Search results for: "National Education policy center"

The National Education Policy Center recently released by this important report:

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/9129
NEPC Publication: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/facebook-student-privacy
Washington Post Answer Sheet: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/04/05/facebook-and-the-very-real-problem-of-keeping-student-data-private/

Contact:
Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261, nepc.molnar@gmail.com
Faith Boninger: (480) 390-6736, fboninger@gmail.com

NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (April 6, 2018) – In yesterday’s Washington Post Answer Sheet, Alex Molnar and Faith Boninger, Co-Directors of NEPC’s Commercialism in Education Unit, explored the invasive data mining and third-party targeting of users that is inherent in Facebook’s business model and that led NEPC to delete its Facebook account and remove Facebook from the NEPC website.

Molnar and Boninger have studied advertising directed at students in schools for three decades. For the past five years, they have tracked and reported on the evolution of digital marketing and the use of digital platforms in schools. In a series of annual reports, they have repeatedly called for statutory changes and regulations to ensure student privacy, protect data, require transparency, and ensure accountability. In their essay, they explain that the kind of data practices revealed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal are operating in schools and classrooms every day as students’ personal data are scooped up by digital platforms with little oversight or accountability.

Molnar, who is also NEPC’s Publications Director, warns, “Lack of public oversight has permitted the development of a surveillance economy in which corporations relentlessly, invisibly, and very profitably gather information and create profiles on hundreds of millions of people.” He adds that in the absence of public oversight over how digital platforms collect, store, and use data, “there is little or no clear recourse when personal data are used in ways that cause personal and social harm. This is true not only for adults, but also for students whose data are collected through their schools.”

Although Facebook is not alone in collecting data from its users, its business model and particular use of the data stand out. Facebook presents itself as dedicated to bringing people together in a radically transparent world and as serving as a new “public square” where users can express themselves freely. Boninger contrasts this image with reality, where Facebook limits and exploits the false public square it has created: “Rather than letting users engage freely in its environment, Facebook’s algorithms silo users and present them with a distorted reality that is then used by advertisers to influence and manipulate them.” “This is not a ‘mistake,’ she points out. “It is what Facebook is designed to do.”

In high schools, when school groups use Facebook as an organizing tool, students must maintain Facebook accounts in order to participate in school activities. The existence of these accounts allows Facebook to collect data about students every time they visit a page with a “like” button. It also allows Facebook to collect information about users’ friends. Via the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is using his fortune to promote the adoption of what they call “personalized learning” platforms in schools (i.e., using software to target digitally-provided lesson content based on students’ past responses) that facilitate further collection of massive amounts of educational data from children.

With respect to the Internet, it is often said that if you’re not paying for a product you are the product. That is, if the company is not making money selling a product to you, then they make money selling someone else information about you. Molnar notes, “We’re particularly concerned when this product is children, who are especially susceptible to manipulation because they are still developing. Targeted marketing, facilitated by Facebook, manipulates children and influences their developing worldviews and interests, as well as their understandings of their families, friendships, romantic relationships, environment, society, and selves. These practices are harmful to adults, and when deployed against children they are intolerable.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at http://nepc.colorado.edu/ceru-home.

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

I deactivated my two Facebook accounts last week. I am not alone.

This happened today:

Key Takeaway: Facebook’s benefits are overwhelmed by problems inherent in its business model, its failure to safeguard personal information, and its lack of transparency and accountability.

Find Documents:
Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/9115

Contact:
Kevin Welner: (303) 492-8370, kevin.welner@colorado.edu
Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261, nepc.molnar@gmail.com

Learn More:
NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (March 27, 2018) – The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) will delete its Facebook account on Wednesday March 28. We have already removed social sharing via Facebook from the NEPC website and our other communication tools.

While Facebook has many benefits, we feel compelled to disassociate ourselves from the invasive data mining and the third-party targeting of users inherent in its business model. The goal of the NEPC is to provide high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation. Deceitful micro-targeted propaganda is made possible by Facebook data and undermines democracy. Our reading of the evidence and record tells us that neither Facebook nor any other opaque, unregulated, and unaccountable private entity should have control over the private data of billions of people. Whatever services are provided by the Facebook platform are overwhelmed by Facebook’s business model, its lack of transparency, its failure to safeguard the personal information of its users, and its lack of accountability.

