When it comes to arts education, geography matters. A student in the Northeast region of the United States is significantly more likely to attend a school with a full-time art teacher than a student in the West or Midwest.
Not too long ago, teachers, instructional coaches, principals and other educators poured into Memphis, Tennessee, energized by and drawn to an aggressive effort to turn around the state’s chronically poor-performing schools – schools that, for decades, had been failing generations of students.
When the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, one of the things that educators were most excited about was the chance to cut down on the number of tests kids have to take, Specifically, the law allows some districts to offer a nationally recognized college-entrance exam instead of the state test for accountability.
But that flexibility could be more complicated than it appears on paper.
Lisa Miller, an associate editor at New York magazine, discusses her new profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Miller discusses the unwillingness of people close to DeVos to discuss her on the record — including current Department of Education employees — made this one of the most challenging profiles she’s ever written. What do we know about DeVos’ vision for the nation’s public schools that we didn’t know six months ago?
The top two Democrats for education in Congress have warned U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that her department’s new approach to reviewing states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans is riddled with problems. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the ranking Democrats on the respective Senate and House education committees, wrote in a Friday letter to DeVos that the U.S.
When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office, many in the education community were terrified the billionaire school choice advocate would quickly use her new perch to privatize education and run roughshod over traditional public schools.
Maybe they shouldn’t have been quite so worried. Nearly six months into her new job, a politically hamstrung DeVos is having a tough time getting her agenda off the ground.
Teacher advocacy groups are concerned that California’s definition of an ineffective teacher is too loose and won’t be bolstered before the state has to turn in its federal accountability plan in two months.
Each state must submit its plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by Sept. 18, and one accountability measure is ensuring that low-income and minority students are not disproportionately taught by inexperienced or incompetent teachers.
The new federal education law is supposed to return to the states greater control over their public schools.
But judging from the mood recently at the annual conference of the Education Commission of the States, the states are anything but optimistic about the future, or about the new law.
Two local charter schools originally overseen by Reynoldsburg schools will come under the sponsorship of the state of Ohio.
On Tuesday, the state Board of Education voted at its regular meeting to approve a hearing officer’s recommendation that the Virtual Community School and A+ Arts Academy should be sponsored next school year by the Office of School Sponsorship, part of the Ohio Department of Education.
You might have heard a lot by now about The Feedback That Shook the World—also known as the official comments from the U.S. Department of Education about states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans. But how have states actually responded to what U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ agency has said? We now have an interesting response from at least one state.
Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike. President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 as the less intrusive successor to the No Child Left Behind law, which was maligned by many in both political parties as punitive and prescriptive.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike.
That’s the grade the U.S. Department of Education (USED) gave Connecticut last week on its plans to meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind law as the national standard for school accountability.
Reviewers at the federal department found the way Connecticut measures the performance of its public schools lacking and its plans to begin tracking the achievement of English learners vague.
Adam Harris of The Chronicle of Higher Education provides an update on the month of stagnation since Betsy DeVos has taken reporters’ questions, or made other senior officials available to explain policy shifts.
The state will now consider chronic absenteeism and how non-native speakers are learning English when calculating school A-F grades.
These two changes come as part of the Department of Education’s draft plan for how the state will comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the old No Child Left Behind law.
ESSA gives states a little more flexibility with how they grade schools and students, including allowing a state to include their own measurements.
Before Be Vang became an educator, she went through the public school system as an English language learner. So when she speaks today, on behalf of the multilingual families she serves as principal at Mississippi Creative Arts School in St. Paul Public Schools, she’s able to relate to the educational barriers — including low expectations — that English Learners often face.
Michigan’s federal school compliance plan is missing critical elements, including how the state would use student data to identify schools in need of academic improvement, according an analysis by Bellwether Education Partners, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm.
From coast to coast, states are starting to decide how they will capitalize on a law that could usher in a new era of national education policy.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have submitted plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act, while others are in the final stage of crafting proposals. As states head to the finish line, officials are watching to see if and how they take advantage of newfound flexibility over testing, evaluating and intervening in schools.
Growth Plus Proficiency? Why States Are Turning to a Hybrid Strategy for Judging Schools (and Why Some Experts Say They Shouldn’t)
A compromise in a long-running debate over how to evaluate schools is gaining traction as states rewrite their accountability systems. But experts say it could come with familiar drawbacks — especially in fairly accounting for the challenges poor students face.
Under No Child Left Behind, schools were judged by the share of students deemed proficient in math and reading. The new federal education law, ESSA, gives states new flexibility to consider students’ academic growth, too.
Miami-Dade School District Hires Lobbyist — At $108,000 A Year — To Take Concerns To Congress, Trump
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Miami-Dade school district is hiring a lobbying firm to represent its interests in Washington, D.C.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the School Board approved a three-year contract — at $108,000 a year — with Ballard Partners, a Florida lobbying firm, to advocate for the district’s interests before Congress and several federal agencies.
