Friday, June 23, 2017

Education Experts Weigh In On State & Local Government Role In Performance & Opportunity Gaps

Education Experts Weigh In On
State & Local Government Role
In Performance & Opportunity Gaps

Luis Ángel Pérez
Educator & Advocate
June 2017

… Our Panelist … Are Experts On These Plans.”

“We are here today to talk about the
‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ & the States.”

“We’re going to talk about this law
that passed in 2015, that replaced the ‘No Child Left Behind’,
and sort of where States are at, now.”

“Essentially, there are two submission windows, uhm,
for States to send in their plans
under this new law for …”

“… holding schools accountable, ..”

“.. for how they plan to intervene in schools, ..”

“… for how they plan to, uhm, intervene in, in groups of students ...”
… who are consistently underperforming.”

“… our panelist … are experts on these plans.”

Caitlin Emma,
Host & Education Policy Reporter from Politico, Washington DC.
May 31, 2017

 … We Were Able To Ignore Groups of Kids …

“I think, there are 2 pieces that I, I think we’re most interested in.”

“One, making sure that as States set these plans,
we don’t go back to a time Pre-‘No Child Left Behind’,
where we were able to ignore groups of kids,
or ignore poor, ah, performance
in any sort of way, in any school.”

“I think another area where, uhm, where I think we have a lot to do is
on the intervention side.”

“What are we going to do,
as a State or as a District,
to help that school improve?”

“Ahh, there are new, ahh, parts of the law that gives a,
give States more flexibility with those resources;
the money.”

“And, I think we will, ahh, largely look back on this law
as a success or failure about how we do with the schools
that aren’t getting it done with kids right now.”

“So, meaning, ahh,
the lowest performing in our State,
are we able to significantly improve those schools?”

“And I think, some of the techniques
we’ve been using in the past
haven’t necessarily worked in the States.”

“So, largely, under ‘No Child Left Behind’
States did a lot of reporting data, uhm,
and then asking Districts & Schools to improve themselves, ..”

“… either by coming-up with a plan or, uhm, ahh,
or, you know, just saying,  
‘You need to improve’.”

“And that, that didn’t work as well.”

“And I think, I think we need a structure in place in each State.”

“And, it has really been left up to the States.”

“So one, one area that I’m really interested in States improving
is to think about how do we intervene in low performing schools?”

“As we have these conversations, it’s really important that we
get into the plans and figure out …”

“… What the States are actually doing?”

“Uhm, States may have submitted something
to the Federal Government
that may not have everything in it
that they are going to do in their State …”

“… because of the way the template played out and some other things.”

“Uhm, the Federal Government is only asking
for certain types of information from States.”

“Their process and their plan may be bigger than
what they submit to the Federal Government.”

“So, I think, is an important thing for reporters to ask is …”

“What else, besides this Federal plan,
is going to go on in the State
to help improve schools?”

Chris Minnich,
Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers
May 31, 2017

What Is The Civil Rights Community Looking For
When You’re Going Through These Plans?”
What Are The Concerns That You Might Have About
How This Administration Will Be Scrutinizing Them?”

Caitlin Emma,
Host & Education Policy Reporter from Politico, DC.
May 31, 2017

… A Deference To States, Even At Times …
When States Are Violating Federal Law.”

“We keep hearing, over & over, a deference to States,
even at times, uhm, when States are violating Federal law.”

“I think that is something that we should all be concerned about.”

“Uhm, using Federal dollars to discriminate
violates Federal law.”

“And, it is the responsibility of the Secretary of Education
to stop that.”
“Uhm, we have not gotten the assurances that we need
that this administration is going to make sure that these ESSA plans
are consistent with the law and …”

“… the law’s long standing intent
to raise achievement for marginalized children.”

“And so, we are still listening and hoping for that assurance.”

“We have seen some bright signs in plans being returned to States
because they are insufficiently complete
but, I think, we all need to make sure that
it is not just that they are using a sufficient number of words
but the words that are included in the plans are  
compliant with the law
and describe a system of accountability
which holds schools accountable
not just for the performance of children on average
but for the performance of each group of children.”

“The purpose of this law is
not just to raise educational quality overall
but to address long standing barriers to success
faced by Low Income Students,
Students of Color,
Students with Disabilities,
and English Learners.”

“And, if a State is not doing that,
if that is not what they have described,
then their plan should not be approved.”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

“So Linda, Uhm, from what you’ve seen so far,
the plans that have been handed in,
the draft plans that are out there, uhm, you know …”

“… Do you feel as those States are
delivering on this promise
and ensuring equity, uhm, you know,
are they being innovative
in, in thinking about accountability differently?”

