Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

D.C. charter schools: Student expulsions reveal data problem

This from The Answer Sheet:
For years the D.C. public schools system was publicly ridiculed for its inability to accurately maintain basic statistics, such as how many students were enrolled in the system. Now it’s the turn of the public charter schools — the alternative schools that were supposed to show the traditional public schools how education is done right — to have trouble with their stats...

My colleague Bill Turque wrote in this post on his D.C. Schools Insider blog that there is a discrepancy between the data for student expulsions and suspensions reported by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which oversees charters, and by some of the schools themselves.

At a D.C. Council oversight hearing last week, the charter school board gave a spreadsheet to the council that has different figures for the same statistic — one reported by the schools and the other by the board. For example, the board says that Friendship Collegiate Academy-Woodson, a high school in Ward 7, expelled 102 of 1,231 students — or 8 percent — in 2010-11. The school is listed as having reported only 67 expulsions.
At Tech Prep, a Friendship middle school in Ward 8, the board reported that 35 of 100 students — that’s 35 percent — were suspended for 10 days or more in 2009-10. The school’s tally is listed as 25.

How is the discrepancy explained? A footnote on the spreadsheet says:

“In certain cases, schools reported that their internal data was different to what was reported to PCSB. In these cases, we are providing [sic] both numbers: P=PCSB; S=School.”

Clearly some schools and the charter board aren’t on the same page when it comes to this data, but the question is why. Counting the number of students who are expelled and suspended can’t really be that hard, can it?

Pesky Constitution Foils Politics as Usual

This from Bluegrass Politics:

Kentucky high court blocks 
use of newly-drawn legislative districts

The Kentucky Supreme Court has blocked implementation of the newly drawn boundaries for state legislative districts, a move that will keep Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein’s district in Lexington.

In a two-page order issued a few hours after hearing oral arguments in the case Friday morning, the state’s highest court upheld Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling that this year’s redistricting was unconstitutional.

“Until the General Assembly passes redistricting legislation that complies with Section 33 of the Kentucky Constitution, the terms of the injunction entered by the Franklin Circuit Court remain in place,” the court said...
 Congratulations Kathy.

Another Report, Another Set of Mixed Results for Charters

Charters Near Top—and Bottom—of California Rankings

This from State EdWatch:

California charter schools are more likely than non-charters to be among the states' top performers—but also more likely to be among the laggards—a new report concludes.

The second annual "Portrait of the Movement," released by the California Charter Schools Association on Thursday, offers a mixed picture of the sector's standing, compared with traditional public schools. But the association also sees a number of bright spots, including the relatively strong performance of charters in serving students from poor backgrounds.

The association represents 982 charter schools across the state. It ranks schools on an accountability measure that assesses school performance while filtering out non-school factors affecting student achievement through a statistical method known as regression-based predictive modeling.

Using this method, the association attempts to examine whether schools are performing significantly above or below their predicted performance.

The report finds a "U-shaped" distribution for charter schools, meaning they were more likely both to exceed their predicted performance compared with non-charters, based on student background, and—to a lesser extent—under-perform. It concludes that 14.7 percent of charters were in the top 5 percent of California schools, well above the 4 percent of non-charters in that category. But 12.7 percent of charters showed up in the bottom 5 percent of performance, compared to just 4.2 percent of non-charters...

Supreme Court to Revisit Race in College Admissions

This from the School Law Blog:
22Scotus_FisherMUG.jpgThe U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a major new case involving the consideration of race in college admissions, in a dispute being closely watched by the K-12 community.

The justices agreed to hear a challenge to a program in which the University of Texas at Austin considers race as one factor for admission after Texas students from the top 10 percent of their high school classes claim undergraduate places guaranteed by a state law.

The court's decision to take up the case comes just two months after President Obama's administration issued informal legal guidance to colleges and K-12 schools emphasizing ways they could still permissibly take race into account in admissions and assigning students to schools.

The case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (No. 11-345) will be heard next term. Justice Elena Kagan will not participate; she was U.S. solicitor general in 2010 when the Obama administration filed a brief in the case in a lower court.

The university reinstated race consideration after the Supreme Court upheld a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Michigan Law School in a 2003 decision known as Grutter v. Bollinger.
Before then, the state had been barred from using race in admissions by a 1996 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit known as Hopwood v. Texas. In response to that decision, the state adopted its Top Ten Percent law, which was designed to boost racial and socioeconomic diversity at University of Texas campuses without express consideration of those factors in the admissions process.

The post-Grutter program is designed to augment the Top Ten Percent law by considering race as a factor in remaining freshman class places at the university. That program was challenged by two white students, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz, who were denied admission to the 2008 entering class at the UT main campus in Austin.

A federal district court in Austin upheld the race-conscious program in 2009. In a January 2011 decision, a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit agreed that the program did not violate the 14th Amendment's equal-protection clause.

"We are satisfied that the university's decision to reintroduce race-conscious admissions was adequately supported by the 'serious, good faith consideration' required by Grutter," U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham said in the main opinion.

Higginbotham said the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, which limited the ways K-12 schools could consider race in assigning students to schools, did not retreat from the 2003 Grutter decision's emphasis on a "holistic university admissions program." ...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Santorum Would 'Eliminate' No Child Left Behind Act

This from Politics K-12:
Rick Santorum is still regretting his vote in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Santorum, who reiterated that he regretted voting for NCLB [in the most recent Republican debate], said that law has led to increased federal education spending. And, indeed, according to the New America Foundation, spending on federal Title I (one of the big federal education programs) has grown 88 percent, or $7.7 billion, since 2001. Santorum later said NCLB created a "testing regime."
But it seems to me that that's not what's going to ultimately sink Santorum's campaign.  This is: