High School Rigor Matters to Students Who Don’t Attend College, CPE Study Finds

Center for public educationThe Center for Public Education has released the second in a pair of reports focused on high school students who do not continue their formal education after graduation and factors that contribute to positive outcomes and future success.

A rigorous high school program boosts the chances of success for both college goers and students who do not attend college after high school. High school graduates who do not attend college are more successful later on if they have taken high-level math courses and focused vocational training in high school.

The results of the second study of a series, “The Path Least Taken II: Preparing Non-college Goers for Success,” reinforce the essential role of high school preparation in students’ success, regardless of the paths they chose after graduation. The study by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE) looks at the credentials and high school experiences of non-college going graduates to identify the factors that lead to success after school in both work and life.

Drawing on data from the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES’s) Education Longitudinal Study (ELS:2002), CPE’s report examines the 12 percent of high school graduates who had not enrolled in a two- or four-year college by age 26.

Non-college goers did much better in the labor market if they had completed high-level math and science courses; earned higher grades; completed multiple vocational courses focusing on a specific labor market area, and obtained a professional certification or license.

The Path Least Taken II: Preparing Non-college Goers for Success, is available at:  www.centerforpubliceducation.org/pathleasttakenII.

The first report, The Path Least Taken: A Quest to Learn More About High School Graduates Who don’t Go on to College, is available online at: www.centerforpubliceducation.org/pathleasttaken


Is This The Beginning Of The End For The SAT And ACT?

e1f86f972d8b0358-act-satGeorge Washington University, a private university with just over 10,000 undergraduate students, has recently announced that they will become a test (SAT/ACT) optional college for admissions. Other colleges have been test-optional for decades, but not many with the high profile or number of students like George Washington. Other test-optional colleges have relied their ability to spend time using other criteria to decide on student admission, often with more of an eye toward student creativity.

GWU’s decision, according to the school, is based on research that shows a stronger connection between overall student academic performance in high school and their performance in college than test scores and performance in college. GWU also argues that tests can act to prevent more diverse students from winding up at their school. And, for the record, GWU will still demand test scores from athletes, pre-med students, and home-schooled students.

As you might expect, the leadership of College Board, which maintains the SAT, and of the ACT strongly disagree. Following is an excerpt from an NPR article about this topic:

In response to the news, the nonprofit College Board defended the importance of its SAT: “Overwhelming evidence shows that SAT scores and high school GPA in combination are the best predictors of college success. Evidence also shows that test-optional policies do not increase socio-economic and racial diversity on college campuses — which is what these policies claim to achieve.”

The ACT, now more widely used than the SAT, has also argued that an A student at one high school is not necessarily comparable to an A student at another, more academically demanding school. In other words, tests like the SAT and ACT can help institutions guard against grade inflation.

Paul Weeks, a senior vice president with ACT, says GWU’s decision sounds like a marketing ploy.

“I can’t understand why a school would consider admitting a student without a test score but not admit a student with a (low) test score,” Weeks says.

So, is this likely to start a trend of larger schools disassociating from the SAT and ACT? Probably not at this point. It will be interesting to monitor what happens with the new SAT, which resembles the ACT to a much larger degree than it had before. Even if the SAT continues to lose ground as compared to the ACT, it is unlikely at this point that colleges will start moving away from the tests in droves.

For more information, please visit: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/28/427110042/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-sat-and-act



K-12/Higher Ed Alignment

Education. First. - Education FirstMore and more states, communities, school districts, colleges and universities are focused on helping students get to and through college. Increasingly we understand that to have the strongest impact, K-12 and higher education must work together. Greater alignment and shared ownership of college readiness and success can lead to more students ready for and succeeding in college and earning postsecondary credentials that can lead to a brighter future.

Some states have engaged for many years in activities to align their K-12 and higher education sectors. But in many states there continue to be policies and practices that are not aligned. These range from defining and assessing college readiness to preparing teachers to succeed in today’s classrooms and ensuring college gateway courses build on the college and career readiness standards that drive students’ high school experiences. Misalignment creates obstacles to student success.

