Thursday, May 23, 2013

Re: KIPP's Report Cards: KIPP expelling students before test time

In Nashville, along with other charter schools -- KIPP appears to be dumping weaker students just before test-time to boost their scores.  Might this be happening in St. Louis?

Charter schools losing struggling students to zoned schools - WSMV Channel 4

The reporter in Nashville concludes:  "The two types of schools are playing by different rules."

And see our post on St. Louis KIPP from a few days ago here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Philadelphia, starting to look like Santiago, Chile....

Students mobilizing to protest attacks on their schools.
From the Youtube site:
Thousands of students walked out of class Friday May 17th to say no to drastic budget cuts that will eliminate extracurriculars, nurses, support staff and other programs in schools. They marched from the Phila. School District Headquarters at 440 N. Broad street to City Hall, closing down traffic for the afternoon hours.

Monday, May 20, 2013

STL BEACON: Enthusiastic article on KIPP, but...

...read the article critically and check the results closely.  KIPP is only as good or better than SLPS (which is admittedly struggling) in some MAP scores. KIPP is still below (sometimes well below) Missouri average in most. In most cases less (sometimes significantly less) than 50% of KIPP students are scoring proficient in any field.  KIPP matches Missouri averages only in fifth grade science.  Whether or not this is a model for improving education for any, let alone, all students in St. Louis is still an open question. However, the article reads as if it is promotional material for KIPP, which plans to open another school in St. Louis in 2014 (and four more in the future). For article and image, see: https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/30931/kipp_school_graduates_051513

Looking over KIPP's own St. Louis report card for the 2011-2012 norm referenced test for measuring year-to-year academic progress we see that students were tested first in fifth grade, then performed slightly worse in sixth grade (in reading and math), and improved again in seventh. Data are not offered for science in sixth and seventh grades.  With missing data we presume that they fared worse? Or were not tested?

Now that I'm curious, I explore the national KIPP report card further -- see: http://www.kipp.org/reportcard to pick any city you want.  Kansas City KIPP is faring worse than STL KIPP. There KIPP is failing to match struggling public schools across many grades, topping them only at three points. Like St. Louis KIPP, they are still well below state averages (and Missouri averages, nation-wide, remember, are in the lower half of all states across the nation). Curiously again, data are not provided for 6th and 7th Science in KC, which gives only 5th and 8th.  When data are missing, one wonders why. See:

As with other charters, one might expect that schools untethered from the burdens of teachers' unions and public school bureaucracies, with parents who have exercised their own initiative and choice to attend, the ability to expel or exclude students who present difficult challenges, with motivated teachers free to experiment with the best pedagogical models, leaders who are energetic and qualified, competing with public schools in dire shape, and doing all of this with public money and significant corporate financial and university support, would be posting much clearer and convincing signs of success than this article and the report card illustrate.

Nat'l Council of Teachers of Math: Excellent Speech on Education and (In)equality

Excellent, reasoned, data-driven critique of the corporate reform/high-stakes testing/attack the teacher model currently being proposed across the country.

As Diane Ravitch commented on her blog, which also posted this, "Pay particular attention to his evidence about the effects of charter schools."  And consider as well the core issue: child poverty.

See some good figures on how poverty shapes educational outcomes in his slides, available at:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Book: The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and The Dispossessed Lives Left Behind (Fabricant and Fine)

A study that illustrates many issues related to school reform in St. Louis and Missouri:

The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and the Dispossessed Lives Left Behind
Michael Fabricant & Michelle Fine (Paradigm, 2013)


The authors persuasively argue that the present cascade of reforms to public education is a consequence of a larger intention to shrink government. The startling result is that more of public education’s assets and resources are moving to the private sector and to the prison industrial complex. Drawing on various forms of evidence—structural, economic, narrative, and youth-generated participatory research—the authors reveal new structures and circuits of dispossession and privilege that amount to a clear failure of present policy. Policymaking is at war with the interests of the vast majority of citizens, and especially with urban youth of color. In the final chapter the authors explore democratic principles and offer examples essential to mobilizing, in solidarity with educators, youth, communities, labor, and allied social movements, the kind of power necessary to contest the present direction of public education reform.
This is one of those very rare books on public education and social dispossession that bursts the bounds of its brilliant scholarship and explodes into a soaring call for action. Fine and Fabricant carefully dissect the ideological attack upon the public schools, the selling off of public services to the private sector, the marginalization of professional teachers, and the relegation of low-income students to the status of expendables. But the genius of this book lies in its recognition that disinvestment in the public schools and their replacement by selective boutique institutions are serving the purpose for which they were intended: mightily expanding the inequalities of wealth, darkening the futures of the dispossessed, and cannibalizing what remains of democratic spirit in a corporate society. The book ends with strong proposals -- “direct action” and “the reinvention of the work of unions,” among other bold suggestions that are seldom heard from academic authors in this era of retrenchment. The book has an electrifying tone. It creates a sense of urgency. I’m profoundly grateful to the authors.
--Jonathan Kozol


Thursday, May 2, 2013

ONLINE SCHOOLING: Making us better or worse?

Nation’s Online Elementary and Secondary Schools Expand Rapidly, But Academic Performance Lags Behind Other Public Schools, New Report Finds | National Education Policy Center

Boulder, Colo. (May 2, 2013) -- A national study, released today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), offers a comprehensive review of 311 virtual schools operating in the United States. It finds serious and systemic problems with the nation’s full-time cyber schools.
University of Colorado, Boulder Professor Alex Molnar, who edited Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence, summed it up this way: “Even a cursory review of virtual schooling in the U.S. reveals an environment much like the legendary wild west. There are outsized claims, lagging performance, intense conflicts, lots of taxpayer money at stake, and very little solid evidence to justify the rapid expansion of virtual schools.”

READ MORE: http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/virtual-schools-annual-2013