Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CPE Sets Tuition Hike at 8% over 2 years

This from WKU Public Radio:
Kentucky's public colleges and universities can raise tuition by eight percent over the next two years.
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education unanimously passed the two-year tuition and mandatory fee ceiling during a meeting Tuesday in Murray. The potential increase allows universities to offset dwindling state funding. The first-year increase is limited to five percent.

In an email to faculty and staff, WKU President Gary Ransdell said he will recommend to the Board of Regents a tuition increase of 4.8 percent for in-state residential students for the fall 2014 semester.
"This, along with 50 percent state support for our KERS retirement contribution increase and with reallocations among the various divisions of the University, will allow us to balance our budget for next year," wrote Ransdell.

The budget also funds a one percent cost of living adjustment for employees and more than $4 million in additional funding for student financial assistance.

CPE President Bob King says Governor Steve Beshear wanted only a four percent increase over one year instead of the unusual two year-plan. CPE chair Pam Miller says the council wanted to give universities as much flexibility as “politically possible.”

It’s estimated that state institutions will generate an additional $66 million dollars in revenues over the 2014-15 school year thanks to the tuition hike, while institutionally-funded student aid will increase $26 million dollars.

Deconstructing the Cycle of Reformy Awesomeness

School Reform Miracle Claims Fail under Scrutiny

This from School Finance 101:
Once upon a time, there was this totally awesome charter school in Newark, NJ. It was a charter school so awesome that its leaders and founders and all of their close friends decided they must share their miracle with the world in books on the reasons for their awesomeness, including being driven by data and teaching like a champion!

The school’s break-the-mold – beating the odds – disruptively innovative awesomeness was particularly important during this critical time of utter collapse of the American education system which had undoubtedly been caused by corrupt self-interested public school teachers (& their unions) who had been uniformly ill-trained by antiquated colleges and universities that themselves were corrupt and self-interested and generally in the business of selling worthless graduate degrees.
In fact, the undisputed awesomeness of this North Star Academy could, in theory, provide the foundation for a whole new approach to turning around the dreadful state of American education.
And thus came the Cycle of Reformy Awesomeness, which looks something like this:

Built on the foundation of awesomeness established by THE North Star Academy, since teachers are the undisputed most important in school factor determining student outcomes, the awesomeness of North Star could be attributed primarily to the quality of the teachers and innovative practices they used in their data driven classrooms!

Thus, by extension, we must establish new institutions of teacher preparation whereby these truly exceptional teachers (of 3 to 5 years experience) not only are provided the opportunity to share their expertise on a personal collaborative level with their own colleagues, but rather, we should let these teachers be the instructors in a new graduate school of education (regardless of academic qualifications) and we should actually let them grant graduate degrees in education to their own colleagues.

This new approach of letting teachers in a school grant graduate degrees to their own work colleagues (and those in other network schools) could lead to rapid diffusion of excellence and would most certainly negate the corrupt perverse incentives pervasive throughout the current, adult oriented self-interested American higher education system! Disruptive innovation indeed!

And so their founders and disciples took their show on the road. They took their show to state departments of education to urge fast-tracked uncritical promotion of their cycle of awesomeness. They gained leverage on local boards of education in nearby school districts to promote diffusion of their awesomeness. And they set out to other state departments of education to share their insights on how to achieve awesomeness with drive by data… excuse me… being driven by data! 

And driven by data they were… for example… absolutely all of the kids in their school passed that test in high school.

And there was much rejoicing.
Slide2And that one too:

And there was much rejoicing.

And they were only getting better, and better and better:

And there was much rejoicing.

And better:

The more they looked at their own data – well, really only one measure of their data – the more they patted themselves on the back, congratulated their own reformy awesomeness and shared it with the world. And the state!

And there was much rejoicing.

Yup… 100% graduation rate… which is totally unheard of for a high poverty, urban high school in dreadful Newark, NJ! [or at least for a school that happens to be located in the high poverty city of Newark].