“I mean, what, what are you seeing?”

Caitlin Emma,
 Host & Education Policy Reporter from Politico, DC.
May 31, 2017

… Getting Access … Is Typically Been Unequally Allocated …

“… course taking, actually, is a stronger predictor of success
in college and beyond than test scores.”

“And so, getting access,
which is typically been unequally allocated,
to College Preparatory Curriculum,
to Advance Courses, Advance Placement,
International Bank of Laureate, to, ah, Credit Courses,
as a lot of States are measuring, ahh,
to strong Poly-Technical Education Programs
that meet a quality standard, ahh, those kinds of things.”

“Ahh, and getting to a place where
hundred percent of kids are prepared to go on in life …”

“… would be a huge change in
where we are as a Nation.”

Linda Darling-Hammond,
CEO of The Learning Policy Institute,
Professor of Education at Stanford University
May 31, 2017

What Are The Signals That States Are Sending
To The Schools In Terms Of Who Matters?”

“I think, when we look at these plans,
and we’re talking about accountability plans,
and especially when it comes to the ratings,
a couple of things that I hope you ask, ahh,
when you look at your own State’s plan.”

“The first one is
whether or not it does a good job helping
parents & tax payers, regular, you know, man & woman on the street,
understand if a given school is a good school or not.”

“The second thing I’d look at is
whether or not these ratings are doing a good job
differentiating between really good high poverty schools
& really bad high poverty schools.”
“If you’re a high poverty high school and most of your kids
are coming in three grade levels ahead,
even if you were doing a phenomenal job,
you’re going to have some pretty low proficiency rates.
And your graduation rate might not be great either.
So, if that’s all the State is looking at,
you’re going to get a low rating.”

“And finally, 
“What are the signals that States are sending
to the schools in terms of
who matters?”

“… we want to make sure, ahh, the signal is that
all kids matter. Right?”

“… if you serve a lot of poor kids,
you’re going to get a low grade
if you serve a lot of rich kids,
you’re going to get a high grade.”

“That is not a good accountability system.”

Michael J. Petrilli,
President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
May 31, 2017

These States’ Plans Are Just Not Following The Law …

“… I think, from our perspective, I mean, the central question here is
whether all kids matter in the system or not.”

“And, I think, that’s the biggest challenge that we see.”

“The politically hard thing to do is to hold accountable
a school which, on average, may be performing well
but is really just failing to serve a group of students.”

“Whether it’s
an all White Middle-Class School that is not
serving its Children with Disabilities well or
an all White School that is not
serving its Low Income Children well or
a Newly Diverse School that’s not
meeting the needs of English Learners or
African American Students, …”

“… that is the politically hard thing to do.”

It is not hard to hold accountable
a high poverty racially isolated school.
Those schools are in the situation they’re in
because they have such little political power.”

“… when you design a system which is only about
holding accountable schools with the least political power
you are undermining the value of accountability
to create the behavioral change.”

“The system we have right now is not working.
It is not serving all of the children it needs to serve.”

“These historic barriers to opportunity persists
and in order for them to go away
behaviors need to change,
policies & practices need to change.”

“And, this is the thing we’re seeing.”

“These States’ plans are just not following the law,
avoiding the politically hard challenge,
they are focusing only on, uhm, overall achievement
and they are not holding schools accountable for
disaggregated achievement and …”

“… that’s just unacceptable.
We can’t have that system.”

‘… This Is An America As Good As Its Ideals’.

“… we think it’s a fallacy to argue that
achievement gaps are inevitable, or natural, or preordained.”

“This is a system we have created.”

“We have created an inequitable system
through policies & practices
over the past several hundred years.”

“And, we are working very hard now, many of us, to fix that.
And that’s the work that we need to be doing.”

“And, it doesn’t start with NCLB
and it doesn’t start with the Civil Rights Movement.”

“This work is much older than all of that.”

“I mean, when we, in language that we use …”

“‘… this is an America as good as its ideals’. Right?”

“We all believe in an education system which
supports the success of all children.”

“And, that’s the system we need to be working towards.”

“And so, I think it is wrong to argue that our ult,
our options are only to  
ignore historical differences,
to sweep under the rug inequitable opportunity …”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

“… Because We Inequitably Fund Schools In This Country.”

“In this law, in contrast to NCLB,
where you would rank & sort the schools
and label them and, you know, ahh,
create a whole set of, ahh, sanctions that could occur, …”

“… there was no requirement to invest in those schools.”

“There was a period of time where there was
School Improvement Grants
but a lot of schools, ahh, were, you know,
basically, under resourced because 
we inequitably fund schools in this country.”

