Education Week - March 8, 2017 - 1
VOL. 36, NO. 24 * MARCH 8, 2017
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2017 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 5
A-F School Rankings Draw Local Pushback
Critics Call Method Simplistic;
Backers Tout Transparency
By Daarel Burnette II
As states overhaul their accountability systems under the new federal K-12 law, officials
in some are pushing to replace or revamp A-F
grading for schools, which supporters tout
as an easy way to convey to the public how
schools stack up.
In recent years, at least 18 states have
adopted some version of a system that relies mostly on standardized-test scores and
graduation rates to generate letter-grade
report cards, similar to the ones students re-
ceive throughout the school year. Legislation
is pending in a handful of states to join that
But in some states that already have them,
A-F systems have received fierce backlash
from local superintendents and school board
members. They complain that the letter
grades oversimplify student success or shortfalls, increase pressure to pay attention to
tests, ignore school quality factors other than
test scores, and demoralize teachers and parents.
Local officials in at least four states are
using this year's window of opportunity provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act to
push back against A-F systems. ESSA, which
goes into full effect for the 2017-18 school year,
President Donald Trump's push to drastically
reduce domestic spending as a way to boost defense spending could have a significant impact on
programs at the U.S. Department of Education,
where the biggest streams of funding go toward
low-income students and those with special needs.
But its precise effect on overall federal K-12 aid
remained unclear last week, as did the prospects
for Trump's budget plan in Congress.
Early last week, Trump announced a proposal
to increase defense-related spending by $54 billion in fiscal 2018, which begins in October, and
to cut nondefense discretionary spending by a
corresponding figure. That amounts to a 10 percent across-the-board cut for domestic agencies
like the Education Department. The Trump administration is expected to release more details
for the 2017-18
For Many ELLs
In Short Supply, Report Finds
By Corey Mitchell
PAGE 13 >
PAGE 12 >
Ohio Eyes Repayment From E-Schools
See data, Page 16.
learning software, Education Week's review found.
Last fall, the Ohio education department
completed attendance audits of 13 e-schools.
Nine were found to have overreported their
student enrollment. Eight are still contesting their results via administrative appeals
with the department. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow has also sued to throw
out the audits, alleging the state education
department unfairly and retroactively applied new attendance-reporting requirements to e-schools.
"It's like someone telling you three
years after the fact that they need to see
your receipts," Marion Little, a lawyer for
Judge Jenifer French of the Franklin
County Court of Common Pleas ruled
against the school in December. An appeal
to Ohio's 10th District Court is pending.
The Ohio dispute comes amid growing
See article, Page 7.
The Ohio education department could
seek repayment of more than $80 million
from nine full-time online schools, based
on audits of software-login records that led
state officials to determine the schools had
overstated their student enrollment.
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow,
for example, was paid for 15,322 full-time
students during the 2015-16 school year.
But state officials said they could document
just 41 percent of that total.
An Education Week analysis of both the
login records submitted by ECOT and the
results of the state's audit for that year
further demonstrates the scope of the
discrepancy: Under Ohio law, schools are
expected to offer students 920 hours of
learning. But for the average ECOT student, state officials were able to document
just 227 hours spent using the school's
WHICH STATES GRADE
Schools often provide substandard instruction and social-emotional support to the nation's English-learners-and fail to properly
train the educators who teach them.
Those blunt findings-from the prestigious
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine-are in a new study that
explores why limited English skills remain
a substantial barrier to academic success for
roughly 5 million children. The report details
how underresourced schools and underprepared educators can hinder efforts to help
students learn and master English.
"These children are here. If we don't educate them and prepare them for being future citizens and part of our communities,
we're doing a disservice to our country,"
said Harriet Romo, the director of the Child
and Adolescent Policy Research Institute at
the University of Texas at San Antonio and
a member of the Committee on Fostering
School Success for English Learners, the
group that produced the report.
The committee-a panel of educators and
experts on language acquisition-delved
into the struggles of specific populations of
English-learners, such as those with disabilities-who are less likely than their native English-speaking peers to be referred
to early-intervention and special education
programs. The report also examined the
challenges for long-term English-learners,
those students who are not considered proficient after being educated for seven or more
years in U.S. schools.
While detailing the hurdles to success
for ELLs, the committee also reviewed
research that found districts and schools
using exemplary approaches to Englishlearner education.
The wide-ranging paper, which tackles everything from school readiness to accessing
Charles Mostoller for Education Week
By Andrew Ujifusa
Marliss Platt, a teacherintern from New York
with 7th graders at a
Wilmington, Del., charter
school. She is among
a growing number of
teacher-trainees who use
video to get feedback on
their teaching from their
professors at their home
By Benjamin Herold
& Alex Harwin
requires states to change several components
of their accountability systems, including
measures states must use to calculate rankings and how often they report rankings to
In West Virginia, recently elected DemoAZ of the
cratic Gov. Jim Justice said in his State
State speech this year that he always thought
his state's letter-grade system was ineffective,
and he ordered his education department to
replace it with a new one.
More than 200 local superintendents in
Texas are urging their state legislature-
where the leadership remains in favor of the
A-F grading system-to repeal it before it
goes into full effect next year, after a "what-
Mentoring Via Video
May Result in Cuts
For K-12 Programs
BRE AKING NEWS DAILY