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Archives for March 2011
KIPP charter schools receive more public and private dollars than other public schools, according to What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance, (pdf) by Western Michigan Professor Gary Miron and colleagues. KIPP also has higher student attrition than other public schools, the study found.
KIPP officials say the numbers are inaccurate, notes the New York Times.
A network of 99 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, KIPP has been shown to raise the academic achievement of low-income students, especially blacks. Researchers said they wanted to see if that success could be replicated.
The KIPP network received $12,731 in taxpayer money per student, compared with $11,960 at the average traditional public school and $9,579, on average, at charter schools nationwide, the study found. In addition, KIPP generated $5,760 per student from private donors.
KIPP’s per student funding averages between $9,000 and $10,000, according to a KIPP financial official, Mike Wright. The study excluded KIPP’s California schools, which receive less public funding.
Donations for operating expenses in the 2007-8 year were about $2,500 per student, less than half the study’s estimate, Wright said.
The study mixed donations earmarked for school construction with money for operating expenses, Wright said. Schools usually count capital spending separately. A KIPP reporting error also inflated private revenues.
KIPP schools use a long school day, a longer school year and Saturday classes to give students more learning time. That costs an extra $1,200 to $1,600 per student. However, the charter network tends to hire young teachers, who cost less, and does not offer small classes.
“As wealthy donors have invested in KIPP, they have helped to demonstrate how a well-endowed, inspirationally run charter school can lift poor children,” (Berkeley Education Professor Bruce) Fuller said. “The question raised by this study is whether the model could be replicated if wealthy donors were to walk away.”
Brookings fellow Grover Whitehurst praised the financial analysis, but not the findings on student attrition, which he said, “use questionable data sources and analytic techniques to push a position that is antagonistic to KIPP.”
Another study of attrition carried out last year by Mathematica Policy Research, he said, used far more sophisticated research techniques to conclude that, on average, KIPP schools did not have significantly higher or lower numbers of students leaving before completion than nearby public schools.
A new Mathematica study on KIPP attrition will be out next week, notes the Hechinger Report.
Update: In response to comments, the 2010 Mathematica study looked at achievement over three years for all students who enrolled in 22 KIPP middle schools, including those who left after a year or two. If weaker students were more likely to leave, that would have no effect since the scores of those who left were counted. Three-year gains were very significant, even with this method.
Some KIPP schools replace students who leave with transfers. Others do not. The new study will look at that issue.
Eighteen grass cutters and three pest sprayers earned $50,000 last year working for Broward County schools, more per day than most teachers with 10 years experience, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Seventeen stock clerks earned $52,000 or more; two mail clerks were paid $49,000. Painters and roofers outearned teachers with 16 years of experience: 34 painters and 24 roofers made at least $59,000.
Broward County laid off more than 1,000 people last year and cut art, physical education and music programs, but hasn’t taken advice to outsource maintenance and transportation jobs.
California’s retired teachers collect $51,072 a year in pension payments, reports Intercepts. That’s more than the average working teacher earns in 28 states, according to NEA data.
California’s working teachers average $64, 156 a year. Their retirement system needs 20 percent annual returns to fund all pensions, unless benefits are cut or revenue is increased.
Money — a $1,000 stipend — motivates low-income students to earn more community college credits and higher grades, concludes a long-term study at six colleges. “Learning communities” and intensive counseling produced only short-term gains.
States made big promises to win Race to the Top money. Most can’t meet their targets, reports Education Week.
North Carolina says it needs more time and to devote more money—about $2.9 million more—to plan and implement a new “instructional improvement system” that aims to use technology and data to drive continuous academic improvement in the classroom. And the state wants to scale back a plan to make “every new teacher” in its low-performing schools eligible for retention bonuses, as its application originally said, turning it instead into a pilot program in which 181 teachers are eligible each year.
You Make Me Sick!, a game showing the spread of bacteria and viruses, won the grand prize. Number Power: Numbaland!, which teaches K-4 math concepts, won in the collegiate category. Twelve students in grades five through eight won the youth award.
Washington, D.C.’s voucher program could be back: On a 225-195 vote, mostly along party lines, the House passed Speaker John Boehner’s bill reauthorizing and expanding vouchers for low-income students in the District. Under SOAR, students would get $8,000 to attend a private K-8 school, $12,000 for high school tuition.
