Education Week - September 23, 2015 - (Page 6)

To Combat Inequity, Ferguson Panel Urges K-12 Changes Current law strains struggling schools By Evie Blad Missouri should address systemic racial inequity and poverty by focusing on the "whole child" needs of students in its public schools, rethinking education policies, and overhauling the state's system for handling unaccredited school districts, the Ferguson Commission recommended in a report released last week The independent, 16-member panel was assembled by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last November to conduct a "thorough, wide-ranging, and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality, and safety in the St. Louis region." The commission's creation followed unrest that was sparked after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer and a grand jury's subsequent decision not to indict the officer. The panel included leaders from St. Louis-area civic organizations, clergy, law enforcement, business, education, and the protest movement. The 198-page report covers a variety of recommendations for the justice system, social programs, and community organizations. A major pillar of those recom- mendations covers the needs of children, particularly those living in poverty and those attending subpar schools. The report calls on policymakers and community stakeholders to form task forces to explore the possibilities of overhauling the state's school finance system, and combining or reforming school districts, and to collaborate on best practices in education. "Our region's youth present our greatest opportunity to impact positive and lasting change, in this and future generations," says the report, which often reads more like a conversation than a policy document. At the report's release, Gov. Nixon thanked the commission for its "unflinching courage at a moment of reckoning for our state and our nation." Through the panel's work, "some experiences that had only been spoken about privately were shared publicly for the first time," Nixon said. Educational Equity The report spotlights dramatic variations in educational outcomes, arrest rates, and even life expectancies between residents in the poorest and richest parts of St. Louis County. Among the report's largest childcentered recommendations is a call for the state to redesign its school accreditation process so that it is simple, equitable, and transparent. Under a 1993 law, students in unaccredited Missouri districts can transfer into accredited school districts at the cost of the unaccredited district. This system only exacerbates problems and further strains struggling schools, the commission wrote. For example, the St. Louis-area Riverview Gardens and Normandy districts, both unaccredited, paid up to $20,000 in tuition per year per child in 2014, a total of more than $9 million between the two districts, to educate students attending schools in other districts, the report says. (Michael Brown graduated from the unaccredited Normandy district just a few months before he was killed.) "Those students who stay in unaccredited schools find themselves in a school where budgets are tighter, and where some of the most motivated students-including students who have served as leaders, tutors, and behavior models for success- have left the district," the report notes. Nixon, a Democrat, has twice vetoed bills that would have created a new system for dealing with unaccredited schools, citing concerns about added provisions in one of the measures that would have created vouchers for nonreligious private schools. In his speech before the commission, Nixon said efforts have been made to ease the burden on the unaccredited districts under the current law. He spotlighted a combined $1 million the state had given Riverview Gardens and Normandy for literacy efforts and an agreement between 22 school districts in the St. Louis " The only way we're going to be able to change the system that we're in is to shake things up." MARIA CHAPELLE-NADAL Missouri State Senator region to reduce tuition for transferring students and to support teachers in the unaccredited schools. The commission also called on state and local educators and policymakers to address early-childhood needs and whole-child issues, in particular, non-academic factors like hunger that threaten students' success in schools. Non-Academic Needs The state should implement universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds and lower the compulsory age of school attendance from 7 to 5, the report says. The state should also address hunger through a variety of measures, including educating highpoverty schools about the federal community-eligibility provision, which allows them to serve free meals to all students, regardless of family income levels, the report recommends. The task force called on the state to support school-based clinics to help addres the physical, emotional, and mental health needs of students. Schools should also seek to drive down disparate rates of discipline between black students and their peers, the report recommends. Those strategies could include professional development on addressing racism, teaching culturally responsive practices, and reworking school discipline policies, it says. While the report won praise from many in the region, some local leaders said it didn't go far enough. State Sen. Maria ChapelleNadal, a Democrat whose district includes parts of St. Louis County, said state lawmakers had already filed bills on many of the report's recommendations, only to see them fail or never even be considered. Chapelle-Nadal said the report's education recommendations largely touched on "low-hanging fruit." It will take more radical changes to address generations of inequality, she said. "The only way we're going to be able to change the system that we're in is to shake things up," she said. Study: KIPP Confers an Edge in Academics But Not in Attitudes By Liana Heitin A new study of KIPP, a large charter network serving mainly low-income black and Hispanic students, finds that its schools continue to have a positive impact overall on student achievement, and yet they show no effect on student motivation, engagement, or behavior. The findings echo previous results, which determined that the charter schools outpace traditional public schools in achievement gains. Elementary and middle school students at KIPP, or Knowledge