Core to College is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors with funding from Lumina Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project supports activities in ten states to improve K-12/higher education alignment by defining college readiness, using assessments to inform placement decisions, and through other activities designed to improve student readiness and the transition from high school to college. Similarly, the State Higher Education Executive Officers have been working with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and seven states on the College and Career Readiness Partnership, doing similar work.

In a new set of six policy briefs, K-12/Higher Education Alignment: An Action Agenda for Increasing Student Success, Education First and SHEEO explore key alignment issues based on the experiences of Core to College and the College and Career Readiness Partnership. These briefs include descriptions of the challenges, practical advice for action, important resources and state examples. The briefs cover the following topics:

For more information, please visit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/upa45zv2gjp1l11/EdFirst-K12HiEdAlignment-ALL_BRIEFS-July2015.pdf?dl=0


What Makes a School Successful?

edlabs_logo_0In what seems to be an increasing (and welcome!) trend, Harvard economist Dr. Roland G. Fryer Jr. has been attempting to translate his empirical research into results for schools. Dr. Fryer won the prestigious John Bates Clark medal this year in part for his research on 39 New York City charter schools. He hoped to isolate important factors that allowed certain schools to reach higher levels of student achievement. He targeted charter schools because he knew he would be able to research more diverse school environments and educational tactics than if he were to research more standardized public schools.

In looking at charter schools that focused their energy on high levels of accountability (schools that adhere to the so-called “broken windows theory”), he found five key factors that drove success:

  1. frequent teacher feedback
  2. the use of data to guide instruction
  3. frequent and high-quality tutoring
  4. extended school day and year
  5. a culture of high expectations

He then moved on to attempting to “scale up” these findings in 20 low performing public schools in Houston, Texas. The results, by his own admission, were mixed. Dr. Fryer acknowledges that more work needs to be done to study the differences between public and charter schools so that more effective “scale ups” can take place.

For his empirical and practical approach, Dr. Fryer has received accolades from the academic economics community. This is certainly a change from the past when economists were expected to do mainly theoretical work. Hopefully, this trend will allow more academic high fliers to throw their hat in the education reform ring.

For more information, please visit: http://www.newsweek.com/what-makes-school-successful-327339


Dramatic Improvement in Education Systems: What It Takes

face 23On Education Week‘s Top Performers blog, Marc Tucker explores what it takes to achieve dramatic improvement in education systems.

Tucker writes: The nations with the best-performing education systems have two things in common that have nothing to do with the specific education policies and practices they have embraced.  The first has to do with the goals they have chosen to embrace.  The second has to do with the conditions that are needed for paradigmatic change in education systems.  The two are intimately related.

To illustrate my point, I will choose a few of the countries that are now or have recently been among the top ten performers on the PISA surveys of student achievement.  Each of these countries experienced some cataclysmic economic threat that served to catalyze political developments that made it possible for the political leaders of all parties to create a broad national consensus around the need for a new education paradigm.

Take Australia.  In the late 1980s, Britain joined the European Union.  To do that, it was required by the EU to terminate the web of special mercantile economic relationships that tied it to the former Commonwealth countries.  Australia’s economy was highly dependent on those relationships.  Its leaders woke up one day to the prospect of economic disaster when the special economic relationship came to an end.  A far-sighted Australian labor leader organized a delegation of business, labor and union leaders to benchmark the world’s leading economies to seek a solution.  They came back to Australia convinced that the Australian economy would tank unless two things happened: Australia diversified its products and its customers and, at the same time, made the right strategic investments in the skills of its workforce to become a world leader in high value-added products and services.  The benchmarkers succeeded in producing a consensus that bridged the two major parties on these points that lasted for years.

