Education Week - April 3, 2013 - (Page 10)
APRIL 3, 2013
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION > Tracking business trends and emerging models in K-12
Arizona Weighing ‘Performance Funding’ for Schools
Governor backs the model
By Sean Cavanagh
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is backing an
unusual effort to tie a relatively small portion of school funding to districts’ performance on the state’s A-F grading system, a
step her administration argues will create
a monetary hook for school improvement.
Legislation that would establish a performance-based funding model is in play in
the Republican-controlled legislature. But
the primary vehicle for the plan, if it goes
forward, is likely to be the budget negotiated by Gov. Brewer and state lawmakers,
according to the governor’s office.
The Republican governor spelled out the
idea in her budget proposal for the coming
year, saying the goal was to reward schools
for both high achievement and improvement and “promote local innovation and
competition and enhance student performance at every school.”
As described in the governor’s plans, local
education agencies could earn “per-pupil
achievement payments” by securing enough
points on the state’s grading scale to get a
mark of A, B, or C. Arizona is one of a number of states where A-F grading systems,
pioneered in Florida, have taken hold.
A second pool of incentive money would go
to schools that improved their scores in the
state’s grading system. The Brewer administration, saying that it recognizes the challenges in improving the lowest-performing
schools, wants a higher per-pupil “improvement payment” to go to local education agencies that make progress from a D or F grade.
A majority of the funding for the program
would come from money moved from other
parts of the budget, rather than reallocated
aid from K-12, said Dale Frost, the governor’s education adviser.
In the first year of the initiative, for instance, the program would receive $54 million, $36 million of which would be new
money, rather than reallocated education
funding. Also in the first year, the perfor-
L.A. ‘Incubator School’
To Teach Startup Tactics
By Teresa Watanabe
Los Angeles Times
Sujata Bhatt uses online games
to encourage her students at Grand
View Boulevard Elementary School
here to aim higher: “Don’t just play
games, make them.”
Now Ms. Bhatt will get the
chance to teach middle school students how to launch their own businesses at a new campus approved
last month by the Los Angeles
school board. The Incubator School
marks the latest effort in the Los
Angeles Unified district to spark
innovation through “pilot” schools,
which give district educators autonomy over curriculum, budget, staffing, training, and other elements.
The 670,000-student system, the
country’s second-largest school district, has created the pilot schools
to engage students’ academic interests and ambitions. Those schools
include a performing arts school, a
school for visual arts and humanities, several schools with a collegeprep and academic-leadership
focus, and the L.A. River School,
which is built around environmen-
If you know of a superintendent or other
district-level administrator whose
approaches or innovations would
inspire colleagues nationwide,
we want to hear from you.
The Arizona Education Association opposes the measure, saying in an analysis
that the system would reallocate money
from state K-12 schools that are already
struggling financially, and create a “winnerloser performance-funding system.”
The union pointed to an analysis by an
associate professor at Arizona State University, David Garcia, who concluded that
the achievement-funding model would favor
wealthier school systems.
Andrew Morrill, the president of the Arizona
Education Association, said that the union has
a history of supporting performance-funding
measures, but that given the recent funding
tal science and the local ecosystem.
Despite enthusiasm for the concept of the Incubator School, however, the plan became entangled
in disputes over its location, union
concerns over job-placement rules,
and political tensions.
The school board backed off from
locating the new campus at Venice High School after parents and
students complained they were not
informed about it until right before
Sara Roos, a Venice High parent,
told the board she wanted more
details about the plan, although
she sharply criticized it in online
comments as an “experiment indoctrinating children in the tricks
of an unregulated, free capitalistic
Lisa Sobajian, the 10th grade
class president, submitted a peti-
Seeks Innovative District Leaders
Education Week wants readers’ input for its second
annual special report proﬁling district leaders who
have brought fresh, successful ideas to their school
communities in any area from academics to
mance system would account for 1 percent of
the state’s overall education funding formula.
Local education agencies—which would
include districts and charter schools—would
be given flexibility in deciding how to spend
money coming to them through performance
funding, according to the governor’s office.
Use the nomination form
or send an email detailing
your reasons to
Include your nominee’s
full name, title, and
school district, as well
as your own.
Deadline for nominations:
June 15, 2013
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cuts in education, the legislation would pose a
hardship Arizona schools don’t need.
If enacted, the proposal would increase
the funding inequities across public schools,
said Mr. Morrill. Districts would be asked to
reapportion their funding in exchange for
a small amount of performance-based aid
from the state. That system, heavily tied
to standardized-test scores, would penalize
schools with high numbers of students living in poverty, Mr. Morrill said.
