Articles in the Mayoral Control category

Not much data available on school turnaround models, new CPE report finds

Turnaround strategies for low-performing schools are getting a lot of attention from states and the federal government—which are spending billions of dollars on those efforts. But do these strategies work?

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE)  finds that while there have been some successes there’s not much evidence yet that many of these strategies will work on a larger scale.

The report, “Which Way Up?  What research says about school turnaround strategies,” reviews numerous methods of school improvement to determine which, if any, hold the most promise, but finds that in most cases it’s too early to tell.

“With the significant federal investment and mandated models to ‘turnaround’ low-performing schools, we have limited research to date on the effectiveness of these strategies and little guidance on what actually works,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.  “We know that school improvement funding is extremely important, but it should encourage innovation, instead of mandating unnecessary federal restrictions.”

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has placed a larger focus on turnaround strategies by identifying schools with low performance and sizable achievement gaps. The main federal turnaround program, the School Improvement Grant (SIG), targets schools in the bottom 5 percent nationwide with four models of reform ranging from replacing staff to shutting down a school. These strategies are echoed in the federal Race to the Top grants and so-called Parent Trigger laws being introduced in a handful of states.

One federal study showed that two-thirds of SIG grant recipients posted gains with the infusion of federal funds, but because the report was based on only one year’s data, it was too early to draw conclusions.

“The focus on the nation’s lowest performing schools is vitally important so we can make sure all students have the benefit of a solid public education,” said Patte Barth, CPE’s Director. “In these efforts, education policymakers need to balance the need for evidence-based strategies while tapping the potential for local innovation, especially in cases like turnaround strategies where the data is limited.”

In examining research on the impact of school closure, restart, transformation, and turnaround models, the report concludes:

  • Research is limited. There is some evidence of success, primarily for schools undertaking more dramatic turnaround reforms, but data collected over a longer period of time is needed.
  • The vast majority of SIG schools — about three-quarters are choosing the “transformation model” which provides the most flexibility for local planners.
  • Replacing a majority of teachers—required in the turnaround model—presents challenges for some schools. Rural schools are particularly challenged to find enough teachers to meet the replacement requirements.
  • Rural schools also face difficulties with the restart model since they have limited access to private management organizations. The closure model also may not be feasible if they have no other schools in which to send students. Even in urban areas, a closure model seems to be promising only when students can transfer to schools with higher achievement rates.
  • Replacing a principal may show promise, as some studies indicate principals are second only to teachers in their impact on student learning.  But the strategy is new and again, the data is limited.

NSBA has repeatedly voiced concerns about the U.S. Department of Education’s mandates and overreach, which hinder school officials’ abilities to address their unique local needs. In response to NSBA concerns, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (HR 1386) has been introduced and now has 15 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would ensure that the agency engages local school boards much more to preclude federal requirements that are ineffective and beyond local school district capacity.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 1st, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, Mayoral Control, School Reform, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , |

NBC releases details about 2012 Education Nation events

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Anne L. Bryant and NSBA President C. Ed Massey will participate in the 2012 Education Nation National Summit in New York City next week. The annual event gathers more than 300 representatives from education, government, business, philanthropy and media to discuss issues in the field, and NBC is featuring numerous segments on education on its news broadcasts to coincide with the event.

The event will take place from Sept. 23 to 25 and will be web streamed live at www.educationnation.com. The agenda features a Teacher Town Hall, Student Town Hall, and the premiere of Won’t Back Down with a discussion before the movie. According to NBC News, the event “seeks to create a thoughtful, well-informed dialogue with policymakers, thought-leaders, educators, parents and the public, in pursuit of the shared goal of providing every American with an opportunity to achieve the best education in the world.”

NSBA encourages school board members to participate in conversations about education through NBC’s Facebook page and on Twitter @educationnation and share how school board leadership is making a difference in our public schools.

NBC notes that “Using the wide reach of the NBC News broadcast, and cable, and digital platforms, the 2012 Education Nation Summit will focus on successful examples of innovation in education.  Summit sessions, moderated by top NBC News journalists, and NBC’s on-air programming will highlight a series of case studies from communities across the country, providing tools, and takeaways for participants and viewers.”  Local NBC affiliates also may develop segments on education issues for their local news broadcasts.