NEPC annual reports on Schoolhouse Commercialism have highlighted the intensifying surveillance culture and other dangers to student privacy in the digital age, and Facebook has emerged as a primary culprit. It would be disingenuous for us to use Facebook to promote those reports and other NEPC work.

We don’t pretend that this was an easy step. Communication of research lies at the heart of NEPC’s mission, and social media are a big part of communications—with Facebook positioned as a dominant social media platform. Last month, NEPC’s “Schools of Opportunity” project benefited hugely from a short video that went viral on Facebook, garnering over a million views.

Yet the more we learned about Facebook’s data gathering , and in particular the Cambridge Analytica scandal , the more we couldn’t avoid the conclusion that Facebook’s benefits are far outweighed by its dangers. Facebook is designed in ways that are inherently troubling. As Facebook’s first president warned, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains .” He disclosed that Facebook was designed to create a “social validation feedback loop” that we now know does indeed alter brain chemistry by triggering dopamine hits each time a posting is liked. And marketers are taking full advantage .

Consider also this passage from a recent article in The Guardian (internal links included):

That Silicon Valley parents use the money they earn from tech to send their children to tech-free schools is no secret. But such qualms have not stopped the tech companies themselves from continuing to push their products on to other people’s children, both through partnerships with school districts and special apps for children as young as six.

In January 2018, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent Mark Zuckerberg a letter , signed by over 100 child advocates, educators, and experts in child development, requesting that Facebook discontinue its Messenger Kids app for children. A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it likely that this new app—designed to encourage greater use of digital devices and social media among children—will undermine children’s healthy development. Facebook continues to promote Messenger Kids.

This problem is much larger than Facebook, but we cannot use that fact to justify inaction. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to lend tacit support to Facebook. NEPC has concluded that encouraging our readers to provide information that will be used by Facebook and its clients to tailor and limit information to which our readers will then be exposed contradicts our defined organizational mission, which is to support democratic deliberation about education policy.

We at NEPC encourage other education organizations to consider whether they too should delete their Facebook accounts, and we call upon policy makers to develop policies that provide strict public oversight of social media platforms.

Schools and Digital Platforms

NEPC’s own publications describe how digital platforms work through schools to pull children into the surveillance economy—an unregulated economy that these platforms have worked to construct and from which they benefit financially. “Students are offered no choice,” explains Faith Boninger, co-author with Alex Molnar of NEPC’s commercialism reports. As one student told Boninger and Molnar, “I can’t delete my Facebook account. My school activities have Facebook groups that I have to access. Maybe I can delete my account when I graduate.”

Molnar, who is NEPC’s Publications Director, warns that “students are tied to Facebook by their school-related activities, and they unwillingly and usually unwittingly provide Facebook with information that is used to limit what they are exposed to on-line and funnel them to worldviews that will reward Facebook’s clients.”

Boninger and Molnar add that their research has shown that digital platforms being promoted for school use are neither well understood by educators nor adequately regulated by existing policy and law. Says Molnar, “the kind of abuses inherent in Facebook’s business model, management structure, and lack of transparency are, without question, also occurring in schools and classrooms every day via social networks and digital platforms.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at http://nepc.colorado.edu/ceru-home.

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood , Center for Digital Democracy , Electronic Frontier Foundation , Electronic Privacy Information Center , and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy .

We encourage people to distribute this announcement as widely as possible and to continue to share the work of the National Education Policy Center with others.

 

 

 

 

The National Education Policy Center released a video about “Schools of Opportunity.” The video highlights schools that support students instead of penalizing them. It was viewed almost 200,000 times within 24 hours.

You should watch it too.

In Less than a Day, New #SchoolsofOpportunity Video Has Been Viewed 190,000 Times

Key Takeaway: Please watch and share the new Schools of Opportunity video and the 2018 Application.
Facebook Twitter Email
Find Documents:
Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/9077
Watch Video: http://schoolsofopportunity.org
Contact:
Michelle Renée Valladares: (720) 505-1958, michelle.valladares@colorado.edu
Adam York: (303) 735-5290, adam.j.york@colorado.edu

Learn More:

NEPC Resources on Schools of Opportunity

BOULDER, CO (March 1, 2018) – For more than 25 million children, the connection between education and the American Dream is eroding, but a new video is shining a spotlight on schools closing the opportunity gap.

