Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rand Paul at Christian Home Schoolers Conference in Louisville

Page One Kentucky posted video of Rand Paul's recent appearance at the Christian Home Schoolers Conference in Louisville.

Part 1

Part 2

Latest Edujobs Draft Has $10 Billion To Prevent Layoffs

This from Politics K-12:

House Democratic leaders are circulating a draft of a scaled-down version of the edujobs bill that would include $10 billion to prevent teacher layoffs.

For those keeping score at home, the $10 billion would be a significant decrease from the $23 billion that Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, initially sought to stave off staff reductions. Conservative Democrats balked at the
$23 billion pricetag and the fact that the bill would add to the deficit.

This time around, there's a lot less money, and the spending would be offset by about $12 billion in reductions to other programs, including an $800 million cut in funding for new discretionary programs in the U.S. Department of Education....

Money from the Education Jobs Fund could not be used for equipment, utilities, renovation, or transportation. And the draft bars states from using any of the money for "Rainy-Day Funds" or to pay off debt.

The money would be attached to an emergency spending bill financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That vehicle could complicate matters, since many progressive Democrats would like to vote against war funding.

The draft also includes $4.95 billion to help shore up the Pell Grant program, which helps low-income students pay for college. That's not quite enough to make up the gap in the program, but it will help, leaving a shortfall of about $717 million, advocates say. The Pell shortfall has ramifications for key K-12 programs, such as Title I and special education, because they are financed under the same legislation. If there needs to be additional funding for Pell grants, that might mean less money for those programs...

Congressional impasse could hit Kentuckians hard

This from the Enquirer:

Gov. Steve Beshear warned Monday that more than 8,000 Kentuckians will stop receiving jobless benefits unless Congress resolves an impasse that is holding up an additional round of federal funding to financially strapped states.

Kentucky lawmakers had counted on additional federal funds to help pay for the rising cost of jobless aid and the Medicaid program when they crafted a two-year budget earlier this year.

Those funds were blocked last week by a Senate Republican filibuster, leaving Kentucky facing a $238 million budget gap.

The legislation, which would have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, included dozens of tax breaks sought by business lobbyists and tax increases on domestically produced oil and on investment fund managers.

"I will continue to aggressively lobby Kentucky's congressional delegation to make sure they understand the critical need the commonwealth has for both the Medicaid extension and unemployment assistance extension," Beshear said in a statement.

The Democratic governor said Congress needs to understand the "critical need" Kentucky has for the additional federal assistance.

Beshear brokered a compromise between the Kentucky House and Senate last month, getting a $17 billion budget enacted, preventing massive layoffs of state workers that could have included police. Without passage of that budget, Beshear had warned that all nonessential government services would have had to shut down beginning July 1.

"The Senate's failure to extend unemployment benefits will mean nearly 8,700 Kentuckians will stop receiving assistance," Beshear said. "Right now, nearly 140,000 Kentuckians are receiving unemployment aid - money that helps families keep roofs over their heads and food on the table as they try to find work. The failure to pass the federal extension means thousands of Kentucky families will continue to struggle in this recession."...

From the Nation's Cartoonists

From Stuart Carlson at Slate:
From Nick Anderson:
From Drew Sheneman:
From Mike Thompson:
From Drew Sheneman:
From Chuck Asay:
From Bruce Beattie:
From Chris Britt:
And from the New Yorker:

The never-ending shell game of the left behind.

Over at Schools Matter Jim Horn reports what he learned from the new study of KIPP charter schools. It's kinda the same as what we know about the worst traditional public schools. The poorest public school students get passed around. The poorest charter schools students get tossed.

Since KIPP’s high test scores have been acknowledged even by its harshest critics, Horn wonders what the study tells us about the schools that didn't make the headlines.

We find out that KIPP schools have higher levels of grade repetition, i.e., failures, than the public schools. In the 22 fifth grade cohorts, for instance, the average failure rated was 9.5 percent, ranging from as low as 2% and as high as 18%. In public schools, repeaters in 5th grade ranged from 0% to 3%, with an average of 1.7 percent. In 6th grade KIPPs, these numbers were slightly lower but still much higher than their public counterparts.

We find out that KIPPs are more segregated than demographically matched public schools, ranging from 5 to 50 percent more segregated. Twenty of 22 of the KIPPs were significantly more segregated (pp. 2-3).

We find out that 12 of 22 schools had lower, significantly lower percentages of special education students, with only one significantly higher.

We find out that 13 of 17 schools had significantly lower percentages of English language learners, and only two with higher percentages (pp. 12-13)

The folks at Education in the Public Interest reported problems with the study's methodology.