On Tuesday morning, there will be “DECISION 2012 at Education Nation” with President Barack Obama sharing his vision for the nation’s education future in a taped interview. GOP presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney will be attending Education Nation and sharing his vision for the nation’s education future as well as answering questions from Education Nation Summit attendees.

Additional interviews and sessions during the summit include:

  • Interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  • Interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • Interview with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro
  • Addressing the skills gap: how stronger skills and higher levels of education can power America’s next great economic surge.
  • Higher education quality and accessibility
  • Blended learning, technology, and charter schools featuring former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida
  • One-on-one conversation with General Colin Powell
  • College/career readiness, business engagement, and turnaround schools with Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association and other panelists
  • Discussion on the education and skills with Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, and Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina
  • Early childhood education and parent engagement
  • Wraparound services
  • Discussion of “solutions-driven unionism,” and what that could mean for the future of education, and the challenges ahead with Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers
  • CEO discussion on how the top business visionaries are addressing our education challenges (college and career readiness, and career academies)

For more information and the agenda, read the press release about Summit and schedule details.

Additionally, NBC is promoting that this year’s Education Nation Summit “will highlight 10 case studies of schools and programs from around the country that have implemented focused solutions in their communities, and have seen demonstrable success as a result. Accompanying each example will be a robust digital toolkit with details on each program’s history, how it works and is funded, and its results. Case studies will be incorporated into the Summit program, as well as featured on-air across NBC News, and available for viewing and download at www.educationnation.com  beginning Monday, Sept. 24.”

 

 

Alexis Rice|September 21st, 2012|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Technology, High Schools, Mayoral Control, Online learning, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , |

Analysis: NBC learned its lesson with this Education Nation

Glenn Cook, American School Board Journal’s editor-in-chief, attended NBC’s Education Nation summit in New York for the second straight year. Here are his observations.

You can’t blame traditional public school advocates if they were filled with dread when NBC announced that Education Nation would return this fall. Last year the network bought into the hype surrounding the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” inexplicably tying the event to a flawed film that exhorted charters as the pancea for public education’s ills.

Thankfully, NBC has learned its lesson. This year’s event took pains to correct past wrongs as it recognized the complexities school leaders face in managing a public system that is open to all.

Starting with a screening of “American Teacher,” a documentary that helped erase some of the “bad teachers” taste left by “Superman,” and ending with an appearance by former President Bill Clinton, Education Nation featured a strong balance of heavy hitters from education, philanthropy, and politics.

You also had a touch of celebrity — basketball player Lebron James, actress Jennifer Garner, and what amounted to a family reunion with former Gov. Jeb Bush and First Lady Laura Bush participating in sessions — but in this case, it fit the overall tone.

The key word here is balance. Last year’s programming was flawed because it exhorted simple antidotes to complex problems. This year, silver bullets were nowhere to be found, but calls for more effective teaching and improvements to early education were.

You can watch many of the sessions online at www.educationnation.com, but here is my list of highlights:

• Start with “Brain Power: Why Early Learning Matters,” a fascinating hour-long session featuring Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, and three university professors. Held on Monday morning, it was the best, most concise presentation I’ve seen yet on why we need to reach children much, much earlier than we do.

• The dramatic rise in poverty rates was a focus throughout, especially in the session “What’s in a Zip Code?” moderated by Brian Williams. Poverty is reality for many people in today’s economy — Clinton was eloquent on this topic in the closing session — and communities must come together to do more.

• Education Secretary Arne Duncan was everywhere this year, participating in interviews with Tom Brokaw and responding to questions during various panels (a nice touch).

• We saw an entertaining back and forth between Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone and Diane Ravitch, author and professor of education at New York University. Their approaches are so different, but both made excellent points. Canada and Sal Khan, another Education Nation speaker, are scheduled to keynote NSBA’s 2012 Annual Conference.

• Teacher and student accountability, as you might expect, was a recurring theme. Michelle Shearer, the current National Teacher of the Year from Maryland’s Urbana High School, said teachers “want to be evaluated on things that really matter.”

“There are all sorts of different ways of looking at student growth,” she said. “Whatever evaluation looks like in the end, it has to be a system of multiple measures, because often what’s most important are those intangibles … that are tough to put on a check list.”

