Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Don't Play Politics With the Common Core

This from Maria Ferguson in Education Week:

Even if Donald Trump could “end” the common core, should he?

The Common Core State Standards and the broader movement of states to use more-rigorous standards for college and career readiness may seem like yesterday's news now that Betsy DeVos is ensconced as the U.S. secretary of education. But it is important for policymakers, education leaders, and the media not to lose sight of the enormous amount of time and resources that have been devoted to implementing the standards across the country.

President Donald Trump, demonstrating his penchant for policy changes not tethered to reality, has been promising to "put an end to the common core" since his campaign days. Of course, he has no authority to do that, and even if he did, recent research from the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University (the organization I lead) shows that scrapping the standards may not be what most teachers and district leaders want.

But first, let's once more state the facts about the common core to counter persistent misinformation about who developed the standards and why they are being used:
• The federal government has no dominion over voluntary state standards, including the common core.
• The federal government never required states to implement the common core. Those that did, did so freely and on their own accord.
Of the 46 states that originally adopted the common core, eight have officially repealed or withdrawn the standards, while 21 states have revised or are revising the standards, according to a recent study by the research organization Abt Associates. According to the analysis, nine of the 21 revising states found that the changes have kept the original standards mostly intact and are mainly clarifications or customizations.
Bottom line: Whether states are calling their new standards the common core or not, nearly every state has, in recent years, moved to more-rigorous college- and career-ready standards.

From late 2015-16, the Center on Education Policy surveyed hundreds of teachers and district leaders and interviewed dozens more teachers for in-depth case studies about their efforts to implement the common core or other standards for college and career readiness. Despite facing challenges along the way, most participants indicated that the move to more-rigorous standards has been a positive one. Teachers indicated that the standards have changed instruction in positive ways, including greater uniformity across states and increased academic rigor. They indicated that the standards have a greater focus on the most important skills and knowledge students will need to succeed after they graduate. Most of the district leaders we surveyed said that their respective states' current standards are an improvement over those states' previous standards.

"The power of the federal bully pulpit is strong and can be used for good or ill."
My concern is that if teachers and district leaders are using the standards and seem satisfied with the results, President Trump's renewed anti-common-core rhetoric will cause disruption and anxiety for local educators—and students—in what was already a hard sell.

I am not advocating for the common core at any cost. But if we allow politics to hijack every important education issue that comes along, we not only will never make any progress, but also are likely to drive our teachers and education leaders crazy in the process. While I understand that it may be easier (and in some cases wiser) to lie low and seek consensus when a power shift occurs, that does not help educators who are engaged in challenging instructional work. For the last decade, the effort to move a majority of states toward more-rigorous college- and career-ready standards, such as the common core, has been touted as a watershed moment in education. While not all factions agreed on the idea of the common core (or even common standards), there was strong consensus around the notion that today's students need to learn skills and competencies unlike those previously taught. Now, with President Trump in office, the commitment a majority of states once made seems to rapidly be falling out of favor.

But is it really wise to backpedal on all that effort simply because the anti-common-core crowd now has the power of the administration behind it? Just because President Trump can't legislatively "end" the common core does not mean he can't do damage to the effort. The power of the federal bully pulpit is strong and can be used for good or ill.

The need for state and local leaders to not be so quick to bow to political rhetoric came to light in one of the most interesting data points in our research: When we asked teachers about the significant challenges facing them, many of them identified external policies and constantly changing demands as major challenges. Almost half (46 percent) of teachers cited state or district policies that get in the way of teaching as a major challenge, and about one-third cited constantly changing demands placed on teachers and students.

It is important to stress that every time lawmakers and educators agree—and then disagree—about strategies to improve education, there is a very real impact on teachers and local schools: constantly changing agendas end up costing state taxpayers millions (developing new standards and tests is expensive!), confusing the heck out of parents, and sucking away the most precious commodity our educators have: time.

After years of effort, millions of students are being taught to more-rigorous education standards, and they are being assessed with a new generation of assessments. While that process has not been flawless, it has moved forward. Turning tail now, just when schools and districts are starting to make the effort their own, is politics at its worst. The education community has in recent weeks shown its willingness to speak out against those who want to play politics with public education. It is important for state and local leaders to remember that and not let their bar-raising efforts for all students go to waste. 

Etown Parents, educators rally against charter schools

This from the News-Enterprise:
If Kentucky is to become the 44th state to allow charter schools, the opposition won’t go down without a fight.

That much was clear at an anti-charter school rally held Monday night at Nolin RECC. Speakers from Hardin County, Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Jefferson Coun­ty and Kentucky Education Association sounded an alarm about House Bill 520, one of the three bills proposed by Kentucky lawmakers that could authorize charter schools.

“We are advocating for the children of Har­din County and Ken­tuc­ky,” said Regina Boone, president of the Hardin County Education Association. “Frankfort has to know that children of Kentucky are not for sale to the highest corporate bidder.”

The main concerns of attendees and speakers focused on the funding of charter schools and uncertainty over how it would affect public schools. Under HB 520, which was proposed by Rep. John Carney, R-Campbellsville, local and state taxes would pay for charter schools.

The bill also allows online charter schools and it vests authority to establish charter schools with local school boards. If the board denies the application, it can be ap­pealed to the Ken­tuc­ky Department of Edu­cation.

The speakers framed the charter school debate as a fight for public education in Kentucky and urged those in attendance to call their legislators and express specific reasons for their opposition. Those in the crowd held signs and wore stickers declaring their love for public schools.

Stephanie Macy, a teacher at T.K. Stone Mid­dle School in Eliza­beth­town, said she doesn’t see the need for charter schools.

“If our kids are doing well, then why are we even having this conversation?” she asked at the end of the event. Macy was concerned about the effect charters could have on existing public schools.
Macy attended the rally with her two daugh­ters, Leah and Loren, who attend Morning­side Elementary in Elizabeth­town. Both girls spoke favorably about their experience at the school.

“I feel that it’s awesome,” said Loren, who is in second grade and wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

Loren liked that her teachers make learning fun and go over the assignments to make sure students understood concepts.

Michelle Richardson, a fifth-grade teacher at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School in Elizabethtown, said she was concerned about funding provisions in the bill.

“It’s going to drain funds from the schools,” she said.

April May has two children in Hardin Coun­ty schools, and she attended the rally to receive more information about the bill and charter schools. She said her kindergartener, who has a developmental disability, has grown by “leaps and bounds” with the help of the school’s speech therapist.
May was concerned about students with special needs. She said they might be left behind in charter schools. She also was worried about the charter schools leading to increased segregation and a decrease in diversity.

“I don’t know if the perceived benefits could outweigh those factors,” she said.

Dori Sedano, a Har­din County Schools parent, spoke last at the rally about her experience with charter schools in Michigan. She pulled her daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time, out of the school after six months.

“We did better at home,” Sedano said.

At the school, her daughter would sit in a corner and read, doing little else all day. She said the six months left her daughter demoralized about school.

“No child deserves that,” she said, adding Hardin County has “wonderful schools.”

Hardin County Schools board chairman Charlie Wise said he couldn’t find anything good in HB 520.
Hardin County Schools Superintendent Teresa Morgan was not at the rally, but she detailed her concerns about the bill in a statement. Morgan said she appreciated the fact local boards would have authorizing authority, but she was concerned about the provision to allow virtual schools and for-profit charters.

The Elizabethtown Independent School Board was the first school board in the state to pass a resolution opposing charter schools. Board chairman Matt Wyatt said last week he viewed charter schools as a “threat to public education.”

His message Monday night was similar.

“If we pass charter school legislation and vouchers in Kentucky, we will be going backward not forward,” Wyatt told the crowd.

Other speakers echoed that sentiment. Elizabethtown board member Tony Kuklinski, who invited children from the audience to stand with him during his remarks. He said the bill would send education in Kentucky back to the Stone Age.

“This will start the collapse of the education system that we worked so hard to build,” Kuklinski said.

'Clueless' DeVos links HBCU's with School Choice !?

Am I mistaken or did Ed Sec DeVos just infer that victimizing blacks turned out to be a good thing - while ignoring the prevailing racism that made HBCU's necessary in the first place?

This from the US Deartment of Education:
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the White House:
A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn't working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.

Their counsel and guidance will be crucial in addressing the current inequities we face in education. I look forward to working with the White House to elevate the role of HBCUs in this administration and to solve the problems we face in education today.

This from The Hill:
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Monday.

“They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and great quality,” DeVos said in a statement. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

DeVos’s comments come as representatives from the country’s HBCUs are in Washington to meet with Republican lawmakers. President Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to the institutions on Tuesday.
Her remarks immediately stirred backlash from supporters of HBCUs, who pointed out that the institutions were established because African-American students, often, did not have any other choice.

On Twitter, some users argued that DeVos’s statements could be equated to saying that segregated water fountains simply gave people more beverage choices, or that civil rights icon Rosa Parks was standing up for seat choice.

Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth University, pointed out on Twitter that DeVos’s statement appeared to contradict information readily available on her department’s website.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pruitt issues first State of Education Report

This from Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen L. Pruitt:
Fellow Kentuckians,

It’s been a little more than a year since the release of the first State of Education Report, and what a year it has been!

At the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), we have continued to push forward on improving education for the 650,000 children across the Commonwealth who attend public schools. In the past year we’ve concentrated on three pillars – equity, achievement and integrity. Each of these pillars is crucial to the work we do and none can be taken for granted. But after a full year in my role as commissioner, it is becoming clear that equity needs to be a special focus for the state and the lens through which we consider all things moving forward.

While we have made steady progress on traditional measures of education success, the difference in performance among the various student groups in our schools is still too wide. A special Kentucky Department of Education research analysis, A Focus on Equity for All, shows that despite our top 10 graduation rate and drastic improvement in the college/career-readiness rate, too many students are not adequately prepared for the rigors of college or the workplace. (See more about the analysis starting on page 5.)

