Snyder signs legislation expanding educational opportunities

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LANSING, Mich. ‒ Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation expanding educational opportunities and choices for students and families by increasing the number of cyber charter schools and broadening eligibility for dual enrollment programs.

The reforms help students to best meet their needs while complementing Michigan’s already outstanding traditional public schools.

Michigan students can now achieve a quality education without boundaries,” Snyder said. “Empowering more parents and students with the option to enroll in cyber charter schools and attend college level courses increases not only their educational opportunities, but also their potential for success.”

Senate Bill 619, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Colbeck, lifts the cap on the number of cyber charter schools, and sets an enrollment limit of 2 percent of student population. It also removes the requirement of cyber school students having been previously enrolled in a public school.

Any applicant for a cyber school contract must demonstrate experience delivering a quality education program that improves student academic achievement, and offer any configuration of grades K-12 or all of those grades. Students will be issued a computing device by the school and the school will be responsible for subsidizing the cost of Internet access.

SB 619 is now Public Act 129 of 2012.

“One of the most innovative educational opportunities we can offer our children is the inclusion of cyber charter school options for our public school students,” Colbeck said. “These schools provide a free, public education to students that can be tailored to address each child’s strengths and weaknesses while providing increased one-on-one communication with a teacher.

“Providing more choice in public education empowers parents and gives them greater input in determining the best learning environment for their children. Cyber charter schools are a unique way to broaden that choice for many of Michigan’s families.”

Also signed as part of the package were:

SB 621, sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen, removes restrictions preventing public schools from receiving state aid funds to reimburse costs spent on some home and private schooled students who take classes at the public school, and allows any school in the student’s ISD or adjacent ISD to make a claim of reimbursement. SB 621 is now PA 130 of 2012.

SBs 622, 623, 709 and 710, sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons, expand the eligibility for high school students to participate in dual enrollment programs at community colleges or universities, or at career and technical preparation programs by removing a requirement that a student be a junior. The measures also allow home and private schooled students to enroll. The bills are now PAs 131-134 of 2012.

Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on the bills.

#####

CCSA Calls for the Non-Renewal of 10 Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance

December 15, 2011

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575
vwaters@calcharters.org

SACRAMENTO, California (Dec. 15, 2011).–The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is calling today for the non-renewal of 10 charter schools from across California that are below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. This public call for non-renewal represents a significant step towards advancing accountability and fulfilling our collective promise of quality education for children across the state.

“The Charter Schools Act, approved in California in 1992, opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for higher accountability. California’s charter schools are serious about ensuring that the movement improves pupil learning and creates significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional public school system for our students,” said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. “To that end, CCSA is taking a lead role in ensuring appropriate academic accountability within the movement by establishing clear and transparent academic performance expectations for charter schools.”

“We cannot have an honest discussion about education reform and increasing accountability without closing the charters that have demonstrated an inability to meet the challenge of excellence–granted to us by law–and chronically underperform. Our accountability framework has been pressure tested, analyzed and deliberated thoroughly. The time to act on persistently low-performing schools is now, because our children’s education cannot be put on the back-burner,” said Myrna Castrejón, senior vice president, Achievement and Performance Management, CCSA.

In conjunction with CCSA’s Member Council (which consists of charter school leaders from across California), and in consultation with technical experts, CCSA developed an Accountability Framework that is a three-dimensional model that hones in on the value added by schools, as well as measures of academic status and growth. The Framework is the basis of CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal, a minimum performance standard that CCSA developed and uses as part of its advocacy efforts for charter schools seeking a renewal of their petition. Under California law, charter school petitions are authorized for up to a five-year term, and may be renewed by the authorizer for five more years. To inform schools, authorizers and the public on school performance, CCSA publishes Academic Accountability Report Cards every fall that show the results of each charter school on the Accountability Framework and CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decisions about whether to renew a school’s charter.

Upon the publication of the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) results, CCSA identified thirty-one (31) charter schools from across California that are “Below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal.” Of those 31, 11 schools’ charters expire before June 2012, and thus are in the process of petition renewal. CCSA provided all schools above and below criteria an opportunity to provide demographic data corrections and for those schools below criteria, an opportunity to submit additional student level, longitudinal data. CCSA analyzed the data provided and determined that of the 11 schools in renewal, 10 schools still do not meet CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA has informed these schools of this circumstance, and will take steps toward informing the authorizer and encouraging it to exercise their authority not to renew the charter, and close the school.

In order to meet CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal, charter schools must have operated for a minimum of four years and meet at least one of the following:

  • Academic Performance Index (API) score of at least 700 in most recent year
  • 3-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points (2010-11 growth + 2009-10 growth + 2008-09 growth)
  • Within range of or exceeding predicted performance based on similar student populations statewide, for at least two out of the last three years, based on CCSA’s metric, the Similar Students Measure.

In all, the 10 charter schools that do not meet CCSA’s standard for renewal represent slightly more than 1% of the 982 charter schools currently in operation in California, and represent all school types and regions of the state.

The list of schools includes:

School Name City Authorizer
Antelope View Charter Antelope Center Joint Unified
California Aerospace Academy McClellan Twin Rivers Unified
California Virtual Academy @ Kern Simi Valley Maricopa Unified
Leadership High San Francisco San Francisco Unified
Los Angeles County Online High Palmdale Antelope Valley Union High
Nubia Leadership Academy San Diego San Diego Unified
Uncharted Shores Academy Crescent City Del Norte County Office of Education
West County Community High Richmond West Contra Costa Unified
West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter West Sacramento Washington Unified
Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter Marysville Yuba County Office of Education

“It is encouraging to see the level of support the Association has received in this call for non-renewal and closure, as we believe that closure of persistently low-performing schools is a natural part of a healthy charter school movement, and will allow us to continue reinventing public education in California, and offer the best quality education possible to students everywhere. Ultimately, the intent of the Charter Schools Act cannot be fulfilled if charter schools do not improve pupil learning and increase learning opportunities for all pupils,” added Wallace.