The Trump administration has given three states—Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico—a detailed list of information that they need to supply in order to get their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act approved.
And some of the asks—especially to Delaware—give clues as to how the U.S. Department of Education is interpreting parts of ESSA. For instance, the department wants Delaware to reconsider its proposed student achievement goals, since it doesn’t consider them to be “ambitious.” (ESSA calls for states to set “ambitious” achievement goals, but doesn’t say what that means.)
In this edition of “This Week in California Education,” Executive Director Louis Freedberg, and Editor-at-Large John Fensterwald bring you a special podcast from the Education Writers Association national seminar in Washington D.C. this week. They sought out national education leaders to get their perspectives on how California is doing on its education reforms and its new “California School Dashboard” that ranks schools on multiple measures, not just test scores.
When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos declined EWA’s invitation to speak at its 70th National Seminar, it prompted coverage from The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, in part because of her already limited press availability in the nearly four months since she was appointed to the cabinet post.
It’s a lesson as fundamental as the ABCs: Students can’t learn if they don’t show up.
Research shows that kids in poverty coming to class can single-handedly improve student achievement. Schools across the Twin Cities offer rewards and mentoring to keep kids in school. Despite all the attention and effort, Minnesota has no clear handle on the hundreds of schools with serious attendance problems.
Have you been waiting for President Donald Trump to work with the Republican-controlled Congress and get rolling on a big K-12 education initiative? If so, you might be getting a little bit antsy. But is that unusual during the first 100 days or so of a presidential administration?
Here’s a quick sketch of some of the bigger things the Trump administration has gotten done so far on public school policy after nearly 100 days in office.
On Tuesday evening, members of the House cast a party-line 72-59 vote to pass the education finance omnibus bill. It includes things like a 1.5 percent funding increase to the basic education formula — a number that falls short of the 2 percent increase opponents say is needed to help schools keep up with the cost of inflation. It also earmarks dollars for school readiness funding and early learning scholarships, but doesn’t include funding for the expansion of Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature voluntary pre-K program.
Oklahoma’s future system of measuring student and school performance has been labeled by some opponents as a racially insensitive evaluation tool that holds minority students to lower standards than their white counterparts.
But the accountability system, which will serve as the basis for the state’s A through F school grading formula and meet new federal K-12 education standards, could bring more attention to institutional racism in the state’s public schools, proponents believe.
The Michigan Department of Education has submitted to the U.S. Department of Education its plan to comply with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The move, announced Monday, came after Gov. Rick Snyder signed off on the plan but expressed support for more discussion on “greater transparency in the school accountability portion of the plan,” MDE said in a news release.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, students in Delaware will be held accountable for social studies and science. Massachusetts and Vermont are also incorporating science into their systems, and Illinois is hoping to add it down the line.
Though the Alabama department of education has barely begun intervening into 27 of Montgomery’s chronically low-performing schools, details of a $536,000 contract are shedding light on plans they have to improve other schools as well.
The $536,000 contract with Massachusetts-based Class Measures, Inc., specifies the company will conduct 38 school reviews, create action plans from those reviews, and train state department officials in the review methods.
It’s difficult to refute the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on America’s current educational landscape. Jeanne Allen, CEO and founder of the Center for Education Reform, reminded listeners of the law’s significance at a panel earlier this year, pointing out that before NCLB was passed, “there had never been a requirement to publish and disaggregate data down to the school level.”
After dozens of listening sessions and meetings with hundreds of parents, educators and administrators, the Illinois State Board of Education announced it has submitted its plan to replace the No Child Left Behind Act to the federal government for review.
Just a year after deciding that every school should get a single letter grade, Tennessee lawmakers are poised to take it back.
Last year, a bill requiring all schools to get an A-F grade starting in 2018 sailed through the legislature. Supporters said parents needed an easy tool to understand how their child’s school was performing, even as critics — including many educators — argued that school quality can’t easily be summed up by a single letter grade.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education hopes to alleviate testing pressure on students and teachers as the state prepares an education plan in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, a top department official told lawmakers Monday.
The Obama administration in 2015 replaced the No Child Left Behind Act with ESSA. The new law gives states more freedom to select measures used to determine whether a school is successful and strategies used to support low-performing schools.
Students who miss a lot school fall behind. It’s a national problem.
Each year, 5 to 7.5 million U.S. children are considered chronically absent. In Ohio, 15.8 percent of students miss 10 percent of the school year—about 18 days. That adds up to nearly four weeks of school missed.
The consequences are clear: lower test scores and higher dropout rates in the long run.
President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint begins to flesh out the areas in which he sees an important federal role in education — most notably expanding school choice — and those he doesn’t. At the same time, it raises questions about the fate of big-ticket items, including aid to improve teacher quality and support after-school programs.
