Education Week - October 31, 2012 - (Page 19)

EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 31, 2012 n 19 POLICY BRIEF COLORADO n Allows schools to use a four-, Perdue said in announcing the executive order. n MICHIGAN n Graduation five-, six-, or seven-year graduation rate—whichever is highest—in the state’s new performance framework. Graduation rates for all students is one of four college- and careerreadiness indicators that in total make up 35 percent of a school’s grade. LOUISIANA n Twenty-five percent of a school’s rates will account for 10 percent of a school’s total score. Schools will be able to use the highest of a four-, five-, or six-year rate once enough years are available to make those calculations. student subgroup in a school does not meet those targets, the school will qualify for interventions as a “local assistance-plan school.” SOUTH DAKOTA nA Gov. Wins a Round In N.C. Pre-K Feud For months, North Carolina’s public prekindergarten program has been at the center of a fiscal, political, and legal showdown between the state’s Democratic governor, who wants to expand access, and Republicans in the legislature who have moved to limit it. But Gov. Beverly Perdue seems to have won the latest round after announcing earlier this month that she would shift some $20 million in unspent funds in the state’s health and human-services budget to pay for enrolling an additional 6,300 4-year-olds in the prekindergarten program by Jan. 1. She said up to 1,000 children could be served immediately in existing programs, and the rest could be enrolled before the end of the year. This is the second time this year that Gov. Perdue has used her executive authority to move money into the state’s pre-K program. “Now more than ever, as we sit poised for an economic recovery, any delay in preparing our kids to be tomorrow’s workforce is simply unacceptable,” Gov. NEW YORK n Schools that are not already grade is based on the four-year graduation rate, and 25 percent is based on a “graduation index” that awards points for students who get advanced diplomas but also who earn GEDs. “priority” or “focus” schools will have to meet the 80 percent statewide graduation goal or make progress toward those goals, based on a four- or five-year graduation rate. If at least one school’s four-year graduation rate makes up 12.5 percent of a school’s grade and a high school “completer” rate that includes students who earn GED certificates makes up 12.5 percent. SOURCE: Approved Waiver Applications on high school issues and signed on to the September letter. “The states would only have to make, in most instances, modest modifications to their accountability systems to fix these graduation-rate problems. Little changes could have a big impact.” What the Plans Show The waiver plans show that states are, for the most part, reporting their four-year graduation rate as required—but that in many cases, these graduation rates may be watered down by other factors, such as when states use extended-year rates or introduce separate measures that allow schools to get credit for ged recipients. In Colorado’s case, college- and career-readiness indicators count for 35 percent of a high school’s grade, and graduation rates are a part of that broader indicator. The state includes schools’ and districts’ four-year graduation rates, but also counts five-, six-, and sevenyear graduation rates in its accountability system. “It’s not just about giving credit, but making sure we’ve created an accountability system that incentivizes schools and districts to ensure students are postsecondary and workforce ready, regardless of the time they need to get there,” said Colorado department of education spokeswoman Megan McDermott. “We don’t want an accountability system that says, ‘If you can’t do it in four years, then it doesn’t count.’” In the more than a dozen states that have adopted letter grading or point systems for evaluating schools, graduation rates count for less than a third of a school’s grade. Michigan, in its waiver application, explained the 10 percent weight it gives to graduation rates this way: “Although graduation rate is an important indicator, [the state] feels that placing too much emphasis on graduation incentivizes schools and districts to graduate students who are not proficient, and therefore not considered career- and college-ready.” When states submitted their initial waiver applications, outside peer reviewers found significant problems with many of the states’ graduation-rate accountability plans. The Education Department, however, didn’t always adhere to the reviewers’ suggestions. In South Dakota, for instance, the peer reviewers recommended that the state forgo using a “completer” rate that included those who earned a ged diploma or another certificate of completion (such as those who fulfilled the requirements of an Individual Education Plan). South Dakota made some changes, but the department allowed the state to keep its completer rate and include only ged certificates. And in Michigan, although peer reviewers were concerned about the low weight given to graduation rates, the department allowed the state to keep the weighting at 10 percent. The state’s public pre-K program provides full-day, earlyeducation services to 4-yearolds whose “at risk” eligibility is determined by income level, special education needs, Englishlanguage-learner status, and whether they come from military families. The turbulence started when the General Assembly slashed spending on the program by 20 percent in 2011, which cut more than 5,000 eligible 4-year-olds from the program. Legislators also tacked on a fee requirement as part of their strategy to close a budget shortfall. A state judge later ruled that the fee was unconstitutional