For more information regarding CCSA’s Accountability initiative, visit www.ccsa.org/advocacy/accountability, which includes links to the reports, and an FAQ on the Public Call for Non-Renewal.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and more than 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California’s student population. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.

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As State’s First Virtual School Grows, So Do Concerns



By:

Hadley Green


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October 1, 2015


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The Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield’s student computer lab is seen in the school’s main office in Greenfield. (Hadley Green for WBUR)

At a lunchtime meeting, teachers from the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield are swapping classroom stories between bites of salmon and roasted potatoes. It’s a late August day, the first in a week of teacher training, and these educators know the coming year will bring back some challenges they’ve encountered before in their online-teaching careers.

“In virtual it’s different. You need to be constantly checking for understanding to make sure there’s comprehension,” says Jason Martin, who’s in his third year as an English teacher at the academy. “You can’t see the kid; they can see you.”

But as teachers focus on their challenges in the online classroom, others are raising concerns about the nature of the Greenfield school itself. Based on per-pupil spending, WBUR estimates that the school received more than $4.1 million of public money for student tuition in 2014, but it ranked among the lowest performing 20 percent of public schools in the state that year. The academy has been on probation since October 2014.

Mitchell Chester, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, recommended probation then, primarily because, he told the state education board, he had “concerns regarding the academic performance and governance of this virtual school, which has declined each year since 2010.”

MAVA is the first virtual school in Massachusetts; it opened in 2010 with 217 students in kindergarten through high school. Since then, its enrollment has more than tripled, with 692 students last year.

Using a curriculum and online platform provided by K12 Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit virtual school provider, it offers a flexible structure. Students take all their classes from home, online, and can complete their coursework on their own schedule.

Students may attend a virtual school for a variety of reasons. Some are seriously ill or have emotional challenges; others travel for sports teams or have extracurricular activities that make it difficult for them to attend in person.

“I don’t think virtual schools are here to take the place of brick and mortar,” says Carl Tillona, the academy’s principal. “They’re just here to fill that very small niche of serving those students who, for whatever reason, cannot make it into a brick and mortar.”

Teachers and administrators of the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield prepare for the upcoming school year at an August teacher training. (Hadley Green for WBUR)

In part because there are no classrooms, MAVA had the highest student-to-teacher ratio in the state: 47.2 students for each teacher last year, according to the state education department’s report on school districts. The only other ratio higher than 25-to-1 was at TEC Connections Academy, which opened last year as the state’s second virtual school. (The rankings classify both schools as “virtual school districts.”)

Teachers’ salaries at MAVA are paid out of K12 Inc.’s share of the public money that goes to the school. Last year, K12 received $2.7 million, or about 65 percent of the total, Tillona says, for those salaries as well as textbooks, computers and learning supplies. The school itself uses the rest, about $1.4 million, for an English language learners program, special education, Title I initiatives, family engagement coordinators and administrators, Tillona says.

In 2015, K12 reported spending about 64 percent of its revenue on instructional services — and 32 percent on “selling, administrative, and other expenses,” including advertising and marketing costs.

The company, which is based in Herndon, Virginia, does not break out how much it spends on marketing. Asked why, Mike Kraft, vice president of finance and communications at K12 Inc., replied, “No reason.” Kenneth Klau, the director of digital learning for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, also declined to comment on K12 Inc.’s marketing expenses.

But in 2012, USA Today estimated, the company spent more than $21 million on advertising. Of that, USA Today said, K12 spent “$631,000 to advertise on Nickelodeon, $601,600 on The Cartoon Network and $671,400 on MeetMe.com,” a social networking site.

K12 reported a net income of $9,326,000 in its 2015 annual report, on revenues of $948,294,000. Of that revenue, $852,998,000 came from K12’s public school programs nationwide.

“How much money, how much profit is K12 making on school choice?” asks Maryelen Calderwood, who chairs the Greenfield School Committee. She says K12’s lawyer and the former committee chair told her “it was none of my business.”

Calderwood has opposed using a private company for a publicly funded online school. Although it is based in Greenfield, the school is not governed by the Greenfield School Committee because it is considered its own “virtual district,” along the lines of a charter school.

“It’s part of a larger scheme to privatize public education,” Calderwood says. “It’s all linked to gathering public money and making a profit off of it.”

Critics note that most K12 schools fall short of the academic standards they’re supposed to meet.

“About 30 percent of the [K12 Inc.] schools meet their respective state expectations and have acceptable ratings as schools,” says Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University and author of a 2015 report on virtual schools. “It’s quite dismal.”

Principal Carl Tillona speaks with Sue Powers, high school family engagement coordinator. (Hadley Green for WBUR)

So why do these schools continue to spread?

“Profit,” says Miron.

“Some people think, ‘Isn’t it terrible, they’re making profit on public schools,’ ” he says. But Miron sees it differently. “They’re for-profit companies; they’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” he says.

“We just have to figure out the right incentives and oversight,” Miron argues, “so that they act on the public’s best behalf, rather than the stockholders’ personal interests.”

The education department’s Klau says the state does provide sufficient oversight of the two virtual schools here. “We do a full-fledged accountability review annually,” he says. “In addition, they submit their financials in an end-of-year annual report.”

Like MAVA, the state’s other virtual school is growing fast. TEC Connections Academy, based in East Walpole,  says its enrollment jumped to 670 students this year, up from 275 last year — a 140 percent increase.

Nationally, Miron estimates, 50 to 60 new virtual schools open each year. There were 400 in the U.S. during the last school year, according to a 2015 report published by the National Education Policy Center.

“In the next fiscal year, we look to expand into states like Alabama, which passed legislation this year to allow for the formation of a statewide online charter school,” Nate Davis, K12’s chairman and chief financial officer, says in the company’s most recent earnings conference call.