...A key finding of the study is that attrition at KIPP schools is not much different from attrition at comparable conventional public schools. This finding is important because past research about KIPP suggests that selective attrition - struggling students disproportionately leaving, with more successful students staying and then scoring well on tests - may give KIPP a substantial boost.

However, an initial analysis of the report by Professor Gary Miron of Western Michigan University concludes that this initial study report misrepresents the attrition data. According to Miron, "While it may be true that attrition rates for KIPP schools and surrounding districts are similar, there is a big difference: KIPP does not generally fill empty places with the weaker students who are moving from school to school. Traditional public schools must receive all students who wish to attend, so the lower-performing students leaving KIPP schools receive a place in those schools."

In contrast, Miron explains, "The lower performing, transient students coming from traditional public schools are not given a place in KIPP, since those schools generally only take students in during the initial intake grade, whether this be 5th or 6th

The KIPP study's description of attrition only considers half the equation, when comparing KIPP schools to matched traditional public schools...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Road Trip

Health and Retirement Growth as Share of State P-12 Spending Growth

This from Prich:

Although, in fairness, the budget could have been worse, it's still bad news for Kentucky education. One big reason; the huge and growing amount of money being eaten up by employee benefits vs. all other funding for education.

We asked our consultant Susan Weston to conduct a long-term review of those two funding areas, and this chart is the shocking result of her work.

As the graphic shows, inflation-adjusted spending on health insurance and retirement benefits for P-12 employees has grown by $620 million over the past 20 years. Spending for all other P-12 needs has grown by $22 million. That's 97 percent vs. 3 percent - making a clear case for the critical need to bring spending on benefits under control.

SOURCE: Prichard Committee Email

New statewide education action team being organized

First meeting set next month in Louisville

This from KSBA:

The Council for Better Education plans to convene leaders of K-12 school groups next month with a goal of creating a new statewide advocacy group to share common information on school funding issues.

The council, comprising 168 districts focused on school financial matters, will host an initial discussion on the formation of the Kentucky Education Action Team July 23 in Louisville, at the conclusion of the annual conference of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

CBE President Tom Shelton, superintendent of the Daviess County Schools, announced plans for the new advocacy group’s formation Tuesday in Bowling Green during the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents summer conference.

“The idea is based on the work that a large number of districts started with the Northern Kentucky Education Action Team,” Shelton said. “Our hope is to work toward common goals and discussions about funding and fund-related issues for education all across the state.”

The northern Kentucky group, made up mostly of superintendents, school board members and other education advocates in that region, has lobbied state and legislative leaders on school finance issues for the past two years. A similar group has been formed in northwest Kentucky and others are under discussion in the Elizabethtown, Lexington and Owensboro areas.

“It is our hope to have the group function out of Frankfort, working with regional groups throughout the state, to improve communications and to keep our constituents informed and working toward the same goals,” Shelton said...

Holliday Reflects on Year 1

This from Terry Holliday - the Commish:

As June comes to a close, the first school year on the job is also coming to a close. During May and June of 2009, I was engaged in the interview process for the Commissioner of Education post.

During the interview process, I talked to a number of superintendents and other stakeholders in Kentucky. I heard a lot of pride in the accomplishments of schools and school districts. I also heard about the exciting challenges ahead with the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1).

As I asked questions about priorities for the commissioner, there were two things that surfaced – improve communication and help build district capacity of school districts to implement SB 1 and improve student learning.

Early in my tenure, KDE worked to implement specific customer satisfaction requirements for communication. These requirements include a response time of 24 hours or less, an accurate response and a professional attitude...

I also met with each regional education cooperative at least twice this year. (KDE liaisons attend every cooperative meeting.) I have visited more than 60 school districts and more than 90 schools to hear firsthand about the challenges facing educators. I average at least three speeches or meetings with stakeholder groups every week to focus on collaboration and improvement. Advisory councils for school boards, parents, superintendents, principals, teachers, closing achievement gaps, special education, gifted and talented, and accountability are meeting on a regular basis to communicate with and inform decisions of KDE and the Kentucky Board of Education. Of course, we have also implemented Monday and Friday consolidated e-mails, this weekly blog, Twitter blasts and Facebook accounts to help improve communication.

The other area for KDE was to implement policies and procedures to build district capacity. In our work with deployment of SB 1 around the Common Core Standards in language arts and mathematics, that is exactly the approach we are using. We are building capacity of higher education institutions, school board members, school superintendents, building administrators, central office instructional leaders and teacher leaders. We also are working closely with the Prichard Committee to create a comprehensive communication plan for parents and the business community. We have had a number of other states and national organizations looking at our deployment model for the Common Core Standards for possible replication. This speaks well to the great KDE team and education partners we have in Kentucky...