A true miracle it was… is… and shall be. One that must be proliferated and shared widely.
But alas, the more they shared, the more they touted their awesomeness, the more it started to become apparent that all might not be quite so rosy in North Star land.

As it turned out, those kids in North Star really didn’t look so much like those others they were apparently so handily blowing out on state tests….


And there was complete freakin’ silence!

Somehow, this rapidly growing miracle school was managing to serve far fewer poor children than others (except a few other charter schools also claiming miracle status) around them.

And, they were serving hardly any children with disabilities and few or none with more severe disabilities.


And again there was complete freakin’ silence!

And if that was the case, was it really reasonable to attribute their awesomeness to the awesomeness of their own teachers – their innovative strategies… and the nuanced, deep understanding of being driven by data?

Actually, it is perhaps most befuddling if not outright damning that such non-trivial data could be so persistently ignored in a school that is so driven by data? 

And there was complete freakin’ silence!

But alas, these were mere minor signals that all might not be as awesome as originally assumed.
It also turned out that of all the 5th graders who entered the halls of awesomeness, only about half ever made it to senior year – year after year after year after year… after year.


And for black boys in the school, far fewer than that:


And there was complete freakin’ silence!

And in any given year, children were being suspended from the school at an alarming rate.

Again… raising the question of how a school driven by data could rely so heavily on a single metric – test scores and pass rates derived from them – to proclaim their awesomeness, when in fact, things were looking somewhat less than awesome.

Could a school really be awesome  if only the fewer than half who remain (or 20% of black boys who remain) pass the test? Might it matter at least equally as much what happened to the the other half who left?

Was it perhaps possible that the “no excuses” strategies endorsed as best practices both in their school and in their training of each other really weren’t working so well…and weren’t the strategies of true teaching champions… but rather created a hostile and oppressive environment causing their high attrition rate? Well… one really can say this one way or the other…

Regardless of the cause, what possibly could such a school share with those traditional supposedly failing public schools who lacked similar ability to send the majority of their children packing? Further, what possibly could the rather novice teachers in this school charged with granting their own co-workers graduate credentials share with experienced researchers and university faculty training the larger public school teacher workforce?

Alas the miracle was (is) crumbling.

But that miracle wasn’t just any ol’ miracle. Rather, it was the entire foundation for the reformy cycle of awesomeness! And without that foundation, the entire cycle comes crumbling down.

No miraculously awesome charter school [in fact, one might argue that any school with such attrition is an unqualified failure].

Thus no valid claim of miraculous teachers and teaching.

Thus no new secret sauce for teacher preparation.

All perpetrated with deceptive and in some cases downright fraudulent (100% graduation rate?) presentation of data.

And thus the search continues… for the next miracle… and the next great disruptive innovation to base on that miracle… whatever… wherever it may be.

AACTE President/CEO Questions Utility of Impending Federal Regulations

This from AACTE:

On April 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that the Department of Education will indeed move forward on publishing regulations that the Obama Administration believes will transform teacher preparation for the better. These regulations represent just one dimension of the Administration's efforts to create a federal ratings system for higher education. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) agrees wholeheartedly with Secretary Duncan that teacher preparation programs are a critical component of the U.S. educator pipeline. We disagree, however, about the current state of teacher preparation and what the appropriate federal role should be. 
First, the teacher preparation field is already on an upward trajectory toward ensuring that every teacher candidate is profession-ready—through the increased use of valid and reliable performance assessments, the development of new robust professional accreditation standards and extensive reforms in multiple states. Furthermore, it is disappointing to see that the Administration is exercising unilateral executive authority to implement its priorities for teacher preparation rather than working with Congress to deliberate and act on these very important issues, which are central to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

