A Common Core Curriculum Quandary – by Michael J. Petrilli Mar 8th

A Common Core Curriculum Quandary – by Michael J. Petrilli

– http://educationnext.org/

A Common Core Curriculum Quandary – by Michael J. PetrilliEureka Math Director Jill Diniz teaches a demonstration lesson on exponential decay to grade 9 students from Lafayette Parish School System.
One of the most ambitious educational improvement projects in recent years was the adoption of new, more rigorous college- and career-ready academic standards by more than 40 U.S. states. Though the Common Core label has suffered greatly from a populist backlash (see “Common Core Brand Taints Opinion on Standards,” features, Winter 2017), the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. The standards themselves remain largely intact, even in states that have renamed and tweaked them. The aligned PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests are also still in place in more than half of the states that adopted them. Despite the controversy, most U.S. states have raised the bar for what it means for students to be on track for success (see “After Common Core, States Set Rigorous Standards,” features, Summer 2016).
That’s all well and good, but what really matters is whether higher standards and tougher tests lead to positive changes in the classroom. And this is where there is still a ton of important, if unsexy, work to be done. As late as October 2016—more than six years after the first wave of states adopted the standards—fewer than one in five teachers said their instructional materials were well aligned to the Common Core, according to a national Education Week survey.
That’s a problem. A growing body of evidence indicates that the choice of a strong, aligned curriculum can have outsized impacts on student learning. In a 2012 review, Matthew Chingos and Grover Whitehurst found “strong evidence that the choice of instructional materials has large effects on student learning—effects that rival in size those that are associated with differences in teacher effectiveness.” A recent study by Cory Koedel and Morgan Polikoff of California math textbooks found similar effects.
The fast-moving adoption of Common Core was an unprecedented disruption to a curriculum and textbook market that’s long been dominated by a few major publishers. This is an area where reformers and foundations could make a big difference, by helping put new, high-quality instructional materials into teachers’ hands. This won’t require passing any new laws or enacting additional regulations. But it will take leadership and the willingness to support entrepreneurs working to develop resources that can address teachers’ needs. The story of Eureka Math offers hope, and something of a roadmap.
Eureka Math—and Great Minds, the nonprofit organization that created it—is the David to Pearson’s Goliath. Great Minds didn’t even exist 10 years ago, and only went into the curriculum-development business when it won a contract from New York State to build a set of free, online math lessons as part of the state’s Race to the Top (RTT) grant. The resulting curriculum, originally known as “EngageNY,” spread rapidly nationwide, and a 2015 RAND survey found that an astonishing 44 percent of elementary school teachers in Common Core states reported using EngageNY at least once a week, more than any other math program, and 13 percent said they used Eureka Math.
The Teach Eureka Video Series offers on-demand professional development videos to accompany the curriculum.
Great Minds’ pitch is that teachers and scholars specifically designed Eureka Math in response to the new standards, and the nonprofit curriculum reviewer EdReports.org has found it is well aligned. Unlike some other popular programs, Eureka Math doesn’t overlook the need to develop students’ fluency with mathematical procedures, especially in the early years. Elementary students are expected to know their addition and multiplication facts, for example, and practice them frequently. Another RAND analysis found that Eureka Math is particularly popular in Louisiana—where state officials strongly recommend its use—and speculated that it might help to explain the state’s impressive achievement gains of late.
On the surface, the lesson seems simple: if you build a great curriculum and make it available for free on the Internet, teachers will flock to it. That’s certainly what I heard from the organization’s president, Lynne Munson. “What we create are knowledge-rich instructional materials that are worthy of study,” she said. “Not scripts, but lessons that will reward teachers’ close reading and collaboration.”
To be sure, Great Minds holds high expectations for what teachers are capable of, and teachers have rewarded it with their enthusiasm for its curriculum. But crucially, its materials are of high quality, in part because its start-up budget was considerable: $14 million in federal RTT funds. Quality is easier to achieve with that kind of backing.
But why is Eureka Math so popular when other resources go begging for users? Eureka Math is hardly the first or only open educational resources (OER) available on the web. Nor is it the case that nobody has ever built a solid math program before. And its competition includes huge textbook companies with well-established distribution channels, including hundreds of former school superintendents buying steak dinners for their pals and getting them to purchase the latest series. What explains the program’s meteoric rise and continental reach?
Ironically, its success may be due in part to the fact that it isn’t entirely free. One source I spoke to said that part of Eureka’s genius was that it “filled the beast’s need to procure.”
While anyone can download the math modules from EngageNY, the OER version is available only via clumsy PDFs. To get an easier-to-use online interface, plus a rich library of training videos, schools need to purchase a subscription from Great Minds. And even then, most want print materials, plus professional development, which the organization also offers—for a fee.
And guess what? Schools are willing to pay. District administrators and procurement officers have budgets for materials and feel strange about not using them. The OER version gave them a low-risk way to try out the curriculum; the paid version gave them something to buy. This revenue stream has also allowed Great Minds to build out a network of regional sales representatives, though Munson says her people are busy simply responding to inquiries from educators: “we don’t cold call anyone, ever.” She said that interest
in the program has grown organically, from word of mouth, from the “free advertising” provided by EngageNY, and from the positive reviews by EdReports.org and others.
The Great Minds story should serve as an example of what comes next. Anyone interested in helping teachers and students innovate and meet new standards should support this type of marriage of top-down funding and bottom-up design. Those of us in education reform have a bad habit of not finishing what we started, of chasing a new shiny idea every few years. Doubling down on curriculum reform is one important way to get the Common Core job done. Who’s in?
Michael J. Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and executive editor at Education Next.
Fresh Box
 online education

Quick Key's New Google Forms Add-on Makes It Easy to Send Grades to PowerSchool Apr 13th

Earlier this year Quick Key added a Google Classroom integration. Recently, Quick Key took that integration deeper by introducing a Google Forms Add-on. Quick Key's Google Forms Add-on lets you take the quizzes that you create in Google Forms and have them automatically scored for you. You can then .... More »

Continue Reading

A Common Core Curriculum Quandary – by Michael J. Petrillihttp://educationnext.org/

 

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education Mar 7th

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education

– edweek.org

Educators must build bridges between subjects rather than jealously guard their area of expertise, writes educator Alden S. Blodget.

Fresh Box
 high school education

Fixes: A School Where Raising the Bar Lifts Hope Mar 11th

Inviting low-income high-schoolers into advanced-level courses can get them past fears that they’re not college material..... More »

Continue Reading

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Educationedweek.org

 

Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations Mar 5th

Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

– coolcatteacher.com

Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations10MT | Superintendent Anael Alston Shares His Thoughts in Episode #24 for Thought Leader Thursday From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter
Dr. Anael Alston @DrAAlston talks about common misconceptions that educators have about students in poverty. Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Anael “Dr. A” Alston is an award-winning educator and serves as Superintendent of Schools of the Hamilton Central School District in Hamilton, NY. Prior to that, he was the principal of the Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove, New York and principal of Great Neck North Middle School in Great Neck, New York. Dr. A is passionate about leadership, service, and all things public education.
Listen Now

 
 

Listen on iTunes
Stream by clicking here.
Download this episode to listen offline by right-clicking here and choosing “Save As.”

Our Topic
In today’s show, we discuss how teachers should approach teaching students who are in high-poverty situations. This is important because Anael argues that many thoughts about students in poverty are off-base. In today’s show we discuss:

The mindsets and attitudes students need for success
How educator expectations are an essential ingredient of student success
The importance of relationship with students
Anael’s advice for what teachers should do daily to adjust their thinking and prepare to teach students from poverty or any difficult situation

I hope you enjoy this episode with “Dr. A.”
Selected Links from this Episode

Anael’s Twitter handle @DrAAlston
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/draalston/
Baruti Kafele https://twitter.com/PrincipalKafele
Book: Closing the Attitude Gap by Baruti Kafele

Download Transcript: Episode 24 Dr. Anael Alston
Full Bio

Dr. Anael Alston
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Anael “Dr. A” Alston is an award winning educator and serves as Superintendent of Schools of the Hamilton Central School District in Hamilton, NY. Prior to that, he was the principal of the Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove, New York and principal of Great Neck North Middle School in Great Neck, New York. Dr. A is passionate about leadership, service, and all things public education.
The post Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Fresh Box

Hour of Code Org Developing New, Free CS Course Mar 19th

Code.org, the organization behind Hour to Code, will shortly pilot a new middle school/lower high school introductory computer science course that will be free when it's released. For a short time it's also taking applications for free professional development to help teachers prepare..... More »

For Young People, News Is Mobile, Social, and Hard to Trust, Studies Find Mar 12th

"Fake news" is one of many reasons why tweens, teens, and young adults mistrust news organizations, according to studies from Common Sense Media and Data & Society. .... More »

Continue Reading

Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectationscoolcatteacher.com

 

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resigns Mar 5th

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resigns

– districtadministration.com

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resignsABC NewsMarch 5, 2017
Fresh Box
 high school education

Fixes: A School Where Raising the Bar Lifts Hope Mar 11th

Inviting low-income high-schoolers into advanced-level courses can get them past fears that they’re not college material..... More »

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education Mar 7th

Educators must build bridges between subjects rather than jealously guard their area of expertise, writes educator Alden S. Blodget. .... More »

Continue Reading

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resignsdistrictadministration.com

 

Jersey Jazzman: Blaming Public Employees for NJ's Fiscal Mess: Today's Dopey Episode Mar 5th

Jersey Jazzman: Blaming Public Employees for NJ's Fiscal Mess: Today's Dopey Episode

– nepc.colorado.edu/blog

Jersey Jazzman: Blaming Public Employees for NJ's Fiscal Mess: Today's Dopey EpisodeJersey Jazzman: Blaming Public Employees for NJ’s Fiscal Mess: Today’s Dopey Episode

Whenever I want to read something really ill-informed and contemptuous of public employees, I turn to the always reliable Star-Ledger:
Property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation. Since 2000, they have doubled and have risen at over twice the rate of inflation. No wonder people are forced to move; no wonder we have the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.
That’s from guest columnist Tom Byrne, who apparently is so busy with his gig on the State Investment Council that he doesn’t have the time to find out that out-migration due to taxes is a totally fabricated myth.
Or the time to read the Star-Ledger itself (the news part, which is still pretty good), which pointed out that New Jersey’s high foreclosure rate is due, at least in part, to the state’s relatively long foreclosure process.
By the way — New Jersey is not some sort of wildly high-spending state:

OK, we’re top ten (barely), but we’re not some sort of outlier — and that’s without accounting for the fact that this is an expensive state in which to live. Funny how stuff like this never made it into Byrne’s piece:
The obvious way to control property taxes is to hold the line on expenses, but this is fraught with political consequences, especially for Democrats. Public-sector unions like the NJEA and the two police unions, whose members’ salaries and benefits are largely paid by property taxes, wield enormous influence in both general elections and, particularly, Democratic primaries.
Yes, it’s those greedy, greedy NJ public employees…
The data analysis in this paper, however, indicates that New Jersey public employees, both state and local government employees, are not overpaid. Comparisons controlling for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, and disability reveal no significant difference between the private and public sectors in the level of employee compensation costs on a per hour basis. However, public employees, particularly higher level professional employees, have fewer opportunities to work overtime than those who work in the private sector. Therefore, on an annual basis, full-time state and local employees are under-compensated by 5.88% in New Jersey, in comparison to otherwise similar private-sector workers. [emphasis mine]
Real research? Tl;dr. Besides, Byrne lives in the world of “alternative facts,” where he can use unsourced data points to make unfounded claims:
Positive change can be made. For starters, we could cut property taxes by about 8 percent simply by insisting that local employees get the same healthcare benefits that exist at the high end of private sector plans. That alone would save about $2.5 billion on $28 billion in annual property taxes. But what politician wants to risk the wrath of the unions?
I’m not quite sure who Byrne means by “local employees,” as some, like teachers, are subject to state laws regarding premium payments, and some are on state plans. But when it comes to state workers:
In fact, the average New Jersey government employee is paying more for individual health insurance coverage than government workers in any other state and the 10th-highest average premium for family coverage in the country. 
Further, state and local government workers are paying a much higher percentage of the cost of their individual health insurance policies than private-sector employees in New Jersey have been paying, and not much less than the percentage paid by the state’s private-sector workers for family coverage. [emphasis mine]

Whether the insurance is “better” than private insurance is, of course, a more complicated question. But the notion that public employees are enjoying inordinately cheap health care is just not borne out by the evidence, no matter what Chris Christie’s commission says. Byrne continues:
The most recent available data, from 2012-13, shows New Jersey with the highest starting teacher salaries of any state. But three states have higher average salaries than our $68,797. On top of this, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the value of total benefits added 29.4 percent or $28,520 to base pay for a total value of over $89,000. And then adjust as you will for a shorter work year.
First of all; even when you adjust for teachers’ annual unpaid furlough every summer, teachers make less than similar workers:
New Jersey public school teachers are in fact undercompensated, not overcompensated. Using regression analysis to control for level of education and other factors that affect pay, we find that public school teachers earn 16.8 percent less in weekly wages and 12.5 percent less in weekly total compensation (wages and benefits) than other full-time workers in New Jersey. The percent by which teacher pay is less than pay of comparable workers is called the teacher pay penalty. An analysis of hourly compensation shows the teacher pay penalty at 13.7 percent for wages and 9.4 percent for total compensation. [emphasis mine]
In addition: the percentage of total compensation that is attributed to benefits is 30 percent for private employees.* So, no, benefits aren’t completely out of whack for NJ public employees. In addition, Byrne makes the freshman mistake of not adjusting wages for geographical differences. His comparisons here are, in a word, worthless.
This is turning into a real mudder, but let’s keep going:
It seems that the bigger issue is proliferation of non-teaching staff. There are far more vice principals and administrators than a generation ago, which has not improved education. One national study shows that the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school. If we don’t deal head-on with these issues, we will shortly be forced to increase class sizes.
No, it does not: the study, from the Friedman Foundation, shows that the combined group of administrators and “other staff” increased.

In the period between 1992 and 2009, federal special education law underwent significant changes; it was also the time when No Child Left Behind passed. Both set new high standards, so it was inevitable that schools would increase personnel (including instructional aides) to reduce class size, expand offerings, provide remediation, and improve special education programs. Money matters in schools, and the largest expense in schools is staffing. 
It’s also worth noting the United States does not overspend on education compared to the rest of the world when making appropriate adjustments for student characteristics and other factors.
Keep going…
I heard one deputy commissioner of education say some years ago that if we had the same class sizes as the national average, we would save over $1 billion per year.
Casual conversations with bureaucrats are not serious sources of data. Instead:

Yes, New Jersey’s class sizes are smaller than the national average, especially in primary schools — but, again, we’re hardly an extreme outlier. And maybe our outstanding performance in academic outcomes owes something to putting more resources into schools and reducing class sizes.
Yes, Massachusetts spends somewhat less and does very well, but we’re not Massachusetts. Our kids are different and our labor costs are different. We aren’t really far behind them, and we’re not wildly spending more than they are.
Regular readers know that pieces like Byrne’s frustrate the hell out of me. We should be having serious conversations about fixing New Jersey’s fiscal crisis. I’m all for looking at finding efficiencies in our school system: one clear way would be to stop having small, inefficient charter schools with large administrative expenses continue to proliferate.
But facile, poorly sourced fluff like Byrne’s op-ed keep us from having those conversations. And one more thing:
One more administrative example. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, who runs a well-regarded charter school in Camden, says her custodial costs are $400 per student, versus $1,200 per student for the unionized custodians in the Camden public schools. The NJEA pointedly asks gubernatorial candidates if they would do anything to change this. Not if they want to win a primary election.
Unless this is an extraordinary coincidence, Byrne gets this story wrong too. This anecdote and its specific dollar amounts are from Dale Russakoff’s book, The Prize. This story is about a school in Newark; I debunk it here.
I don’t know what Bonilla-Santiago told Byrne; she’s quite a character herself. But maybe Tom Byrne should spend a little less time talking with her and a little more time looking at real, credible research before writing his next op-ed.
 

Keep those alternative facts coming, Tom!
* One of the things that makes me nuts about pieces like this is that they are unclear about how they use the term “percentage.” Given the figures here, benefits didn’t add 29.4 percent to base pay; benefits are 29.4 percent of total compensation. That’s completely different. Didn’t anyone at the S-L proofread this?

elaine
March 3, 2017

Source
Jersey jazzman

Fresh Box

VAMboozled!: David Berliner on The Purported Failure of America’s Schools Mar 12th

VAMboozled!: David Berliner on The Purported Failure of America’s Schools My primary mentor, David Berliner (Regents Professor at Arizona State University (ASU)) wrote, yesterday, a blog post for the Equity Alliance Blog (also at ASU) on “The Purported Failure of America’s Sch.... More »

Janresseger: Ideology Drives School Privatization without Much Attention to the Real Consequences Apr 23rd

Janresseger: Ideology Drives School Privatization without Much Attention to the Real Consequences Whether school privatization involves expansion of various kinds of vouchers or the proliferation of largely unregulated charter schools, the policy tends to be driven by its proponents’ .... More »

Continue Reading

Jersey Jazzman: Blaming Public Employees for NJ's Fiscal Mess: Today's Dopey Episodenepc.colorado.edu/blog

 

How one platform is launching student careers in high school Mar 3rd

How one platform is launching student careers in high school

– eschoolnews.com

How one platform is launching student careers in high schoolTinh Tran likes to bring his science classes at University High School in Irvine, Calif., on field trips to local companies to get a firsthand look at how scientists and engineers spend their day. But even though these experiences are very powerful for students, they require time and money—and they’re hard to scale so that all students can participate.
A technology platform called Nepris helps solve this challenge. It’s a web-based service that connects students with career professionals through online video conferences.
Tran has used the platform to connect his students with career professionals without having to leave his classroom. In one recent session, he had his engineering students take a virtual tour of a Toyota manufacturing plant in Indiana, so they could see the design and manufacturing process up close.
“Nepris is a great platform for facilitating a connection between students and industry professionals,” he says. “It’s a cost-effective way of allowing students to visit different workplaces without having to physically go there.”
The Irvine Unified School District is part of an Orange County initiative, called OC Pathways, to connect all students to career-based experiences—not just those who follow a career and technical education (CTE) track in high school.
Career education “has to be systemic across school districts,” says Amy Kaufman, executive director of OC Pathways. “Students shouldn’t just be hearing about these pathways at career fairs, but at multiple points throughout the curriculum.”
Focusing on career pathways at an early age means students are less likely to “flounder” when they go off to college, says Patsy Janda, CTE coordinator for the Irvine Unified School District.
“Whether you’re going to major in English or engineering, you’re eventually going to start a career,” Janda says. “Knowing what jobs are available and what skills they require is going to benefit both students and employers.”
(Next page: Examples of student careers through Nepris; funding)
Fresh Box

Reading: not doing it enough is killing us. Mar 11th

During the primary years, schools have proven themselves adept at teaching children to read.  Great news for primary school teachers and children. Reading is the key skill humans use to access new information and in modern hyper-connected, Bluetooth, streaming social society (some call Junk Culture.... More »

Continue Reading

How one platform is launching student careers in high schooleschoolnews.com

 

Is Your Kid Absent More Than Classmates? School 'Nudge' Letters Tell Parents Just How Much Mar 3rd

Is Your Kid Absent More Than Classmates? School 'Nudge' Letters Tell Parents Just How Much

– edweek.org

In Tacoma, Wash., and 16 other cities across the nation, school districts are boosting student attendance by sending home what they call “nudge” letters when students miss too many days of school.

Fresh Box

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resigns Mar 5th

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resignsABC NewsMarch 5, 2017.... More »
 high school education

Fixes: A School Where Raising the Bar Lifts Hope Mar 11th

Inviting low-income high-schoolers into advanced-level courses can get them past fears that they’re not college material..... More »

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education Mar 7th

Educators must build bridges between subjects rather than jealously guard their area of expertise, writes educator Alden S. Blodget. .... More »

Continue Reading

Is Your Kid Absent More Than Classmates? School 'Nudge' Letters Tell Parents Just How Muchedweek.org

 

World Book Day: Children go head to head with fictional characters Mar 3rd

World Book Day: Children go head to head with fictional characters

– bbc.co.uk

Children from a primary school in Norfolk debate the merits of their chosen World Book Day characters.
Fresh Box
 grade school

How to Have an Attitude to Try New Things #MondayMotivation Mar 10th

10MT | Episode 26 Josh Harris gets us motivated to try new things From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter Today Josh Harris @edtechspec an elementary edtech director from California, talks about an attitude of innovation. We can empower ourselves with an atti.... More »

Continue Reading

World Book Day: Children go head to head with fictional charactersbbc.co.uk

 

Healthier Cereals Snare a Spot on New York School Menus Mar 1st

Healthier Cereals Snare a Spot on New York School Menus

– nytimes.com/

Healthier Cereals Snare a Spot on New York School MenusIn a bite-size coup that could spread to other cities, a California upstart has replaced Kellogg products in the city’s free-breakfast program.
Fresh Box

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resigns Mar 5th

Police officer caught on video throwing student down resignsABC NewsMarch 5, 2017.... More »

The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education Mar 7th

Educators must build bridges between subjects rather than jealously guard their area of expertise, writes educator Alden S. Blodget. .... More »

Continue Reading

Healthier Cereals Snare a Spot on New York School Menusnytimes.com/

 

Is Charter School Growth Flat-Lining? – by Robin J. Lake Mar 1st

Is Charter School Growth Flat-Lining? – by Robin J. Lake

– http://educationnext.org/

Is Charter School Growth Flat-Lining? – by Robin J. LakeA recently released annual update from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools included a surprising fact: a mere 329 charter schools opened across the country in the 2016-2017 school year. In no year since the Alliance began tracking new charter openings has the total number of new schools been so low. Looking back at CRPE’s Hopes, Fears, and Reality series, it appears that it was the early 2000s when we last saw fewer than 350 new charter schools open. When you take closures into consideration, the total additional growth of charter schools last year was just over 100 schools, or nearly 2 percent.
Student enrollment numbers tell a different story. Total charter student enrollment surpassed 3 million this year, a 7 percent increase over last year. This likely reflects existing schools’ addition of grade levels and approach to full capacity.
So what’s behind this year’s meager school growth? Should charter advocates be worried? Of course, one year doesn’t prove a trend, but my colleague Mike DeArmond and I looked back five years and see that, in general, the rate of charter growth has pretty consistently held at 6 to 8 percent until the 2014-2015 school year, when the rate slowed to around 4 percent. In 2015-2016, it slowed further to just barely over 2 percent, and then down to the current 1.8 percent. This year is not an anomaly. So what is going on?

More aggressive closures don’t explain the slow down. The number of charter school closures over the last five years has held pretty steady. Last spring’s number of closures (202) is actually lower than the previous year’s high-water mark of 257. And if you look at the rates of closures and openings over the last 10 years, it’s clear that openings have slowed faster than closures have increased.

Political backlash? The most obvious explanation is politics. In states like Massachusetts, charters are coming up against caps and growing political opposition. Massachusetts only added one new charter this school year. Opposition has also dramatically increased as charters move from a sideshow to a more mainstream reform strategy in many cities. In cities with significant charter growth, local board, union, and community opposition can increase exponentially as districts deal with the financial reality of enrollment loss.
It’s very interesting to look at the Big Four states that have historically driven most charter growth: Texas, Colorado, Ohio, and Florida. All, with the exception of Texas, have been producing fewer new charter schools for the past few years, while closure rates have held reasonably steady. Arizona and Michigan, two other significant charter growth states with pro-choice, no-cap state policies, added just a handful of new schools between them this year. All of this says to me that there is something going on besides just “big P” politics.

Ossification? I have a strong suspicion that the slowdown has a lot to do with the maturation of the movement: great teachers and school leaders are probably getting harder to come by, especially with the slowed growth of TFA. There are increased union efforts to unionize charters and some big CMOs have slowed their expansion efforts in order to focus on quality.
Slowing/uneven demand? Parents are still choosing charter schools and demand is high, but we are seeing that in some “high-choice” cities even high-performing charter schools are having a hard time attracting parents away from their default neighborhood school. Facilities options are also getting slimmer as charter schools grow and compete with one another for unused buildings. On the other hand, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools surveys show strong unmet demand for charter schools, and the still-increasing student enrollment numbers confirm that demand is still strong, overall.
Increased bureaucracy? Another explanation is that the barriers to starting a new charter school have been increasing. We hear reports that charter authorizers are getting much choosier and often now expect applicants to have a facility secured before the application is approved. This weeds out less-prepared applicants but also makes it increasingly expensive for well-prepared applicants to start a school. It’s worth a look from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and others to see if politics or overly risk-averse bureaucracy is at play here.
What’s clear, though, is that the charter movement really needs to rethink its dominant assumption that the only factor limiting growth is access to start-up funds. Continued growth will require much more authentic and sophisticated engagement in local and state politics. State laws that allow for continued growth of high-quality charters, and that give charters access to facilities, are crucial. Local charter school advocates also need to engage in assertive but respectful conversations about how to manage district enrollment loss so that students in district-run schools do not pay the price for unfettered growth. CRPE has some new proposals on this front coming soon.
Cooperative arrangements with districts, like those in Camden, NJ, and Indianapolis, will also have to be accelerated so that families who want to stay in their neighborhoods can still get the benefit of excellent charter schools, and charter schools can have a more stable enrollment base. Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Camden are all great examples of how neighborhood-based charters can work. Citywide agreements over special education, expulsion, enrollment, and other issues are also critical foundations on which to build a stronger community political base.
Finally, states may need to take a look at the financial and other incentives embedded in their laws and policies. An economist might say that the supply of charter schools is simply meeting the logical limit of the current funding and political environment. If we want supply to change, we need to change that environment.
Things could start rebounding, but it seems to me that the days of easy, unfettered charter growth may be gone, at least for the near future. It’s time for honest conversations about what that means, especially given the demand and need for more high-quality choices. Clearly, asking funders to just keep bankrolling charter expansion is not enough.
—Robin J. Lake
Robin J. Lake is the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.
This post originally appeared on The Lens.

Fresh Box
 androids

A Common Core Curriculum Quandary – by Michael J. Petrilli Mar 8th

Eureka Math Director Jill Diniz teaches a demonstration lesson on exponential decay to grade 9 students from Lafayette Parish School System. One of the most ambitious educational improvement projects in recent years was the adoption of new, more rigorous college- and career-ready academic standards .... More »
 online education

Quick Key's New Google Forms Add-on Makes It Easy to Send Grades to PowerSchool Apr 13th

Earlier this year Quick Key added a Google Classroom integration. Recently, Quick Key took that integration deeper by introducing a Google Forms Add-on. Quick Key's Google Forms Add-on lets you take the quizzes that you create in Google Forms and have them automatically scored for you. You can then .... More »

Continue Reading

Is Charter School Growth Flat-Lining? – by Robin J. Lakehttp://educationnext.org/