The two-minute video tells the story of how students benefit when they have access to much-needed educational and social supports. “It puts a face on the students whose lives change when they get access to Schools of Opportunity,” said Michelle Renée Valladares, NEPC Associate Director.

To date, 45 schools have been recognized by the National Education Policy Center’s Schools of Opportunity program. These schools provide rich, engaging opportunities to learn for all their students, often helping those students overcome obstacles linked to poverty and racism in our larger society. One of this year’s honorees—Seaside High School—is highlighted in the video.

The video introduces us to Dayshaun, a young man whose drop in school performance might have resulted in sanctions and lowered expectations at other schools. Instead we learn how systemic supports at Seaside helped him get through the immense challenge of his mother falling ill. Because of that support, Dayshaun is now a school leader.

The Schools of Opportunity project was born out of the research-based fundamental truth that students learn more when they have rich opportunities to learn; when denied those opportunities they fall behind. The opportunity gap then drives the achievement disparities between students who come from well-resourced communities and those from economically and socially marginalized communities.

“The Schools of Opportunity project offers a positive vision of what school quality and school improvement can look like,” says CU Boulder Professor Kevin Welner, who directs the NEPC. “This project highlights an alternative to judging schools based on test scores.”

This video “sparks our imaginations about what our high schools can be,” says Welner. “We hope it reaches educators and school leaders throughout the country, as we all learn from the 45 exemplary schools we’ve recognized to date. Please watch, share and let us know what you think.”

The video is a product of ATTN:, an issues-driven media company, and The Partnership for the Future of Learning, a network of educators, advocates, leaders, and supporters dedicated to an affirmative, equitable, evidence-based vision of a remodeled education system.

NEPC is scouting for the next round of schools to lift up through the Schools of Opportunity Program. Schools can apply for recognition directly, or others can nominate them. Applications are welcomed until April 9, 2018. Information and forms are available online at: http://www.SchoolsofOpportunity.org.

Sharing Information

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BfwF27Og0LE/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/attn/status/968922751502290945
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1674665095902276/
Tweetables

New @attn video with @NEPCtweet shows how every student can learn with the right tools and supports. https://twitter.com/attn/status/968922751502290945 #schoolsofopportunity

You shouldn’t need rich parents to get an education in this country. These @NEPCtweet #SchoolsofOpportunity are showing how it’s done in a new @attn video. https://twitter.com/attn/status/968922751502290945

All students can learn and achieve with the right supports. New video highlights how these #SchoolsofOpportunity are making it happen. https://twitter.com/attn/status/968922751502290945
You can judge a school based on test scores, or you can watch what happens when #SchoolsofOpportunity give every student a shot at success. New @attn video with @NEPCtweet. https://twitter.com/attn/status/968922751502290945

 

Professor Ellie Bruecker of the University of Wisconsin at Madison completed a study of the fiscal impact of the statewide school vouchers in Wisconsin. It was published by the National Education Policy Center.

Here is the executive summary:

“Executive Summary

“In 1989, Wisconsin created the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), the nation’s first publicly funded private school voucher program. Over the next two decades, the Milwaukee program was steadily expanded, but remained the sole voucher program in the state. In 2011, Wisconsin added a voucher program in Racine (RPCP), and in 2013 it created the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). Initially the statewide program was limited to 500 students and 25 schools in its first year and 1,000 students and 50 schools in its second. In 2015, the state legislature lifted the cap on participating schools and students, but limited student participation to a percentage of district enrollment—currently 2% for the 2017-18 school year. The cap will gradually increase by 1% each year until it is eliminated in 2026. Wisconsin Act 55 (2015) additionally amended the funding of the WPCP.

“Previously funding had been provided by a state general purpose revenue allocation; Act 55 generates voucher funding for incoming students by deducting the cost of a student’s voucher from the state aid allocated to the school district in which a student resides.

“As a result, the program now shifts millions of dollars from public school districts to private schools. The fiscal impact of the statewide voucher program, however, is not evenly distributed across Wisconsin’s public schools.

“This policy memo describes how the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program alters the relative share of public education spending borne by the state and by local districts and estimates the differential fiscal impact of the program on Wisconsin school districts. The analysis finds that school districts could lose a substantial portion of their state aid as participation in the voucher program grows, and that small districts would be the most negatively affected.

“Currently, participation rates in the statewide program are low and students in some districts lack access to voucher schools. Nevertheless, this analysis finds that the majority of students currently eligible to participate in the program live within range of a voucher school and that, even given low participation rates, the program will have a significant effect on the fiscal support the state provides to local school districts. As more states enact or expand their voucher programs, the case of Wisconsin demonstrates that one-size-fits-all statewide programs have the potential to exacerbate funding disparities in the public system.”

You can read the report here .

The National Education Policy Center reviewed CREDO’s latest report on ranking charter organizations and found it wanting.

CREDO Report Fails to Build Upon Prior Research in Creating Charter School Classification System

Key Review Takeaway: Report overstates its findings, ignores relevant literature, and fails to address known methodological issues, suggesting an agenda other than sound policymaking.

NEPC Review: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-CMOs

Report Reviewed: https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CMO FINAL.pdf

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Gary Miron: (269) 599-7965, gary.miron@wmich.edu

Learn More:

NEPC Resources on Charter Management Organizations

BOULDER, CO (September 7, 2017) – Charter Management Organizations 2017, written by James Woodworth, Margaret Raymond, Chunping Han, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, and released by Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), assessed the impact of different types of charter school-operating organizations on student outcomes in 24 states, plus New York City and Washington, D.C. The study finds that students in charter schools display slightly greater gains in performance than their peers in traditional public schools, especially students in charter schools operated by certain types of organizations.

Gary Miron and Christopher Shank of Western Michigan University reviewed the report and found CREDO’s distinctions between organization types to be arbitrary and unsupported by other research in the field. This raises concerns about the practical utility of the CREDO findings.

In addition, Miron and Shank contend that CREDO researchers made several dubious methodological decisions that threaten the validity of the study. A number of these problems have been raised in reviews of prior CREDO studies. Specifically, CREDO studies have been criticized for:

Over-interpreting small effect sizes;

Failing to justify the statistical assumptions underlying the group comparisons made;

Not taking into account or acknowledging the large body of charter school research beyond CREDO’s own work;

Ignoring the limitations inherent in the research approach they have taken, or at least failing to clearly communicate limitations to readers.

These problems have not only gone unaddressed in Charter Management Organizations 2017, but have been compounded by the CREDO researchers’ confusing and illogical charter organization classification system. As a result, the reviewers conclude that the report is of limited value. Policymakers should interpret the report’s general findings about charter school effectiveness with extreme caution, but might find CREDO’s work useful as a tool to understand how specific charter school management organizations perform relative to their peers.

Find the review, by Gary Miron and Christopher Shank, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-CMOs

Find Charter Management Organizations 2017, by James Woodworth, Margaret Raymond, Chunping Han, Yohannes Negassi, W. Payton Richardson, and Will Snow, published by CREDO, at:
https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CMO FINAL.pdf

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

The National Education Policy Center has released new research on virtual charter schools that shows variation among those in different states, though all have poor academic results:

Key Takeaway: Case studies from the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute suggest that policymakers should prioritize understanding and improving virtual school performance before permitting further growth

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/8721

Contact:
NEPC: William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
MVLRI Report – Research: Michael K. Barbour: (203) 997-6330, mkbarbour@gmail.com
MVLRI Report – Performance: Gary Miron: (269) 599-7965, gary.miron@wmich.edu
MVLRI Report – Policy: Luis Huerta: (212) 678-4199, huerta@tc.columbia.edu

BOULDER, CO (June 27, 2017) – Over the past five years, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) has produced an annual report called Virtual Schools in the U.S.: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence. These reports provide an impartial analysis of the evolution of full-time, publicly funded K-12 virtual and blended schools by examining the policy issues raised by available evidence. They also assess the research evidence that bears on K-12 virtual teaching and learning, and they analyze the growth and performance of such virtual and blended schools.

Building on the April release of the Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017 report, the lead researchers have engaged with the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) to use the data set to undertake a more in-depth analysis of five states: Ohio, Wisconsin, Idaho, Washington, and Michigan. The MVLRI published that work today.

These case studies describe the enrollment, characteristics, and performance of virtual and blended schools in each state over the previous year. They also examine the research related to the virtual and blended school characteristics and outcomes, as well as the legislative activities. And they consider the legislation and policies that have been introduced (and enacted) over the past two years.

