column also was recently featured in Education Week’sK-12 Parents and the Public” blog.




Joetta Sack-Min|July 17th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, American School Board Journal, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, High Schools, Mathematics Education, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Pennsylvania, NY reports raise concerns about charter and SES funding

Reports have surfaced in recent days that have state policymakers in Pennsylvania and New York taking a harder look at the money going into charter schools and federally funded tutoring programs.

Pennsylvania “could save $365 million each year if it fixed the state’s flawed formula for funding cyber and charter schools,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Those projected savings—which other news accounts suggest are closer to $300 million—are based on a report by state Auditor General Jack Warner, who estimates that Pennsylvania spends an average of $13,400 to educate every charter school student. That figure is about $3,000 more per student than the national average.

More information about the funding and academic impact of cyber schools can be found in NSBA’s Center for Public Education report, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools.”

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association responded to the report with a statement that noted, “Auditor General Jack Wagner’s recent report of charter and cyber charter school funding adds quantifiable numbers to what school board directors across the state have been saying for years–the funding formula is unfair and results in taxpayers spending more than necessary on these schools.”

“Charter and cyber charter funding formulas must be reflective of actual instructional expenses, predictable and based on logic,” PSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that a group of for-profit tutoring companies, who depend on funding under the federal Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, “have been working back-channels in the state Senate and Assembly” to stop state education leaders from shifting SES funds toward other interventions that might prove more useful to students and schools.

This lobbying effort was launched in response to reports finding that the SES program suffers from “bloated budgets, profiteering, and corruption.” According to the Huffington Post, one official discovered a SES provider that “collected $860,000 for tutoring students who never showed up.”

Del Stover|June 21st, 2012|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, School Reform|Tags: , , , |
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