Congress recently struck down new accountability rules, written by the Obama administration, that were part of the Every Students Succeed Act. ESSA, which was signed into law in December of 2015, replaces the No Child Left Behind Act. It takes full effect in the 2017-18 school year.
The latest draft of what will become Illinois’ new public education policy plan cleared its first major hurdle Wednesday, earning unanimous support from state education leaders.
The Illinois State Board of Education on Wednesday agreed to submit its final Every Student Succeeds Act draft plan to the U.S. Department of Education for review prior to next month’s early deadline.
With states revamping their school accountability systems under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, recent actions by Congress and the Trump administration raise important questions about what’s ahead. First, the Senate last week narrowly approved a bill to repeal ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration. (President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure.) Also, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos just issued new ESSA guidelines for states.
A federal requirement that university teacher preparation programs be rated by the state appears to be on its way out before it was ever implemented.
The U.S. Senate voted this week to strike down stricter accountability regulations on universities that had been approved by the Obama administration late last year.
The House had already approved the rule change and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.
The U.S. Senate, by a 50 to 49 vote yesterday, all but sounded the death knell for Obama administration regulations governing how states must carry out school accountability requirements under federal law. President Donald Trump said he will sign the measure, which was backed by all but one Senate Republican (and earlier won approval in the House).
So, what exactly does this mean for states and schools, and what happens now?
The possible end of Every Student Succeeds Act accountability rules could have profound consequences for schools around the country.
For much of the past year, state chiefs, district leaders, civil rights advocates, and others focused intently on trying to influence the shape of those rules, issued to govern ESSA state plans and school accountability. Such rules set the timeline for how schools are rated, measuring “consistently underperforming” students, and other key issues.
A new plan from the Ohio Department of Education outlines the trajectory of the state’s education goals over the next 10 years.
On February 2, ODE released its draft plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the education law with bipartisan congressional support. It requires each state to come up with a plan to comply with federal regulations.
Ohio’s plan is the culmination of more than a year of planning and outreach to educators and community members.
How You Can Improve Education In Schools: 7 Ways To Make A Difference After Betsy DeVos Confirmation
In an unprecedented move Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence had to vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos when the Senate found itself a tie: 50 votes for, 50 votes against. When DeVos was nominated in November, the vote was expected to fall along party lines, which would have given DeVos an easy victory. Yet, two Republicans broke with their party to vote against DeVos.
Tennessee’s Achievement School District Would Return To Its Original Purpose Under A Bill That Its Leaders Support
Tennessee’s state-run turnaround district could soon get its wings clipped — and its leaders are among those calling for the changes.
Right now, the Achievement School District can both overhaul low-performing schools and start new schools. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would stop the district from starting new schools and make it harder for the district to take over struggling schools.
Of all of Donald J. Trump’s controversial Cabinet choices, Betsy DeVos, his nominee for secretary of education, will likely come closest to falling short of Senate confirmation. But after a bumpy hearing last month, declarations by two Republicans that they can’t in good conscience vote her through, and aprobably futile Democratic “talk-a-thon” that kicked off Monday on the floor of the Senate, it seems DeVos will only secure her spot by dint of the intervention of Vice President Mike Pence, who will be called on to cast a tie-breaking vote.
A Senate committee is slated to vote tomorrow on President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education — philanthropist and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos. The Education Department is one of the newer federal departments, created during President Jimmy Carter’s administration and beginning its work in May of 1980.
Report cards carrying A to F grades have long been a fact of life for students. Now, Michigan’s schools could soon receive them, too.
The Michigan Department of Education is finalizing a new accountability system that would assign schools an A to F grade based upon standardized tests scores, graduation rates, whether students with a limited grasp of English are making progress and other factors.
However, at least one big question remains: how much weight should be given to each category?
More than 100 after- and before-school programs across Ohio that serve more than 20,000 children fear they will lose their funding source this summer, spelling the end for many of those enrichment classes.
“We’re all confused and we’re concerned,” said Nichelle Harris, director of the nonprofit Ohio Afterschool Network. “We’re talking about students here.”
Schools and districts in Washington that struggle with students missing too many days of class may be flagged for additional support under the new federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act.
When Congress replaced No Child Left Behind with a new law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, lawmakers kept the same testing requirements but also required states to select one non-test way to track school quality and student success.
Education Week’s Mark Bomster (assistant managing editor) and Sterling Lloyd (senior research associate) discuss the 2017 “Quality Counts” report, which examines and rates state-level efforts to improve public education. This year’s edition features a special focus on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind as the backbone of the nation’s federal K-12 policy. How ready are states, districts, and schools for the policy shifts — and new flexibility — on school accountability, testing, and teacher evaluations under ESSA, among other issues? What are some story ideas for local reporters covering the implementation? Also, which states scored the highest on Education Week’s ratings when it comes to student achievement, equitable education spending, and the “Chance for Success” index? How can education writers use this data to inform their own reporting?
After months of soliciting community input on a draft of Minnesota’s response to the Every Student Succeeds Act — the new federally mandated state accountability law commonly known as ESSA — staff at the Minnesota Department of Education have been granted a bit more breathing room. Because of a recently extended deadline from the feds, Minnesota won’t be submitting a draft for approval until September 2017.
It’s shaping up to be a contentious year on the education beat, fueled in part by Donald Trump’s upset victory in the presidential election.
For reporters looking to pitch stories on changes to the main federal K-12 education law, Chalkbeat Indiana Bureau Chief Scott Elliott has some advice: Don’t say “ESSA.”
The acronym refers to the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law last December, which gives states and school districts – among other things – more freedom in how they set classroom expectations.
Veteran education reporters from the Detroit Free Press and The Washington Post discuss Betsy DeVos, the billionaire school choice advocate nominated by President-elect Donald Trump. David Jesse of the Detroit newspaper sheds light on DeVos’ Michigan track record on legislative causes, and what is known about her tactics and negotiating style. Plus, he explains how DeVos’ strong religious beliefs have influenced her policy agenda. Emma Brown of The Washington Post details why Trump’s proposal for $20 billion in school vouchers might be a tough sell, even to a Republican-controlled Congress. And she sheds light on the potential for the next administration to dismantle President Obama’s education initiatives, including scaling back the reach of the Office for Civil Rights at the Education Department.
Should schools measure skills like cooperation, communication, self-confidence and the ability to organize? Efforts to gauge these so-called “soft skills” are gaining traction in the classroom, especially with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new federal law calls on states and school districts to incorporate at least one measure beyond test scores and graduation rates in their accountability systems.
Time for Action Building the Educator Workforce Our Children Need Now
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders
States are now deeply engaged in developing plans for their federal education spending for the next several years. Decades of experience and education research indicate that states must strengthen and organize the educator workforce to implement change successfully. Now is the time to rethink systems and strategies and to focus funds and efforts on what matters most for learning: great teachers and leaders for every student and school.
Teacher Effectiveness in the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Discussion Guide
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders
Systemic challenges in the educator workforce require thoughtful and bold actions, and ESSA presents a unique opportunity for states to reaffirm, modify, or improve their vision of educator effectiveness. This GTL Center discussion guide focuses on one challenge that states face as part of this work: defining ineffective teacher in the absence of highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements.
The day Eric Guthertz found out he was the principal of one of the “worst schools in California” started out fairly routine.
Guthertz heard a TV announcer mention a list of low-performing schools as he put on his tie.
“Hope we dodged that bullet,” he recalled joking with his wife.
But his school, San Francisco’s Mission High School, did not. Because it made the state’s list of lowest performing schools, Mission High was the subject of several news stories highlighting its poor performance.
Benjamin Wermund of Politico discusses the uncertainties ahead for the nation’s colleges and universities following the presidential election. While Donald Trump has offered few specifics on education policy, his surrogates suggest he will reverse course on many initiatives put in place under President Obama. That could have a significant impact on areas like Title IX enforcement, federal funding for research, and more. Higher education leaders are also facing a surge in reports of hate crimes and harassment on campuses that were already struggling with issues of free speech and diversity.
Donald Trump spent little time on education issues during his campaign, but his victory is sure to have big implications. Journalists Alyson Klein of Education Week and Andrew Kreighbaum of Inside Higher Ed discuss the likely impact on P-12 and higher education. What will be President-elect Trump’s education priorities, and how will the GOP-controlled Congress respond? Will Trump follow through on his campaign pledge to provide $20 billion for school choice? What will be the fate of existing federal policy like the new Every Student Succeeds Act? And how will Trump approach the hot-button higher education issues like student loan debt and accountability?
Here’s a secret about federal laws: Even after Congress passes them and the president signs them, federal agencies can take actions –through writing regulations — that change their impact considerably. That worry is on full display almost a year after Congress overhauled the nation’s main K-12 education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
The Every Student Succeeds Act gives local and state leaders a chance to dream up new accountability systems that consider a lot more than just test scores, and chart their own course when it comes to fixing struggling schools.
That flexibility could spur big – and potentially powerful – changes, but there are plenty of possible pitfalls that reporters should keep in mind as the states and districts they cover tackle implementation of the new law, a panel of experts said earlier this month at the Education Writers Association conference on ESSA.
Craig Brock teaches high school science in Amarillo, Texas, where his freshman biology students are currently learning about the parts of a cell. But since many of them are refugee children who have only recently arrived in the U.S. and speak little or no English, Brock often has to get creative.