While these are difficult economic times, we must continue to improve all levels of education through improved communication and collaboration. I am honored to be working with great people all across Kentucky who are focused on helping all children succeed.

Paul courts Christian home schoolers in Kentucky

...there are things that you can say in the church
that we think are sinful,
and that should be something we can say...
--- Rand Paul

What things?

This from the Herald-Leader:

Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul told a group of Christian home schoolers in Kentucky on Friday that he favors a separation of church and state, saying allowing the government into religious institutions "scares" him.

The tea party favorite also voiced his opposition to government faith-based initiatives that have been used to funnel federal and state funds into religious organizations.

"The faith-based initiative was getting government involved in churches basically, and that scares me a little bit, because there are things that you can say in the church that we think are sinful, and that should be something we can say," the Bowling Green eye surgeon told about 300 people in the sanctuary of Valley View Church in suburban Louisville. "But the second this church starts taking government money, then they're going to say you can't say these things are sinful."

Paul, a Presbyterian layman, campaigned at a Christian Home Educators of Kentucky convention where he was peppered with questions about his religious beliefs, brushing aside one about the age of the earth that he later described as ridiculous.

"I'm not running for minister," Paul said later. "I'm more than willing to stand up and say I'm a Christian, but I don't think I have to go into every detail of what my religious beliefs are. If I were going to be the minister of their church, they'd have a right to ask me that."

Andrew Willis of Elizabethtown, who teaches his four children at home, said he hoped Paul's answer would jibe with his own belief that the earth is about 6,000 years old.

"I'm not at all surprised that he didn't want to answer that question," Willis said shortly after posing it. "I know that is hugely controversial."...

Holliday expects more bad fiscal news ahead for schools, but Read to Achieve funding still coming

Meets with Local School Board Member Advisory Council

This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday knows education funding cuts could be on the horizon, but he wants to assure district leaders that money for one significant instructional program remains in place.

Addressing his Local School Board Member Advisory Council Friday in Frankfort, Holliday pointed to multiple uncertainties for school funding in the coming months.

“We’re expecting to hear next week from the governor our budget reductions in state agency funds for this year,” the commissioner said. “The governor is looking at $120 million to $130 million this year and $160 million next year.

“I’ve alerted all of your superintendents not to expect textbook money,” he said. “We’re down to $650,000 or about $1 a child. That will be our first place (to cut), because what can you do with a dollar a child?”

“We’ve always had a little cushion in SEEK. It was $45 million this year (but) I don’t think there’s going to be a cushion next year,” Holliday said.

“This budget is problematic at a time when we have less money, less resources and more bad news to come,” he said. “If anything next year, I’ll bet there’s going to be a shortfall in SEEK. So you are wise to hold onto your fund balances.”...

One issue Holliday hopes to clear up during that briefing is confusion over reimbursement for the Reach to Achieve literacy initiative utilized by many districts. Participating districts get 65 percent of eligible expenses reimbursed by the state, and must pick up the remaining 35 percent...

Quick Hits

Why more students should be attending summer school: Summer learning loss is a key reason that disadvantaged students lag behind their more affluent peers, according to a Johns Hopkins University researcher. Washington Post education columnist and blogger Jay Mathews writes that summer school is an opportunity for those students to keep up, yet many do not attend because of long-held negative attitudes toward summer classes. In Washington, D.C., and other urban districts, only about 20% of students will attend summer school, and Mathews suggests making summer learning mandatory. (The Washington Post)

N.J. schools to require students to learn about personal finance: Eight New Jersey school districts are launching a pilot program this fall to teach high-school students about investing, credit cards and other aspects of personal finance. A course in financial literacy will be among the state's graduation requirement for students entering high school this fall, making New Jersey one of 13 states that now require such a course -- up from just seven in 2007. "This really came out of the financial collapse in the country," one district curriculum official said. (The Star-Ledger)

More schools are choosing to recognize multiple valedictorians: Some suburban high schools nationwide are changing their policies for recognizing top students, naming multiple valedictorians instead of singling out just one. Some educators and administrators say the trend allows schools to more equitably honor students, whose high grades are often separated by small margins. Others say the change is an example of "honor inflation" and does not prepare students for competition in college and career. (The New York Times)

