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Friday, July 25, 2014

Compelling Education Quote of the Week: Research or Advocacy?

"I think the charter idea is a brilliant idea, but we need to handle it responsibly. ... Trying to make sweeping statements about charter schools or district schools does not advance the overall cause of improving American public education." Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change in Minneapolis, quoted on NPR.

Context: Nathan was responding to a just issued report by the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Researchers analyzed finances and NAEP test scores to determine that students in charter and regular schools perform about the same. But, the report goes on to say, charter schools have less funding so are more efficient.

Some called the report another instance of advocacy research and say it needs to be taken with a few grains of salt.

Patrick Wolf, author of the study, said, “Public policy in education can't ignore cost. Money is scarce, so it's a service to policymakers for them to know which education sectors are most productive."

What's your take?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Compelling Education Quote of the Week: Carrot or Stick?

"This law is working directly against us. The students who are going to help us get the high school out of academic distress are the kids who are probably going to try to leave, and then we'll never get out. If they
leave...that will make the challenge even greater for us," Dollarway Superintendent Bobby Acklin quoted July 16, 2014, in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Context: Mr. Acklin was responding to the dilemma faced by the 26 schools designated as "academic distress schools" in Arkansas. Schools receive the label when more than half of their students over a three-year period score below proficient on the state Benchmark and End-of-Course exams.

It points to the truly tough conundrum the state faces in dealing with such schools. As Mr. Acklin said, helping the students (they now have the option to transfer to other schools) has the potential of further harming the schools, despite schools' and districts' efforts to improve student performance.

Surely there's a better way to serve both the student and the school. Any ideas?