Usually that means creating PowerPoint presentations full of pictures and “just kind of pulling from here and there,” he said — the Internet, a third grade textbook or a preschool homeschool curriculum from Sam’s Club, for example.
When schools consultant Tequilla Banks considers how best to ensure America’s low-income and minority students have access to effective teaching, her personal history is a helpful guide. Growing up in Arkansas, Banks witnessed first-hand how educational accountability can work – or not work, as the case may be — when state governments call the shots.
What she saw left her thankful for federal government intervention.
With so much attention focused on the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, voters could be forgiven for forgetting they’ll be asked to decide plenty more in November. And the stakes are high for K-12 education in state-level elections, including races for governor, state education chief, and legislative seats, plus ballot measures on education funding and charter schools.
Experts and advocates assess how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They offer analysis of the candidates’ campaign positions and explore the complex politics of education policy. They also discuss other key elections around the nation with big stakes for education.
The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.
See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.
Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act ushers in a new era that gives states and districts considerable leeway to reshape school accountability. What’s flexible and what’s not in the new K-12 law? What changes are on tap in states? And what are the implications for ensuring that schools serve all students effectively?
For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.
What will be the impact of the new Every Student Succeeds Act on states and schools, both in policy and practice? EWA will examine an array of issues with the federal law, including testing and accountability, Title I funding, teachers, stakeholder engagement, and curriculum.
What implications does the presidential election hold for the future of pre-K -12 policy? What direction would the leading candidates pursue? How might a shift in Congress’s political balance complicate matters? Meanwhile, a dozen governors’ seats are in play, from Oregon to Indiana and North Carolina, setting the stage for state-policy shifts.
One of the most important and welcomed provisions of the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) is the removal of so-called adequate yearly progress – the federal mandate that came to symbolize everything that was wrong with the way No Child Left Behind defined and measured accountability. AYP imposed rigid and narrow measures for school improvement, improperly labeling many schools as low-performing and imposing punishment when they were unable to meet the unrealistic expectations for proficiency.
When President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in December, he shifted significant power over educational accountability back to states and school districts.
They still face federal requirements on testing, identifying and assisting the lowest performing schools, and related matters. Money remains the carrot.
We know many American students struggle with math and trail many of their international peers. Conventional wisdom says that’s keeping them from developing the kind of critical thinking skills they need for high-paying STEM careers, and to be successful in a 21st century global economy. But is that shortsighted view of a bigger — and more positive — picture?
Beyond Ratings: Re-envisioning State Teacher Evaluation Systems as Tools for Professional Growth
To date, most of the public narrative and pushback on new teacher evaluation systems has centered around their use for high-stakes personnel decisions such as pay, promotion, and dismissal. But these systems were always intended to promote and support improvements for all teachers—not just the superstars or laggards.
For the eighth grader Kimberly Wilborn, a lesson about Nelson Mandela made it all click.
“Ms. Plante was talking about Nelson Mandela and how he forgave his jailers,” remembers Wilborn, who is being raised by her aunt on Chicago’s South Side. “And I thought if he can forgive them, I can forgive my birth mom and my dad for not being there for me. I actually cried. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Scott Jaschik, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed, shares his thoughts on the coming year with EWA Radio. Among the topics he and public editor Emily Richmond tackle in this episode: Will 2015’s widespread campus protests over racial issues carry over into the New Year? How will community college factor into state funding formulas for higher education? Why are younger U.S. military veterans an ever-growing market for universities? And what should reporters watch out for when reporting on the intersection of politics and education policy?
America brought home a middling report card with 74.4 out of 100 points – a “C” grade — in Education Week’s 20th annual “Quality Counts” report this week, which ranks the nation and individual states on a variety of student factors, from test scores to graduation rates to “chance of success” later in life. (That’s about the same grade earned last year, as well.)
With school back in session and a new federal education law on the books, K-12 reporter Motoko Rich of the New York Times shares her predictions for the hot topics on the education beat in 2016, as well as some of her favorite stories of the past year produced by other journalists. She also offers some smart tips for reporters looking to localize national issues for their own audiences.
Here’s something to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it might even make it easier to keep that pledge to exercise more often: Subscribe to EWA Radio! Each week, we feature education journalists sharing the backstory to their best work. You’ll hear tips for managing the daily beat, as well as ideas for localizing national issues for your own audience.
Here are a few more opportunities from EWA to help ramp up your reporting in 2016:
EWA journalist members received an early opportunity to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on school accountability.
As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week grades states on a wide range of indicators, including the Chance-for-Success Index, K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance.
Journalists share their insights about covering education in the White House race, and offer practical tips and strategies for penetrating coverage.
- Lauren Camera, U.S. News & World Report
- Nirvi Shah, Politico Pro
- Michael Stratford, Inside Higher Ed
- Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association
Experts and advocates take stock of how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaign. They offer analysis of the candidates’ track records, campaign rhetoric, and specific plans (or lack thereof), and explore the complex politics of education policy.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the NYC Department of Education implemented a set of large-scale and much debated high school reforms, which included closing large, low-performing schools, opening new small schools and extending high school choice to students throughout the district. The school closure process was the most controversial of these efforts. Yet, apart from the general sense that school closures are painful, there has never been a rigorous assessment of their impact in NYC.
Testing in the nation’s schools is among the most debated issues in public education today. Much of this discussion has centered on how much we are testing students and how we use test results to evaluate teachers, inform instructional practice, and hold schools and educators accountable. A recent national poll by Phi Delta Kappa underscores the fact that the public at large is concerned about the extent of testing in schools, and these concerns are influencing how people think about the nationwide move to adopt and implement the new Common Core State Standards.
A good test of reporters’ skills is how they handle breaking news – and last week’s surprise announcement that Arne Duncan would step down as U.S. Secretary of Education was a prime example.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is on the road this week for his sixth annual back-to-school bus tour.
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
Education Week reporter Lauren Camera, David DeSchryver, senior vice president of Whiteboard Advisors, and Bethany Little, principal at Education Counsel, break down the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for journalists.
Now that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills renewing the act, journalists can examine the potential impact of the new provisions. Learn how you can cover these in your state and district and find out questions you should be asking.
For education reporters, coming up with fresh angles for back-to-school stories is an annual challenge. Two veteran education journalists—Steve Drummond (NPR) and Beth Hawkins (MinnPost)—share smart tips for digging deep, and keeping ahead of the curve on the latest trends. We discuss new ways of approaching the first day of school, ideas for unique profiles, strategies for data projects and how to make the most of your publication’s multimedia resources.
In the flurry of media coverage of the political fight to replace No Child Left Behind, one issue hasn’t gotten much attention: a proposal to require states and districts to track the academic progress of children from military-connected families.
Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.
It’s been a hugely busy week for education reporters on Capitol Hill, as the Senate plowed its way through the Every Child Achieves Act, one of the leading contenders to replace No Child Left Behind as the nation’s framework for funding public schools.
The Senate approved passage of the bill Thursday with 81-17 vote.
After countless false starts and protracted negotiations, a bill to reauthorize the main federal law for K-12 education is slated for consideration by the U.S. Senate this week.
This is the closest the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has come to reality since the law was last updated in 2002 under President George W. Bush. The law, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act, was slated for renewal in 2007.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama noted that the nation’s graduation rate had hit a 30-year record high of 81 percent. But how accurate is that number? National Public Radio’s education team decided to find out, assigning 14 regional reporters to cover the story. What they found is that while there is likely some genuine improvement in student achievement, there are also plenty of instances where schools and districts are lowering expectations in order to raise the grad rate.
EWA Radio spoke with the lead journalists on the multimedia project: Anya Kamanetz and Cory Turner. They discussed the origins of the assignment, lessons learned along the way, and some smart tips for local reporters looking at the data in their own communities.
Urban education leaders crammed a marathon of Chicago’s public education woes and wonders into a 45-minute session (more akin to a 5K race) at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.
Sara Ray Stoelinga, the director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute, joined colleague Timothy Knowles for a breakfast panel titled “10 Lessons to Take Home From Chicago” at the EWA event.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan subjected himself to what might have been the ultimate edu-press conference in Chicago Tuesday, allowing hundreds of reporters to grill him on testing, No Child Left Behind, college ratings (and yes, White Suburban moms) at the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar.
Speakers, including U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-IN, offer reporters the lay of the land and discuss how rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act may affect their school districts and states. Some speakers say NCLB is already dead, but they’re still not certain what will take its place, other than policies handed down through the U.S. Department of Education’s waivers from NCLB provisions.
EWA’s 68th National Seminar kicks off today in Chicago, and it’s going to be a fantastic three days of discussions, workshops, and site visits. The theme this year is Costs and Benefits: The Economics of Education. Be sure to keep tabs on all the action via the #EWA15 hashtag on Twitter.
A congressional compromise is at hand to rewrite No Child Left Behind, removing many of the more onerous provisions of the federal education law while giving states greater flexibility in accountability.
While the “Every Student Achieves” bipartisan bill announced Tuesday still has significant hurdles to clear before passage, it’s certainly the closest Congress has come to an agreement on revising the education law in nearly a decade.
While we can’t do anything about your dismal bracket selections, EWA can help reporters with story ideas for covering “March Madness” and college sports. Catch a replay of our recent webinar, which highlighted some smart ideas, the latest research, and expert sources on the intersection of higher education and athletics.
As Congress works to rewrite the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and improve accountability systems for public schools across the country, this report highlights how going beyond a test score when assessing achievement in schools and districts provides more transparent and precise ways to continuously track performance, monitor accountability, and ensure the most at-risk students are not lost in the numbers.
