Effective Schools: Taking the Bull by the Horns in Volusia County

bull-155411_640Pat Drago (who is a former Volusia County school district administrator) and I had a conversation about how public schools improve.  She had an example from Volusia County.  This was an at risk school population where nothing the district had tried seemed to work. As we talked, she mentioned a friend who was a long time principal who told her that there was one thing that made the greatest difference for her.  What was it?

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Looking Beyond the Stereotypes: Many Black Males Graduate

graduate-150373_1280Education Justice forwarded a report on black male high school graduation rates in states across the country.  They may surprise you.  The Schott Foundation for Public Education just released a report entitled: Black Lives Matter.  It seems harsh to have to be reminded that lives matter, black or any other lives.  When you see the data and read the report, you will understand the concern.

Large variations in high school graduation rates for black and Hispanic males are found across states.  They differ more than you might think.

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Florida capitolSenator Gaetz wants answers to a list of questions about testing. How much time do they take?  What happens if students do not take them.  Where are we on setting passing levels.  He wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart.  She answers at the Senate Committee Meeting on Wednesday.  You can watch it.  Read on, more is happening.

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Beware of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

graph-41423_1280I liked this book when I read it years ago.  Still do. I really look at numbers and think about what they do and do not tell us.  When I learned that the Florida Legislature had changed the evaluator for the Florida Tax Credit scholarship (FTC) program, I wondered why.

Before we judge, let’s look at the data from the April 2014 FTC scholarship program for private schools.  These are the scholarships funded by tax rebates to corporations.

How are tax credit voucher programs evaluated in other states?  Let us know.  Here is what was reported in Florida.

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Evidence that Some Programs Really Do Work

new-years-eve-2015-583216_1280Here is a nice way to start the New Year!  We have all wondered whether we throw good money after bad in desperate attempts to make life better.  Ron Haskins, in today’s New York Times laments this tendency.  But, he goes past the woe to describe social programs that have rigorous evaluations and really do work.  There is hope for our educational system.  There are specific programs that have genuinely positive impacts.

How many of these effective programs are in your schools and communities?  How can you know?  Click to see ones that do work.

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Kentucky Considers Adopting Charter Schools

Kentucky offers us a peek into the process of drafting bills to enable charter schools. billboard-63978_1280

It also helps us understand what is meant by granting greater flexibility to charter schools.  The Pritchard Committee report has side-by-side comparisons of which traditional public schools regulations would change for charters.

Options drawn from other states are presented but not an analysis of the pros and cons for each approach. For example, is it better to have fewer rather than more authorizers?  Are reports of charter vs. traditional public school achievement gains valid? We offer some sources that can enhance the understanding of these issues.Continue reading

Understanding New Mexico

nm2by Meredith Machen

New Mexico is a beautiful state.  It is also known in politics as a swing state.  It has a Republican Governor, and the Democrats just lost a majority in the legislature.  The people have an interesting history.  While the majority are primarily Hispanic, most claim a Spanish or native American heritage and have lived there for centuries.

Thirty-six percent of the school age children speak a language other than English at home compared to 20.1% nationwide. The per capita income in most NM communities is below the state average of $22,966 and the national average of $27,334.  A University of New Mexico Center for Education Policy Research report provides detailed statistics, by county, of social and economic concerns that the New Mexico schools face.Continue reading