2007 - Research and Writing

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'Restoring Value' to the High School Diploma: The Rhetoric and Practice of Higher Standards
Date:
October 1, 2007
Authors:
W. Norton Grubb and Jeannie Oakes
Institution:
University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles
This policy brief examines the recent wave of commission reports that have attacked the American high school and called for its "reinvention." Two conceptions of rigor are dominant: test-based rigor, requiring higher scores on conventional tests; and course-based rigor, requiring more demanding courses. However, these conventional academic conceptions neglect several other conceptions of rigor: as depth rather than breadth; as more sophisticated levels of understanding including "higher-order skills"; and as the ability to apply learning in unfamiliar settings. With very few exceptions, both graduation requirements and exit exams replicate the conventional academic curriculum of the late nineteenth century, and they have little to say about how their imposition will enhance student performance generally. Overall, the push to enhance rigor and standards behind the high school diploma is seriously flawed. Moreover, any gains come at the expense of other goals for high school reform, including equity, curricular relevance, and student interest. A more promising approach to reshaping the high school involves pathways, structured around a coherent theme, either broadly occupational or non-occupational.
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary

Profiles of For-Profit Education Management Organizations: 2006-2007
Date:
August 9, 2007
Authors:
Alex Molnar, David R. Garcia, Gary Miron, and Shannon Berry
Institution:
Arizona State University
This annual report, in its ninth edition, found that, despite repeated requests, several large, publicly funded Education Management Organizations (EMOs) failed to provide information about their schools or finances when queried by researchers. The data collected in the report suggest that the number of charter schools overall has increased and the number of EMO-run charter schools has stabilized or declined slightly. The number of students enrolled in charter schools has shown a slight decrease. The report is the most comprehensive resource on the for-profit education management industry.
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary
Portable Document Format (PDF)  PDF (Not Available)

Evaluating the Impact of Charter Schools on Student Achievement: A Longitudinal Look at the Great Lakes States
Date:
June 5, 2007
Author:
Gary Miron, Ph.D., Chris Coryn, Ph.D., and Dawn M. Mackety, Ph.D.
Institution:
Western Michigan University
The aim of this study is to examine the impact of charter schools on student achievement in the Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. This evaluation addresses two specific questions: How does student achievement in charter schools compare with student achievement in demographically similar, traditional public schools? Do charter schools show promise of being an effective strategy for improving student achievement over time, even if they are not yet outperforming traditional public schools?
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary

Teacher Attrition in Charter Schools
Date:
May 23, 2007
Author:
Gary Miron, Ph.D., and Brooks Applegate, Ph.D.
Institution:
Western Michigan University
While several studies have examined teachers’ reasons for seeking employment in charter schools, few have asked why teachers are leaving them. This study of teacher attrition takes up that question, analyzing existing data from teacher surveys administered during state evaluations. Survey results were compared and re-analyzed based on teachers’ decisions to leave or to stay in their charter schools the year following the survey. This analysis yielded substantive information about the characteristics of teachers who leave charter schools and about teachers’ relative satisfaction with various elements of their experience.
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary

Supplemental Education Services under NCLB: Emerging Evidence and Policy Issues
Date:
May 2, 2007
Author:
Patricia Burch, Ph.D.
Institution:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
This policy brief analyzes evidence relating to the implementation and effects of the supplemental education services (SES) provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The SES provision requires school districts to pay the cost of third-party, after-school tutoring services for eligible students. Four areas of analysis in this brief are:
  • Student eligibility and participation in SES;
  • Services provided by SES firms;
  • State and district implementation; and
  • Impact on student achievement.
The data and analyses presented here highlight limitations in the current law and implementation of SES: low participation rates; limited services available for English Language Learners and special education students; and, state and district capacity to implement the law and monitor program quality. Even with improvement in such areas, however, it is unclear how SES might affect academic achievement, because existing research leaves many questions unanswered. Similarly, existing research offers little information about specific conditions that support positive outcomes. To make well-informed decisions in the future, policy makers will require additional empirical evidence.

Therefore, it is recommended that policy makers do each of the following:
  • Redesign the law to address the core problem of local administrators lacking fiscal resources and expertise to successfully administer SES programs.
  • Commission federally funded, comprehensive evaluations to determine: (a) to what degree SES may affect student achievement, and (b) to what extent at-risk student populations have access to SES services.
  • Investigate the feasibility and desirability of reallocating Title I funds from SES programs to existing successful state and local reform efforts.
  • Examine and reconsider NCLB's apparent tension between the high-stakes accountability imposed on schools and the more limited measures for holding SES providers accountable for their contributions to student achievement.
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary
Portable Document Format (PDF)  PDF (Not Available)

The Promises and Pitfalls of Alternative Teacher Compensation Approaches
Date:
April 11, 2007
Author:
Debbi C. Harris, Ph.D.
Institution:
Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What is the "best" way to pay teachers? Few policy makers are pleased with the current system, but attempts to move toward merit pay have largely been short-lived and unsuccessful. While there is no perfect teacher compensation system, research evidence can help policy makers choose and adapt a plan likely to work well within a particular context. Critics of both traditional compensation and newer alternatives are quick to point out the strengths of the system they support, but the limitations of individual systems are frequently misunderstood or unrecognized. To improve the viability of a new plan, policy makers and stakeholders should conduct extensive analyses before implementation.
Report
Press Release
Executive Summary
Portable Document Format (PDF)  PDF (Not Available)