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Newswire: May 10, 2016

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Vol. 18, No. 18

CRISIS OF ACCOUNTABILITY. The Connecticut Senate narrScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.11.54 PMowly averted passing a law that would disconnect any part of teacher evaluations from the performance of their students. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that anyone would say that teachers have nothing to do with how students perform, but that’s precisely what the teachers union said in pushing this bill – and they plan to come back again next year! Asked for guidance and research on the subject by state lawmakers, CER produced this policy perspective to validate that teacher effectiveness has more impact on student achievement than any other factor controlled by schools. To ignore teaching as if it has no correlation with learning outcomes, and to abolish effective evaluations that make a path for improvement clear, is to shirk responsibility.

CHARTER RESEARCH MISSES VITAL DISTINCTIONS. A Grad Nation report released yesterday reveals 44 percent of charter schools in the US are graduating students at a rate higher than the national average, while 30 percent of charter schools have a graduation rate of 67 percent or below. Once again, data crunchers are mixing apples and oranges. The Grad Nation report fails to identify that many of the schools they are ridiculing were set up specifically to serve special populations of students, such as dropouts or adults, and that these are schools which often cannot satisfy a four-year proficiency requirement for their students, who are often coming back into a school environment after many years or were woefully underserved by their previous school. As the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools argued this week, a charter school in San Fran that is located inside a county jail serving a population of students who previously failed to earn a high school diploma is incorrectly classified as a regular charter school. The data collectors and analyzers in the education business need to sharpen their skills if they want to provide any service to students in need.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 6.03.09 PMEVEN AFFLUENT KIDS NEED HELP. It’s long been the case that parents of students in “good” or seemingly “great” schools don’t think they have any issues, and as a result, cannot really relate to those whose schools are demonstrably worse. The problem is — and always has been — that even our better schools are underperforming. According to a recent report from Education Reform Now, of the more than half a million rising college freshman who enroll in remedial courses, 45 percent are from middle, upper-middle, and high-income families. Despite the U.S. graduation rate at an all-time high of 81 percent, the latest results on the Nation’s Report Card reveal the majority of US 12th graders lack proficiency in reading and math. All signs point to the need to improve and expand access to innovative learning opportunities for ALL kids.

REVERSING NOLA TAKEOVER. The anti-charter school Governor of Louisiana is poised to sign a bill that would restore some of the old kind of power that New Orleans once had over schools. In the name of “local control,” all charters currently under the Recovery District will fall under the purview of a newly elected school board, the same kind of board that had the city in educational shambles before the storm. Would this hurt progress made in NOLA post-Katrina? Nearly two-thirds of New Orleans students attended a failing school before Katrina. Today, just 7 percent do. The reason charter schools were able to respond so quickly and serve NOLA students post-Katrina is because of their flexibility and autonomy. With that in danger, there’s a scary possibility that progress could halt. And, as the New York Times wisely notes, “an even bigger question is whether the elected board will have the nerve to close failing schools and resist the city’s tradition of crony politics and malfeasance.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.28.05 PMICYMI. Whether you joined us in person, online, or were anxiously awaiting the recording, now’s your chance to recap insights from Gov. McCrory, Congressman Messer, and more about what it takes to expand innovation and opportunity for our children. Takeaways, full recordings, and video highlights here!

EFFORT TO BANKRUPT ST. LOUIS CHARTERS. The St. Louis, MHammer-about-to-smash-piggy-bank-by-seniorplanning.org-cc.-772x579O school district filed a lawsuit claiming that the state has overpaid charter schools via desegregation tax revenue. The districts’ greed posits that the money belongs to them, rather than the students –  in both traditional public and public charter schools – potentially causing devastating effects for kids in charter schools, as the dollar amounts charter schools could be forced to pay are massive.

DO CHARTER SCHOOLS WORK? You bet they do, despite this Deseret News headline.

EDTECH GOES TO ISRAEL. Innovation is spreading and not just in the US!  More than 40 international speakers and delegates from around the world, representing thought leaders, industry experts, leading EdTech companies and EdTech investors from the US, China, and Japan will be attending IES2016 – Israel EdTech Summit June 8-9. It’s not too late to attend – register here.