Is Power Program, schools had significantly larger gains in reading and math than their peers at non-KIPP schools, according to the study commissioned by KIPP and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. In high schools, achievement results were mixed. The impact was statistically significantly positive for those students who were new to KIPP. But for students who had attended a KIPP middle school, going to a KIPP high school did not have an added benefit. The KIPP network has expanded rapidly in recent years, going from 45 schools in 2005 to more than 180 schools serving 70,000 students today. In 2010, the KIPP Foundation received a $50 million federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant, which allowed it to double the number of students it served over five years. The study released last week, the final report in the long-running Mathematica evaluation funded under i3, aimed to see how the expansion affected school quality. "As KIPP has scaled, the network has continued to demonstrate the kinds of positive impacts demonstrated in previous studies," Christina Tuttle, the report's lead author, said in a Sept. 16 webinar. Scope of Research For this latest study, the researchers gathered data from eight elementary, 43 middle, and 18 high schools using a combination of lottery-based and quasi-experimental designs. They looked at results from state-administered assessments, assessments from researchers, and student and parent surveys. At the elementary level, the impact of getting into a KIPP school was, after two years, equivalent to improving a student's score on a reading test from the 78th to the 84th percentile. In math, KIPP elementary students scored at the 68th percentile on a calculation test, compared to their non-KIPP peers, who scored at the 58th percentile. 6 | EDUCATION WEEK | September 23, 2015 | Critics of KIPP have long said low performers and students who lack parental support tend to drop out or not enroll, which inflates the charters' scores. For this study, students who were chosen by lottery to attend KIPP schools but did not enroll or left midyear were counted as KIPP students. Those who entered the lottery but were not chosen constituted the control group. The aim was to ensure "that treatment and control group students are similar at baseline," the report says. For middle school, the researchers were able to look at student achievement over 10 years. They found that, overall, KIPP middle school students improved more in math, reading, science, and social studies than their peers at non-KIPP schools. The impact of getting into a KIPP middle school was equivalent to a student moving from the 37th to the 44th percentile in reading over two years. In math, it was equal to going from the 40th to the 50th percentile. But the size of the impacts in math and reading declined from 2005 to 2014. "Undoubtedly, the largest impacts occurred in the earliest years of KIPP," said Philip Gleason, the principal investigator. The effect size peaked in 2006 and fell, yet remained statistically sig- nificantly positive, from there. During the five years of the federal i3 grant (2010-2014), the number of schools expanded rapidly but the effect size "remained fairly steady," noted Gleason. "I think it shows that organizations like KIPP can grow pretty substantially while maintaining quality," said Chris Torres, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He was not part of the study but has researched charter organizations like KIPP. But he cautioned against holding up KIPP as a model for all schools, given its longer school days and demands on teachers. KIPP high schools provided an academic boost for students who were new to the system, but not for those who had attended KIPP middle schools. The researchers noted that a large proportion of students who attended KIPP middle schools but not KIPP high schools went to other college-preparatory private, magnet, or high-performing charter schools. student motivation, engagement, behavior, or educational aspirations. KIPP schools are known for their efforts in character education. (Their motto is "Work Hard. Be Nice.") They also emphasize college preparation. "Either they aren't accomplishing what they intend to accomplish, or they're affecting achievement in spite of not affecting the things they feel are critical to achievement," said Torres. The data on behaviors and attitudes were gathered through parent and student surveys. Researchers asked about students' academic confidence, grit, self-control, illegal activities, how much time they spent on homework, how much effort they put into school, and other behaviors. The researchers said one explanation could be reference bias-that KIPP students are comparing themselves to other KIPP students. "The standard at KIPP for hard work is candidly a lot higher than at a typical school," said Steve Mancini, KIPP's director of public affairs. "It may be that the bar in the comparison group of schools is just not as high." No Motivation Effects Scan this tag with your smartphone for a link to "Understanding the Effect of KIPP as It Scales: Volume I, Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes." Perhaps the most surprising finding from the report was this: KIPP schools had no statistically significant impact on most measures of

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 23, 2015

Education Week - September 23, 2015
Research Agency Faces Deep Cuts In Budget Bills
Schools Seek Split From Confederacy
English-Learner Tests Moving to Digital Realm
Despite Research on Teens’ Sleep, Change to School Start Times Difficult
News in Brief
Report Roundup
To Combat Inequity, Ferguson Panel Urges K-12 Changes
Study: KIPP Confers an Edge in Academics But Not in Attitudes
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Credit Recovery in Need of Overhaul, Study Says
Blogs of the Week
From Pre-K to Higher Ed., Duncan Tour Touts Priorities
GOP Presidential Debaters Give Glancing Mention to Education
In Wide-Ranging Discussion, Duncan Mulls Issues, Agenda
ANN MYERS & JILL BERKOWICZ: STEM Doesn’t Narrow the Curriculum
MARY ANN ZEHR: Can a Former Journalist Teach English-Language Learners to Write?
GREG MILO: Why Do Students Hate History? Some Thoughts on the ‘Boring’ Social Studies
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CAROL DWECK: Growth Mindset, Revisited

Education Week - September 23, 2015