Staying with the status quo is not good enough for the Commonwealth. We need a system of public education that will generate better outcomes for all of our students and will support economic development in Kentucky.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides us an opportunity to build on our successes, meaningfully address our shortcomings and raise all students to higher levels of achievement and postsecondary readiness. So in the past year, we’ve been developing a new accountability system that will be a catalyst for reaching those goals.

Last spring, we heard from thousands of Kentuckians at Town Hall Meetings who said they wanted a system that promoted education of the whole child, greater equity and didn’t place so much emphasis on test scores. Guided by that input and the requirements of the federal ESSA law, hundreds of Kentuckians – administrators and teachers from all levels, subject areas and district sizes across the state; education partners; parents; community members; and the business community – have drafted a new accountability system that reflects Kentucky values and provides more clarity and transparency on school performance that can be the basis for improvement. (See an overview of the accountability system starting on page 9.)

The system under development will hold schools – and all of us – accountable for ensuring equity. Schools will be tasked with moving all children’s academic achievement forward every year, but they will be expected to move children who fall into one of the traditionally low-performing student groups forward faster to help shrink the achievement gap. The system is one of continuous improvement and is designed to ensure all students have access to rich learning opportunities, regardless of the student’s zip code, school assignment, family income, language, disability, the student’s nationality or skin color.

Change can be difficult, but it is also necessary. There are many great things going on in education across Kentucky and we will continue to celebrate those and build on our successes. But we also must face our challenges head-on with determination, humility and perseverance. I hope you will join me in this critical work.

Our ultimate goal is to provide each and every child with an excellent, world-class education that will lead the student to success in his or her postsecondary endeavors, in the job market and in life. I speak not only for myself, but also the Kentucky Board of Education and KDE staff in saying that all of us are committed to supporting schools and districts to eliminate inequities and provide the excellent education that all of our students need and deserve.

This report is meant to shine a light on both the achievements and challenges of public education in Kentucky. Yet, our focus is on the future. As we move forward in the weeks and months ahead, we must put away the ideas of what we have always done and focus on equity, access to quality programs for all students and making decisions that are in their best interest.

After all, it is both Our Children and Our Commonwealth that benefit from a world-class system of public education in Kentucky.

Stephen L. Pruitt, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education

Dismal Results From Vouchers Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

This from the New York Times:
The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation’s highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform.

But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.

While many policy ideas have murky origins, vouchers emerged fully formed from a single, brilliant essay published in 1955 by Milton Friedman, the free-market godfather later to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Because “a stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens,” Mr. Friedman wrote, the government should pay for all children to go to school.

But, he argued, that doesn’t mean the government should run all the schools. Instead, it could give parents vouchers to pay for “approved educational services” provided by private schools, with the government’s role limited to “ensuring that the schools met certain minimum standards.”

The voucher idea sat dormant for years before taking root in a few places, most notably Milwaukee. Yet even as many of Mr. Friedman’s other ideas became Republican Party orthodoxy, most national G.O.P. leaders committed themselves to a different theory of educational improvement: standards, testing and accountability. That movement reached an apex when the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought a new focus on tests and standards to nearly every public school nationwide. The law left voucher supporters with crumbs: a small demonstration project in Washington, D.C.

But broad political support for No Child Left Behind proved short-lived. Teachers unions opposed the reforms from the left, while libertarians and states-rights conservatives denounced it from the right. When Republicans took control of more governor’s mansions and state legislatures in the 2000s, they expanded vouchers to an unprecedented degree. Three of the largest programs sprang up in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which collectively enroll more than a third of the 178,000 voucher students nationwide.

Most of the new programs heeded Mr. Friedman’s original call for the government to enforce “minimum standards” by requiring private schools that accept vouchers to administer standardized state tests. Researchers have used this data to compare voucher students with similar children who took the same tests in public school. Many of the results were released over the last 18 months, while Donald J. Trump was advocating school choice on the campaign trail.

The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.

The next results came a few months later, in February, when researchers published a major study of Louisiana’s voucher program. Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families, and they came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school.

They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.

This is very unusual. When people try to improve education, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. The successes usually register as modest improvements, while the failures generally have no effect at all. It’s rare to see efforts to improve test scores having the opposite result. Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature” — not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.

There’s always the chance that a single study, no matter how well designed, is an outlier. Studies of older voucher programs in Milwaukee and elsewhere have generally produced mixed results, sometimes finding modest improvements in test scores, but only for some subjects and student groups. Until about a year ago, however, few if any studies had shown vouchers causing test scores to decline drastically.

In June, a third voucher study was released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank and proponent of school choice. The study, which was financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation, focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers found. Once again, results were worse in math.

Three consecutive reports, each studying one of the largest new state voucher programs, found that vouchers hurt student learning. Researchers and advocates began a spirited debate about what, exactly, was going on.

Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution noted that the performance gap between private and public school students had narrowed significantly over time. He argued that the standards, testing and accountability movement, for all its political shortcomings, was effective. The assumed superiority of private schools may no longer hold.

Some voucher supporters observed that many private schools in Louisiana chose not to accept voucher students, and those that did had recently experienced declining enrollment. Perhaps the participating schools were unusually bad and eager for revenue. But this is another way of saying that exposing young children to the vagaries of private-sector competition is inherently risky. The free market often does a terrible job of providing basic services to the poor — see, for instance, the lack of grocery stores and banks in many low-income neighborhoods. This may also hold for education.

Others have argued that standardized test scores are the wrong measure of school success. It’s true that voucher programs in Washington and some others elsewhere, which produced no improvements in test scores, increased the likelihood of students’ advancement and graduation from high school. One study of a privately financed voucher program in New York found positive results for college attendance among African-Americans.

But research has also linked higher test scores to a host of positive outcomes later in life. And voucher advocates often cite poor test scores in public schools to justify creating private school vouchers in the first place.

The new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores. But while vouchers and charters are often grouped under the umbrella of “school choice,” the best charters tend to be nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less “private” that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.

The new evidence on vouchers does not seem to have deterred the Trump administration, which has proposed a new $20 billion voucher program. Secretary DeVos’s enthusiasm for vouchers, which have been the primary focus of her philanthropic spending and advocacy, appears to be undiminished.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Performance-based funding fails the reality test

Here's a chart:
And here's another chart:
Bachelor’s Degree (Normalized)
Under Represented Minority
Low Income
Progression (30 Hours)
Progression (60 Hours)
Progression (90 Hours)
Credit Hour (Course Completion)
Square Feet (M&O)
Direct Cost (Institutional Support)
FTE Student (Academic Support)
Comprehensive institutions will receive 1 point per degree in each of the areas. The R1 institutions (UK and UofL) will receive the weightings shown above. This was no easy consensus. Several university presidents expressed serious concerns about combining all four-year universities into one performance funding pool, but ultimately (under some political duress) lost the vote, but agreed to show unity.

The first chart shows the way a steadily decreasing state allocation will be distributed to state universities. The second chart shows a point system designed to allocate funds based on graduation with the decided advantage given to the Research One institutions (UK & UofL). Historically, UK and UofL were placed in separate categories in an effort to level the playing field, like having different classes in state high school football competitions. Under the proposed system, the big schools will compete directly with smaller schools and all of the big boys asserts and advantages will come to bear.  

I say all of this with no animosity toward UK, my alma mater, where I received two degrees and the Sullivan Medallion. But any honest appraisal of this system must acknowledge the potential harm to comprehensives. Graduates and friends of EKU, WKU, NKU, Morehead, and Murray have every right to be concerned. And the perpetual disinvestment in higher education is no gift to UK or Uof L either. 

This is the kind of system where if a comprehensive university does everything perfectly, and reaches every goal, they still stand to lose millions per biennium beginning in 2019. Rest assured that UK and UofL will be OK. The future appears much less certain for the comprehensives. As Tom Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities told the Hechinger Report, “There’s an old saying that budget cuts give flagships a cold and regional campuses pneumonia.”

This sort of thing happens whenever funding is inadequate to satisfy the needs of public schools - and these days public universities are no exception. When powerful politicians make choices, they are most heavily influenced by other powerful people. Their solutions and compromises may pay attention to the needy, but they will pay attention to the needs of the powerful. This phenomenon prompted me to postulate before the Kentucky Economics Association, in 2014, that “when funding is inadequate, excellence and equity are forced to compete.”

“We’re creating a caste system in public higher education,” Harnisch said. “The per-student funding is higher for students at public flagships who are often the most prepared and most likely to graduate, but at the community colleges and the regional universities, it’s significantly less.”

The Hechinger Report article does a nice job of outlining how performance-based funding schemes are levying the heaviest toll on colleges that serve the neediest students. It would seem that Kentucky is about to join the list of states where that has been the case. For example...

“When a state budget impasse drained money from public universities and colleges in Illinois beginning in 2015, some were forced to lay off hundreds of employees, shorten their semesters, even warn they might shut down. Enrollment plummeted. Credit ratings fell to junk status.

Chicago State University, for instance, which has a student body that is mainly black and Hispanic and drawn from its neighborhood on the city’s South Side, cut 300 workers from its payroll and — its very future in limbo — managed to attract fewer than 100 new freshmen in the fall.

The flagship University of Illinois, far more of whose students are white and wealthier, was not immune from the predicament. But with cash reserves to tap, and an increase in enrollment that brought in more tuition revenue, it has suffered a far less drastic impact from the still-ongoing budget crisis.”

