Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekend Edition - Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 13, 2013: Campbell’s law and Rhee-visiting the DC test cheating scandal

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PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 13, 2013:
Campbell’s law and Rhee-visiting the DC test cheating scandal

Campbell's law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Campbell's law is an adage developed by Donald T. Campbell:[1]
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."
The social science principle of Campbell's law is sometimes used to point out the negative consequences of high-stakes testing in U.S. classrooms.
What Campbell also states in this principle is that "achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence. But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways. (Similar biases of course surround the use of objective tests in courses or as entrance examinations.)"[1]

“Mr. Himes quoted U.S. Department of Labor Statistics that said that in calendar year 2011, 10,538 elementary and secondary school jobs of all kinds declined in Pennsylvania, a 3.8 percent cut from the prior year.”
Teacher layoffs help create state budget surplus for state
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 13, 2013 12:21 am
School payrolls statewide have decreased enough that the total payroll projections by the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System were about $1 billion too high in 2011-12.
That means there is about $69 million more than needed in the state Department of Education's budget for reimbursing the PSERS employer contribution rate to school districts, according to PSERS.  It is up to the governor and the Legislature to determine how to spend this money.

State surplus may provide temporary relief for Pa. pension problems
By The Associated Press  Published: Friday, April 12, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Smaller-than-expected payrolls for many school districts have left a surplus of state funds that could help ease Pennsylvania's public pension problems and also undercut legislative support in the first test of Gov. Tom Corbett's pension-reform agenda.
The state reimburses school districts for an average of 56 percent of their payrolls. If payrolls shrink, so do the payments.
Roebuck Discusses Charter Schools
Comcast Newsmakers Published on Apr 12, 2013 YouTube video runtime 4:31
Democratic Chairman of the Pa. House Education Committee James Roebuck discusses the future of charter schools and cyber charter schools in this episode of Comcast Newsmakers.

Teplitz pushing for six-month study on fixing charter school tuition rates
By Emily Previti |   on April 11, 2013 at 8:39 PM
State Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin is pushing for a study he hopes will adjust tuition costs for Pennsylvania’s charter schools so they no longer burden public districts.  Teplitz, who took office in January, will introduce a resolution providing for that within a couple weeks, according to his press secretary Elizabeth Rementer.  “Recent reports by the Department of the Auditor General have exposed the inequities and flaws in tuition rates that local school districts must pay,” Teplitz wrote in a memo circulated Thursday seeking support from his colleagues

Charter school reform discussed on PCN
PCN Video runtime 59:18 4/12/2013
Rep. James Roebuck, who is the Democratic Chair of the House Education Committee, says his bill that addresses Charter and Cyber school funding and oversight, could save school districts $365 million per year. Rep. Roebuck and Lawrence Jones, president of the PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools, discuss this and other proposals to revise Charter School regulations. This show now may be viewed online.

Charter school operators defend performance
Philadelphia Tribune by  Damon C. Williams  Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:37
While State Representative James Roebuck’s recent report and legislation is aimed at reforming the state’s charter school system - especially in light of several reports that have cast a pall of suspicion on numerous charter school operators – there are operators who view Roebuck’s legislation as an attack on properly run and executed alternative education programs.
Roebuck’s report and legislation, introduced last month, calls for a withdrawal of state funds from the charter school system, pointing to the obstacles and fiscal mismanagement of dozens of charter schools throughout the state.

Special Education Funding Reform Bill Sent to Governor
PA Senate GOP Press Release April 10, 2013
A measure that will provide long overdue reform to Pennsylvania's special education funding formula received final legislative approval on Tuesday (April 9) and is headed to the governor for his signature and enactment into law, according to Representative Bernie O'Neill (R-Bucks) and Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh).  House Bill 2, introduced by Representative O'Neill, will create a 15-member panel to allocate any new state special education funding in a manner that recognizes the actual number of physically- and mentally-challenged students in a school and the various levels of their need for services.
The legislation does not establish a new funding formula and it does not reduce the current level of special education funding received by local school districts.

David Mekeel: Booze for schools OK with Corbett
Reading Eagle April 12, 2013
Gov. Tom Corbett cares a lot about public education.  How do I know?  Well, he told me himself. And why would he lie about something like that?
The governor visited Berks County recently and I got the pleasure of covering his press conference on the proposed sale of the state's liquor store system, which he plans to use to fund grants for public education.  The grants - in the governor's estimation totaling about $1 billion - would fund things like science and engineering programs, school safety initiatives and making sure kids are learning on grade level by third grade.
Sounds like some pretty worthwhile endeavors.
But with the sale far from assured and the current lack of any guarantee that the money would go to education, I started wondering exactly what the governor's definition of important is.
So I asked him how he would fund them if the liquor bill doesn't pass.
Turns out, he won't.

WaPo Ranks PA Guv Race 5th in the Nation, Up from 6th

The official entrance of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz onto the 2014 gubernatorial stage was enough for the Washington Post to name Pennsylvania the fifth most likely state for a party switch.  The Post’s blog The Fix upgraded Pa. from its previous rank at number 6, assigned March 22.

In Philly: The Coalition for Effective Teaching
The Coalition for Effective Teaching is a broad coalition of youth-focused, non-profit organizations calling on both the School District of Philadelphia and the teachers’ union to support measures to bolster more effective teaching in Philadelphia’s public school classrooms. Our suggested reforms include basing employment decisions on teachers’ track record in the classroom; enabling all principals to make hiring decisions based on the needs of students in that school; ending years of service as a basis for retaining, transferring or assigning teachers; and paying more to teachers when they earn degrees or certifications that lead to documented gains in student achievement.