Finland went through a similar experience.  It, too, had a special economic relationship that held the key to its economy, in that case its relationship with the Soviet Union, on which its economy was highly dependent.  When the Soviet Union suddenly fell apart, the economic relationship dissolved and the Finnish economy went into a tailspin far worse than the one it experienced in the 1930s.  The Finnish elders of all parties came together to rally the country around two key ideas.  The first was the need to make Finland a high-tech economy, built around telecommunications, and the other was to call on the best of its young people to become school teachers as an act of patriotism, to make sure that Finland would have the world class technical workforce needed to realize the dream of technological leadership.  Finland had a lot going for it in education before this happened, but this crisis and the Finnish leadership’s response to it contributed in a very important way to Finland’s rise to world leadership in education.

Almost every country that leads the list of top performers in education has a story like this to tell, a story in which the leaders of the country were able to remodel the national education system on new principles as a matter of urgent national necessity, an urgency perceived by almost everyone, an urgency that made it possible not just to install new policies and practices, but whole new paradigms, often as a matter of national survival.

It is also true, and very important, that in most—but not all—of these cases, that sense of urgency to build a new education system on a new paradigm was linked to a new vision of the society these countries wanted to build.  For different reasons, at different times, these top-performing countries came to a consensus on the kind of economy they wanted.   [T]hey decided at a certain point that they were not going to compete internally or in international trade on the price of their labor, but rather on the quality of the goods and services they offered to each other and to the world.  They wanted broadly shared prosperity.  They understood that no nation can get rich as its citizens get or remain poor.  They understood that the only way a country can provide broadly shared prosperity is to create an economy in which the whole workforce is adding a great deal of value to the things it makes and the services it provides, and the only way that will happen is if everyone, at every level of the workforce, is deeply educated and highly trained.  So they decided, in effect, to compete on the quality, not the price, of their labor.  The commitment to education and training is an ineluctable consequence of the commitment to broadly shared prosperity.

Is Is the United States ready to make such a commitment?

To To read the whole blog visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2015/05/dramatic_improvement_in_education_systems_what_it_takes.html


NewSchools Venture Fund Launches NewSchools Catapult

newschoolsNewSchools Venture Fund has announced the launch NewSchools Catapult, the first endeavor of its new national strategy. Its goal over the next several years is to propel successive waves of education entrepreneurs to launch new schools – the kinds of audacious, life-altering schools that can truly prepare students to pursue their most ambitious dreams.

The focus is on schools that serve significant numbers of underserved students in grades PreK-12 and will be operated by (a) early-stage charter networks for which this would be their first or second school or (b) district-operated schools with sufficient autonomy and support to realize their vision.

To help prepare school teams at similar stages to plan and launch successfully, NewSchools Catapult has been separated into two distinct phases:

  •   Phase 1: Invent: A 6-10 month program designed to support school teams during the year prior to launching a new school. Teams selected for this phase will receive financial support (averaging around $100,000), targeted assistance and a cohort experience with others at a similar stage of development. All teams who participate in Invent will be working toward developing an application for Launch, though some will decide to postpone or abandon their launch plans.
  •   Phase 2: Launch: A highly competitive 2 1/2 year program designed to support school teams for the months leading up to launch through their second year of operation. In addition to continuing to receive ongoing assistance and a cohort experience, teams selected for this phase will receive financial support (investments vary widely based on factors such as seat count and local funding conditions, but averaging around $400,000).

School teams with aspirations to launch a new school in fall 2016 can use the Invent 2015 application to apply. Later this fall, NSVF will release the Launch 2016 application, which will provide a larger investment to support the first two years of a new school that opens in fall 2016. Schools that receive an Invent 2015 investment will receive priority for this program.

Learn more and apply here: http://bit.ly/catapult15



New Videos Feature Innovative Efforts to Build Strong Principal Pipelines

logo-WallaceFdnThe Wallace Foundation has released seven short videos featuring six school district superintendents talking about key innovations to emerge from a major national initiative to develop larger numbers of highly effective principals – and one video that offers advice to other superintendents who might want to build their own strong principal pipelines.

