Kansas OKs hiring non-degreed teachers

Kansas will let schools hire uncertified teachers with experience in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields but no education credentials.

Teachers can qualify with a bachelor’s degree — or “an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession” — and at least five years of work experience in a STEM field. Schools are expected to use the policy primarily to hire career-tech teachers.

Tennessee is turning welders into career-tech teachers.

Charters get $3,800 less per student

Charter schools receive $3,800 less per pupil or about $1.5 million less for the average charter school than district-run schools, concludes Charter Funding: Inequity Expands, a University of Arkansas study. The funding gap — 28.4 percent —  is growing.

Public charter schools receive only an average of $1,819 per pupil from local government sources while traditional public schools receive a whopping $5,222. On average, charters get somewhat more state money than traditional public schools, while receiving somewhat less federal money. Although there is a perception that public charter schools are handsomely funded by private sources, our research shows that traditional public schools received slightly more private funds per-pupil in 2010?11 than public charter schools.

Tennessee is the only state that provides equal funding to students in charter and traditional public schools.

Urban charter schools, which have been shown to be the most effective in recent studies, suffer from the largest funding gap, the study found.

Tennessee promises 2 free years of college

The Tennessee Promise guarantees two years of community or technical college tuition to all high school graduates, shifting money from universities to workforce training.

States debate $0 community college tuition

Worried about a shortage of skilled workers, Tennessee, Oregon and Mississippi are debating free community college tuition. But some say students will work harder if they have a little “skin in the game.”

States eye free community college tuition

Tennessee, Mississippi and Oregon may offer two free years at a community or technical college to high school graduates. “College is not for everybody, but it has to be for a lot more people than it’s been in the past if we’re going to have a competitive work force,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Colleges and universities are hiring more part-time faculty and hiring fewer instructors relative to enrollment since 2000, but spending continues to rise, reports the Delta Cost Project. There are more non-teaching staff, including counselors and health providers, and benefits costs are rising.

Tennessee, D.C. lead ed reform

Tennessee and District of Columbia schools are making the fastest reading and math gains in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , writes Richard Whitmire in a USA Today column.

A few years ago, Tennessee students were acing state tests but failing the high bar set by NAEP, writes Whitmire. Washington D.C. “was regarded as one of the worst urban school districts in the country.”

Both adopted education reforms that remain very controversial.

In Tennessee, a third of the district school superintendents along with the teachers unions in Memphis and Nashville just signed no-confidence letters condemning State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

. . . The Washington reforms are famously controversial, designed by former chancellor Michelle Rhee (Huffman’s ex-wife), who was forced from office in part because of the political turmoil created by those school changes. Current Chancellor Kaya Henderson was able to preserve and improve those reforms partly because she is considerably less inflammatory than Rhee.

Tennessee and D.C. raised their standards, then switched to Common Core.

Both got serious about evaluating teachers.

In Washington, D.C., teachers routinely won rave reviews despite abysmal outcomes by their students — a contradiction routinely explained away by poverty (despite higher-poverty school districts with better outcomes). That changed dramatically with its groundbreaking 2009 IMPACT teacher evaluation. At the time, national union leaders dubbed it outrageous. Last month, a national study dubbed it effective. Overall, the better teachers stayed and tried harder, encouraged by the prospect of being rewarded. The “minimally effective” teachers tended to look for other lines of work.

Forty percent of D.C. students now attend charter schools, which tend to have higher test scores than district-run schools. That may be a factor in the rising scores.

Education Consumers Foundation lists Tennessee’s reforms.

Successes are fragile, Whitmire warns. There’s always push back.

The author of The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes On the Nation’s Worst School District, he is writing a book about high-performing charter schools, On the Rocketship.

Maryland tops the NAEP dishonor roll by excluding most special-education students and English Language Learners, reports Dropout Nation.

Nation’s report card: Scores inch up

Reading and math scores inched up for fourth and eighth graders, according to the 2013 “nation’s report card” released today.  However, despite some progress by Latinos, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) showed no narrowing of racial and ethnic achievement gaps, notes the Christian Science Monitor. 

Tennessee and the District of Columbia showed the most progress.

Tennessee and D.C. students made gains between 2011 and 2013 in both subjects and both grades. Fourth-graders in both Tennessee and D.C. scored 7 points better in 2013 on math than they did two years earlier, and eighth-graders in both scored 6 points better.

“All eight states that had implemented the state-crafted Common Core State Standards at the time of the 2013 NAEP assessment showed improvement in at least one of the Reading and/or Mathematics assessments from 2009 to 2013—and none of the eight states had a decline in scores,” noted Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement.

Performance remains low,  observed Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform (CER). “After decades of mediocrity, we celebrate today the fact that only 34 percent of our nation’s 8th graders can read at grade level and only 34 percent are proficient in math.

Dropout Nation also sees lots of room for improvement.

You can check out sample questions.  (Adjust for advanced, proficient or basic questions.)

In fourth-grade math, advanced students are expected to understand equations.

Lisa sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday. Which expression represents the total number of cups of lemonade she sold on both days?

 A. 15 + 15
 B. 2 * 15
 C. 15 + (2 * 15)
 D. 2 * (15 + 15

I was an advanced math student in fourth grade. Our group worked from the sixth-grade book. We didn’t get to equations till . . . eighth grade?

Here’s a proficient-level question for eighth graders. We learned this in seventh grade.

Image of a rectangle labeled 6 feet on the left side and 8 feet on the bottom side.A teacher drew this rectangle on a playground. Sam walked around the rectangle on the lines shown. How far did Sam walk?

 A. 14 feet
 B. 20 feet
 C. 28 feet
 D. 48 feet

Here are sample questions for fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade reading.

Teacher evaluation is a-changin’

Most states are using student achievement to evaluate teachers, according to Connect the Dots from the National Council on Teacher Quality. “What is occurring more slowly are the policy changes that will connect the rich performance data from these systems to tenure decisions, professional development, compensation, teacher preparation, and consequences for ineffectiveness.”

NCTQ looks at teacher evaluation policies across the 50 states and Washington D.C. Louisiana is “connecting the most dots,” followed closely by Florida and Tennessee, NCTQ concludes. Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island and DCPS are also ahead of the curve.

More states link funding to outcomes

Sixteen states now link higher education funding to student outcomes, such as graduation rates, and more are planning to do so. Tennessee links 95 percent of college funding to performance measures. Illinois links 1 percent.

Remediation first, then college

Tennessee community colleges are running remedial math labs in local high schools to prepare students for college math.

In Colorado, “early remediation” starts in eighth grade. Students who pass remedial college courses in English and math can enroll in college-level courses as early as 10th grade.