“Prospects also look good in some other states like Virginia, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

About Learning Lab

Learning Lab reports on innovation and reform in education. We’re interested in what experiments are happening in Massachusetts k-12 schools, what is being learned, and who is behind them. We want to understand how Massachusetts students will be learning two, five, and ten years from now.

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New School Choice Framework Expands What ‘Quality’ Can Mean

Choosing a school to send a student to can be a tough decision for families: How close is the school to my house? How do the academics rate?



METCO: A Great Experience, But Only For The Few?

William “Sir William” Mosley loved playing the baritone horn as a member of Wayland High’s marching band. As a middle school student, Mosley dedicated hours outside of school to crafting his sound on the large brass instrument.

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Larry Lee started his own blog, which is a good thing, because he understands Alabama politics and cares deeply about improving public education.


In this post, he follows the money that preceded the legislature’s approval of charter schools.


He writes:


Even an amateur swami with a cloudy crystal ball could have told us how the recent vote to approve charter schools in Alabama would play out. In fact, he didn’t even have to look at his ball, they could have looked at 2014 campaign financial disclosures instead.


There they would have found a trail of contributions of thousands and thousands of dollars from charter supporters to friendly legislators.


This bill passed the Senate 22-12 the first time it was voted on. One senator did not vote, eight Democrats voted against it, as did the one Independent and three Republicans. All yes votes were Republican.


Interesting that in the deep South, the Democrats know what “school choice” will lead to. Segregation.


Where did the money come from?


The “Big Three” donors supporting charters last year were Bob Riley’s Alabama 2014 PAC, the Business Council of Alabama’s Progress PAC (run by Billy Canary) and Speaker Mike Hubbard’s Storm PAC. (These three have also been strong supporters of the Alabama Accountability Act.)


Together, they spent $5.1 million dollars in 2014 in hopes of having friendly politicians in place. Obviously their plan worked well. This money came from an assortment of sources. While BCA depends on their Alabama members for support, the Riley and Hubbard PACs cast a wider net and got checks from across the country. Companies such a Pfizer, General Electric, Anheuser Busch, Cemex and International Paper donated. As did pay day lenders and charter supporters like StudentsFirst and K12….


Let’s take a closer look at how the pot was split in the Senate.


None of the eight Democrats or the lone Independent who voted against charters got a penny from Riley, Hubbard or BCA. The Republican who did not vote got $1,000 and the three Republicans who voted “nay” got a total of $77,000, mostly from BCA.


Of the 22 Republican “yea” votes, one who few thought would win, got nothing. Of the remaining 21, six had either no opposition or token opposition. They only received $8,000 total. The remaining 15 got $987,815 in all, an average of $65,854 each. However, some were more equal than others as five got more than $100,000 each.


In addition to contributions from the “Big Three,” StudentsFirst, a Sacramento, CA group with 10 lobbyists in Alabama, spent $61,958. And the Alabama Federation for Children, which was solely supported by checks from millionaires in California, Michigan and Arkansas spent $101,748. Evidently “Alabama values” include California millionaires.


In all, the 15 senators who had substantial challenges got $1,142,522 from the charter supporters just mentioned for an average of $76,168.


Follow the money. It’s rightwing money to privatize public education.
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1DS4Y1W

K12 has a well-established record as a highly profitable virtual charter school chain with low graduation rates, high turnover, and low test scores. The NCAA removed accreditation from a dozen K12 schools because of poor academics. So why is there a K12 in California?


 


Here is a report from Donald Cohen of “In the Public Interest”:


 


It says:


 


In every year since it began graduating students, except 2013, CAVA has had more dropouts than graduates. Its academic growth was negative for most of its history and it did not keep up with other demographically similar schools after 2005. Its Academic Performance Index scores consistently ranked poorly against oth- er demographically similar schools and the state as a whole….


 


Each CAVA location currently re- ceives full, per-pupil public education funding.18 Students attend school from home computers. The majority of the teachers we interviewed reported that their students are eligible to be counted as having attended with as little as one minute of log in time each day.


 


CAVA had an average graduation rate of 36%, compared to the state graduation rate for the same period of 78%.


 


Donald Cohen wrote the following in his newsletter about CAVA:


 


 


You’re receiving our newsletter a little later than usual this week. That’s because today I’m in California’s capitol to speak about ITPI’s extensive research into the largest provider of online K-12 education in California known as CAVA (California Virtual Academies) and I want to share our findings with you, too. Funded by taxpayers with public education dollars, CAVA enrolls 14,497 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at 11 virtual schools. The schools are managed by a subsidiary of K12 Inc., a publicly traded education company that produced $55 million in profits last year.


 


Our report shows that students at CAVA are at risk of low-quality educational outcomes, and some are falling through the cracks entirely, in a poorly resourced and troubled educational environment. The numbers show lower graduation rates and higher dropout rates, as well as lower academic performance and rankings, than in traditional schools in the state with similar demographics. Teachers we interviewed reported technological problems, limited availability of textbooks, and an environment that makes it difficult for students to thrive. The books show that in 2011-2012, the average CAVA teacher salary was close to half of average teacher pay in the state while K12 Inc. paid almost $11 million total to its top six executives.


 


CAVA’s problems in California are not isolated incidents. K12 Inc. managed schools have a track record of poor outcomes, including struggling academic performance and low graduation rates, in multiple states including Illinois, Colorado and Pennsylvania. K12’s reputation and CAVA’s extensive issues add up to a case study on the need for better oversight to ensure children are receiving a quality education.


 


It’s too easy for kids to fall through the cracks in CAVA’s current online schooling system so we are calling on California to immediately increase oversight of online education. Despite the state having passed some of the most forward-thinking regulations around virtual learning, leaders in Sacramento must revisit what the state can do to ensure quality education for students no matter what kind of institution they are enrolled in. It is their responsibility to ensure the state is spending public education dollars efficiently and wisely.


Thanks,


 


Donald Cohen

Executive Director

In The Public Interest
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog » K12 Inc. http://ift.tt/1x4fp0x

K12 has a well-established record as a highly profitable virtual charter school chain with low graduation rates, high turnover, and low test scores. The NCAA removed accreditation from a dozen K12 schools because of poor academics. So why is there a K12 in California?


 


Here is a report from Donald Cohen of “In the Public Interest”:


 


It says:


 


In every year since it began graduating students, except 2013, CAVA has had more dropouts than graduates. Its academic growth was negative for most of its history and it did not keep up with other demographically similar schools after 2005. Its Academic Performance Index scores consistently ranked poorly against oth- er demographically similar schools and the state as a whole….


 


Each CAVA location currently re- ceives full, per-pupil public education funding.18 Students attend school from home computers. The majority of the teachers we interviewed reported that their students are eligible to be counted as having attended with as little as one minute of log in time each day.


 


CAVA had an average graduation rate of 36%, compared to the state graduation rate for the same period of 78%.


 


Donald Cohen wrote the following in his newsletter about CAVA:


 


 


You’re receiving our newsletter a little later than usual this week. That’s because today I’m in California’s capitol to speak about ITPI’s extensive research into the largest provider of online K-12 education in California known as CAVA (California Virtual Academies) and I want to share our findings with you, too. Funded by taxpayers with public education dollars, CAVA enrolls 14,497 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at 11 virtual schools. The schools are managed by a subsidiary of K12 Inc., a publicly traded education company that produced $55 million in profits last year.


 


Our report shows that students at CAVA are at risk of low-quality educational outcomes, and some are falling through the cracks entirely, in a poorly resourced and troubled educational environment. The numbers show lower graduation rates and higher dropout rates, as well as lower academic performance and rankings, than in traditional schools in the state with similar demographics. Teachers we interviewed reported technological problems, limited availability of textbooks, and an environment that makes it difficult for students to thrive. The books show that in 2011-2012, the average CAVA teacher salary was close to half of average teacher pay in the state while K12 Inc. paid almost $11 million total to its top six executives.


 


CAVA’s problems in California are not isolated incidents. K12 Inc. managed schools have a track record of poor outcomes, including struggling academic performance and low graduation rates, in multiple states including Illinois, Colorado and Pennsylvania. K12’s reputation and CAVA’s extensive issues add up to a case study on the need for better oversight to ensure children are receiving a quality education.


 


It’s too easy for kids to fall through the cracks in CAVA’s current online schooling system so we are calling on California to immediately increase oversight of online education. Despite the state having passed some of the most forward-thinking regulations around virtual learning, leaders in Sacramento must revisit what the state can do to ensure quality education for students no matter what kind of institution they are enrolled in. It is their responsibility to ensure the state is spending public education dollars efficiently and wisely.


Thanks,


 


Donald Cohen

Executive Director

In The Public Interest
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1x4fp0x

Virtual charter schools get go-ahead from NC education board | The Progressive Pulse

Virtual charter schools get go-ahead from NC education board

Thursday, February 5, 2015 InNews

http://thetruthaboutk12.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/09/As expected, the State Board of Education gave its blessing Thursday to two virtual charter schools applying for a new pilot program set up by the state legislature.

The new public schools will allow students to take their entire course loads remotely, and stand to send millions in public education dollars to two companies that will manage the daily operations of the virtual schools.

N.C. Policy Watch has been covering the push by K12, Inc., the company behind the N.C. Virtual Academy, since 2011 to open a virtual charter school in North Carolina. The company has been criticized in other states for its aggressive lobbying of public officials to open schools, as well as low academic results from many of the public schools it manages.

On Thursday, the state board also decided to drop a requirement that would have required schools to provide or pay for learning coaches for students whose parents can’t serve in that role.

Here’s more from my article earlier today:

Get ready to add “attend third-grade” to the growing list of things you can do over the Internet in North Carolina, after ordering pizzas and watching cat videos.

The State Board of Education, which oversees public education in the state, is expected to approve two charter schools today that will teach children from their home computers in schools run by Wall Street-traded companies.

Daily monitoring would be in the hands of “learning coaches,” a role that’s been filled by parents, guardians and athletic coaches in the more than 30 other states that offer publicly-funded virtual schooling options.

Today’s anticipated vote of approval (click here to listen to an audio stream of today’s meeting) will be a significant change of the state board, which fought an attempt in the courts from the N.C. Virtual Academy to open up a virtual school three years ago.

If approved, the N.C. Virtual Academy (to be run by K12, Inc., NYSE:LRN) and N.C. Connections Academy (to be run by Connections Academy, owned by education giant Pearson, NYSE:PSO) will be able to enroll up to 1,500 students each from across the state, and send millions in public education dollars to schools run by private education companies.

You can read the entire piece here.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reviewed the performance of the state’s charter schools and concluded that most were not meeting their academic targets and not closing achievement gaps.


 


Minnesota was the home of the charter movement, which began with high expectations as a progressive experiment but has turned into a favorite mechanism in many states to promote privatization of public education and to generate profits for charter corporations like Imagine, Charter Schools USA, and K12. Today, charter advocates claim that their privately managed charters will “save low-income students from failing public schools,” but the Minnesota experience suggests that charters face the same challenges as public schools, which is magnified by high teacher turnover in charter schools.


 


 


The Star-Tribune article by reporter Kim McGuire begins:


 


 


Students in most Minnesota charter schools are failing to hit learning targets and are not achieving adequate academic growth, according to a Star Tribune analysis of school performance data.

The analysis of 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools show that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.


 

Between 2011 and 2014, 20 charter schools failed every year to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.

A top official with the Minnesota Department of Education says she is troubled by the data, which runs counter to “the public narrative” that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.


