Saturday, October 31, 2015

Survey Says

Well when a pro charter funded study actually says something negative about the methodology they endorse then someone needs a dunce cap.

I want to point out that one of the Universities involved is the University of Washington, a school that produces many of the future Teachers for America. Which is ironic as while collecting fees and tuition from regular students who chose to learn the pedagogy of teaching the same University touts TFA with its 5 week bootcamp. They also advocate a fellowship program which is a variation of the same and it like TFA has largely been a failure.  And then they have a fascinating program that is for just implementing policy in schools and who funds it? Well.  So those who can't or won't teach will however implement and design policy and programs for public schools. Note this: The Northwest is home to some of the world’s largest and most productive philanthropic and education advocacy organizations.  Enough said.

So when I wrote about Student Teachers and my observations and experiences with them there are two explanations: They are MEllinneals, Enough said.  The other they are students from the UW which has made no secret they support ed reform as we know it - meaning charter schools, online schools and city takeovers of school boards.

We are ground zero here in Seattle with the Bill Gates foundation right here and the same goes for Los Angeles with Eli Broad and his foundation. And the same with the Walton family and their foundation  and the Koch brothers who  have no problems crossing state lines to push any agenda they approve of.

And the stomping of the feet and the SLANT nonsense I first saw 8 years ago and thought it was bizarre then, I now realize that I only see it in schools of color although again in the upscale middle school with the Student Teacher from the UW who was being filmed  the next week and that is another bizarre interesting requirement;  it runs to the whole filming cops idea. Hey, security I am for and having cameras in schools and classes only for that reason.   But you see the point that it can alter behavior and that may or may not be all good.  But in prep for this,  this young man was slanting and stomping and clapping with the timer running and all of that is charter school pedagogy.  It was a long day that I just felt bad about in so many ways.  Especially when a little girl asked me if I was going to be the sub tomorrow too? The look in her eyes was akin to a hostage, it was all so contrived and forced so I am not sure what it was largely in response to - his personality (which I sorta loathed) or the pressure to look good on camera.

And I sub in the alternatives. These are the laptop schools with all academics online and some "Teacher/Moderator" there to provide the push, the nudge that does nothing. I have seen it repeatedly and it too is largely for kids with discipline and academic problems that need much more hands on learning and services that sitting at a computer cannot fulfill.

So when I read this I fell over as I heard that "Hurricane"Vicki one of the Gates Foundation acolytes who endorse this bullshit is leaving.   Her history of Teaching for what looks like 3 years of her life then jumping from one educational job to another leaving schools closed and Teachers and Students failing and falling in her wake is fascinating.  Cannot wait to see where she turns up next? Michelle Rhee anyone?

Study on online charter schools: ‘It is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year’

By Valerie Strauss
The Washington Post
October 31 2105

A new study on the effectiveness of online charter schools is nothing short of damning — even though it was at least partly funded by a private pro-charter foundation. It effectively says that the average student who attends might as well not enroll.

The study was done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as CREDO, and located at Stanford University, in collaboration with the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington and Mathematica Policy Research. CREDO’s founding director, Margaret Raymond, served as project director. CREDO receives funding from the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation, which provided support for the new research.

CREDO has released a number of reports in recent years on the effectiveness of charters — using math and reading standardized test scores as the measure — which collectively conclude that some perform better than traditional public schools and some don’t. In its newest report, released this week, CREDO evaluated online K-12 charter schools. There are 17 states with online charter students: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

The study sought to answer this question: “How did enrollment in an online charter school affect the academic growth of students?” Academic growth, as mentioned before, is measured by standardized test scores for the purpose of this study, which evaluated scores from online charter students between 2008 and 2013 and compared them to students in traditional public schools (not brick-and-mortar charters). Here are some of the findings:

Students in online charters lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading.
Students in online charters lost 180 days of learning in math during the course of a 180-day school year. Yes, you read that right. As my colleague Lyndsey Layton wrote in this story about the study, it’s as if the students did not attend school at all when it comes to math.
The average student in an online charter had lower reading scores than students in traditional schools everywhere except Wisconsin and Georgia, and had lower math scores everywhere except in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Layton quoted Raymond as saying, “There’s still some possibility that there’s positive learning, but it’s so statistically significantly different from the average, it is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year.”

The implications for the results, according to the study:

Current online charter schools may be a good fit for some students, but the evidence suggests that online charters don’t serve very well the relatively atypical set of students that currently attend these schools, much less the general population. Academic benefits from online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule. Online charter schools provide a maximum of flexibility for students with schedules which do not fit the TPS [traditional public school] setting. This can be a benefit or a liability as flexibility requires discipline and maturity to maintain high standards. Not all families may be equipped to provide the direction needed for online schooling. Online charter schools should ensure their programs are a good fit for their potential students’ particular needs.

Current oversight policies in place may not be sufficient for online charter schools. There is evidence that some online charter schools have been able to produce consistent academic benefits for students, but most online charter schools have not. The charter bargain has been “Flexibility for Accountability” and all charter schools must be held to that concept. Authorizers must step up to their responsibilities and demand online charter providers improve outcomes for students. Authorizers should hold a firm line with those schools which cannot meet their end of the charter bargain.

States should examine the current progress of existing online programs before allowing expansion. Online schools have the potential to serve large numbers of students with practically no physical restraints on their expansion. As such, mechanisms which have typically played a role in regulating the growth of brick-and-mortar schools such as facility construction and limited potential student pools do not exert pressure on online schools.

Without these natural constraints, online schools have the potential to expand more rapidly than traditional schools. This makes it critical for authorizers to ensure online charter schools demonstrate positive outcomes for students before being allowed to grow and that online charter schools grow at a pace which continues to lead to improved outcomes for their students.

It’s hard to overlook the language in these recommendations.

“The evidence suggests that online charters don’t serve very well the relatively atypical set of students that currently attend these schools, much less the general population.” Suggest?

“Current oversight policies in place may not be sufficient for online charter schools.” May?

Oversight policies aren’t sufficient for many brick-and-mortar charters, too, especially in Ohio, where a $1 billion charter sector has had so many problems it has become a national joke in some circles. Yet the largest online charter operator in Ohio, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), blasted the report in this Columbus Dispatch story, which says in part:

Ohio is expected to spend $554 million on online charter schools over the next two years. Most have struggled with state academic-performance measures; that includes ECOT, whose founder, William Lager, is among the top donors to Republican state legislators.

Gov. John Kasich is to soon sign House Bill 2, an overhaul of state charter-school laws. Among its many provisions, it ensures that the academic performance of online charter schools counts in evaluations of sponsors, and it requires e-schools to contact parents of struggling students and maintain accurate student-participation records.

It takes some chutzpah for a charter operator to attack a study funded by a pro-charter foundation and accuse the project director’s institution of seeing to dismantle online learning. But if there is anything some of these charters have, it’s chutzpah.

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