EWA Radio recently spoke with several national reporters about what the president’s State of the Union address said (and also, what it didn’t say) about his plans for public schools. They also provided some thoughtful insights about what’s looming on the federal education policy landscape.
President Obama’s address to Congress laid out ambitious plans for higher education reform. But there was scant mention of initiatives for elementary and secondary students.
In a union vote Wednesday, Boston teachers approved the school district’s plan to add 40 minutes to the K-8 instructional day at more than 50 campuses, a move experts say could help improve the quality of classroom instruction, boost student learning, and yield long-term benefits to the wider community.
Expanded Learning Time: A Summary of Findings from Case Studies in Four States
Center on Education Policy
Many low-performing schools across the nation have increased learning time in response to federal requirements for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The conditions governing federal waivers of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also require certain schools to redesign the school day, week, or year to include additional time for student learning and teacher collaboration. Furthermore, the waivers allow greater flexibility to redirect certain federal funding streams toward increased learning time.
There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months:
Revamping No Child Left Behind
Nearly 10 percent of K-12 students in the United States are not native English speakers. That’s 4.4 million children enrolled in school who have been identified as English language learners.
Amid the strong and growing drumbeat of complaints about overtesting at the K-12 level, many education reporters and others may be left wondering how much time students really spend taking standardized tests. And who is demanding most of this testing, anyway? The federal government? States? Local districts?
States receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act are getting more time to grapple with how to conduct teacher evaluations using student test scores, particularly the new Common Core State Standards-based assessments.
According to Education Week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the postponement at an event on Thursday in Washington, D.C., which earlier this summer announced its plan to delay its new teacher evaluations.
The July 21 issue of The New Yorker takes us deep inside the Atlanta cheating scandal, and through the lucid reporting of Rachel Aviv, we get to know some of the teachers and school administrators implicated. We learn not only how and why they say they cheated, but also about the toxic, high-pressure environment they contend was created by Superintendent Beverly Hall’s overwhelming emphasis on improving student test scores.
Education reporters can access a treasure trove of public documents that track significant changes to state exemptions to the most sweeping federal education law of the 21st century, experts said in May at EWA’s 67th National Seminar.
And reporters will need those documents to piece together the patchwork of state policies that have been created out of the NCLB waiver process established by the U.S. Department of Education, said the panelists speaking at the EWA event at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Several recent studies have examined the impacts of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on school operations and student achievement. We complement that work by investigating the law’s impacts on teachers’ perceptions of their work environments and related job attitudes, including satisfaction and commitment to remain in teaching.
Based on an extensive analysis of state waiver plans, this report shows that recent progress in holding schools accountable for how many students they graduate from high school—the ultimate goal of K–12 education—may be slowed in some states based on waivers recently granted under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The report includes a review of approved waiver plans submitted by thirty-four states and the District of Columbia.
In episode 3 of EWA Radio, Michele McNeil and Alyson Klein of Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog stop by for some post-State of the Union analysis.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a right-leaning think tank focused on education policy. According to its mission statement, the institute aims to advance “educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.”
While it’s become a common refrain for students, teachers and parents to complain that too much time is spent preparing for – and administering – standardized tests in public schools, the level of dissatisfaction is arguably reaching previously unheard decibels.
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members. Its members work at every level of education, from preschool through postsecondary, but the bulk of its members work in K-12 education.
The National Center for Fair and Open Testing is known more commonly as FairTest. The organization “advances quality education and equal opportunity by promoting fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial evaluations of students, teachers and schools. FairTest also works to end the misuses and flaws of testing practices that impede those goals.” For journalists, this group has become the go-to resource for statements critical of standardized tests. They have been a vocal critic of the regimen of testing that NCLB mandated.
Education Sector is a Washington, D.C.-based, non-partisan think tank that has followed NCLB from its legislative development through its implementation. Their experts can offer a range of information about impact of the law’s requirements.
The Alliance for Excellent Education “is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century.” With regard to NCLB, the Alliance says the law “has played an important role in highlighting achievement gaps, but it has steadily proven to be inadequate in providing sufficient remedies and flexibility.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, founded in 1916, is the leading professional organization for the nation’s middle school and high school principals.
The American Association of School Administrators counts more than 13,000 educational leaders from across the United States and the world in its membership. These members include chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators along with cabinet members, some professors and others who manage schools and school systems. AASA was founded in 1865. Regarding NCLB, AASA has asserted that “The accountability system should be made up of measures of growth that differentiate levels of success.
The Council of Chief State School Officers is “a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions,” according to the group.