 

“We hear, as we should, about the highfliers and the schools that are beating the odds, but I think we need to pay even more attention to the schools that are persistently failing to meet expectations,” said Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff. Charter school advocates strongly defend their performance. They say the vast majority of schools that aren’t showing enough improvement serve at-risk populations, students who are poor, homeless, with limited English proficiency, or are in danger of dropping out.

“Our students, they’re coming from different environments, both home and school, where they’ve never had the chance to be successful,” said April Harrison, executive director of LoveWorks Academy, a Minneapolis charter school that has the state’s lowest rating. “No one has ever taken the time to say, ‘What’s going on with you? How can I help you?’ That’s what we do.”


 

Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color. But the new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed to deliver on teaching innovation.

“Schools promised they were going to help turn around things for these very challenging student populations,” said Kyle Serrette, director of education for the New York City-based Center for Popular Democracy. “Now, here we are 20 years later and they’re realizing that they have the same troubles of public schools systems.”

More than half of schools analyzed from 2011 to 2014 were also failing to meet the department’s expectations for academic growth, the gains made from year to year in reading and math.
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/17mj0Qy

Parents and Educators Respond to Governor Cuomo

New York State Allies for Public Education wrote a research-based response to a letter written on behalf of Governor Cuomo by his director of state operations Jim Malatras. The letter makes incisive points that are relevant to every state and every district in the nation so I am posting it in full. Please open the post to see the links to research.NYS Allies for Public EducationJanuary 5 2015Dear Governor CuomoWe the undersigned members of NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) are writing in response to the December 18th letter to the Commissioner and Chancellor that Mr. Malatras wrote on your behalf. By responding to the questions posed we want to separate fact from misinformation. We are also very troubled by several questions that were not included in your letter which continues to demonstrate a disconnect between your office and the public.We strongly believe in the importance and power of public education for all children. While the vast majority of our students are successful we cannot rest until our struggling students are supported and given the needed resources to be successful.Unfortunately you have based your vision of school reform on a misguided agenda. That agenda includes ineffective strategies for school improvement. If current policies are not corrected more state resources will be wasted and our students futures will be put at even more risk.Lets start at the beginning of the letter. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has established capricious and inaccurate measures of proficiency and college readiness. The proficiency rates that are quoted in the letter (34.8% and 31.4%) reflect arbitrary cut scores set by Commissioner King in 2013. In 2012 proficiency rates in ELA and Math were 55% and 65% by the cut scores set by then-Commissioner Steiner based on a college readiness study that he commissioned in 2010. Prior to 2010 proficiency rates were higher still under Commissioner Mills. In short proficiency is an arbitrarily defined standard and there is good evidence to suggest that NYSED has now set the Common Core standards unreasonably high for political rather than pedagogical reasons.We understand that you believe that over the past four years much has been done to improve public education. We disagree. Our high school graduation rate has barely budged since 2011 and the percentage of students earning a Regents diploma with Advanced Designation has been stagnant for several years and decreased this year. During the past four years the graduation rate for the states English Language learners has dropped by 6 percentage points.The Common Core proficiency rates were essentially flat between year one and two of the new tests (as were the rates on the final two years of the prior test) and our states SAT scores have decreased since 2010. In short although we have engaged in four years of market-based corporate reformsexpansion of charter schools evaluating teachers by student scores imposing the Common Core standards and more time-consuming and developmentally inappropriate teststhere is no evidence that New York schools are improving and there is some evidence that results are moving backward instead. We believe that there is sufficient evidence to change course.Clearly the public agrees. The 2014 Times Union/Siena College poll indicates that 46% of New Yorkers oppose the implementation of the Common Core standards compared to only 23% who support them while 46% oppose the current use of standardized testing compared to 29% who support it. We believe it is time to listen to your constituents rather than double-down on damaging policies that are hurting our children. It is our intent by answering the questions that your office posed to help you advocate for a better and wiser course in the months ahead.Question 1How is current teacher evaluation system credible when only one percent of teachers are rated ineffective? The NYC system was negotiated by Commissioner King directly and no one claims it is an accurate reflection of the reality of the state of education in NYC. What should the percentages be between classroom observations (i.e. subjective measures) and state assessments including state tests (i.e. objective measures)? What percent should be set in law versus collectively bargained? Currently the scoring bands and curve are set locally for the 60 percent subjective measures. What should the scoring bands be for the subjective measure and should the state set a standard scoring band? In general how would you change the law to construct a rigorous state-of-the-art teacher evaluation system?The first question implies that the teacher evaluation system called Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) which you insisted be quickly adopted is deeply flawed. We strongly agree. When it was put in place over one third of the principals of New York State signed a well-documented letter explaining why APPR would have negative consequences for students and harm the profession of teaching. Since that time the evidence against evaluating teachers by test scores has only increased.The New York State School Boards Association recently passed a resolution against the use of student test scores for teacher and principal evaluations and the National Association of Secondary School Principals has also disavowed their use for this purpose. In April of 2014 the American Statistical Association clearly outlined how unreliable this methodology is. Opposition to the evaluation of teachers by test scores is growing among parents as well with only 31% approving of the practice in national polls.Your question implies that test-score based evaluations are good because they are objectivethat is generated by an algorithm devised by the New York State Education Department. We strongly suggest that you review the evidencejust because a number can be generated based on other numbers does not make it a valid measure of performance. To revise APPR to give more weight to test scores would be a grave mistake.You seem troubled that only 1 in 100 teachers were found to be incompetent according to the APPR evaluation system. Do you have research that indicates that the number should be higher or lower? We strongly suggest that you return the decision on how to evaluate teachers to local education officials and each communitys elected school board. Your recent veto of your own Common Core APPR bill demonstrates that your office does not have a clear understanding of teacher evaluation and the problems associated with Common Core testing. Albany bureaucrats should not be in the business of designing evaluation systems and arbitrarily determining what acceptable outcomes for each district should be.Question 2How would you address the problem of removing poor-performing educators when the current 3020-a process makes it virtually impossible to do so? Likewise how would you change the system in New York City where poor-performing educators with disciplinary problems continue to be paid in the absent teacher reserve pool as opposed to being terminated?No one wants incompetent teachers in the classroom. Tenure assures due process not a job for life. You have been misinformed if you believe that the removal of teachers using the 3020a process is impossible.The 3020a proceeding which was streamlined in 2012 can lead to the termination of a teacher in 125 days or less. Teachers can be terminated for insubordination immoral character conduct unbecoming a teacher inefficiency incompetency physical or mental disability neglect of duty or the failure to maintain certification.Most experts say the real crisis in teacher quality specifically in our high needs districts is teacher turnover. According to a study of New York City schools by researchers Ronfeldt Loeb and Wycoff teacher turnover has a significant and negative impact on student achievement in both math and ELA. Moreover teacher turnover is particularly harmful to the achievement of students in schools with large populations of low-performing students of color.We will not attract and retain the most talented teachers especially in high-needs schools by removing their right to due process.Question 3What changes would you make to the teacher training and certification process to make it more rigorous to ensure we recruit the best and brightest teachers? Do you agree that there should be a one-time competency test for all teachers currently in the system? What should be done to improve teaching education programs across the state?We also want best and the brightest to be recruited to teaching which happens by making the profession more attractive to highly talented people who have a desire to commit their lives to guiding and instructing children.Since 2012 and the onset of reform teacher morale is at a 20 year low. New reports have shown that there has been a dramatic drop in enrollment in teacher preparation programswith a 22% decline in New York State in just the last two years. This suggests that the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric targeted to teachers and the assignment of blame for any and all problems in the way our schools are run have made the profession far less attractive. If the current trends continue there will soon be a critical shortage of teachers especially in STEM special education and foreign languages areas in which it is already very difficult to find sufficient candidates.If you are interested in advancing teacher education programs practicing educators should be surveyed especially recent graduates to ascertain how their preparation could have been improved. The idea that the quality of a teacher education program can be assessed by using the student test scores of its graduates is even more unreliable than evaluating teacher quality by means of student test scores. Likewise creating a single high-stakes test to weed out practicing teachers is a gimmick not a sound basis for judgment.Question 4What financial or other incentives would you provide to high-performing teachers and would you empower administrators to make those decisions?The idea that teachers should be financially rewarded when their students receive high test scores has been proposed for decades despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that merit pay does not work including a recent three year study conducted by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University.Merit pay would be a waste of taxpayer dollars that would be far better spent on proven reforms.Question 5Do you think the length of a teachers probationary period should be extended and should the state create a program whereby teachers have to be recertified every several years like lawyers and other professions? What other changes would you propose to the probationary period before a teacher is granted tenure?New York State has a rigorous pathway for teacher certification. In order to earn Initial Certification a candidate must be awarded a bachelors degree pass no fewer than three certification exams spend a semester of mentored student teaching with a certified educator pass a written exam and complete the performance based assessment known as the edTPA.In order to maintain teaching certification and progress to the required Professional Certification teachers must have 3 years of satisfactory teaching experience including one year of mentoring. Additionally they must earn a Masters Degree. Once teachers have completed all of these requirements and obtained their Professional Certificate they must accrue 175 hours of additional professional development every five years.A three-year probationary period during which they are frequently observed and given feedback from principals and other certified observers provides ample opportunity for a school district to assess an educators professionalism growth and ability to incorporate best practices into his or her instruction. It is not unusual for that probationary term to be extended to four or even five years if there are doubts that sufficient progress has not been made. During probation many struggling teachers leave the profession through the resignation process so that fewer need to be formally dismissed.Although teachers are not required to undergo recertification they are required to engage in ongoing professional development and yearly evaluations which is comparable or goes beyond the requirements of other high level professions. Local school districts should be encouraged to continue to develop robust programs and protocols to monitor and support both new and veteran teachers.Question 6What steps would you take to dramatically improve priority or struggling schools that condemn generation of kids to poor educations and thus poor life prospects? Specifically what should we do about the deplorable conditions of the education system in Buffalo?The current practice of shutting down schools that are deemed failing is not an effective long-term strategy. Replacement schools usually do not serve the students in the so-called failing school. These displaced students then remain in a phase-out school with fewer resources and drop out or are displaced to another school with an even higher concentration of at-risk students thus continuing the cycle of school failure and closure.Your question is based on the false assumption that schools are solely responsible for the outcomes of poor and disadvantaged students. Neither high-stakes testing the Common Core or the continual closing of schools can fix the systemic problems of our high-needs schools. NY State has one of the most inequitable funding systems in the nation despite the decision of the states highest court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit that the funding system should be reformed. You have refused to address this inequityschools with the greatest needs continue to receive the least resources and support.As a result class sizes in our highest need districts have grown each year. Lets take Buffalo as an example. In Buffalo many kindergarten classes have grown to 30 students or more compared to a statewide average of twenty students per class. In New York City class sizes have increased sharply since 2007 and last year they were the largest in 15 years in kindergarten through third grades. If you are truly interested in improving outcomes in our highest needs schools these schools must be provided with the resources to reduce class size a proven reform that benefits all students but especially those most at risk.In addition providing resources for health services counseling after school child care and recreational programs to reduce truancy and improve attendance would likely have a positive impact on student learning.Question 7What is your vision for charter schools? As you know in New York City the current charter cap is close to being reached so would you increase the charter school cap? To what? What other reforms would you make to improve charter schools ability to serve all students?The charter cap should not be raised. Many researchers including Macke Raymond head of CREDO a pro-charter research organization funded by the Walton Family Foundation now agree that charter expansion and enhanced competition do not work to improve public schools. Moreover charters do not enroll their fair share of high needs students especially English language learners and special needs students as acknowledged by the NYC Charter Center and independent researchers. According to the 2010 amendment to the New York charter law before charters are renewed or allowed to replicate they must show they enroll and retain equal numbers of at risk students as the districts in which they are located and yet neither the Board of Regents nor SUNY have ever rejected a charter proposal on these grounds despite the fact that many charters have sky high student suspension and attrition rates. Neither SUNY nor the Regents have provided adequate financial oversight and in 95 percent of charter audits the State Comptrollers Office has found corruption or mismanagement. Yet when the Deputy Comptroller wrote a letter to the states major charter-school regulators asking for stronger oversight he received no response.The recent approval by the Regents of a charter school started by a 22 year old who faked his educational background only further reveals the inability of authorizers to carry out their current responsibilities no less authorize yet more charters that could waste taxpayer funds. Meanwhile in New York City where the vast majority of the states charter schools are located about two thirds of these privately-managed schools receive more public funding per pupil than district public schools a disparity that will grow even worse with the new law requiring that charters receive free space paid for by the city or be provided space within the districts already overcrowded public schools. This year NYC charters are siphoning off $1.3 billion in public funds while leading to the concentration of the most at-risk students in public schools with fewer resources and less space. It is no wonder that more NYC voters believe the number of charters should remain the same or decrease than be raised.Question 8Do you support using technology to improve public education like offering online AP courses by college faculty to high schools students who do not have any such courses now even though these changes have been resisted by education special interests?The push towards using more technology in public education is not being resisted by special interests as your letter claims but instead is promoted by special interests including software companies eager to get a larger share of the $8 billion education technology market. There is no rigorous research showing that more exposure to online learning improves student learning or outcomes in K12 schools and many studies suggest that expanding the amount of time students spend in front of computer screens has negative