The two-minute videos of each superintendent highlight new practices to develop leaders and manage career paths more intentionally, including crafting clear standards for principals, developing strong partnerships with local university preparation programs, grooming assistant principals, revamping hiring processes and stepping up support for new principals.

These are among the innovations that were outlined in an independent report called Building a Stronger Principalship: Districts Taking Charge of the Principal Pipeline, which was released in January and is the third in a six-part series in a multi-year evaluation of The Wallace Foundation’s $75-million Principal Pipeline Initiative. Policy Studies Associates and the RAND Corporation are conducting the evaluation.

In one six-minute video, the superintendents offered advice to other districts who are just embarking on building a principal pipeline. One bit of advice: Be patient. “It’s not a one-year effort. It’s not a two-year effort. This is a 10, 12, 15-year effort to take someone from where they wish to be a school leader to where they truly are a very effective leader of an organization as large and complex, as challenging, as rewarding as a school,” says Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

Besides Boasberg, the other superintendents are Ann Clark of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Alvin Wilbanks of Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools, Carmen Fariña of New York City Schools, Jeff Eakins of Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools; and Kevin Maxwell of Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools.

The interviews were captured on video at a recent Wallace convening of the districts participating in the pipeline initiative.

To view the videos:



Using the Wisdom of Educators

One of education’s big problems is that the collective wisdom, insights, observations and experience of educators are pretty much squandered.

That is to say, millions of educators have figured out important things about what and how to teach under different kinds of conditions — but no system exists for them to contribute their bit of knowledge to the larger field in ways that help them and their colleagues get smarter and better.

EdTrust-LogoWell-organized schools and districts have systems to ensure that the expertise of faculty and staff is exposed and shared — but most schools and districts are still organized around the long-standing tradition of isolated, autonomous practice.

Although this is frustrating for individual educators, the real problem with an inability to aggregate collective wisdom is that it means education has few ways to get better as a field.

This is why Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better is a welcome addition to school literature. Written by Anthony Bryk — the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — along with Louis Gomez, Alicia Grunow and Paul LeMahieu, the book lays out a systematic way to roll up what it calls the “micro-expertises” of individual educators into the collective wisdom of the field.

The big idea of the book is that educators should come together in what it calls Networked Improvement Communities to focus on what the authors call a “high-leverage” problem, and then use the knowledge of individual educators, armed with relevant research, to tackle the problem and monitor progress. One of the keys is what the book calls “learning from variance.” That is, if a program or practice is tried, and it works well in one place and not in another, that variance needs to be studied to understand what factors made the difference.

By starting very small and working in ever larger groups to develop hypotheses, test, monitor, learn from success and failure, and revise, the book argues that large-scale improvements are possible.

That’s the theory, anyway, and Learning to Improve describes a couple of big efforts by the Carnegie Foundation to solve education problems.

For example, if you give students something to read that draws on Carol Dweck’s work on Mindsets, will that change their attitude toward whether they can become good at math? One developmental math teacher tried it and found that it did have an effect on his students; others started as well and were able to map under which conditions it had a positive effect — or no effect.

Many such micro-experiments, complete with data and analysis can be conducted and rolled into a larger framework in ways that do not conflict but instead complement each other.

This is a complex and deep process that has a lot of aspects to it, but if you’re interested in solving big problems in education in a way that honors the knowledge and expertise of educators in a methodologically rigorous way while addressing the larger systems in which educators work — this could be a book for you.


Report Offers Comprehensive Look at What Students Need to Succeed As Adults

Foundations for Young Adult SuccessAmid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, a new comprehensive report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens and make wise choices. It concludes that rich experiences combining action and reflection help children develop a set of critical skills, attitudes and behaviors. And it suggests that policies should aim to ensure that all children have consistent, supportive relationships and an abundance of these developmental experiences through activities inside and outside of school.