States’ Perspectives on Waivers: Relief from NCLB, Concern about Long-term Solutions, by Jennifer McMurrer and Nanami Yoshioka at the Center on Education Policy
This report describes states’ early experiences in applying for flexibility from key requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as NCLB waivers, and their plans for implementing the new systems outlined in their applications. Findings from the 38 survey states indicate states believe that the waivers address several of the problems they see with the NCLB accountability requirements, however, many state officials are concerned about what will happen to the programs and policies in their waiver plans if ESEA is reauthorized.
The waivers being granted to 10 of 11 states that applied for flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act would allow them to make potentially broad changes in how school performance and the performance of student subgroups are judged under the decade-old law.
States seeking waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act are hoping to replace what is widely considered an outdated, but consistent, school accountability regime with a hodgepodge of complex school grading systems that are as diverse as the states themselves.
EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. After 10 years as the federal education law of the land, what has No Child Left Behind achieved? One reporter put the law up to letter-grade scrutiny as she consulted nearly two dozen education experts. The results were mixed.
It would be tough to find a slope that’s potentially more slippery than this one: public schools setting different achievement expectations for students based on their race and ethnicity.
The leeway to set the new academic goals tacitly acknowledges that the 100 percent goal is unrealistic. But it also means that members of racial and ethnic minorities, English-language learners, and students with disabilities will fail to master college- and career-readiness standards by the end of the 2016-17 school year at greater rates in most waiver states.
At least half the schools in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and West Virginia are considered rural by the National Center for Education Statistics. Alabama also has a high number of rural students, while Hawaii’s single, state-run school district educates some students who live in remote island areas.
This interactive timeline provides links to dozens of articles as they appeared when first published, providing a treasure trove of information, particularly the evolution of No Child Left Behind. The timeline can be organized by topic and chronology.
A publication out of Teachers College, Columbia University, offered this round up of the chief debates and controversies surrounding the Highly Qualified Teacher provision of NCLB through its accompanying blog. It focuses on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision limiting the HQT provision and Congress disregarding that ruling.
John Kline’s No Child Left Behind Bills Strike at Values of Brown v. Board of Education, Coalition Writes
This Huffington Post article examines the frustrations various advocacy groups have with national education laws, specifically the U.S. House of Representative’s effort to reauthorize ESEA. While this article looks into the fallout over accountability measures for minorities, English language learners and low-income students, it brings up the bigger issue of how much accountability and closing the achievement gap matter to stakeholders.
The NAF offers this 2012 comparison of the House and Senate ESEA reauthorization bills.
This analysis piece from New America Foundation, a small but influential Washington D.C. think-tank, provides a clear account of several Title I funding issues tied to NCLB. While the article’s author focuses on House Republican efforts to rewrite the national education law, her revenue allocation insights are likely to aid journalists wanting a technical edge in their reporting moving forward.
This CEP report reads like an almanac of every useful, crucial, rarefied and fun fact about U.S. education.
Politicians, analysts, teachers and administrators wrote short essays on what NCLB achieved and what it failed to achieve or never even took up as an issue. The contributing authors can make for good sources as the push to overhaul NCLB picks up steam.
This 2012 essay written by Andrew Rotherham, who co-founded the seminal education groups Education Sector and Bellwether Education, offers a defense of NCLB, painting a picture of how the law forced education players to recognize an achievement gap existed between races, gender, and the rich and poor.
Another NCLB retrospective, this one written by Michael J. Petrilli, offers reasons to respect the national education law and several things to learn from its tenure. His insights tend to resonate with Republican lawmakers.
This Center on Education Policy report estimates 48 percent of states missed AYP in 2011. In general, CEP provides informative reports and large-scale surveys testing the moods of educators and administrators.
This Center for American Progress analysis and summary of the first 11 waiver applications to opt out of NCLB approaches the topic from the perspective of feasibility, cost, and honoring the terms set forth by the Obama administration. A list of small corrections can be found here.
Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Variation and Change in State Standards for Reading and Mathematics, 2005-2009
This National Center for Education Statistics report compares state standardized scores that measure AYP and how they measure up to the rigors of NAEP. The authors conclude states vary widely in how they define proficiency in a subject. For added context, read Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post’s respective articles summarizing the report, via This Week in Education.
Implementation and Effectiveness of Supplemental Education Services (SES): A Review and Recommendations for Program Improvement
A draft report from the Center for American Progress and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on the price tag and efficacy of SES programs on a national level.
This article from 2009 highlights the ineffectual but costly role supplemental educational services played in improving achievement for at-risk and low-performing students in the Las Vegas region. A 2011 draft paper looked at SES programs nationwide, concluding few are effective.
The American Institutes for Research, through the U.S. Department of Education, concluded in 2007 that while most teachers are highly qualified, the distinction doesn’t seem to matter.
This 2002 article characterizes the moods of 45 state heads of education as mostly positive. Many were looking forward to NCLB, particularly the emphasis on tougher standards and the billions more in Title I funds the new law would bring.