As the Center on Budget Policy Priorities found, since the last recession, states have cut higher education spending by $8.7 billion a year. That is 18 percent per student. US universities have responded to budget cuts by raising tuition, each time pricing out of the market some percentage of relatively needy students. This is somewhat less impactful at major universities where the students tend to be white and more prosperous. Universities have also cut faculty and staff in order to lower institutional budget obligations.

The 2015 Pell Institute Study of Opportunity in Higher Education found that students from high-income families are eight times more likely to get bachelor’s degrees by the age of 24 than those from low-income families. 

In my opinion, calling the state’s higher education allocation plan “performance-based funding” is really a misnomer. These are dressed up budget cuts. The plan limits higher education funding up front. After years of budget cuts, it virtually guarantees the legislature will not invest any more money in the state’s universities. From there, it places institutions in direct competition for diminishing dollars. But what the plan does very well, is to provide politicians with a performance-based rationale for continuing to underfund Kentucky’s institutions of higher learning. 

Performance-based schemes maybe serve to scratch some political itch, but it is not best for Kentucky or its students.

Despite the compelling logic behind paying for performance in higher education, research comparing states that have and have not adopted the practice has yet to establish a connection between the policy and improved educational outcomes. To date, there are twelve quantitative evaluations of state performance-based funding ...[but] [a]cross this body of research, the weight of evidence suggests states using performance-based funding do not out-perform other states—results are more often than not statistically significant.

This from Linda Blackford at the Herald-Leader:

Overhaul of university funding in Kentucky takes first step toward law

Kentucky legislators took the first step Tuesday in creating a new way of funding higher education that would funnel $1 billion to public universities and colleges based on their graduation rates and other performance measures. 

The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee voted 12-1 to pass Senate Bill 153, which has been under construction for months by university presidents, the Council on Postsecondary Education and Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg. 

The only no vote was from Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, who said she shares the concerns of Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews, who testified Tuesday that the bill’s emphasis on degrees produced could hurt smaller, rural schools.

“We’ve been five years getting here,” Givens said after the vote. “Everyone had to give a little ... but this is best for the commonwealth and best for the institutions long-term.”

In the past, Kentucky’s higher education funding has been based solely on what was provided the year before. That provided little leeway for schools where enrollment grew or shrank. 

The formula would allocate 35 percent of funding based on student success, which would be measured by bachelor degree production, the number of students continuing to progress in credit hours attained, the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees awarded, and the number of degrees awarded to low-income and under-represented students. 

Another 35 percent would be based on course completion, measured by each university’s share of total student credit hours earned in Kentucky. The number would be weighted to account for cost differences by degree level and academic discipline. 

The last 30 percent of funding is for operations, or what the bill’s authors call “open the door” money, based on each institution’s share of three things: square footage dedicated to student learning, spending on instruction and full-time students.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System would have a similar formula, but one that is separate from the research and comprehensive universities. It may include an adjustment to account for areas where enrollment is declining, but eventually, the formula would force individual community colleges to compete against each other. 

At least 30 states have some kind of performance-based funding formula, but most of them use such formulas to allocate only a portion of overall state funding. 

Kentucky’s overhaul would start next year by allocating 5 percent of total state funding using the new formula, then move to 100 percent the following year. There are provisions to make sure schools don’t lose money the first two years, but schools would have to compete against each other for funding in the third year. 

Givens said it is important for education to be accessible to all people, but the formula may highlight areas where people are not that interested.

“Taxpayer dollars have to be invested as wisely as possible,” he said.

Andrews said he supports most of the bill’s provisions, but thinks it needs tweaks to help schools that charge lower tuition and serve in-state students. Morehead’s enrollment area, for example, “is in population decline due to the demise of the coal industry,” he said.

The funding formula will be administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education. 

“Everybody had to compromise something,” said council President Robert King. “We think this is as fair a way to distribute the funds we have, recognizing the most important factors to achieve and improve the larger quality of life for the citizens of Kentucky.”

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/education/article134100119.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

SB1 is a long bill. But is it a sweeping reform?


Whether or not Sen. Mike Wilson is correct to say that his SB1 will do away with Common Core State Standards in Kentucky depends on how one views standards to begin with. 

Will politicians be able to say they got rid of Common Core? You bet. 

Of course, KDE has already taken care of most of that by branding our standards as Kentucky Academic Standards. At least since June of 2015 the words common and core do not appear together in the standards anywhere so far as I can find. Kentucky standards matched only a percentage of Common Core State Standards to begin with, and when compared to states who previously claimed to have abolished Common Core the percentage of surviving standards are about the same.

As Education Week reported,  
Twenty-one of the 46 states that adopted the Common Core State Standards are revising the standards, but most are not making substantial changes, according to an analysis by the research firm Abt Associates...

Eight states so far have repealed or withdrawn the standards, 21 have made changes, and 17 have left the standards as adopted. 

In a more in-depth look at nine of the states that made changes—Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, and Utah—the researchers found more than three-quarters of the standards in math or English/language arts were left alone.

States that revised their language arts criteria only altered 23 percent of standards, and most of the changes clarified wording without changing content.