What about Women?
Yinzercation Blog April 12, 2013
We just wrapped up women’s history month in March. You might not think there is much connection to public education, but I spent a good portion of the month giving talks on our grassroots movement. I spoke at a women’s history conference at Sarah Lawrence College in New York; gave the keynote for a women’s history month symposium at Bowling Green State University in Ohio; and participated in a panel on our state budget sponsored by the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest PA. So what was I talking about?

“Teaching requires a professional model, like we have in medicine, law, engineering, accounting, architecture and many other fields. In these professions, consistency of quality is created less by holding individual practitioners accountable and more by building a body of knowledge, carefully training people in that knowledge, requiring them to show expertise before they become licensed, and then using their professions’ standards to guide their work.”
Teachers: Will We Ever Learn?
New York Times OP-ED By JAL MEHTA Published: April 12, 2013 53 Comments
Jal Mehta, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is theauthor of the forthcoming book “The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling.”
IN April 1983, a federal commission warned in a famous report, “A Nation at Risk,” that American education was a “rising tide of mediocrity.” The alarm it sounded about declining competitiveness touched off a tidal wave of reforms: state standards, charter schools, alternative teacher-certification programs, more money, more test-based “accountability” and, since 2001, two big federal programs, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
But while there have been pockets of improvement, particularly among children in elementary school, America’s overall performance in K-12 education remains stubbornly mediocre.

Academic Gains in NYC, D.C., and Chicago Overstated, Report Contends
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on April 11, 2013 5:50 PM
The school improvement strategies highly touted by leaders such as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, have produced overwhelmingly disappointing results for the poor and minority children in Chicago, New York, and the District of Columbia, a forthcoming report written by a national group that favors a more holistic approach to improving public schooling, contends.
Each of those leaders—including Duncan, who was the head of the Chicago school system before he was appointed education secretary by President Barack Obama—have exaggerated the success stemming from policies such as using test scores in teacher evaluations, opening more charter schools, and shutting down failing schools, the report argues.
And at the same time, the report suggests that these same leaders have largely ignored the positive benefits of other strategies used to counterbalance the effects of poverty on children in their cities, such as early childhood services, extended learning opportunities, and smaller schools.

Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality
Executive Summary By Elaine Weiss and Don Long
The impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and
increased charter-school access on student outcomes in Chicago,
New York City, and Washington, D.C.

“No one wanted to get at the truth in Washington DC
MSNBC All In with Chris Hayes video runtime 7:58
Memo warns of widespread cheating in DC; interview with John Merrow of PBS

“A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes' classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.
Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That's more than half of D.C. schools.”
When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?
By Jack Gillum and Marisol Bello, USA TODAY Updated 3/30/2011 12:17:10 AM |
WASHINGTON — In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its "shining stars."  Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes' students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.
Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009.  Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes' staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.

Why not subpoena everyone in D.C. cheating scandal — Rhee included?
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm
Several investigations into suspicions of widespread cheating by educators in D.C. schools on student standardized tests during Michelle Rhee’s tenure as chancellor turned up precious little, but a newly released memo (see below) by a data analyst raises questions that warrant a  new probe — this time by investigators with subpoena powers.

Michelle Rhee's Terrible Awful Day
Esquire By Charles P. Pierce April 12, 2013
Well, this may just be enough to make Charlie Rose cry.
District of Columbia Public Schools officials have long maintained that a 2011 test-cheating scandal that generated two government probes was limited to one elementary school. But a newly uncovered confidential memo warns as far back as January 2009 that educator cheating on 2008 standardized tests could have been widespread, with 191 teachers in 70 schools "implicated in possible testing infractions." The 2009 memo was written by an outside analyst, Fay "Sandy" Sanford, who had been invited by then-chancellor Michelle Rhee to examine students' irregular math and reading score gains. It was sent to Rhee's top deputy for accountability.
If I'm that "top deputy," I'm finding me a lawyer right quick, and I'm staying away from the starboard rail, because the phrase "thrown overboard" suddenly has meaning in my life.

2013 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania
A Call for Equitable and Adequate Funding for Pennsylvania's Schools
Media Area Branch NAACP
Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00 am2:30 pm (8:30 am registration)
Marcus Foster Student Union 2nd floor, Cheyney University of PA, Delaware County Campus

Obama Administration Budget Makes Major Investment in Early Learning
US Department of Education Homeroom Blog Posted on April 10, 2013 by Jonathan Schorr
Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in school. Yet the United States ranks 28th in the world for the enrollment of 4-year-olds in early learning, and 25th in public investment in preschool. Only 3 in 10 children attend a quality preschool program. Doing better is more than just a moral and educational imperative; it’s smart government: a public dollar spent on high-quality preschool returns $7 through increased productivity and savings on public assistance and criminal justice. From a growing number of voices, including from the recently concluded work of the Equity and Excellence Commission, the call has been clear to expand quality early learning in the United States.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

Network for Public Education
Webinar: How to Organize a Grassroots Group; Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 pm EDT
Many of those who have joined our network want to get involved in grassroots work to change the direction of education in our communities. We are now planning a series of web forums to share concrete ways to do just that. The first will focus on how to organize grassroots groups.
Phyllis Bush and members of the North East Indiana Friends of Public Education will share their experiences in getting organized. Formed just two years ago, this group helped elect teacher Glenda Ritz as state superintendent of education.
The webinar will take place on Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 pm Eastern time, 11:30 am Pacific time. You can register here. You will be emailed a link to the webinar a day or two before the event.

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