Education Week - August 29, 2012 - (Page 18)

18 EDUCATION WEEK n AUGUST 29, 2012 n COMMENTARY Let the Dialogue Begin It’s Time for Independent Schools to Start Sharing What They Know are hyperselective, and fewer still are heavily endowed with either new or old money. Most independent schools—and as an industry we represent an astounding spectrum of missions, cultures, and purposes—are tuition-driven and serve students with a wide range of capacities from families who work hard for their money. Most schools also happen to offer generous financial aid. In any event, I’m not here to plead the case for independent schools; they can do that for themselves. Instead, I want to issue a challenge, primarily to independent schools and their leaders, but also to public school educators. Some background: For the last 20 or so years, from an independent school perspective, the public sector has staggered under a succession of regulatory measures that appear misguided at best and at worst downright punitive toward teachers, schools, and above all students, especially in the most economically disadvantaged districts. The national conversa- A By Peter Gow s an independent school student, teacher, coach, adviser, administrator, and most recently parent, I’ve drunk deep of the message that there is a legitimate and worthy alternative to public education. In my many roles, I have seen educators toil and students struggle, and I have seen hard work pay off in myriad kinds of authentic student success. I am well aware that not everyone sees the virtues of independent education. Our schools are called exclusive, even elitist, and overresourced, and we are accused of merely basking in the reflected glory of family wealth that guarantees our students’ success. As usual, though, popular images exaggerate reality; only a tiny portion of independent schools Public school leaders [should] ask independent schools, perhaps even demand of us, how we might be of service.” tion on education has focused on “failing” schools, allegedly incompetent teachers, and disaffected and disengaged communities of students and parents—as if these were somehow the norm. I don’t believe they are, but politicians have made hay on the issue, iStockphoto/DrAfter123 “ Trimming the Cost of Common-Core Implementation T By Patrick J. Murphy & Elliot M. Regenstein he Common Core State Standards are designed to have a transformative effect on teaching and learning in the United States. But, as we all know, the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted the common core are just beginning the journey of implementation. A great deal of thoughtful work is required to implement the standards successfully, and that work will not come without a price tag. As the adopting states develop and launch plans for the common core, they are almost universally shying away from honest discussions about how much those plans are going to cost. We believe that a frank conversation about the expense of this work is necessary, largely because state leaders who make smart choices can shepherd the process in a cost-effective manner. As we argued in our recent report, “Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost?,” the statewide cost of bringing the common core to classrooms could be reduced significantly if states were willing to rethink implementation. Our report focuses on three key areas of expense: new instructional materials, new assessments, and professional development. While we realize that even the most efficient approach is likely to lead to some new expenses, we believe that states can minimize the cost by taking advantage of emerging best practices and consciously repurposing existing state funding streams focused on these areas. Our paper attempts to estimate the cost of transition during the initial implementation phase. We first estimated the expenses associated with a business-asusual scenario, in which states simply spend more on traditional delivery methods—hard-copy textbooks, face-to-face professional development, and paper-based standardized tests. Such an approach would, according to our calculations, require an additional $12 billion in spending across the 46 states and the District of Columbia, or an average increase of $289 in per-student spending. Don’t let sticker shock set in. This group of states already spends about $525 billion in federal, state, and local funds on education in a single year. The increase here would represent less than 3 percent of that figure. But the common core will only cost that much to implement if states make no effort to reduce incremental costs of materials, assessments, and professional development. With some changes in approach—what we call “balanced implementation”—the total cost could drop to less than half the estimate: roughly $5.1 billion, or $121 per student. And if we consider the fact that some existing resources could be repurposed, the additional net cost for states could be even lower, likely less than $100 per student. What does our balanced-implementation scenario look like? Our ideas include: • Moving away from hard-copy textbooks and doing more sharing of online materials. New platforms are available for self-publishing textbooks, and opportunities have grown whereby educators can collaborate beyond their districts to develop great materials. We can already see examples of cross-state sharing of curriculum and materials, such as the tri-state materials-sharing platform utilized by Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. Florida has begun to look for ways to move away from hard-copy textbooks. And advances in technology are easing the production and use of e-readers and electronic textbooks, as well as online-resource exchanges. • Using computer-administered technology to offer formative assessments. The federally funded testing consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or parcc, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are in the process of creating new, universal assessment tools. States should take advantage of these resources, rather than try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to testing. • Delivering professional development through a mix of in-person and online instruction. Customized professional development should address the needs of individual teachers, including specific gaps in knowledge and areas needing growth. Online libraries of training videos are another resource that can provide teachers with access to relevant professional development. Charter managers, such as New Tech Network, have designed professional-development modules that serve more schools more effectively and facilitate higher-quality conversations among teachers who “ State leaders who make smart choices can shepherd [standards] implementation in a cost-effective manner.” share similar content and instructional goals. Leading states, districts, and charter providers have adopted these practices and are finding that they can maintain or increase instructional quality while lowering costs. West Virginia and Utah, for example, are using their top teachers to help develop professional-development units and making those available on a dedicated website. These states are not treating common-core implementation as something above and beyond their usual use of materials, assessments, and professional-development practices. Instead, they are viewing the transition to the common core as an opportunity to adapt their practices in an effort to deliver 21st-century education.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 29, 2012

Education Week - August 29, 2012
FOCUS ON: AGE: Districts Adjust To Growth in Older Population
Catholic Ed., K-12 Charters Squaring Off
Advocacy Tactics Found To Differ by Families’ Class
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Educator Cadres Formed to Support Common Tests
Ala. Blocked From Asking About Students’ Citizenship Status
Most Students Still Not College-Ready, ACT Report Finds
Study: Vouchers Linked to College-Going For Black Students
NSF Awards Grants for Climate-Change Education
Blogs of the Week
Ed. Dept. Gears Up to Manage NCLB Waiver Oversight
Poll Hints Tight Presidential Race on K-12
Policy Brief
PETER GOW: Let the Dialogue Begin: It’s Time for Independent Schools to Start Sharing What They Know
PATRICK J. MURPHY & ELLIOT M. REGENSTEIN: Trimming the Cost Of Common-Core Implementation
MALCOLM GAULD: Sowing Parents’ Role In Character Development
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
MIKE SCHMOKER: The Next Education Fad: Complex Teacher Evaluations That Don’t Work

Education Week - August 29, 2012