Moreover, nearly 70 percent of the changes that were made in either math or language arts across all grades were simply wording or format clarifications to make the standards easier for educators or the public to understand. The states did not change the content or grade level at which the content was presented.

Another 25 percent of the changes added a standard or a concept to an existing math or reading standard. In only 6 percent of the math or reading changes did states delete a standard, and none lessened their rigor.
The problem with abolishing standards in that Kentuckians still want their kids to learn to read and compute and CCSS outlined that educational process fairly well.
  • SB 1 does call for a periodic review of the standards, and that's a good idea no matter what standards the state adopts.
  • I never had to operate under TPGES but it is my understanding that its provisions were pretty good - but very difficult and time-consuming to accomplish. Perhaps a change was indicated. The problem, as I see it, goes way back to the days when schools were adopting some version of the clinical supervision model, somewhere in the mid-80s. The models were intense, but fair to teachers. The problem was that the system did not support implementation of the model at appropriate levels. The literature said no more than ten teachers should be (or could fairly be) evaluated by a given principal. But that's not how things are done in the schools. Instead, we kept the design, but required principal as to implement it with a faculty of 30, 40, 50, or more teachers. A good idea - ruined. Did we not learn our lessons? Did the same fate befall TPGES?
  • I assume that if school districts were able to turnaround low performing schools they already would have...so I'm not sure what's new here.
  • The ultimate elimination of program reviews was predictable from the start.
  • Is there any evidence that parents and teachers do a poor job of selecting principals presently, or is this just a power grab by superintendents?
 These don't feel like big changes to me. What did C-J miss?
This from the Courier-Journal:
As it stands now, Senate Bill 1 is 99 pages of sweeping reform of education policy in Kentucky.

Because it's so big and touches so many aspects of schools and education, it's not an easy legislation to digest in a quick soundbite.

But if it passes, parents, students and teachers will feel its effect in many ways, whether it's in proposed changes in how to keep schools accountable, what to do with low-performing schools, who should be in charge of teacher evaluations and more.

Some legislators, hoping to make this large, omnibus bill easier to digest, have called it the "teachers can teach" bill or the "Common Core killer."

Here are some of the major points in the bill, which is now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration:

1. It sets up a plan for reviewing and changing the standards that children must know at each grade level.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said his proposed legislation would effectively do away with the Common Core State Standards in Kentucky.

What the bill does do is set up a new way of reviewing Kentucky's education standards, which are the basic things that students are expected to know at different grade levels.
Curriculum, instruction and state-mandated exams are supposed to be aligned to the state's standards.

The bill would have the Kentucky Department of Education review the science, math, social studies, and language arts and writing standards every six years on a staggered basis using the help of a number of review committees and advisory panels.

Certainly, if changes are made to the existing standards, they would no longer technically be completely considered the Common Core standards.

2. It would hand teacher evaluations back to local school districts to oversee.

Instead of the current statewide Professional Growth and Effectiveness System that is used to evaluate teachers in Kentucky, the bill would allow school districts to come up with their own evaluation systems that are expected to be aligned to a state framework. The evaluations would have to have four different performance levels under the bill.

3. It changes how to deal with struggling, low-performing schools, giving much of the oversight to school districts.

Among other provisions in the bill related to a struggling school, when a school is listed as needing comprehensive support, the local school board would choose a team from within the district, from the state or from an outside contractor to help the school turn around. The district's superintendent would get to decide whether a principal stays or must go, rather than that being a state determination.

If the low-performing school does not make annual progress for two years in a row, the state can then enter the school intervention process, under the bill.

4. It eliminates program reviews.

For the last couple years, program reviews have made up 23 percent of a school's accountability score. They are a school's self-evaluation of the quality of some of its programs, such as its arts and humanities and practical living programs.

The idea was to have some way to measure the quality of instruction in areas that aren't easily measured by standardized tests, but some school officials have said the paperwork behind them is onerous, and a Kentucky Department of Education review in 2015 said that schools were sometimes over-scoring themselves on these program reviews.

5. It would give all the state's superintendents more say in the principal selection process.

The bill would change language in statute to allow all school districts to give superintendents more say in the principal selection process. Last year, Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill that gives the superintendent the authority to bring specific candidates to the school-based decision-making councils — who generally get to pick new principals — for consideration.

The current statute language only gives that ability to Jefferson County Public Schools, but Senate Bill 1 would open it up to all school districts.
 * The Ed Week content was expanded..  

Looking down the barrel on campus

Police have no means of differentiating 
“bad guys with guns”  
“good guys with guns”

Do we want guns on campus? Well, they could be on the way, and they could get here before you know it. Now pending before the Kentucky General Assembly are three measures that would allow guns on all school campuses.

