NEPC Review: Back to the Staffing Surge: The Great Teacher Salary Stagnation and the Decades-Long Employment Growth in American Public Schools

Reviewed_Report_Title
Back to the Staffing Surge: The Great Teacher Salary Stagnation and the Decades-Long Employment Growth in American Public Schools
Think Tank Name
EdChoice

A report from EdChoice documents two staffing trends in public schools. After a temporary pause during the Great Recession, school staffing in the U.S. resumed an upward trajectory, and hiring tilted toward non-teaching personnel as compared to teachers. The report concludes that staffing growth outpaces enrollment growth and that there has been no corresponding increase in student performance. The report then recommends increasing teacher pay, at the expense of non-teaching staff, and school choice.

Virtual Schools in Five Key States Show Growth but Poor Performance

BOULDER, CO (June 27, 2017) – Over the past five years, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) has produced an annual report called Virtual Schools in the U.S.: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence. These reports provide an impartial analysis of the evolution of full-time, publicly funded K-12 virtual and blended schools by examining the policy issues raised by available evidence. They also assess the research evidence that bears on K-12 virtual teaching and learning, and they analyze the growth and performance of such virtual and blended schools.

NEPC Review: Renewing Our Cities and CPR Scholarships

Reviewed_Report_Title
Renewing Our Cities and CPR Scholarships
Think Tank Name
EdChoice
Think Tank Name 2
American Enterprise Institute

Two reports contend that the introduction of school choice can promote economic development in economically distressed urban areas. The first report, published by EdChoice, presents a case study of a charter school that has, according to the report, contributed to the economic development of the city of Santa Ana, California.

School Choice Erroneously Proposed as Way to Promote Economic Development

BOULDER, CO (June 20, 2017) – EdChoice and the American Enterprise Institute each recently released a report contending that the introduction of school choice can promote economic development in economically distressed urban areas. The first report presents a case study of a charter school that has, according to the report, contributed to the economic development of the city of Santa Ana, California.

Worthwhile Report on Parent Contributions to School Finance

BOULDER, CO (June 15, 2017) – While inequalities in school funding resulting from governmental funding systems have long been a source of concern to education researchers and policymakers, a recent report from the Center for American Progress examines a source of educational inequality that receives less attention: private fundraising by parents.

Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance was reviewed by Maia Cucchiara of Temple University.

NEPC Review: Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance

Reviewed_Report_Title
Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance
Think Tank Name
Center for American Progress
Think Tank Name
Center for American Progress

While inequalities in school funding resulting from state and local policies have long been a source of concern to education researchers and policymakers, a report from the Center for American Progress examines a source of educational inequality that receives less attention: private fundraising by parents. It focuses on the 50 Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) that raised the most money in 2013-2014, with two main findings. First, the PTAs raising large amounts were located in schools and districts with low rates of student poverty.

Report Fails to Muster Evidence to Support School Improvement Strategies that Remove Democratic Control

BOULDER, CO (June 13, 2017) – A recent report offers a how-to guide for reform advocates interested in removing communities’ democratic control over their schools. The report explains how these reformers can influence states to use the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I school improvement funds to support a specific set of reforms: charter schools, state-initiated turnarounds, and appointment of an individual with full authority over districts or schools.

NEPC Review: Leveraging ESSA to Support Quality-School Growth

Reviewed_Report_Title
Leveraging ESSA to Support Quality-School Growth
Think Tank Name
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Education Cities
Think Tank Name
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Cities

A report offers a how-to guide for reform advocates interested in removing communities’ democratic control over their schools. The report explains how these reformers can influence states to use the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I school improvement funds to support a specific set of reforms: charter schools, state-initiated turnarounds, and appointment of an individual with plenipotentiary authority over districts or schools.

How “Law and Order” Policies Inflict Violence on Students of Color, and What We Can Do About It

BOULDER, CO (June 8, 2017) – Over the past decade, a series of publicized, tragic shootings has highlighted the reality that Black, Latinx, and Native American youth are more likely to be killed or injured as a result of routine interactions with police. At the same time, the harmful effects of zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools have been documented in research and in journalistic accounts.

Law and Order in School and Society: How Discipline and Policing Policies Harm Students of Color, and What We Can Do About It

Systemic violence and disparate school discipline policies hinder equitable, just, and safe schooling. They also restrict access to social opportunities and civil liberties. Research shows that schooling contexts and social policies set up the conditions for young people of color to experience violence in regularized, systematic, and destructive ways. This policy report centers on questions of race and disparate racial impacts.

Community Schools Show Promise as School Improvement Strategy

Washington, DC (June 5, 2017) - Community schools can be a successful strategy for improving schools under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), according to a report released today by the National Education Policy Center and the Learning Policy Institute. The report, Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement, reveals that community schools, an increasingly popular school improvement strategy, are strongly supported by research evidence, as required by ESSA.

Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement

This brief examines the research on community schools, with two primary emphases. First, it explores whether the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens the possibility of investing in well-designed community schools to meet the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. And second, it provides support to school, district, and state leaders as they consider, propose, or implement a community school intervention in schools targeted for comprehensive support.

Attempt to Refute Suspension's Harmful Academic Impact Falls Flat

BOULDER, CO (June 1, 2017) – A new report from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas examines the association between out-of-school suspensions and student test scores. The findings and conclusions presented in the “working paper,” however, lack validity on multiple grounds.

Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores? was reviewed by Brea L. Perry of Indiana University and Daniel Losen of the University of California Los Angeles.

NEPC Review: Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores?

Reviewed_Report_Title
Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores?
Think Tank Name
The University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform

A report from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas examines the association between out-of-school suspensions and student test scores. Using dynamic and multilevel regression modeling of six years of school records from all K-12 public schools in Arkansas, the paper purports to estimate a causal relationship between exclusionary discipline and academic performance. It concludes, in contrast to prior work, that the number of days of suspension a student receives has a positive relationship to math and language arts test scores.

Examination of New York City Charter School Success Misses the Mark

BOULDER, CO (May 9, 2017) – In recent years, the nation has seen a debate regarding the effectiveness of charter schools and their impact on the larger school systems in which they operate. A recent Manhattan Institute report explores the question of whether or to what extent the performance of New York City (NYC) charter schools is explained by “cream-skimming,” or drawing a group of students from public schools who are disproportionately motivated and academically accomplished.

NEPC Review: New York Charter Schools Outperform Traditional Selective Public Schools: More Evidence that Cream-Skimming is Not Driving Charters’ Success

Reviewed_Report_Title
New York Charter Schools Outperform Traditional Selective Public Schools: More Evidence that Cream-Skimming is Not Driving Charters’ Success
Think Tank Name
Manhattan Institute

A common argument leveled against charter schools is that they attract the most motivated and intelligent students from already struggling public schools. Marcus Winters seeks to examine this claim, known as “cream-skimming,” by comparing the performance of New York City’s (NYC) charter middle schools with a set of traditional selective public middle schools, which admit students on the basis of prior performance.

Report on Federal Policy Regarding Transgender Youth Ignores Transgender Youth

BOULDER, CO (May 2, 2017) – Over the past two or three years, a great deal of attention has been given to transgender issues. In the United States, the transgender population includes an estimated 150,000 transgender youth. A Heritage Foundation report argues that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 does not require schools to protect these youth from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The report also fails to provide any insight into actual gender identity policies in schools.

NEPC Review: Gender Identity Policies in Schools: What Congress, the Courts, and the Trump Administration Should Do

Reviewed_Report_Title
Gender Identity Policies in Schools: What Congress, the Courts, and the Trump Administration Should Do
Think Tank Name
Heritage Foundation

This recent Heritage Foundation report argues that Title IX does not require schools to protect students from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It criticizes the Obama Administration for issuing guidance and enforcing Title IX to protect transgender students, and it urges the Trump Administration and courts to keep gender identity protections out of federal laws. Oddly, transgender youth are at the center of, and yet somehow go wholly unexamined in, this report on gender identity policy.

Report Wrongly Claims to Provide Answers on Wisconsin School Choice Policies

BOULDER, CO (April 25, 2017) – A recent report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty attempts to compare student test score performance for the 2015-16 school year across Wisconsin’s public schools, charter schools, and private schools participating in one of the state’s voucher programs. Though it highlights important patterns in student test score performance, the report’s limited analyses fail to provide answers as to the relative effectiveness of school choice policies.

NEPC Review: Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin

Reviewed_Report_Title
Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin
Think Tank Name
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty

The report reviewed here compares Wisconsin student test score performance for the 2015-16 school year across public schools, charter schools and private schools participating in one of the state’s voucher programs. Comparing a single year’s test scores across school sectors that serve different student populations is inherently problematic. The report uses linear regression models to attempt to adjust for these differences and make what the authors claim are “apples to apples” comparisons.

NEPC Director Kevin Welner Honored With American Educational Research Association Award

BOULDER, CO (April 24, 2017) – NEPC Director Kevin Welner has been awarded the 2017 American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Public Communication of Education Research Award. The award honors scholars exemplary in their capacity to communicate important education research to the public, including education communities. It recognizes a scholar who has demonstrated the capacity to deepen the public’s understanding and appreciation of the value of education research in civic decision-making.

Report Dismisses Stratification While Claiming Benefits of Charter Schools

BOULDER, CO (April 13, 2017) – A new report by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) compares differences in approaches and demographics between and among charter school models and local “traditional public schools.” The report links varied models to stratified parental choices and then to correspondingly stratified student composition, concluding that these differences and stratification are either beneficial or benign.

NEPC Review: Differences by Design? Student Composition in Charter Schools with Different Academic Models

Reviewed_Report_Title
Differences by Design? Student Composition in Charter Schools with Different Academic Models
Think Tank Name
American Enterprise Institute
Think Tank Name
American Enterprise Institute

A report by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Differences by Design?, compares differences in approaches and demographics between and among charter school models and local “traditional public schools.” Using three national data sets, the report effectively captures the national universe of charter schools. It empirically demonstrates that cream-skimming occurs and that charters segregate by income, special education, race and ethnicity, in that different demographic groups attend different types of charter schools.

Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017

In the five years since the first NEPC Annual Report on Virtual Education was released in 2013, virtual education continues to be a focal point for policymakers. Proponents argue that virtual education can expand student choices and improve the efficiency of public education. In particular, full-time virtual schools (also sometimes referred to as virtual charter schools, virtual academies, online schools or cyber schools) have attracted a great deal of attention.

Virtual Schools Expand Despite Poor Performance, Lack of Research Support, and Inadequate Policies

BOULDER, CO (April 11, 2017) – Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017, a three-part report released today by the National Education Policy Center, provides a detailed inventory of full-time virtual schools in the U.S. and their performance, an exhaustive review of the literature on virtual education and its implications for virtual school practices, and a detailed review and analysis of state-level policymaking related to virtual schools.

Report Promotes Reforms to Teacher Education Programs but Ignores Past Research and Present Context

BOULDER, CO (March 28, 2017) – A recent Bellwether Education Partners’ report begins with the reasonable assumption that in order to improve teacher quality, the field must first improve teacher preparation program design. It then asserts that teacher-education programs are “blindly swinging from one popular reform to the next” and that decades of input- and outcome-based research has failed to improve teacher education.

NEPC Review: A New Agenda: Research To Build a Better Teacher Preparation Program

Reviewed_Report_Title
A New Agenda: Research To Build a Better Teacher Preparation Program
Think Tank Name
Bellwether Education Partners
Think Tank Name
Bellwether Education Partners

Bellwether Education Partners’ report, A New Agenda, calls for a “rational” and “rigorous” research agenda for teacher education. Although the report’s rationale is not fully explicated, it asserts that programs are “blindly swinging from one popular reform to the next” and that decades of input- and outcome-based research has failed to improve teacher education. Instead, the report calls for “rapid cycle evaluations.” Regrettably, this depiction of past research includes mischaracterizations and also omits a wide swath of relevant literature about teacher education.

Report Mistakenly Suggests Easy Path for Improving Teacher Quality Through Higher Admissions Standards

BOULDER, CO (March 23, 2017) – A recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) advocates for a higher bar for entry into teacher preparation programs. The NCTQ report suggests, based on a review of GPA and SAT/ACT requirements at 221 institutions in 25 states, that boosting entry requirements would significantly improve teacher quality in the U.S. It argues that this higher bar should be set by states, by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and by the higher-education institutions themselves.

Review of Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep

Reviewed_Report_Title
Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep
Think Tank Name
National Council on Teacher Quality
Think Tank Name
National Council on Teacher Quality

Based on a review of GPA and SAT/ACT requirements at 221 institutions in 25 states, a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recommends that states, institutions of higher education, and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) maintain or establish a higher bar for entry into teacher preparation programs. The NCTQ report suggests that boosting teacher candidate entry requirements in ways they advocate would significantly improve teacher quality in the U.S..

What We Can Learn from the Massachusetts Ballot Question Campaign on Charter School Expansion

In the November 2016 election, voters in Massachusetts decisively defeated a referendum that would have significantly increased the number of charter schools in the state. This campaign holds lessons about the fault lines of the charter school debate, and about how the public may be willing to respond to the Trump administration’s likely expansion efforts.

Review of Reimagining Learning: A Big Bet on the Future of American Education

Reviewed_Report_Title
Reimagining Learning: A Big Bet on the Future of American Education
Reviewed Report Link
Think Tank Name
NewSchools Venture Fund
Think Tank Name
NewSchools Venture Fund

Philanthropic involvement in K-12 education is growing, and it increasingly shapes the direction of reforms pursued throughout the country. A recent report from the NewSchools Venture Fund offers a thought experiment on how philanthropists can make a “big bet” over the next decade on innovative schools—a broad category that generally includes schools with a high degree of education technology use and so-called personalized approaches to learning that likely utilize digital platforms.

Strategic Education Philanthropy Plan Offers Recommendations but Fails to Address Serious Concerns

BOULDER, CO (March 7, 2017) – Philanthropic involvement in K-12 education has grown into a powerful force shaping the direction of reforms pursued throughout the country. A recent report from the NewSchools Venture Fund offers a thought experiment on how philanthropists can dramatically shape education reform by making a “big bet” over the next decade on what they term “innovative schools."

Center for American Progress Receives NEPC’s 2016 Bunkum Award for Shoddy Research

BOULDER, CO (February 23, 2017) – The 89th Academy Awards will be celebrated this weekend, which means it’s also time to announce the winner of the 2016 National Education Policy Center Bunkum Award. We invite you to enjoy our 11th annual tongue-in-cheek salute to the most egregiously shoddy think tank report reviewed in 2016.

Bunkum Award 2016

The National Education Policy Center is pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Bunkum Award, recognizing the think tank whose reviewed work best captures the true spirit of bunkum.

Watch the 2016 Bunkum Award Ceremony:

 

Imbalanced Report Partially Explores Teacher Evaluation Reform

BOULDER, CO (February 21, 2017) – In response to pressure from the Obama administration, many states adopted policies linking teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests and other measured outcomes. However, the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) seems to mark a federal deprioritization of teacher evaluation reform.

A new report from Bellwether Education Partners seeks to influence states’ decisions about possible revisions to teacher evaluation policies, but its conclusions are often underdeveloped or unsubstantiated.

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