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Report Uses Flawed Research to Paint Michigan Neovoucher Proposal in a Positive Light

BOULDER, CO (July 14, 2022)—A recent Mackinac Center report claims that the proposed Michigan Student Opportunity Scholarship (MSOS) neovoucher program has the potential to create fiscal benefits for the state of Michigan and its school districts. Its conclusions were examined in a new review, however, and found faulty.

Don’t Collapse Multiple School Performance Indicators Into a Summative Rating on State School Report Cards, Warns New Policy Brief

BOULDER, CO (June 23, 2022) – The federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 provided states with slightly more flexibility in the design of their school accountability systems. However, while states may take different approaches to measuring and reporting school performance, they have consistently chosen approaches of public reporting that collapse multiple school performance indicators into a summative rating.

State Accountability Rating Systems: A Review of School Report Cards as Indicators of School Quality

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 provided states with increased flexibility to design school accountability systems. A core element of the law is the requirement that states develop statewide systems allowing for meaningful differentiation among schools, and use this information to identify schools that should be the focus of improvement efforts. Individual states decide on the type of report card, or rating system, that they will use to report this information to the public.

Teacher Staffing Report Pairs Some Potentially Useful Recommendations With a Dearth of Evidence

BOULDER, CO (May 24, 2022)—In response to Covid-related teacher shortages, the TNTP think tank (formerly “The New Teacher Project”) released a report with recommendations for district leaders in crafting short- and long-term teacher staffing plans. A new review of that report finds that it includes some positive elements but suffers from several research-related weaknesses.

NEPC Review: Addressing Teacher Shortages: Practical Ideas for the Pandemic and Beyond (TNTP, February 2022)

Think Tank Name
TNTP

In light of the pandemic which has likely resulted in rampant teacher absences and widespread teacher shortages, a TNTP report offers leaders clearly articulated employment goals and numerous recommendations for short- and long-term staffing plans. Although reliable evidence on the extent of teacher shortages is mixed, the report does provide leaders confronting staffing issues with some helpful questions and potentially useful recommendations. Despite these positive elements, however, the report has several research-related weaknesses.

“Grow Your Own” Programs Can Build Equity in Local Schools and Communities, Explains New Policy Brief

BOULDER, CO (May 19, 2022) – Grow your own (GYO) programs are designed to recruit, prepare, and place community members as teachers in local schools. They do this through partnerships between educator preparation programs, school districts or local educational agencies, and community-based organizations. The nation is currently seeing new and thoughtful uses of the approach.

"Grow Your Own" Programs: Examining Potential and Pitfalls for a New Generation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Community Teachers

Grow your own (GYO) programs are designed to recruit, prepare, and place community members as teachers in local schools. They do this through partnerships between educator preparation programs, school districts or local educational agencies, and community-based organizations. The nation is currently seeing new and thoughtful uses of the approach.

The Supreme Court May Be About to Drop Another Bombshell

BOULDER, CO (May 12, 2022) – In the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down a series of decisions that may transform American society. One of those decisions is in a case called Carson v. Makin, the latest in a series of cases brought to expand the use of private school vouchers. This decision in Carson may be particularly radical and transformative, explains University of Colorado Boulder professor and NEPC director Kevin Welner.

The Outsourcing of Discrimination: Another SCOTUS Earthquake?

This policy memo examines some fundamental shifts, along with their real-world implications, within the past 60 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence, up to and including the current Carson v. Makin case. The Supreme Court is just a few small steps away from transforming every charter school law in the U.S. into a private-school voucher policy. Further, the nation may be facing a future of religious organizations proselytizing through charter schools that have been freed from obeying anti-discrimination laws—with LGBTQ+ community members being the most likely victims.

Summit Charter Organization Continues to Make Unjustified Claims

BOULDER, CO (May 10, 2022)—Summit Public Schools, a charter school organization operating schools in California and Oregon, published Pathways to Success: Exploring the Long-Term Outcomes of Alumni from Summit Public Schools in September 2021, detailing the success of its graduates. A review by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley of Arizona State University examines these questionable assertions made about the performance and life satisfaction of Summit graduates.

