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What NAEP Results Tell Us About Parent Power

The release of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Math and Reading scores yesterday showed little to no progress for students in 4th and 8th grade. When diving into the online resources, some subgroups did have gains, while others fared worse. Hispanic students in both grades made two point gains since 2011. Eighth-grade Asian/Pacific Islander students and American Indian/Alaska Native students made four point gains. African-American students had the lowest percentage of students achieving proficiency in math, not even reaching 20 percent. Since 2007, 8th grade reading scores have only increased by five points. To save you the time of digging through all of the tables, charts and maps, we’ve summarized these key Math and Reading findings.

When examining student progress for both grade levels in math and reading since 2011, we see that the Top Ten States on the Parent Power Index posted achievement gains, remained higher than the national average, or are on par with their 2011 scores. So what does this mean for parents and policymakers?

Let’s look at the District of Columbia as a case study. While DC had overall scores lower than the national average, students saw the largest improvements because meaningful reforms in the nation’s capital are helping all schools improve.

The correlation between the positive ripple effect of charter schools and overall achievement was most pronounced in the District of Columbia, where DC fourth graders improved seven points in math and five points in reading. Eighth graders similarly improved, showing five and six point gains in math and reading, respectively.

These scores are also confirmation that the improvements seen in the DC-CAS scores in both public traditional and charter schools were no fluke, and these gains are here to stay as long as District

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Spotting the Real Reformers

Wherever there are elections, there will most assuredly be candidates paying lip service to their own interpretations of “education reform.” Naturally, many politicians favor the abstract concepts of “building better schools,” “accountability,” and an old favorite, “doing what’s best for our kids.”

However, do these lofty statements on education make these candidates, reformers? What does it actually take for a candidate to be taken seriously by voters as someone who can effect meaningful change when it comes to the educational systems of their future constituents?

Luckily, there are a few surefire ways for spotting the real reformers, as opposed to those whose words have never and probably won’t translate into action.

To name a few, a reformer candidate properly defines educational terms when using them, advocates for independent, multiple charter school authorizers and displays a healthy skepticism about the usefulness of teachers’ unions.

When speaking of school choice, the reformer reinforces the need for Parent Power, and quality educational options rather than ambiguous concerns over the effectiveness of choice and parent empowerment.

If all of this and more come through, then you just might have a real reformer on your hands!

Conversely, if a candidate uses evasive language that doesn’t apply reforms to how they might work for their constituents, then it’s likely nothing would get done under that administration. That veneer of support comes crashing down when the candidate lists a set of reforms such as introducing choice and charter schools, but insists their communities are doing just fine without them.

The other telltale sign of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is using educational terms without actually defining them. Of course no one is “for” an achievement gap, but does the candidate you’re considering define that gap in real terms and prescribe how to close it? This candidate will also make excuses for failing

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Fantasy Press Conference (Shameful Redux)

microphones(In light of the impending stimulus package making the rounds on Capitol Hill, the following is a riff on remarks made by President Barack Obama following a meeting with his education economic team. The original can be read in its entirety on the official White House blog.)

One point I want to make is that all of us are going to have responsibilities to get this economy education moving again. And when I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers Congress had given themselves the education system $20 billion $100 billion worth of bonuses in new spendingthe same amount of bonuses as they gave themselves in 2004 effectively doubling federal funding of education — at a time when most of these institutions were are teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don’t provide help that where they don’t have any other choices for educating their children, the entire system could come down on top of our heads if the next generation – indeed, this generation – can’t compete in a global economy — that is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.

And part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street in the education BLOB who are asking for help to show some restraint accountability and show some discipline transparency and

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