• At the same session, Khaatim El, a former member of the Atlanta school board, addressed the cheating scandal that has plagued the district he served for almost a decade. “We wanted to be the hype,” he said of the allegations, which are based on the state assessments. “We wanted to be the first to get it right so bad.”

But El noted the district also made huge gains in NAEP scores during that time, an achievement untouched but overshadowed by the scandal. “I would be remiss if I didn’t point to the hard work that many educators put in,” he said. “We focused on the basics. Literacy instruction in elementary school. Autonomy for principals. We invested in professional development. Those things were overshadowed by the cheating scandal. And they were good things for kids.”

The setting for Education Nation was not perfect — the big tent in Rockefeller Plaza is a good idea in theory, but the humidity and poor audio were ever-present distractions. And while this year’s session was far more substantive, future years should stop belaboring the problems and focus instead on how to solve them. Panels featuring districts that have been successful at “what works,” with ideas and content that are easily imitated and replicated, would be a valuable start.

Chances are good that will happen. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) had a strong presence in the planning and execution of the meeting. Anne L. Bryant, our executive director, met with NBC officials about the content and answered audience questions in a video Q&A format prior to the event. Mary Broderick, NSBA’s president, was featured in a panel session with the mayors of Albuquerque, Baltimore, and Newark.

“What we’ve heard from the last two days of this conference is that we need to come together around a sense of urgency,” Broderick said during her session, noting that it takes a shared vision between the school board, the mayor’s office, and the community. “The vision needs to be of excellence. If that cohesive message can be carried through our schools … there’s nothing off the table.”

The education reform hype

Blogger, E.D. Kain, has a great commentary today on his Forbes.com blog stating “there are no silver-bullets in education reform.”

Kain notes:

School reformers create a seductive narrative for the media and lawmakers alike. Foundations are lured to support radical changes because they promise radical results. It’s much more glamorous, after all, to put money into shiny new charter schools than to give those dollars to school districts. School choice and accountability sound good on paper, and films like The Lottery and Waiting for Superman pull on our heartstrings and paint pictures of selfish teachers lobbying hard against their own students. These films ignore not only the external factors leading to school failure – including poverty, lack of funding, and other societal issues – they also gloss over the many failed charter schools and choice programs across the country. Advocates of choice and accountability and the modern charter-school movement brush off the wildly varying results found from one charter school to the next. Like traditional public schools, charter schools with a higher percentage of white and Asian students and lower numbers of ESL students and other disadvantaged students fair much better than those with more mixed populations.

Top-down reformers demonize teachers, shut down ‘failing’ schools, and attempt to implement reforms without the input or buy-in of teachers, parents, and the community. This is why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty are no longer serving in Washington, D.C. It’s why Alan Bersin, who publicly fired school administrators and whose tenure saw the highest turnover of teachers and principals in San Diego history, was eventually removed in San Diego. And it’s why Mayor Bloomberg fights so hard to retain total authority over all education decision-making in New York City. Without support from the rank-and-file, school reform is impossible.

American public education is inherently democratic and decentralized, and no amount of dictatorial reform efforts will change that. It’s also about more than simply teaching kids how to take tests in reading and math. We cannot constantly compare American schools to those in other nations – American culture is different from Asian culture or Northern European culture. The accountability movement has shifted the focus away from American ingenuity and creativity in favor of strict testing regimes in an attempt to compete with Japan and Finland. This is the wrong approach. As our nation grows in wealth and technology, American public education should be a reflection of these changes. American schools may have been founded along industrial lines, but accountability efforts only entrench this attitude. If anything, we should be looking for ways to make education more creative and diverse, and to make American students more well-rounded and independent. The current reforms achieve just the opposite.

Let us know what you think?

Alexis Rice|February 28th, 2011|Categories: Comparative Education, Conferences and Events, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Mayoral Control, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers|

Has mayoral control failed?

Diane Ravitch was a guest blogger on The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet today and discussed mayoral control of school districts where she noted the failure in the New York City model. Ravitch stated:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has gone around the nation for the past 18 months singing the praises of mayoral control. But in light of the New York City fiasco, he will have to find a new example when he lectures urban audiences, because the New York model just lost its wheels.”

BoardBuzz highly agrees with Ravitch’s analysis.

Share your thoughts, what do you think about mayoral control of our schools?

Alexis Rice|August 4th, 2010|Categories: Mayoral Control, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Urban Schools|
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