5,000 education supporters demand better funding of schools in Mich: Reduced state aid and declining student enrollment have led to layoffs and program cuts at many Michigan districts. However, for at least the next several months, schools appear safe from further cuts because of better-than-expected revenue coming into the school aid fund. On the sunny, breezy summer day, attendees - many wearing red shirts and MEA stickers - carried signs that read, "Invest in Education" and "Stop the Attacks." (Lansing State Journal)

Single-gender schools: Good or bad for education?: As educators study ways to improve achievement among the country's male students, there is renewed interest in separating students by gender. However, some critics say that such a plan would harm education, saying it reminds them of a new type of segregation or the days when female students had access to sub-par schools. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes single-gender schools, saying they reinforce gender stereotypes. Supporters such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said that all students, not only the wealthy students who can afford private school, should have access to single-gender education. (Newsweek)

Proposed law to protect N.Y. students from bullying heads to governor: An anti-bullying measure has advanced through both houses of New York's state Legislature and is headed to Gov. David Paterson for signature. The law would protect students against mistreatment based on factors including race, ethnicity, religion, disability, weight and gender identity. If approved, the Dignity for All Students Act would apply to all schools in New York, and the state would become the 43rd to adopt an anti-bullying law. (The New York Times)

31 Ohio charter schools risk closure in 2011: It is improbable, but not impossible: At the same time that 31 Ohio charter schools could be ordered to close, another 41 could be gearing up to open. To avoid the hammer, the at-risk schools can't get another F on the school report cards due out this August. Likewise, the schools hoping to open this fall must prove they would be academically sound to enroll students. (Columbus Dispatch)

Can School of One model be used to close the achievement gap?: New York City's School of One program aims to make the student -- rather than the classroom -- the focus of its educational mission, using technology to tailor instruction to the learning pace and style of each individual student. Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates considers in this article whether the School of One model -- now being tested as an approach to closing the achievement gap at an economically disadvantaged school with large percentages of black and Hispanic students -- could have helped him fare better during his own troubled educational history. (The Atlantic Monthly)

Educators develop lessons about oil spill: The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has enabled a "teachable moment" for science teachers that could continue into the fall. Teachers are using the spill as the basis for experiments, talking to students about how the native wildlife is being treated and even allowing students to come up with solutions for cleaning up the spill. Some students in Florida also are play-acting as government officials and scientists who are responding to the crisis, while in Connecticut, fifth-graders researched the disaster and made presentations at a schoolwide assembly. (ABC News)

Teachers question staff shakeup amid school's program switch: Teachers at a Nashville, Tenn., school were asked to reapply for their jobs because of plans to convert the school next fall from a literature-based magnet to a Paideia school -- which blends traditional teaching with focuses on critical thinking and student-driven discussion. The changes are not part of a traditional "fresh start," and therefore the school is not required to adhere to guidelines mandating that only 40% of the school's staff can be retained, which has left some teachers concerned about the school's reorganization process. (The Tennessean)

Minnesota law could discourage districts from opening charters: New oversight rules governing charter schools in Minnesota -- where such schools got their start in the U.S. in 1991 -- have some districts questioning whether to open new charters. Under the changes, the state will no longer be responsible for the success of charters. Instead, districts or other entities will be approved as charter-school authorizers and held accountable for the schools' performance. (Education Week)

School News from Around Kentucky

Kentucky educators use formative assessment for teaching math: More than 150 ninth- and 10th-grade math teachers throughout Kentucky are testing new classroom strategies for helping students master math concepts. The formative assessment is focused on training educators to better understand their students' individual learning needs. "Instead of giving them the answer, the teachers are there to guide them in the process to get the right answer," one principal said. "It teaches the kids how to struggle and succeed in math." (Courier-Journal)

KSBA board: Same campaign limits should apply to all seeking office, including school board hopefuls: The Kentucky School Boards Association is supporting the idea of one set of political campaign contribution limits for all candidates in the state, and doing away with the singular restriction imposed in school board races. The KSBA Board of Directors Saturday endorsed the concept of allowing candidates for election to local boards of education to receive the same campaign contributions — $1,000 by an individual and $2,000 by a corporation – as legislators and city and county elected officials. Under a statute passed as part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990, school board candidates are limited to accepting no more than $100 from an individual and $200 from a corporation. (KSBA)

Ky. facing more budget woes if federal aid defeated: Gov. Steve Beshear says the state could come up nearly $240 million short early next year if a federal spending bill defeated by a Senate Republican filibuster doesn’t pass. (Bluegrass Politics)

Behind Closed Doors: Public education shouldn't be decided by private meetings, but that's exactly what happened in filling the open seat on the Jefferson County Board of Education.
The District 1 position, which covers central and western Louisville, became available when longtime incumbent Ann Elmore resigned. This week, four candidates who want the job were interviewed by a screening committee assembled by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday -- and those interviews were conducted behind closed doors. (Courier-Journal)

