Community colleges are using performance incentives to motivate students, faculty and staff.
Ohio will “guarantee” that third graders can read well before being promoted under an education reform bill that Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign. Poor readers could be held back for one or two years.
This year, more than 22 percent of the state’s third-graders tested at the lowest reading level — “limited” — in October and another 19 percent scored at the basic level.
The bill also makes way for greater use of technology across public education and creates state report cards for vocational and career programs that are tied to Ohio’s job needs. The schools will work in consultation with career-technical education groups to set standards for the report cards.
In addition, the bill begins the process of building a statewide birth-to-third-grade literacy education strategy, requires eye exams for special needs students, and adjusts training and retesting requirements for teachers who are deemed ineffective for two of the previous three years.
Kasich a first-term Republican, championed many of the bill’s reforms.
House Democratic Leader Armond Budish called the reading guarantee an “unfunded mandate that could actually harm children.”
Michigan will save $39,000 in public costs for every high-risk child in pre-kindergarten — $100,000 in Detroit — according to a Fisher Foundation report. These “investment” claims should be taken with a grain of salt, writes Sara Mead, who links to Lisa Guernsey’s analysis of the claim that preschool saves $10 for every $1 spent.
Very high-quality programs — which are not the norm — can improve outcomes for high-risk kids, Mead writes. But only 3 percent of savings from improved school readiness flow to K-12 schools, the report estimates.
. . . the really flashy high-value savings come from benefits far down the road, such as reduced crime and prison costs, (that) are hard to capture to pay for pre-k. And when early childhood advocates cite such diffuse and distant benefits to claim that the “value of investing in school readiness for just one child at risk of academic failure in Detroit, Michigan, is…about $100,000,” I worry that the perception such claims are oversold may actually increase skepticism about the value of pre-k investments, rather than building support.
It’s more persuasive to cite immediate savings to the school system, Mead argues. The Fisher researchers estimate pre-k saves $2,374 per child in reduced special education and grade retention costs, $3,376 in Detroit. Michigan spends about $4,453 per child in pre-k. If that’s true, pre-k isn’t free but it’s awfully cheap.
One in four U.S. classrooms has an “excellent teacher,” asserts Public Impact. “Bold efforts to recruit more top teachers and remove the least effective teachers” won’t be enough to put an excellent teacher in every classroom. So let’s expand the reach of highly effective teachers by redesigning teaching roles and using technology. The education policy group plans to identify five sites to pilot expand-the-reach models.
OpportunityCulture describes possible models:
(The) teacher can work in person, teaching face to face in a school and/or leading other teachers. Or, when not enough excellent teachers are available in person, excellent teachers can work remotely, with on-site monitors’ help. Remote, excellent teachers can reach students via webcam, online whiteboard, email, and other methods that let the teacher communicate personally—live, but not in person—and at times convenient for all.
Willing, excellent teachers can have larger classes (within reason!), or they can specialize in the most crucial subjects and most difficult teaching roles, while other team members take on the rest. Or they can swap technology—online digital instruction—for some of their teaching time, enough time that the teacher can teach more students. Or they can lead other teachers, and co-teach with them, with authority to: select, assign roles, develop, and evaluate the team.
If we pursue reach extension, retaining high-performing teachers, recruiting talented new teachers and dismissing the least effective, “87 percent of classes could be taught by gap-closing, bar-raising teachers—in a mere half-decade,” Public Impact believes.
That seems very ambitious. Or perhaps I mean unrealistic.
The first semester is make-or-break time for many community college students. “Freshmen academies” try to get new students on track.
Countries in which schools frequently hold back or transfer low-performing students “tend to have weaker, more expensive, and more socially inequitable education systems,”according to a new analysis (pdf) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, reports Ed Week‘s Inside School Research.
Differences in grade-retention rates explain as much as 15 percent of differences in scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 65 member and partner countries, OECD researchers concluded.
Retention rates vary significantly. U.S. schools retain more than one in 10 students. That compares to fewer than 3 percent in Japan, Norway and Britain but 35 percent and up in Belgium, Portugal, Spain and France. Top-scoring Finland and Korea never retain students in the same grade, though both separate high school students into academic or vocational schools.
Researchers also found lower PISA scores for countries in which more schools reported they would transfer a student out of the school for low grades, special needs, or behavior problems. Ten of the countries studied reported about two of every five students attended a school “very likely” to transfer based on academics, while another 10 reported fewer than 3 percent of students attend schools that transfer for those reasons.
Retaining or transferring students can “reinforce socioeconomic inequities,” OECD researchers concluded.
Teachers in these systems may have fewer incentives to work with struggling students if they know there is an option of transferring those students to other schools. These school systems need to consider how to create appropriate incentives to ensure that some students are not “discarded” by the system.
In the U.S., Chicago and North Carolina recently ended bans on social promotion, notes Inside School Research. But Arizona and Florida now require retention for students who don’t meet third-grade reading benchmarks.