Mr. Frost, the governor’s adviser, disputed
Mr. Garcia’s conclusion. He said it failed to
fully account for the way the funding system
was weighted to help academically struggling
school systems, many of which were disadvantaged economically.
Editorial Intern Victoria O’Dea contributed
to this article.
Coverage of entrepreneurship and innovation
in education and school design is supported
in part by a grant from the Carnegie
Corporation of New York.
tion signed by 1,000 students opposed to sharing their campus with
the new school.
Ms. Bhatt said that she met with
Venice High’s principal and teachers’ union representative last October, but that requests to present the
idea to the faculty drew no response.
District officials acknowledged their
communication efforts fell short.
In any case, under an amendment by board member Steve Zimmer, the board approved the school
but directed the district and the
Venice community to work together
to seek a location.
‘Get the Kinks Out’
United Teachers Los Angeles,
however, has not weighed in on the
new school. The union has looked
carefully at the 49 pilot schools
approved by the district because
they require one-year teaching
contracts that do not place seniority as the top factor in job
placement, giving administrators
greater power to transfer teachers.
To control the quality of the new
school, union President Warren
Fletcher said, those proposing it
should operate it for a year to “get
the kinks out” before seeking pilot
status and a faculty vote on the
But Mohammed Choudhury,
the policy manager for Future is
Now Schools, a Los Angeles-based
nonprofit group supporting pilot
campuses, disagreed that schools
should be required to operate for
a year before becoming pilots. Mr.
Choudhury said that delaying
pilot status would give the union
a chance to lobby teachers against
signing the shorter contract.
“It’s an attempt to protect mediocrity,” he said.
The nonprofit—started by Steve
Barr, a former chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Green Dot
Public Schools, a charter-schoolmanagement company—contrib-
uted $150,000 in stipends for the
Incubator School’s design team.
Mr. Barr said it was better to
place a pilot school on campuses
with extra space, such as Venice
High; otherwise, the district would
be legally required to offer it to a
charter school, which is publicly
financed but independently run.
Ms. Bhatt, a teacher for 11 years
who has been credited with boosting student achievement in English
and math, said she came up with
the idea for the school while working as an adviser for a New York
startup aiming to develop a science
application for the iPad.
The young entrepreneurs—many
of them in their 20s who already
had started their own firms—inspired her to think about how to refashion teaching to better prepare
students for the accelerated advances in the digital world, said Ms.
Bhatt, who will serve as a teacher
leader at the Incubator School.
“There’s a disconnect between a
textbook-based world, the excitement of problem-solving, and the
energy and innovation of the digital
economy,” she said. “The reason students disconnect from school is that
it’s not connected to the real world.”
The school is scheduled to open
next school year with an initial
class of 225 6th and 7th graders
drawn from diverse backgrounds.
The students will learn such
real-life skills as financial literacy
and time management, and they
will combine academic learning
with hands-on tinkering. They
also will work with entrepreneurial mentors in the Westside
area’s growing Silicon Beach and
be guided to produce their own
startup businesses by 8th grade.
Education Week Editorial Intern
Victoria O’Dea contributed to this
Copyright © 2013, McClatchy-Tribune
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 3, 2013
Education Week - April 3, 2013
Test Rules Differ Between Groups for Special Ed.
Consortia Struggle With ELL Provisions
FOCUS ON: ASSOCIATIONS: Leadership Shifts in Changing Field
Safety Plan for Schools: No Guns
Access to Common Exams Probed
News in Brief
Gaps Found in Access to Qualified Math Teachers
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: 3-D Printing Classes In a Virginia School Attract Global Visitors
Arizona Weighing ‘Performance Funding’ For Schools
L.A. ‘Incubator School’ to Teach Startup Tactics
Blogs of the Week
Cantor Raises Profile on Schooling Issues
Calif. Districts’ Waiver Bid Heads to Review Phase
Congress Tweaks Special Education Funding Mandates
Marriage Arguments Hit Children’s Issues
ROBIN LAKE & ALEX MEDLER: Do Charter Schools Serve Special-Needs Students? The Answer Is Complicated
ARTHUR H. CAMINS: Assessing the Impact Of New Science Standards
LAURIE BARNOSKI: School Leaders: Make Sure Your Teachers Don’t Lose Heart
DAVID BERNSTEIN: It’s Time to Mainstream Progressive Education
Education Week - April 3, 2013