NEPC Review: Pathways to Success: Exploring the Long-Term Outcomes of Alumni from Summit Public Schools (Summit Public Schools, September 2021)

Think Tank Name
Summit Public Schools

Summit Public Schools reports that its alumni graduated from college at nearly double the national average and self-reported high levels of well-being, fulfillment, and workplace satisfaction. It also reports that alumni from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds now make more than $60,000 per year on average working full time. Although the study may provide some information useful to Summit’s internal decision-making, its serious methodological issues prevent it from having any implications for practice or policymaking in general.

NEPC Review: From School Aid to Student Aid: Modernizing K-12 Funding in Michigan (Mackinac Center, March 2022)

Think Tank Name
Mackinac Center

A Mackinac Center report recommends changes to the state’s current approach to financing public and charter schools, to move toward a system where more funding follows the student to either public, charter, or private schools—or to other service providers. The report provides some useful, albeit insufficiently researched, guidance on shifting categorical funding into core funding and modifying the state’s approach to financing programs for children with disabilities.

Report Promoting a ‘Money Follows the Child’ Funding System Lacks Rigorous Analysis

BOULDER, CO (May 3, 2022)—In recent years, supporters of school choice have promoted school finance reforms sometimes called “backpack funding,” but also called “money follows the child” or “student-based budgeting.” Whatever the term used, the idea is facilitate choice by attaching a funded amount to each student, with that payment following the students to their chosen schools.

NEPC Review: Documenting Inequitable Patterns in Spending by Parent Teacher Associations, Parent Teacher Organizations, and "Friends of" Fundraising Groups at Illinois Public Schools (Urban Institute, February 2022)

Think Tank Name
Urban Institute

An Urban Institute report asserts that private fundraising, which is more likely to exist in advantaged schools, increases educational inequality. The report recommends that state and district policymakers track private fundraising and consider strategies for resource sharing and equalization. While the report’s claims are consistent with other research, problems with the analysis and presentation of the data severely undercut its validity, making it hard to know how much these patterns exist in Illinois schools.

Useful But Limited Report Examines Private Fundraising for Wealthier Schools

BOULDER, CO (March 29, 2022)—A recent Urban Institute report analyzing the role of Parent Teacher Organizations and similar groups in Illinois echoes and amplifies the existing critique of private fundraising: that it exacerbates inequitable school funding. However, some weaknesses prevent it from making a convincing case.

Transgender Students and Policy in K-12 Public Schools: Acknowledging Historical Harms and Taking Steps Toward a Promising Future

Transgender and nonbinary (collectively referred to here as “trans”) students are ill-served by most school environments. They experience challenges trying to navigate institutions that, at best, are poorly designed to support them and that often work against them. Although some districts and states have developed laws and policies to improve students’ experiences, many are either ill-conceived, ineffectively implemented, or reinforce restrictive and inflexible structures regulating gender.

Improving School for Transgender and Nonbinary Students

BOULDER, CO (March 24, 2022) – Transgender and nonbinary (collectively referred to here as “trans”) students are ill-served by most school environments. They experience challenges trying to navigate institutions that, at best, are poorly designed to support them and that often work against them. Although some districts and states have developed laws and policies to improve students’ experiences, many are either ill-conceived, ineffectively implemented, or reinforce restrictive and inflexible structures regulating gender.

Another Report Misleadingly Touts Cost Savings From Voucher Programs

BOULDER, CO (March 15, 2022) – A recent report from EdChoice argues for expansion of policies that publicly fund private schools, contending that private schools could provide equal or better outcomes at lesser cost. A review released today examines the report’s methodology to determine the soundness of its claims, and it finds the cost-saving estimates to be based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

NEPC Review: Fiscal Effects of School Choice: Analyzing the Costs and Savings of Private School Choice Programs in America (EdChoice, November 2021)

Think Tank Name
EdChoice

Advocates for increased privatization of public schools have long contended that private schools could provide equal or better outcomes at lesser costs. To bolster that argument, this EdChoice report asserts that voucher and voucher-like (tax credit scholarship and education savings account) programs have saved state and local treasuries some $12.4 to $28.3 billion dollars as student “switchers” use those programs to leave public schools and enter private schools. However, the report’s findings do not provide a sound base for policy decisions.

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