Many shooters target a location based on an emotional grievance or an attachment to a particular person or place. An FBI study of 160 active shootings between 2000 and 2013 (defined as a shooter actively attempting to kill people in a populated area, regardless of the amount of fatalities) shows that of the shootings that occurred in commercial or educational areas, the shooter had some relationship with the area in 63 percent of the cases, and in the vast majority of cases shooters in school-related incident were students of the school. In about 10% of the incidents studied the shooter targeted a current, or estranged, love interest.


HB249 would force all KY PUBLIC K-12 SCHOOLS and UNIVERSITIES to allow permit holders to conceal carry on their property. This bill covers all government buildings including LIBRARIES, COURTHOUSES (except courtrooms), DMV, REST STOPS etc. There are very few exceptions (police stations, health facilities, government meetings). This bill is currently in the House Education Committee.

HB316 is the sister bill to SB7. This bill eliminates the permit requirement (training/safety class and background check) to conceal carry. This bill is different than SB7 in that it keeps the age to carry at 21. Gun lobby groups are working hard to pressure KY legislators to support this bill. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

SB7 was pulled for the Veterans Affairs Committee meeting last week and did not get a vote. Gun lobby groups are pressuring Senators to revive the bill and support it. 3 additional co-sponsors have been added.

If you want to influence legislative action, it is important to act immediately. These bills could very quickly be moved out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote.

Citizens can call the KY Legislative Comment Line: 1-800-372-7181

Leave a message for your state representative and the whole Education Committee advising them on how to vote on HB249, HB 316, and SB7

While most concealed-carry permit holders are responsible and law-abiding, it will only take a fraction of irresponsible owners for additional fatalities to rack up on our campuses, argues Nate Kreuter.in this piece from Inside Higher Ed:

Concealed in Our Classrooms

On Aug. 1, 1966, in the city of Austin, Texas, on the campus of the University of Texas, gunman Charles Whitman arguably began the tragic trend of campus shootings that continues today. When I was in my second year of graduate school, attending classes and teaching quite literally in the shadow of the tower that Whitman had fired from, Texas Monthly published an excellent reflection on the event to mark its 40th anniversary. During Whitman’s assault from UT Austin’s iconic central tower, locals with firearms of their own returned fire. Notably, they used long rifles, not the handguns that many citizens carry today in legal concealment. They were not firing with sidearms at close quarters but with more accurate weapons over greater distances.

According to the 2006 Texas Monthly article, witness Clif Drummond reported, “Students with deer rifles were leaning up against telephone poles, using the pole, which is rather narrow, as their shield. And they were firing like crazy back at the Tower.” In the same article, witness Brenda Bell recalled, “I don’t know where these vigilantes came from, but they took over Parlin Hall and were crashing around, firing guns. There was massive testosterone.”

Even in 1966, opinion was mixed as to whether this citizen response had been harmful or helpful. Eventually Whitman was killed by police officers who stormed his position. Some of them claimed that the covering fire provided by citizens had reduced Whitman’s ability to take more lives than he did, while some victims present in the melee claimed that the return fire of untrained civilians created confusion and itself jeopardized the safety of those fleeing Whitman’s rampage. Importantly, by barricading himself in a protected and tactically advantageous position, Whitman’s assault was very different from most subsequent campus shootings. In those, assailants frequently appear to move from position to position and to not always choose those that offer the physical protection Whitman fired from. Had Whitman been moving about, he would have been more exposed, but the confusion of those firing back would also have been greater -- as would their chances of hitting an innocent bystander.

Now Texas, both the state and its public university system, finds itself at the fore of how to move forward within a society in which campus shootings are no longer novel but assumed to be nearly inevitable. Recently passed legislation has made it legal for students, staff and faculty to carry concealed weapons, but the law has left large portions of its implementation up to individual campuses. Only private colleges and universities in the state can opt out entirely from allowing concealed weapons on their campuses, and virtually all of them have, including conservatively aligned Baylor University. University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, a retired admiral and no stranger to the violence weapons are capable of, opposed the legislation.

Like McRaven, campus law enforcement leaders and associations oppose legislation that would allow concealed weapons on campuses, not on ideological grounds but for the simple reason that, if they do ever have to respond to an active shooter, they will have no means of differentiating “bad guys with guns” from “good guys with guns.” And in fact, they are trained in active shooter situations to fire at any civilian with a gun immediately, before any other assessment of the situation. They also are entirely unconvinced, as law enforcement professionals, that concealed weapons would make college campuses safer.

The Texas legislation has not taken full effect yet, but in terms of employment, UT Austin is already beginning to feel its effects. A prominent dean cited the legislation as a factor in his recent decision to leave the university, while another candidate for a deanship withdrew from a job search, citing the legislation as his singular reason for doing so. Recently, a University of Houston presentation slide regarding the new Texas campus-carry legislation went viral, primarily because it made explicit the chilling effect that many educators anticipate guns will have on classroom discussions and university life.

