State Policy

School Vouchers in DC Produce Gains in Both Test Scores and Graduation Rates

One should not under-estimate the impact of the DC school voucher program on student achievement. According to the official announcement and the executive summary of the report, school vouchers lifted high school graduation rates but it could not be conclusively determined that it had a positive impact on student achievement. Something about those findings sounds like a bell striking thirteen. Not only is the clock wrong, but the mechanism seems out of whack. How can more students graduate from private schools if they weren’t learning more?

Is the Learning Disabilities Epidemic Waning?

Almost a decade ago, Fordham and the Progressive Policy Institute published a phone book-sized treatise, Rethinking Special Education for a New Century. One of its most important chapters was “Rethinking Learning Disabilities,” written by a who’s who of cognitive psychologists and reading experts, including Reid Lyon, Jack Fletcher, Sally Shaywitz, and Joseph Torgeson. They argued that most children with learning disabilities suffered from poor reading instruction, not an underlying neurological problem.

When Schools Shun Competition, Middle Class Families Seek It Out After School

June Kronholz writes that the self-esteem movement in the 1990s made many educators squeamish about competi­tion. In fact, American educators have had a love/hate relationship with it over the past century. But what we have seen is that as schools move away from promoting competition, those parents who think schools are not providing enough competitive outlets go outside of the traditional education system.

Research and Policy: Master’s Degrees

There are a variety of educational policies that simply conflict with research. One of the largest is pay for master’s degrees.

Current Strategies Won’t Solve Our Teacher Quality Challenges

In our new report, Opportunity at the Top: How America’s Best Teachers Could Close the Gaps, Raise the Bar, and Keep Our Nation Great, Emily Ayscue Hassel and I asked a simple question: "Will our nation’s bold efforts to recruit more top teachers and remove the least effective teachers put a great teacher in every classroom?” We ran the numbers and discovered a disappointing answer: No. Even if these reforms were wildly successful, most classrooms still would not have great teachers.

Edutopia: Inside George Lucas’ Quixotic Plan to Save America’s Schools

It was just about a year ago that I first started paying attention to Edutopia. They’ve been around for years, but they weren’t on my radar screen. Then suddenly, they wouldn’t stay off it. You couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing their ubiquitous underwriting credit on NPR, with its sublimely confident tagline “What Works in Public Education.”

Voice in the Wilderness: Save NCLB!

Despite the bashing the ten-year-old federal law has been taking--much of it deserved--on the ground, in the provinces NCLB has succeeded in beginning a much-needed change in the culture of public education: from a system focused on adults to one looking behind all the curtains to see how kids are doing. It hasn't been a pretty launch, of course, but the ship is only barely out of port.

E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy

In a new book, The Making of Americans, E.D. Hirsch explicitly connects the idea of cultural literacy to the subject of civics—“the role of a common system of public schools in educating a citizenry to the level necessary to maintain a democracy.”

What We Can Learn from Utah’s Open High

In Utah, around 7 percent of the students are now going to charter schools, creating financial conflicts of interest between district and charter schools, as both sides are trying to persuade the state legislature that they need more of the dwindling pot of state dollars. Into this mix has walked the Open High School of Utah, a charter school that is offering a virtual education that is based almost entirely on curricular materials available free-of-cost from open sources.

Can an Education Bill Save the Obama Presidency?

March 18, 2010 was a red letter day. On that date, for the very first time, more Americans disapproved than approved of the way President Obama was handling his job as president. Obama needs to move beyond divisive partisanship if he is to re-cement his relationship with the American public. The President’s education bill gives him the opportunity to rediscover the middle ground.


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