AACTE has long advocated for Congress to reauthorize Title II of HEA to overhaul the current reporting requirements for institutions of higher education to make them more meaningful to both teacher preparation programs and the public. We, along with many higher education and PK-12 organizations, strongly support Senator Jack Reed's (D-RI) and Representative Mike Honda's (D-CA) Educator Preparation Reform Act, a bill that reauthorizes Title II and updates the TEACH grants. Unfortunately, the Administration's proposal is likely to differ significantly from that bill.
In 2012, following negotiated rulemaking sessions on teacher preparation, AACTE and the Higher Education Task Force on Teacher Preparation raised several concerns about the Department's proposal for defining a "high-quality program" in the TEACH grant statute. The proposal represented a significant overreach of federal authority in the teacher preparation arena, essentially requiring every state to rate its preparation programs, to use metrics that are problematic, to heavily employ PK-12 value-added data based on the students of program graduates and to tie student eligibility for federal financial aid to the rating of the preparation program—and offering no resources to states to undertake this significant effort.

In addition, it is curious that the Department is moving on the regulations at this time, seven years after the TEACH grant program was authorized. The Department has yet to share any meaningful data with the public about the use and impact of the TEACH grants. The limited data AACTE has been able to collect show that tens of thousands of teacher candidates are using these grants to support their preparation, and graduates are already teaching in high-need schools and high-need subject areas (a requirement of the grants). Given that the grants seem to be doing what they were intended to do, which is recruit high performers (who must maintain a 3.25 GPA during their preparation) to become teachers in high-need schools and subject areas; given that Congress is already deliberating on the federal role in accountability for teacher preparation; and given that so many states already have developed or are in the process of developing meaningful systems of determining teacher preparation program quality, we question the utility of this federal intervention.
While we are eager to see what these new regulations include when they are released in the coming months, we are not optimistic that they will be significantly different from what the Department put forward in 2012. Our members look forward to engaging with the Office of Management and Budget, the Department, the Congress and the broader education community over the coming months as the proposal moves forward.

Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

Welcome to Relay Medical College & North Star Community Hospital

Bruce Baker's been on a roll lately skewering the worst education ideas to come out of the corporate reform movement and the Obama administration. Baker is a professor in the graduate program at Rutgers, so his perspectives tend to be focused on New jersey and the northeastern. But they also serve as cautionary tales for those of us in the south. 

This from School finance 101:
Arne Duncan has one whopper of an interview available here:

Related to his new push to evaluate teacher preparation programs using student outcome data:

And his Whitehouse press release can be found here:

Now, there’s a whole lot to chew on here, but let me focus on one of the more absurd hypocrisies in all of this.

First, Duncan seems to think the world of medical education without apparently having the first clue about how any of it actually works. In his view, it’s really just a matter of intensive clinical training (no academic prerequisites required) and competitive wages (a reasonable, though shallowly articulated argument).

Second, Duncan also seems to think that a major part of the solution for Ed Schools can be found in entrepreneurial startups like Relay Graduate School of Education. The Whitehouse press release proclaims:
Relay Graduate School of Education, founded by three charter management organizations, measures and holds itself accountable for both program graduate and employer satisfaction, and requires that teachers meet high goals for student learning growth before they can complete their degrees. There is promise that this approach translates into classroom results as K-12 students of Relay teachers grew 1.3 years in reading performance in one year.
Now, I’ll set aside for the moment that the student outcome metrics proposed for use in evaluating ed schools create the same bad incentives (and unproven benefits) that the feds have imposed for evaluating physicians and hospitals.

Let’s instead consider the model of the future – one which blends Arne Duncan’s otherwise entirely inconsistent models of training. I give you:

The Relay Medical College and North Star Community Hospital

Here’s how it all works. Deep in the heart of some depressed urban core where families and their children suffer disproportionate obesity, asthma and other chronic health conditions, where few healthy neighborhood groceries exist, but plenty of fast food joints are available, sits the newly minted North Star Community Hospital.