Just a little over three years ago, as my own state of North Carolina considered similar legislation, I wrote a column contemplating the idle fantasy that perhaps I would quit my job if guns were permitted in my own state’s classrooms. The backlash I experienced from pro-gun individuals and groups was striking, widespread and bordering on libelous. I remain, despite owning guns and understanding them well, strongly opposed to allowing students, faculty and staff to carry weapons on college campuses.

I will readily concede and agree that the vast, vast, vast majority of concealed-carry permit holders are law-abiding citizens. And because they have gone through the proper processes to obtain permits, they are likely to be more law-abiding than citizens who own guns but have not obtained similar permits.

I also am not really concerned that the average concealed permit holder would ever intentionally threaten me or another member of my campus community. Thousands of permit holders walk around daily, experiencing the routine frustrations and maddening conflicts of contemporary American life without pulling their weapons and making threats. The average concealed-carry permit holder realizes the inappropriateness of such behavior and truly reserves his or her weapon for life-threatening situations. And fortunately, even though life-threatening situations precipitated by assailants are all too common in our culture, the average concealed-carry permit holder never has occasion to pull their weapon in response to a threat. They are armed against possible threats, even though such threats are statistically unlikely to face the average concealed-carry permit holder. All of which I believe is fine, the vast majority of the time.

I also believe that those who advocate for allowing guns on our campuses generally mean well. They truly believe -- mistakenly -- that such weapons will make us safer. I disagree with them on that point, but I do acknowledge that they, like all of us, want our public places to be safe and free of violence. Their philosophy of how to prevent violence is, unfortunately, bolstered primarily by frequently unverifiable anecdotes and inaccurate “scholarship” by gun-rights advocate John Lott.

And while most concealed carry permit holders are responsible and law-abiding, it will only take a fraction of irresponsible owners for additional fatalities to rack up on our campuses. There will be accidental discharges, suicides and gun-backed altercations that otherwise will not exist.

There are two primary arguments for why guns should be allowed onto our campuses, both equally unconvincing.

The Deterrence Argument. Advocates for allowing students and faculty members with appropriate permits to carry guns on college campuses often argue that the presence of concealed weapons will deter acts of violence. Because the weapons are required by law to be kept concealed, the logic goes, would-be perpetrators of violence will think twice before initiating their violent plans, possibly abandoning them entirely.

But while there is a certain Occam’s razor simplicity to this logic, repeated college campus shootings have shown us that attackers often do not expect to survive their rampages. They seem in many cases to anticipate taking their own lives or inflicting as much damage as possible until brought down by law enforcement, which leads to the second argument. Rather than entirely deterring an attack, the presence of concealed weapons seems likely to simply encourage an attacker to strategize further, finding scenarios where concealed weapons holders are likely to be absent or without their weapons.

The Intervention Argument. Advocates of on-campus concealed carry also argue that when a shooting does commence, law-abiding concealed-weapon carriers will be able to intervene and therefore cut short the time and scope of the attacker’s rampage. The biggest hole in this argument is that permit holders of concealed weapons by and large are not trained for how to respond to active-shooter situations. Certainly some concealed-weapons carriers have a military or law-enforcement background wherein they did receive such training, but they are a slim minority. Concealed-carry classes do not train permit holders how to respond to hostile fire or active-shooter situations.

Instead, such classes, which can be completed in a single day in most states, are concerned with educating students about the laws governing their concealed-carry permits, about basic gun safety principles and basic gun use. In other words, the highly difficult active-shooter response training, which military and law-enforcement personnel spend dozens upon dozens of hours practicing in simulated environments, is simply not a part of concealed-permit class curricula. Having a concealed permit tells us nothing of whether or not the permit holder is competent to respond to an active shooter. Indeed, during the recent attack at Umpqua Community College, a military veteran carrying a legally concealed weapon made the prudent decision not to attempt to intervene, citing concern about interfering with the police response or being mistaken for the murderer.

Most concealed-carry permit holders have not experienced combat and been trained how to fire accurately or judiciously in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, the idea that citizen defenders will neutralize the mentally ill assailants who more and more routinely threaten campus safety is a fantasy. It is the boys’ dream of being a hero, but carried often by those who have not been taught how to act with heroism, as our military and law-enforcement personnel have been trained.

My idle fantasy of three years ago, of quitting if guns come to my campus, was just that, idle fantasy. I rely on my job and according to my colleagues and students am good at it. What will I do if concealed carry is permitted on my campus? Unhappily, I will begin carrying a gun, hoping never to have to reveal it, let alone use it, and on who? A student? A colleague? In a last-ditch effort at self-defense because our society has decided that the only last option is for the innocent to take up their own defense? I will worry every day that a fellow gun carrier might behave irresponsibly, creating an accidental discharge in my classroom or overreacting to a situation that is not at all life-threatening.

The new Texas legislation allowing students, faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus will take effect on Aug. 1, 2016, the precise 50th anniversary of Charles Whitman’s rampage.
Nate Kreuter is an assistant professor in the English department at Western Carolina University, where he teaches writing and rhetoric.

Hat tip to Carolyn, and The Trace.