and that the state must serve any eligible child who seeks to enroll, a decision that was upheld in an Aug. 21 ruling by a three-judge panel on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Republican lawmakers have said they will appeal that ruling to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The North Carolina program currently serves about 25,000 children, which is down from a peak of about 35,000 children in 2010, according to the governor’s office. Gov. Perdue is serving her final months in office after announcing earlier this year that she would not seek a second —LESLI A. MAXWELL term. SITE LICENSE EDUCATE YOUR EDUCATORS. THE MOST RESPECTED DESTINATION FOR K-12 NEWS AND ANALYSIS mortar schools, are at a funding disadvantage, or whether charters, and cyber charters in particular, essentially bleed money away from districts. A state audit report in June said that charter and cyber charter funding “reform” would save taxpayers $365 million a year. However, the Commonwealth Foundation, a pro-free-market think tank based in Harrisburg, Pa., responded that state Auditor General Jack Wagner’s study was flawed, since it studied the state’s spending on charters compared with other states’, not how much charters received per student compared with regular public schools. ‘Wild West’ No More? Mr. Fayfich of the state charter school coalition argued that opponents are cherry-picking issues that favor traditional school districts and avoiding long-term solutions for all schools. “We think a comprehensive review by an independent committee is a more fair, more just, more equitable way of doing this, as opposed to just saying, ‘We think cyber schools are being paid too much,’ ” he said. But state commissions produce reports that often lead nowhere, said Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. “Before we allow for this large expansion of charters by bringing in something like a statewide authorizer, we need to make sure that we’re spending taxpayer money on something that’s working,” he said. Only seven states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, South Carolina, and Utah) and the District of Columbia have statewide charter authorizers, according to the Washington-based Center for Education Reform, which supports charters. Those authorizers have varying degrees of autonomy, a fact that is a sore spot for charter advocates. “Most of the folks in elected office are leery of the accountability piece,” said Kathy Christie, a policy analyst at the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. “They want to make sure that the schools approved are quality.” She said that cyber charters in particular have made many state lawmakers particularly apprehensive. Charters’ academic performance in Pennsylvania drew attention this month, when the U.S. Department of Education told the state education department that it had prematurely used a set of rules for calculating adequate yearly progress, or ayp, for charters that differed from the rules for other public schools. Those rules allowed individual charters with a K-12 grade span to be judged as K-12 districts in the state. The state school boards’ association said that although the state reported that 77 charters made ayp in the 2011-12 school year, 44 would have failed to do so if they had been judged without the rule change. Tim Eller, a spokesman for state Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis—who was appointed by Gov. Corbett—expressed confidence that the federal Education Department would let the rule stand. Allowing good charters to expand further and making it easier to close bad ones will be a priority for Mr. Corbett’s administration in 2013, Mr. Eller also said. “Charter reforms are necessary,” he said. Share Education Week With Your Colleagues. Get unlimited access now. We understand that improving public education in your state is a profoundly important and challenging responsibility. Our site license can help. By educating your educators, you help them gain terrain mastery of the ever changing education world. Help your staff stay up to date with all the hot-button issues that affect education in your state. How can a site license help? Our site license can unlock all of our premium content to everyone in your organization. What’s included? + The most important breaking news and analysis— everyday and online only Our unlimited access includes: + Contact us for special pricing for state education agencies. + State and district-level data + Complete and searchable Education Week archives + And more! + Education Week Special Reports on the education issues of today (including e-learning, professional development, and much more) Contact Jennifer Bagley for more information on this special offer at or (815) 464-7301.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 31, 2012

Education Week - October 31, 2012
‘i3’ Grantees Face Hurdles on Aid Match
Teacher-Leader Degree Designed as a Vehicle For Career Fulfillment
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Caution Urged on ‘Value Added’ Reviews
College Board Head to Make Underserved a Priority
Miami-Dade Wins $550,00 Broad Prize For Urban Education
E-School Conference Highlights Blended Ed.
Pa. Moves to Ease Penalties for Minors Who Engage in ‘Sexting’
Education Issues Suffuse Ballots
New Orleans Board Race a Magnet For Outsiders’ Cash
Blogs of the Week
Graduation Rates Latest Waiver Flash Point
Practical Hurdles at Play in Pennsylvania Charter-Law Revamp
Policy Brief
Rethinking Principal Evaluation
Teacher Observation: Tech or No Tech?
About the Necktie
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Redefining the Federal Role In Education: Advice for the Winner of Next Week’s Election

Education Week - October 31, 2012