Blog: The Educated Reporter

Follow-Up Friday: Sequester Hits Defense Department Campuses, New Algorithm Might Help Schools ID Potential Dropouts

Remember sequestration?The impact of the forced federal budget cuts on public schools has been shoved to the back burner amid heated debate over the future of the Common Core State Standards, early childhood education, and last-minute Senate compromise on student loan rates.But as Nirvi Shah writes for Politico, sequestration will mean a shorter academic year for about 84,000 students in Department of Defense-run schools on military bases. (You can read the full story here.)

“It means that the children of the military forces are going to lose a full five days of school over the children who are receiving a regular public education. That is such a disservice to our military personnel,” said Michael Priser, president of the Federal Education Association, told Politco.

If you want to know more about the DoD schools, it’s worth going back to a terrific 2011 piece from Michael Winerip for the New York Times. Winerip explored possible explanations for why the military base schools outscored traditional public school campuses when it came to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, nicknamed “The Nation’s Report Card.”

For more on the impact of sequestration, Ed Week’s Alyson Klein has the full breakdown, and it might be harder for states to make a case that they’re hurting than was previously predicted. From the Politics K-12 blog:

“I thought by now we’d start to hear feedback from school districts and states,” said Michael Griffith, a school finance consultant for the Education Commission of the States. Griffith, who travels around the country talking to state and district officials about fiscal issues, hasn’t heard nearly as much about sequestration this summer as he thought he would. “At no point did [state and district officials] ever bring up the issue. If I brought up the issue, I got met with a shrug, basically. It was surprising to me.” Griffith said.

The Hechinger Report’s Jill Barshay has a fascinating post on a researcher’s efforts to identify potential high school dropouts as early as the first grade, giving educators more time to help struggling students stay on track to graduation. Thomas C. “Chris” West of Montgomery Country Public Schools used the academic records of the district’s class of 2011, going all the way back to first grade. As Barshay notes, the algorithm is still in the incubator phase and one issue has been that it “overidentifies almost half the students in first grade as being at risk of dropping out.” But the possibilities remain promising. From her “Education by the Numbers” blog:

West found that the most important marker was academic performance. Behavior issues and attendance were less important, partly because Montgomery Country rarely uses recorded punishments, such as suspensions, and partly because first-graders don’t play hooky. “The message in Montgomery County is that the kids are there in school, but they’re not doing well,” said West

For more on high school dropouts, check out my post on an interesting survey that asked kids why they skip school  - and the follow-up I wrote addressing some of the controversy surrounding the survey’s methodology.