Education Week - April 3, 2013 - (Page 10)

10 EDUCATION WEEK n APRIL 3, 2013 n 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 Los Angeles 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 1/5 horiz 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- 2014 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. Winner-Loser System? 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 the vote. 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 market.” 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 daily operations. 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 at leaders/nominate, 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 ADVERTISING IN THE REPORT Sean Herdman, Associate Publisher, at or (301) 280-3162 ABOUT THE PROJECT Debra Viadero, Assistant Managing Editor, at 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 shorter contract. 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 article. Copyright © 2013, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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
Report Roundup
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
Policy Brief
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
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
DAVID BERNSTEIN: It’s Time to Mainstream Progressive Education

Education Week - April 3, 2013