Edvoice - Issues

More Students Are Graduating But That's Not The Whole Story

October 17 | Education Writers Association

By Emily Richmond

As federal education officials tout a fourth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rate, the reactions that follow are likely to fall into one of three categories: policymakers claiming credit for the gains; critics arguing that achievement gaps are still far too wide to merit celebrating; and policy wonks warning against misuses of the data.

New Federal Teacher-Prep Rules Draw Praise and Criticism

October 14 | Education Week

By Brenda Iasevoli

While the U.S. Department of Education's long-awaited teacher preparation rules drew praise from some longtime critics of teacher training quality, groups representing teachers see the final rules released Wednesday as punitive and say they will end up deterring graduates from working in high-needs schools.

On the one hand, supporters hope the data that states are required to collect under the new rules will guide teacher-training programs toward more effective practices. And data was a main topic at a roundtable discussion about teacher prep at University of Southern California Rossier School of Education in Los Angeles on Wednesday after the new rules were released.

New Priorities for Equity in Reform

October 13 | EducationNext

By Ryan Smith

In the plays of Bertolt Brecht, actors spoke directly to audience members. Some called out stage directions, and others used cards to tell the audience members what was to come. In breaking theater’s elusive “fourth wall,” Brecht insisted that he didn’t want to destroy theater; rather, he wanted to refashion it for new social uses.

We see a similar evolution in education reform today. Reformers of color, many of whom have supported the movement for decades, have decided to more aggressively tell mostly white leadership that a traditional reticence to discuss issues of race, class, and power can no longer be the movement’s modus operandi. Over the past year, the blogosphere has lit up with thoughtful commentary on this from Chris Stewart, Marilyn Anderson Rhames, and others. And EdLoc, launched by leaders of color across the country, is charting an inclusive third way to advance change in the polarized reform debate.

Education reformers should pay close attention.

California's new education architecture is incoherent

October 7 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Joe Matthews

Is California abandoning its poorest students?

That question would be dismissed as absurd by our state’s education leaders, especially Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education. For years, they have been building a new educational architecture they say will do more for the poorest kids in the poorest schools.

But as the many elements of this architecture are put in place, they have grown so complicated that the entire structure seems incoherent. It’s possible that this new architecture could undermine public accountability, resist public engagement and obscure how disadvantaged students are really doing.

Commentary: We need an accountability system that will clearly communicate how schools are doing

September 30 | LA School Report

By Tunji Adebayo

The California State Board of Education just adopted a new accountability system acknowledging that the quality of a school is about more than just test scores. Parents will now have access to vital measures that provide them with greater insight into how a school may serve their child, such as college preparedness, language growth among English language learners and the rate at which students are suspended.

This more nuanced accountability system is an important step forward for our state, but it’s equally important to recognize how we got here. Before the board voted, they listened to a diverse group of more than 100 parents, students and teachers like me from across the state.

SAT scores: California lags nation

September 27 | East Bay Times

By Sharon Noguchi

California’s Class of 2016 scored lower than the national average on SAT reading and math tests, although state students outperformed their national peers in writing, just-released scores show.

But the scores released late Monday may represent more than the state’s periodic fluctuation in national comparisons of reading and math. California’s sinking scores may reflect the SAT’s increasing democratization, with more students at differing levels of preparation taking the exam.

For the first time, California releases test scores for foster youth - and they're not good

September 22 | Los Angeles Times

By Joy Resmovits

For the first time, California education officials have separated out the standardized test scores of the state’s foster youth — and advocates now have sobering proof of what they long suspected: These students are learning far less than their peers.

In 2014-15, the first year scores of the new, harder state tests were reported, 18.8% of students in the foster care system met or exceeded standards in English/language arts, compared with 44.2% of their non-foster peers statewide. In math, 11.8% of these students reached or beat the benchmarks, compared with 33.8% of non-foster students.

Foster students also had somewhat lower rates of participation on the tests. In English, 27,651 foster students — or 89.8% of those enrolled — were tested, as opposed to 96.1% of non-foster students. In math, that number was 27,475, or 89.3%, compared with 96.3% of their non-foster peers.

Opinion: Sorting Out the Issues in the Teacher Shortage Crisis

September 22 | The 74 Million

By Dan Goldhaber & Roddy Theobald

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the impending teacher-shortage “crisis.” In the past week, for instance, a new report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and subsequent media coverage have suggested that the U.S. could be facing a shortfall of more than 100,000 teachers by the decade’s end. That’s a headline-grabbing figure, but it is quite likely wrong. More important, it’s wrongheaded to focus on aggregate-level estimates of teacher supply and demand, as this approach does little to move the needle toward solutions to the real and long-standing issues surrounding the teacher labor market.

School standards should focus on achievement gap

September 19 | Sacramento Bee

As an educator for more than 40 years, I believe access to quality education for every student is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.

In the three years since the state dismantled its school accountability system to make way for the Local Control Funding Formula, we have discussed and debated what the state’s new school accountability system should aim to achieve. But the time has come to finally establish an accountability system that will do right by all of our kids.

That is why the Legislature, with unanimous bipartisan support, helped me send Assembly Bill 2548 to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. AB 2548 sets clear performance standards for schools that will focus on closing gaps in academic achievement between low-income students and their higher income peers.

Mixed Grade: Is new state school review method a "mishmash" or a "good start"?

September 15 | CalMatters

By Samantha Young

Parents have a right to know how their particular local schools are performing, but California’s new accountability system fails to provide that information, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa charged Wednesday.