“In, ahh, ESSA, States do have the obligation,
when they identify a school as, ahh, requiring intervention,
to do a resource audit
to really look at the ways in which
resources may be inequitable or inadequate
to do the work in their school.”

“And, I think that’s part of what, ahh,
has to be leveraged, ahh, as we look forward.”

Linda Darling-Hammond,
CEO of The Learning Policy Institute,
Professor of Education at Stanford University
May 31, 2017

“What Sort of Questions Do You Think
Reporters Should Be Asking States
Regarding Their Targeted Intervention
For Particular Subgroups
Instead of Schools as a Whole?”

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

How Would That Manifest Itself
In a Student Outcome?”

“One of the problems that we have is
this continued use of this Super-Subgroup
which ignores the meaningful differences between
African American, Latino, Native American,
Asian American Students, White Students, ahh,
Low Income Students, ahh,
Students with Disabilities, & English Learners.”

“And so, the first question is …”

“… How do you plan to apply an intervention when
your identification system,
your accountability system,
does not meaningfully disaggregate
among groups of students?”

“So, that’s the first question.”

“Is that,
 what you need is the information about
who is not being effectively served,
and then, to Linda’s point earlier,
on what? Right?”

“A general knowledge that the school is not working
for that group of kids is not helpful.”

“Is it reading achievement, is it math achievement, is it a graduation rate issue?”

“And so, I think, having those pieces of information …”

“Who is not getting the supports they need
and then, in what area?”

“How would that manifest itself in a student outcome?”

“The very next question is …”

“How are you going to engage
the parents & communities of affected students
in the decision about what to do?”

“Because, if you’re talking about a school
that is not effectively serving
its African American students,
I bet you,
African American Parents in that Community
have a good understanding of part of the challenge.”

“Whether it is something like, uhm, you know
barriers to access to higher level courses,
whether it is something like implicit bias,
whether it is discipline disparities, & school push-out,
you know, what this sort of, the cause of the challenge.”

“I think that, parents are a really important source of information
about what to do there.”

“And then,
looking at other schools that have done a great job. Right?
For, for all of the challenges that we have in our system,
there are schools that really are excelling at serving all students.
And, really learning from that
and figuring out what it is that they did,
and how did that work,
and how do you apply those lessons in other places.”

“So, that’s where I would start.”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

“One of the issues that I have is that it’s very hard for me as a reporter
to ‘look under the hood’ of growth models and see, like, what their, …”

“What Is Their Formula for Determining Growth.”

“And, and, especially as we change State Accountability Test.
It just, it, it kind of seems like a mess
and then I’m very suspicious because
I can’t understand what they’re, what they’re looking at.
So, even though, like, you might look at two scores, uhm,
two, like, average scale scores, they could be exactly the same
but yet have different growth percentages,
and so, and I know that’s because it’s individual students
but it’s, it’s a mess.”

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

… I Think … States Have a Responsibility
To Have The Public & The Reporters
Be Able to
Replicate Their … Calculations.

“I agree with you. I actually think we should be pushing toward
simpler models, uhm, uhm, that pe, people can understand.
Uhm, I, I think, I think States have a responsibility to
have the public and the reporters
be able to replicate their, uhm, uhm, their calculations.
And, I don’t think, ahh, I think we should be able to
give reporters access to the, the, the data-set
in a way that you could check that.”

“So, I understand growth modeling is very complicated
but I, I think we can do better at sort of understanding, uhm,
if, if similar kids with similar demographics,
are, are, should have similar growth targets.”

“So, ahm, tha, that’s, I think is, I think is something
that we kind of, we get into the research side and …”

“… we sometimes lose the ability to explain what we’re doing
and therefore we lose parents, so,
and, and the general public.”

“So, I, I think we can be better on that front.
And Linda has a lot of experience in this ...”

Chris Minnich,
Executive Director of the Council of
Chief State School Officers
May 31, 2017

“No, I’m going to let them go to the next question.”

Linda Darling-Hammond,
CEO of The Learning Policy Institute,
Professor of Education at Stanford University
May 31, 2017

 “We talked a little bit about those interim benchmarks
and setting interim benchmarks, and I know it, so,
what I’ve seen is that certain subgroups have lower starting points. Right?
And we get this – ‘Oh well, we’re just being realistic.’

How do y’all feel about that, having, you know,
black kids, kids with disabilities, ELLs,
and everybody’s got this starting benchmark?

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

… We’ve Been So Familiar with Talking About
The Achievement Gap
For The Last 15 Years That
There’s Been Much Less Conversation
About The Opportunity Gap.

“You know, Mike made the point earlier that,
it’s important to set, uhm, you know,
achievable targets, uhm, with effort.”

“And, uhm, most States are, are doing that
in a way that, ahh, looks at where kids are now
and then sets an expectation that there will be steeper growth
for kids who are starting further behind
so that you’re looking at lines that should,
you know, over time, ahh, move towards convergence.
And, ahh, I think that’s, you know, that’s a reasonable thing to do.”

A lot of the challenges are about how quickly do you expect that slope to,
you know, go up and, ahh, over what period of time.”

“Uhm, but, you have to start with, with where things are now
and then set, ahh, that expectation for, uhm,
closing the achievement gap.”

“That means, though, also closing the opportunity gap.”

“And we’ve been so familiar with talking about the achievement gap
for the last 15 years that there’s been much less conversation about
the opportunity gap.”

“The fact that kids do get access to very different curriculum
in many, many places.”

“They get access to very different learning opportunities
before they get to kindergarten.”

“They have access to very different resources within schools, etcetera.”

“So as we worry about the goals & the targets
and the movement of kids along those,
it’s really important to continue to
loop back to the question about …”

“What opportunities to learn, ahh,
are different groups of students receiving,
really from birth forward?”

“And, as we look at the, ah, interventions that States can,
the evidence based interventions that States can put in place,
it’s going to be very important that they, ahh, consider
such things as ahh, and some, some places are looking at this, ahh,
it, as pre-school. As high quality pre-school for some children.”

“It may be very important in some communities
for highs quality, how, high quality community schools models
to be put in place.”

“We’re doing, ahh, releasing a report on Monday, uhm,
looking at one-hundred-twenty-five studies of community schools models,
many of which have very strong achievement gains
because they give the wrap around services
that students need, plus, before and after study time,
and support systems.”

“They’re variety of ways that States & Districts of schools
can approach the improvement question.
Including strong curriculum in reading and math
and professional development for teachers, well designed.”

“Again, another place where we’re going to need
access to the research about what actually works
and what doesn’t, in that regard.”

“But those are going to be the most important questions
once the targets get set.”

“Uhm, there’s a lot of, you know, measurement ankhs right now but …”

“… the next ankhs really has to be about
the investments & the improvements.”

Linda Darling-Hammond,
CEO of The Learning Policy Institute,
Professor of Education at Stanford University
May 31, 2017

 “What Happens If There’s, Sort Of,
A Dualing Accountability System;
You Have One System on The Federal Level
& One System on The State Level;
“What Impact Will That Have on Education State?”

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

… What Are The Differentiated Supports
That You’re Providing?

“Yeah, I think from our perspective on, you know, part of this …”

“… Is the States plan something other than just
a policy compliance exercise?”

“You know, from our view,
the State’s planning process should be …”

“… the State coming together and deciding
what it’s going to do to meet the needs of all children in that State.”

“And that’s what we are expecting.”

“These State plans should be a demonstration
of the commitment by a State
to educate all the children in that State.”

“And, that necessarily involves an integrative system
of holding schools accountable,
provided supports.”

“I think, to the question around differentiating for interim targets,
the question that, you need to be asking,
right, so, okay, so, we’re saying,
in year one or year two we’re expecting lower achievement
for children with disabilities
but you’re telling me that the long term plan is  
everybody getting the same high goal.
And that’s great and we’re going to all have to move faster
with different groups of kids along the way,
the big question then is …”

“… what are the differentiated supports that you’re providing?”

“So, we’re going to say, …”

“‘… as a State we have not been serving
children with disabilities
for way too long and here is our plan
to change that.’ ”

“Talk about intergrading,
States also have plans under IDEA
and how they’re going to better serve children with disabilities.
Are they intergrading their plan under IDEA
for how to serve children with disabilities for their ESSA plan
for how to serve children with disabilities?
And, are they intergrading all of their State’s processes?”

“If you got a State that’s been making
really important State driven progress on
closing discipline gaps and ending exclusionary discipline,
and racial disproportionally in discipline, …”

“… How are they intergrading that
to help raise achievement for students
who’ve been getting pushed out of school?”

“So, our hope really is that this is an opportunity
for States to come together
and really make a new commitment
to educating all the children
in our State.”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
 Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

… The Federal Government Isn’t Asking
For Everything That a State Needs To Do
To Make Their School Successful.

“Uhm, so, I, I, I just, I think is ridiculous that, uhm,
we would, that we would have two sets of plans.”

“Now, to be said,
the Federal Government isn’t asking for everything
that a State needs to do to make their school successful.”

“So, to be fair,
if I were sitting in the State
I don’t think I would send the Federal Government
everything that I’m going to do because
they’re not asking for it.”

“Now, uhm, I think, the State should have one plan
that they might send parts of it to the Federal Government.”

Chris Minnich,
Executive Director of
the Council of Chief State School Officers
May 31, 2017

“When States Are Putting These Plans Together,
How Should They Ensure, How Can They Ensure
That The Impact of Poverty, You Know,
That Poverty Doesn’t Have
a Significant Impact on Achievement,
So That, You Know, Like Michael Said, ahh,
Districts That Are Serving
Large Populations of Students in Poverty
Aren’t All Just Marked as Failing?”

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

“… I think the metrics actually
matter the most in that conversation.”

Chris Minnich,
Executive Director of
the Council of Chief State School Officers
May 31, 2017

… It Is Really Dangerous If We Play With The Metrics
 But Don’t Play With The Opportunity
That Matters At The Child Level.

“It’s not, it’s not just about the metrics.”

“You could also then remove the barriers to opportunities
that exist for children in poverty. Right?”

“You can provide, you know, greater funding
for schools with greater challenges, …”

“… you can provide the strongest teachers
to students who need the strongest teachers, …”

“… you could equalize, uhm, course access
so that all children have meaningful access
to rigorous courses & college preparatory curriculum.”

“And, I think, that is really where we want to see this go.”

“I think it’s, it is really dangerous if we play with the metrics but
don’t play with the opportunity that matters at the child level.”

“… the child does not care about the metrics. Right?
The child cares about their experience in school.
Do they have a school with a high concentration of novice teachers?”

“And I think these are the, the real core questions.”

“We need to solve
the fundamental inequalities that exist.”

“We need to stop
providing less to children who need more.”

“And that’s what we need to do.”

“Mass deportation, mass incarceration,
taking away children’s healthcare,
taking away access to family nutrition support, …”

“… all of those are bad for student achievement.”

“Even if we all, if we only cared about student achievement
all of those things are bad for student achievement.”

“That is also not the society any of us want to live in
but that’s the proposal on the table.”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

… But Almost Everything Was Undone.

“One last fact –
The war on poverty and the, ah, set of programs that were
part of a great society in the 60’s and the 70’s, ah,
actually reduced the reading achievement gap
by two-thirds, ahh, by, ahh, the early 1980’s.”

“Had we stayed on course with those programs,
we would have probably have no black-white achievement gap
by the year 2000.”

“But almost everything was undone.”

“And so, we have never recouped, ah,
the opportunity, ahh, strategies
that we once put in place that were successful.”

Linda Darling-Hammond,
CEO of The Learning Policy Institute,
Professor of Education at Stanford University
May 31, 2017

“Do You Have Recommendations,
in Elementary, Middle School,
of Alternative Measures
that Aren’t Based on Test Scores?”

“As well as financial, uhh,
there’s a lot of things that go on input, ahh,
into schools.”

“Have You Noticed in Any Districts
or Any State Plans
That Have Begun Grading Their Schools
Based on What’s Going Into The School,
Not Just What’s Co,
Not Just On The Test Scores & The Outputs?”

- From Audience -
May 31, 2017

Each one of those groups of students
has a different experience even while
they have an experience shared among themselves.

 “… they have a super subgroup that combines
Low Income Students, Students with Disabilities, & English Learners.”

“So, they do not hold schools accountable
for disaggregated performance.”

“Uhm, I don’t know if their assumption is that
all children of color are
of Low Income English Learners or Children with Disabilities,
but they are not. “Uhm, so the math is wrong on that.”

“And, there’s also a difference between
being an English Learner & a Child with Disability & being Low Income.”

“Those are not, uhm, ahh, redundant categories.
Each one of those groups of students
has a different experience even while
they have an experience shared among themselves.”

“And so, that’s the other thing to remember. Right?”

“Not just what is being measured but for whom?”

“Uhm, and whether schools are being held accountable
for disaggregated performance
across all the indicators they decide to use in the system.”

Liz King,
Director of Education Policy
at the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights
May 31, 2017

The above depicts some of what was asserted by experts during a conference titled,
Education and States’ Accountability, (May 31, 2017),
hosted by the Education Writers Association.

To learn more or watch the entire conference, visit their website
or click on one of the links provided below.

Education Writers Association


Let’s End Abuse of Power In Our Schools
Awareness Is Power So Please Continue To Follow

Luis Ángel Pérez,
Degrees in Psychology & Education,
Mental Health, Social Services, 
Public School Science & Mathematics,
Dual Language Middle School Seventh & Eighth Grades,
Elementary School First & Fourth Grades,
Educator & Advocate.

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