SOAR will have a tougher time in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
President Obama is “strongly opposed” to SOAR, but he hasn’t threatened a veto. In a statement yesterday, the administration claimed, “Rigorous evaluation over several years demonstrates that the D.C. program has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C.”
That’s not what the rigorous evaluator said in congressional testimony, notes the Washington Post in a pro-voucher editorial. Patrick J. Wolf, the principal investigator who studied the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program for the U.S. Education Department, said on Feb. 16:
“In my opinion, by demonstrating statistically significant experimental impacts on boosting high school graduation rates and generating a wealth of evidence suggesting that students also benefited in reading achievement, the DC OSP has accomplished what few educational interventions can claim: It markedly improved important education outcomes for low-income inner-city students.”
In addition, writes the Post, parents say the program lets their children “attend safer schools or ones that strongly promote achievement.”
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarships also raised graduation rates, Jay Greene adds. Wolf’s study (pdf) concluded: Some 82 percent of students offered a voucher completed high school, compared to 70 percent for the control group.
Obama’s anti-voucher move will make it hard to get bipartisan agreement on rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, writes Mike Petrilli on Education Next. “Many Republicans will refuse to play ball with an Administration not willing to compromise on a top GOP priority.”
Yesterday, I linked to a study concluding that Milwaukee voucher students don’t outperform similar students in the city’s public schools.
But Milwaukee voucher students are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to a four-year college than similar public school students, writes Jay Greene, citing a study (pdf) released today by University of Kentucky researchers.
Attending a private school with a voucher resulted in about a 7 percentage point improvement in the probability of attending a four year college. Considering that is a move from about 32% to 39% attending 4 year college, it is a big effect.
Compared to similar public school students, voucher students do worse in the early grades but perform better in the older grades. After three years, “rates of achievement growth are statistically similar.”
Indiana’s House has passed a voucher bill that would provide tuition aid to children from low- and middle-income families earning up to $60,000 a year.
The feds are spending $3.5 billion in School Improvement Grants to “turnaround” the bottom 5 percent of schools. But we’ve tried this before with no success, writes Rick Hess, who warns, We’re not learning from our mistakes.
Avoiding Déjà Vu: Lessons from the Federal Comprehensive School Reform Program for the Current School Turnaround Agenda discussed a new WestEd report (pdf), on the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program (CSRD).
First enacted in 1998, and wrapped into No Child Left Behind, CSRD required low-performing schools to implement eleven “school reform” components in return for federal funds. The eleven entailed: proven methods and strategies, comprehensive design, professional development, measurable goals, support from staff members, support for staff members, parent and community involvement, external assistance, evaluation, coordination of resources, and scientifically based research. Good stuff, right? Thoughtful, based on careful research, backed by new funding, yada yada.
The results? Dismal.
Compared to similar schools, CSR schools were less likely to implement the 11 reform elements; the “reformed” schools showed no gains in reading or math over a five-year period.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new SIG model for turnarounds won’t work either, Hess predicts. Charter operators aren’t eager to take on very bad schools. Closure works only if “there’s plenty of room at terrific schools that will welcome these kids, and if it won’t disrupt those schools.” Which there isn’t.
As for the “fire half of ’em” turnaround model, I’ll just note that firing half your employees usually isn’t a one-time solution. Most well-run outfits, private or public, don’t fire half their folks in one big bonfire, replace them, and then enjoy a miraculous transformation. Rather, weeding out mediocrity is a natural, sustained part of how they manage their team. That’s not an option here.
School improvement requires “practice, fidelity of implementation, and on-the-ground commitment” by local leaders, Hess writes. The feds can’t make that happen.
Update: Inside School Turnarounds by Laura Pappano is “a no-nonsense book delineating, sometimes in excruciating detail, the circumstances that surround genuine and courageous attempts at urban school reform,” writes Graham Down on Ed Next. Improving test scores isn’t enough, writes Pappano. “Culture, attitude and student aspirations” also must change dramatically.
As a center for education, job training and cultural life, the rural community college is “the only game in town.”
Also on Community College Spotlight: Scoring online programs for quality and graduation rates are low for Pell Grant recipients.