Articles tagged with Jim Hull

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: Charter Schools, Center for Public Education, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, FRN Conference 2013|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: High Schools, Center for Public Education, Educational Research, Dropout Prevention, 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education Update|Tags: , , , |

Avoiding bad charter school policies

Charter school laws vary from state to state—with some more flawed than others—but NSBA can help school boards by asking Congress to avoid legislation that encourages states to adopt more bad policies.

So NSBA is arguing against legislation that might encourage states to lift their caps on charter schools or expand the entities that can authorize new charter schools, said NSBA legislative analyst Katherine Shek, who spoke Monday on a panel about charter schools at NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference.

That doesn’t mean that NSBA opposes charter schools as a matter of policy, she added. Instead, NSBA’s message to Congress is that the school board should be the sole authorizing body for charter schools, charter funding should not be at the expense of the traditional community schools, and charter schools should be held to the same accountability standards as other schools.

This message is important to present because some members of Congress don’t fully understand the influence of bad policy—or how they can inadvertently encourage such policy at the state level, Shek said.

In its Race to the Top grant program, for example, a number of states lifted their caps on charters to improve their chances of winning grant money—“basically encouraging states to have a more charter-friendly policy without considering other factors,” she said.

What’s more, as it works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the House’s latest legislative proposal would give federal grant priority to states that supported multiple charter authorizers.

“So we’re having a conversation with members of Congress … there has been some evidence that multiple authorizers [in states] were associated with weaker student performance.”

Local school boards can help their advocacy efforts regarding charter schools by pointing out the fallacy of many myths that are circulated during legislative deliberations, said fellow panelist Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

There is a misperception that school boards oppose charter schools and are quick to deny charter applications, he said. That’s not true. In fact, he added, the data reveals that school boards are not adverse to approving new charters—and they take their duties very seriously.

“They spend a lot of time and energy being authorizers,” Hull said.

Nor are all school boards guilty of claims that they impede charter school organizers in acquiring adequate facilities for their schools, he said. Many state laws require school district assistance, and data indicates that it’s very common for school boards to provide charter schools with district facilities or financial support for acquiring facilities.

“There is no evidence that districts are an impediment to the expansion of charter schools.”

Finally, panelist David Stone, a board member in Baltimore, Md., shared his school district’s experience with charters.

His school board has embraced charters as one of many strategies for providing improved services to students—and many district-run schools now mirror some of the independent traits of charters.

“We strongly believe resources should be in the schools, with schools having autonomy and decision-making over its resources … and our central office is there to provide guidance and support and oversight,” he said. “In fact, we try to make every school [like] a charter school.”

But, to the clear envy of the audience, he acknowledged his school system has a distinct advantage over many school boards: Under Maryland law, the school board is the sole authorizing body of charters.

Del Stover|February 6th, 2012|Categories: Charter Schools, Federal Programs, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Legislative advocacy, FRN Conference 2012|Tags: , , |

What makes teachers highly qualified?

Research has consistently shown that an effective teacher has the greatest single impact on student achievement inside a school. But how to determine what an effective teacher is and even what impact an effective principal has on his or her faculty has been less clear. The good news is these questions are being increasingly addressed in federal and local policy and practice, and was the focus of a Monday morning session at the Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference.

Over the last decade, what most people have considered a highly qualified teacher is someone who possesses strong credentials, is highly motivated and passionate about teaching, and cares about their students, said Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

But that view has shifted as research and proposed federal legislation call for more rigor and quantitative data to measure teacher effectiveness. The House, for instance, has introduced a bill that would eliminate the provision under the No Child Left Behind Act that identifies teachers with bachelor’s degrees, state certifications, and subject matter knowledge as highly qualified, in favor of programs to develop teacher evaluation systems that would presumably rely on student achievement data like test scores to demonstrate teacher effectiveness.

“It’s going from quality to effectiveness and looking at the impact teachers have on students,” Hull said.

The problem is most states haven’t yet developed systems to quantitatively identify what an effective teacher looks like. Many of the original indicators, such as experience, teaching training, and cognitive skills, still have relevance, Hull said. But research has shown it’s the combination of these factors that is most likely to lead to teaching effectiveness and not any one in isolation. Research literature, for instance, is pretty clear that an advanced degree, in and of itself, does improve teacher efficacy — especially if the degree is not related to the subject matter taught.

“The most common advanced degree among teachers is in school administration … but there is no evidence that it improves their teaching or the performance of students,” Hull said.

And while teachers have been proven to have a tremendous impact on student success, research is just emerging that shows principals also play an important role.

“Researchers and policy makers have only recently begun to focus on [principals] and have found principals are second only to teachers in having an impact in school,” Hull said. “So what impact do principals have on student achievement? Quite a bit.”

But that impact varies between schools, with evidence suggesting that principals have the greatest impact in the most challenging schools.

“Unfortunately what we see is principal turnover at these challenging schools is twice as high then in less challenging schools,” Hull said. “We really need to find a way to keep our best principals in our most challenging schools.”

Naomi Dillon|February 6th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Federal Programs, Data Driven Decision Making, Legislative advocacy, FRN Conference 2012|Tags: , , |
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