It all starts here. NSCH is a new kind of hospital that does not require any of its staff to actually hold medical degrees, any form of board certification or nursing credential, or even special technician degrees to operate medical equipment or handle medications. Rather, NSCH recruits bright young undergrads from top liberal arts colleges, with liberal arts majors, and puts them through an intense 5 week training program where they learn to berate and belittle minority families and children and shame them into eating more greens and fiber. Where they learn to demean them into working out – walking the treadmill, etc. It’s rather like an episode of the Biggest Loser. And the Hospital is modeled on the premise that if it can simply engage enough of the community members in its bootcamp style wellness program, delivered by these fresh young faces, they can substantively alter the quality of life in the urban core.

There is indeed some truth to the argument. Getting more community members to eat healthier and exercise will improve their health stats, including morbidity and mortality measures commonly used in Hospital rating systems. In fact, over time, this Hospital, which provides no actual medical diagnosis and treatment does produce annual reports that show astoundingly good outcome measures for community members who complete their program.

These great outcome measures generate headlines from the local news writers who fail to explore more deeply what they mean (Yes Star Ledger editorial board, that’s you!). NCSH becomes such a darling of the media and politicians that they are granted authority to start their own medical school to replicate their “successes.” And they are granted the authority to run a medical school where medical training need not even be provided by individuals with medical training!

Rather, they will grant medical degrees to their own incoming staff based on their own experiences with healthcare awesomeness. That’s right, individuals who themselves had little or no basic science or actual supervised clinical training in actual medicine, but have 3 to 5 years of experience in medical awesomeness in this start-up (pseudo) Hospital will grant medical degrees – to their own incoming peers!

Acknowledging the brilliance of this new model, US Dept of Health officials established a new rating system for all medical colleges whereby they must show that graduates of their programs reduce patient morbidity and mortality. RMC and NCSH continue to lead the nation, despite providing no actual medical interventions, but sticking to their plan of tough love, no excuses wellness training.

But, one day, it comes to light that while approximately 50 community members per year who succeeded in NCSH program and did in fact experience improved quality of life, there had been over 150 entrants to the program each year (like this). In fact, most failed. Some simply weren’t up for the daily berating inflicted on them by NCSH staff. Some had other chronic health ailments and were told by NCSH staff to suck it up, get in line (literally, in line, step left only when told) or leave. 

It became clear that patients with diabetes and heart conditions need not apply. None of the staff employed at NCSH had training in cardiology or for that matter any CPR or basic life support skills. That stuff really didn’t matter to them and they sure as heck weren’t going to stand for someone keeling over on the treadmill, and lowering the NCSH mortality stats.

Sadly, by this point in time RMC and NCSH had become such a touted model that the real urban hospitals had all been closed. Further, there were few if any incentives for real medical colleges to train physicians to work in the urban core, where the traditional medical model had now been fully replaced by the RMC/NCSH model. They certainly couldn’t match the stats that NCSH was posting if they chose to serve patients who actually had chronic health conditions, or were non-compliant patients.

And those 100 dropouts of the NCSH program from each cohort, those with diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions not so easily mediated with a good shout down, were simply out luck. Actual community morbidity and mortality stats skyrocketed. But alas, no one was left to care.


Indeed, wellness is key to the provision of high quality healthcare in the urban core and elsewhere. But it is not a replacement. And yes, one can make an argument that the bootcamp program described above as NCSH legitimately helped to improve the health outcomes and perhaps even the overall quality of life for the 50 program completers, as does the reality TV show Biggest Loser.

One can certainly make the comparison to the benefits obtained by the 50% or so actual completers of the most no excusiness charter schools like North Star Academy in Newark, NJ. Those few students who do succeed and complete are likely better off academically than they might have otherwise been. But this by no means indicates that North Star Academy and Relay Graduate School of Education, or my hypothetical North Star Community Hospital and Relay Medical College are model programs for serving the public good. In fact, as pointed out here, assuming so, applying bogus easily manipulated and simply wrongheaded metrics to proclaim success, may in the end cause far more harm than good.