Chicago's Renaissance schools see more than 90% go on to college: More than 90% of the first group of graduates from Chicago's Renaissance charter schools have been accepted to two- or four-year colleges, a rate that stands in contrast to a 52% college-acceptance rate from Chicago's public schools as last measured in 2008. Supporters of the charters, which primarily serve minority students living in poverty, say they are a model for improving disadvantaged schools, but others caution that more needs to be done to ensure students receive support and guidance to succeed in college. (The New York Times)

NYC pilot to offer bonus pay for teachers who help students succeed: New York City teachers who improve student achievement at struggling schools may be eligible for bonuses of up to 30% of their pay, under a pilot program at about 12 schools. The plan creates two classifications of teachers. Turnaround teachers could earn 15% extra pay, and master teachers would be eligible for 30% -- all based on progress their students make on exams and other measures. City education officials and the United Federation of Teachers approved the bonus program, which would be paid for with federal school-improvement grants the city is expecting. (The Wall Street Journal)

Schools aim to individualize instruction with software: Twenty-one New York state elementary schools will begin transitions to a digital curriculum for reading and math this fall. The schools are implementing the interactive Time to Know curriculum, which one principal says can help teachers individualize instruction for struggling and high-achieving students. (T.H.E. Journal)

Kentucky Applying for Race to Top Test Grants: Three state consortia will vie for $350 million in federal financing to design assessments aligned to the recently unveiled common-core standards, according to applications submitted Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Education.
Part of the Race to the Top program, the competition aims to spur states to band together to create measures of academic achievement that are comparable across states. Two consortia—the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium , which consists of 31 states, and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers , or PARCC, which consists of 26 states—will compete for the bulk of the funding, $320 million, to produce comprehensive assessment systems. (Ed Week)

New state sports group leader to champion major changes: Twenty-three days on the job, the new commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is wasting no time in making it known that change is in the air. ...Tackett said one “dramatic” change he already is pushing for is in the area of determining student athlete eligibility. “Our office has been rightfully accused of looking for ways to say ‘No’ to kids. Some people like to say, ‘Here are the rules and that’s that way it is,’” he said. “We’re just not going to be that way. When in doubt, we’re going to try to allow kids to play. “I’m going to propose some rules to relax some restrictions. We have a rule that says when you can’t play, you can’t practice. That sounds really good, like a good deterrent (to reduce transferring between schools). But you’ve got to remember that when you lose a year, you’ve lost it permanently,” Tackett said. (KSBA)

AG's opinion upholds Boone County tax computation: The Kentucky Attorney General's office has issued an opinion that upholds the current method of calculating the compensating tax rate in Boone County and statewide. The opinion supports the current method of calculating the rate, but does not satisfy at least one of the parties who requested it. (Enquirer)

Quality assessments involve students in learning, give teachers the tools to improve, too: Kentucky teachers must be given the time to develop better assessments of their classroom instruction while engaging students to “own” their work. When that happens, the results will show up in their schools’ test scores. In several sessions Tuesday in Bowling Green, members of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents received an in-depth orientation on the state’s push for improved classroom assessments as a critical aspect to create a new statewide school and student accountability system. (KSBA)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Working With Teachers to Develop Fair and Reliable Measures of Effective Teaching

This from Vicki Phillips at Gates:
Over the past four decades, research has consistently confirmed what we have known intuitively all along—that no school-based factor matters more for a student’s learning than having an effective teacher.

It’s ironic, then, that we give teachers so little useful feedback on the quality of instruction—the strengths they bring to the classroom and the gaps in their practice that need to be filled.

As part of our education strategy, we have made a commitment to learning from great teachers about what makes them great. To this end, we launched the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project last fall to explore ways to provide better feedback to teachers on their practice, so that schools can reward and retain those who are most effective, and create new professional development tools to help all teachers improve.

The project is led by independent researchers who will spend two years developing and rigorously validating new ways of identifying effective teaching. Two principles are guiding that work:

  • In the grades and subjects where it is feasible to do so, any assessment of the quality of instruction should include student achievement growth as a major component.
  • There should be multiple indicators of teacher effectiveness, such as classroom observations and student feedback, not just test-based measures of student achievement. These indicators must be demonstrated to be helpful in identifying classrooms with exemplary growth in student achievement.
Because we do not believe there is one single measure that can capture the range of skills which teachers need—the art and science of teaching—we are testing many different tools for their association with growth in student achievement...

A new white paper articulates the scope and methods...