The report, “Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework” by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago CCSR), is an unusually comprehensive look at what research, theory and practice identify as the building blocks for life success. It synthesizes knowledge from the fields of youth development, psychology, sociology, education and the cognitive sciences as well as insights from practitioners. The Wallace Foundation awarded a competitive grant to UChicago CCSR in 2013 to undertake the project, which included a review of relevant literature spanning decades as well as interviews with national experts in research, policy and practice, and young people and the adults who work with them in schools, programs and agencies throughout Chicago.

The report offers evidence to show how, where, and when the “key factors” to success develop from early childhood through young adulthood, emphasizing the kinds of experiences and supportive relationships that guide the positive development of these factors. Recognizing that there are no silver bullets to promoting social-emotional learning, the report emphasizes a range of factors that build on one another over time. It also emphasizes factors that are particularly malleable, as well as the age at which each of the key factors comes into prominence, offering adults the most promising window for positive intervention.

A key problem the report identifies is that disadvantaged youth often face extra challenges. For example, they often have fewer in-school and out-of-school opportunities for consistent, positive developmental experiences and relationships and face significant opportunity gaps to developing the essential skills to become productive adults.

The report identifies three key factors children need to acquire for success in adulthood:

  • Agency or the capacity to shape the course of one’s life rather than simply reacting to external forces.
  • Integrated identity or a strong sense of who one is, which provides an internal compass for actively making decisions consistent with one’s values, beliefs and goals.
  • Competencies or the abilities to be productive, effective and adaptable to the demands of different settings.

Those three factors rest on four “foundational components” that develop from early childhood through adulthood:

  • Self-regulation, which is the awareness of oneself and one’s surroundings, and management of one’s attention, emotions and behaviors to achieve goals.
  • Knowledge and skills, which are information and an understanding about oneself, other people and the world, and the ability to carry out tasks.
  • Mindsets, which are beliefs and attitudes about oneself, the world and the interaction between the two. They are the lenses individuals use to process everyday experiences.
  • Values, which are enduring, often culturally-defined, beliefs about what is good or bad and what is important in life.

The report also includes implications for educators, youth practitioners, parents and families:

  • A narrow focus on content knowledge in isolation from the other foundational components can undermine learning and development.
  • Taking a developmental lens is essential to ensuring that structures and practices meet the developmental needs of the young people being served.
  • Ensuring all young people have access to a multitude of rich developmental experiences is imperative to their success.

It also contains implications for policymakers:

  • Policies that put too great an emphasis on content knowledge and standardized tests create incentives for practitioners to see the development of content knowledge as the sole outcome of interest.
  • Policies that promote all the components would help to create conditions that foster both the learning of academic content and the development of young people more holistically.
  • Policymakers need to move beyond standardized test scores to consider other outcomes of interest; however, policymakers should proceed carefully with incorporating them into school accountability systems.

The report can be downloaded for free at at wallacefoundation.org/success


Scholastic Survey of the 2015 State Teachers of the Year

screenshot-edublog scholastic com 2015-06-07 16-37-45


In a newly released survey of the 2015 State Teachers of the Year (STOY), this new class of accomplished teachers shared their views on topics affecting educators across the country.

Forty-six of the 56 STOYs responded to Scholastic’s online survey, and while this is not a nationally representative sample of teachers, it is an interesting voice in the ongoing dialogue about our schools. For instance, the top three areas on which STOYs would focus school funding in order to have the highest impact on learning are anti-poverty initiatives (48%), early learning (37%) and reducing barriers to learning such as access to wrap-around services, healthcare, etc. (35%). This group of teachers also shared the barriers to learning they see in their classrooms, including challenges of teaching and areas of high satisfaction, views of and experiences with independent reading, the impact of higher standards, and more.

Results from the survey can be found here: http://edublog.scholastic.com/post/we-surveyed-2015-state-teachers-year

For more from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/poverty-family-stress-are-thwarting-student-success-top-teachers-say/2015/05/19/17f2e35a-fe3c-11e4-833c-a2de05b6b2a4_story.html