effects.Question 9What would you do about mayoral control in NYC and do you support mayoral control in other municipalities? What changes and improvements would you make to NYC Mayoral control?In general mayoral control is an unproven experiment that has NOT worked to improve NYC schools compared to other large urban districts across the country and should not be expanded across the state. In New York City the mayoral control law should be amended to give more local control to the citys residents by giving the City Council the authority to provide checks and balances since the city lacks an elected school board. Our democratic system of government relies on the separation of powers and an omnipotent executive inevitably leads to abuse and poor decision-making. At the same time the new state charter law should be amended with local control returned to NYC officials to enable them to determine whether or not privately run charter schools should receive space at city taxpayer expense.Question 10There are approximately 700 school districts in New York many of which have declining enrollment. Do you think we should restructure the current system through mergers consolidations or regionalization? If so how would you do it?This question implies that through mergers consolidations and regionalization we can improve education while reducing costs. The research however contradicts that suggestion. Studies show that consolidations and mergers actually increase costs to districts and there is typically no gain in academic achievement. The following summary is from Penn State College of Education:School consolidation continues to be a topic of great concern for many small rural school and districts. While advocates for consolidation commonly cite fiscal imperatives based upon economies of scale opponents have responded with evidence undermining this argument and pointing out the prominent position of the rural school in the economic and social development of community. Additionally evidence continues to build demonstrating the advantages of small schools in attaining higher levels of student achievement. Larger schools in contrast have been shown to increase transportation costs raise dropout rates lower student involvement in extra-curricular activities and harm rural communities sense of place.The consolidation of services is already underway and should be incentivized when it makes sense and benefits students. It is interesting that while you have proposed consolidation for school districts you have also supported charter school expansion each of which are considered a separate local education authority or school district which appears to be a contradiction.Question 11As you know the appointment and selection process of the Board of Regents is unique in that unlike other agencies selections and appointments are made by the Legislature. Would you make changes to the selection and appointment process? If so what are they?We believe the Board of Regents must stay independent of the executive branch and the Governor should not interfere in matters of education policy. The authority should remain with the legislature to intervene when necessary.There is a fair balance of powers in the NYS Constitution Articles V and XI requiring that the Governor and the Senate have the authority to appoint heads of departmental agencies and the joint legislature to elect members of the Board of Regents which in turn appoint the Commissioner of Education.We do believe the nomination of Regent candidates should be a more transparent inclusive process and involve stakeholders from each judicial district including parents educators students and local legislators. For the at-large Regent seats there should be a state-wide committee consisting of parents educators and legislators to nominate candidates after assessing gaps that may exist in the Board of Regents expertise diversity in background and geographical balance.Question 12Chancellor the Board of Regents is about to replace Dr. King; can we design an open and transparent selection process so parents teachers and legislators have a voice?We strongly believe there should be a more rigorous inclusive and transparent process to appoint the next New York State Commissioner of Education as well. While the appointment process is at the discretion of the Board of Regents as per Article V of the NYS Constitution the overwhelming dissatisfaction of New Yorkers with the current policies and the failure of state education officials to listen to parents and teachers has revealed the need for a new Commissioner who is more responsive to stakeholder needs and concerns.Questions That Should Be AskedWe were disappointed by the omission of important questions that should have been asked in your letter. During the past year members of the public especially parents expressed serious opposition to the current education policies during forums that were held across the state. Those concerns however were excluded from your list. Here are three questions which are very much on the minds of parents and that we would like to be asked of state officials:How will the State Education Department review and modify the Common Core standards given the enormous public outcry against the standards and their implementation?In October of 2014 Governor you said that you were working to roll the standards back. You recognized that implementation had been rushed and that there were questions regarding whether the Common Core standards were the best standards for the students of New York State. The public has clearly expressed its dissatisfaction. A plurality of New Yorkers believes that the implementation of the Common Core should be halted entirely. Many other states are now engaging in a thorough analysis of the standards as they make revisions both large and small. New York students deserve the best possible standards. Please join us in urging the State Education Department to provide a date when an open review of the Common Core standards will begin in New York.How will we reduce the time students spend on state standardized testing?Polls consistently report that New York parents do not support the grueling and inappropriate Common Core tests. Time spent on state testing has dramatically ballooned since 2012. Last year between 55000 and 60000 students opted out of the grade 3-8 New York State exams. Make no mistakethis was a deliberate decision on the part of parents to show how displeased they are with the Common Core exams and the way in which these tests have narrowed and diminished the education of their children.Your support for reducing the effects of test scores on students was but a small step in the right direction. Please join us in asking the State Education Department to provide a plan to radically reduce the time spent on state exams rolling it back to 2010 levels as long as yearly testing is mandated. Please also inquire as to when teachers will be allowed to author better assessments so that the state is no longer spending millions of taxpayer dollars to corporations that have consistently produced shoddy products.How will personally identifiable student data be protected?Data privacy of students personally identifiable information is still not protected nor is the privacy legislation that was passed last spring being enforced. While the legislation helped to stop sharing with inBloom it did not address the concerns of parents of the widespread collection and sharing of their childrens personal data that is occurring without their knowledge or consent.Moreover allowing data-mining vendors to access childrens personal data has huge risks including to student privacy and safety. Yet the State Education Department still has not implemented or enforced the new student privacy law passed last spring which requires the appointment of a chief privacy officer who will create a parent bill of rights with public input. As a result numerous districts and schools throughout the state continue to disclose highly sensitive personal student data to vendors without parental knowledge or consent and are ignoring several federal privacy laws including FERPA and COPPA without enforcement or oversight by the state.In summary it is apparent that the punitive education agenda of testing and privatization is not working to improve student achievement and instead is having a deleterious impact on our schools. It is time to change course rather than intensify these policies through requiring more school closings expanding charters and putting even more emphasis on unreliable test scores.What New York badly needs is a new Commissioner with a strong background in public education and a deep understanding of how students learn. He or she should have a healthy respect for local autonomy and the need to work collaboratively with stakeholders. The era of top down bureaucratic and monopolistic control of our schools by state officials must end.We believe that the members of the Board of Regents should be thoughtfully selected with input from the communities that they represent. Most importantly parents and teachers demand appropriate learning standards that allow teachers to focus on learning not testing. With equitable funding thoughtful standards sufficient teacher autonomy local control and community support we know public education will better accomplish what we all wanta brighter future for all students. We also urge you to hold public forums so you can hear directly from parents teachers and other stakeholders how they want their schools improved rather than remain in a bubble up in Albany separated from the constituents whose interests you should be dedicated to serve.SincerelyNYS Allies for Public Education- See more at: http://ift.tt/1FuECdr via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1xVJe5L

And The Award For Best Spin Of The Day Goes To . . . K12 Inc.

Posted By David Safier on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM

http://thetruthaboutk12.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/09/

This is PR at its finest. K12 Inc., the for-profit, publicly traded online school corporation has been on a serious stock market slide for the past three months, though it really began more than a year ago, as you can see on the graph above. It's been hovering in the $12 to $14 range lately, from a high of $38. So what's the news in its Monday media release?

We looked at the Education Services industry and measured relative performance to find the top stocks. Relative outperformance is a bullish sign of underlying fundamental and technical strength. We look at yesterday's price action of all companies in this peer group.

K12 (NYSE:LRN) ranks first with a gain of 5.31%; ITT Educational Services (NYSE:ESI) ranks second with a gain of 3.59%; and Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL) ranks third with a gain of 1.90%.

Yes! We climbed from around $12.5 to $13 Friday! We're number one (in the gains among education stocks that day)!

I don't expect to see another media release today. The stock is back down to $12.45.

Ah, last Friday. The good old days.

Tags: K12 Inc., For-profit schools, Online schools, Stock market, Image

If you keep opposing it you will drive the value through the roof.



Think that through.



You think that's spin? There is a guy on the TW that just keeps trying to contain the opposition to what's going on at TUSD by spinning every story he can to try to make them look good, when it's not possible….oops. You're that guy.

Posted by Rat T on 11/18/2014 at 3:06 PM

It's all about the company you keep. Both Apollo Group and ITT are in the vanguard of slumlords in the for profit education profiteers and both are targets of the same federal actions that forced Corinthian College into bankruptcy and closure this summer. (Neither Apollo or ITT are in the K-12 space and neither offer predominately online courses like K12).



Funny K12 would use those two bloodsuckers as indications they are not as bad as it seems from their stock performance. They're not. they're worse.



But is not all about for profit players, look into the LAUSD scandal/fiasco and the hasty departure of the district's superintendent. One of largest public school districts selling itself out to the tune of millions of dollars to the Apple/Pearson Axis of Evil.



The rot is as well entrenched in public education as in the for profit industry.

Posted by Rick Spanier on 11/18/2014 at 3:41 PM

The difference is…you can not root out the rot in the public schools, they simply promote them to a higher position and increase their salaries. In the profit world there is some accountability.



Free enterprise still works…as long as the Democrats don't eliminate it for their bedfellow…socialism.

Posted by Rat T on 11/18/2014 at 4:02 PM

Well I'd point to the LAUSD affair, Rat, and comment public oversight won the day. Any profit driven company is accountable to shareholders first – and that's at the core of the issue. The gold rush is on and the Obama administration is doubling down on the bets laid by Bush under NCHB. Public education is up for sale with Pearson/Apple/Gates Foundation and a slew of others fighting for position at the trough (or teat if you prefer).



It's always a good strategy to point to egregious bad actors (K12, Corinthian, et al) while taking care of business with friends and benefactors. All politicians know this including the current president and his predecessor.



Yee ha!

Posted by Rick Spanier on 11/18/2014 at 4:37 PM

Shut up and get a short position before it drops through the floor!

Posted by njyd on 11/18/2014 at 4:48 PM


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