Based on a national data set, the April NEPC Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017 report included two key findings: (1) that the growth of full-time virtual schools was fueled, in part, by policies expanding school choice, and (2) that this growth is seen most among the for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) that dominate this sector. All five states follow these national trends. Also, and again consistent with national trends, students that attend the virtual schools in these five states tended to perform quite poorly compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

At the same time, these case studies revealed that the enrollment demographics in each of these states did vary from the national trends. For example, Ohio and Michigan brick-and-mortar schools and virtual schools enrolled similar proportions of White students and students of color (bucking the national trend which found that the majority of students attending virtual charter schools were White), while Idaho and Michigan enrolled higher proportions of free and reduced lunch students (which was the opposite to the national average). Another distinction highlighted by the case studies is that one of the states – Michigan – has seen considerable research into the actual practice of K-12 online learning, and this evidence-based approach appears to be paying off for the Michigan Virtual School.

Find Virtual Schools in the U.S.: Case Studies of Policy, Performance, and Research Evidence, by Michael K. Barbour, Luis Huerta, and Gary Miron, at:

Click to access VSCase-17.pdf

This report was published and funded by the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute: https://mvlri.org/

We can always count on researchers at the National Education Policy Center to review reports issued by think tanks and advocacy groups, some of which are the same.

This review analyzes claims about Milwaukee’s voucher schools. It is funny to describe them as successful, since Milwaukee is really the poster city for the failure of school choice. It has had vouchers and charters since 1990 and is near the very bottom of the NAEP tests for urban districts, barely ahead of sad Detroit, another city afflicted by charters. Both cities demonstrate that school choice does not fix the problems of urban education or urban students and families.

Find Documents:

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/8612
NEPC Review: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-milwaukee-vouchers
Report Reviewed: http://www.will-law.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/apples.pdf

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Benjamin Shear: (303) 492-8583, benjamin.shear@colorado.edu

Learn More:

NEPC Resources on Accountability and Testing
NEPC Resources on Charter Schools
NEPC Resources on School Choice
NEPC Resources on Vouchers

BOULDER, CO (April 25, 2017) – A recent report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty attempts to compare student test score performance for the 2015-16 school year across Wisconsin’s public schools, charter schools, and private schools participating in one of the state’s voucher programs. Though it highlights important patterns in student test score performance, the report’s limited analyses fail to provide answers as to the relative effectiveness of school choice policies.

Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin was reviewed by Benjamin Shear of the University of Colorado Boulder.

Comparing a single year’s test scores across school sectors that serve different student populations is inherently problematic. One fundamental problem of isolating variations in scores that might be attributed to school differences is that the analyses must adequately control for dissimilar student characteristics among those enrolled in the different schools. The report uses linear regression models that use school-level characteristics to attempt to adjust for these differences and make what the authors claim are “apples to apples” comparisons. Based on these analyses, the report concludes that choice and charter schools in Wisconsin are more effective than traditional public schools.

Unfortunately, the limited nature of available data undermines any such causal conclusions. The inadequate and small number of school-level variables included in the regression models are not able to control for important confounding variables, most notably prior student achievement. Further, the use of aggregate percent-proficient metrics masks variation in performance across grade levels and makes the results sensitive to the (arbitrary) location of the proficiency cut scores. The report’s description of methods and results also includes some troubling inconsistencies. For example the report attempts to use a methodology known as “fixed effects” to analyze test score data in districts outside Milwaukee, but such a methodology is not possible with the data described in the report.

Thus, concludes Professor Shear, while the report does present important descriptive statistics about test score performance in Wisconsin, it wrongly claims to provide answers for those interested in determining which schools or school choice policies in Wisconsin are most effective.

Find the review by Benjamin Shear at:

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-milwaukee-vouchers

Find Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, by Will Flanders, published by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, at:

http://www.will-law.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/apples.pdf

Despite the significant research demonstrating the failure of cyber charters, they continue to expand, according to a new study by the National Education Policy Center.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was an investor in the worst of the cyber charter chains, the for-profit K12 Inc. started by Michael and Lowell Milken and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It is not clear whether she divested. She has said she will encourage the growth of cybercharters, because any choice made by parents (she believes) is best for children.

Check out the NEPC report:

Find Documents:
Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/8564

NEPC Publication: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2017

Contact:
NEPC: William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Virtual School Performance: Gary Miron: (269) 599-7965, gary.miron@wmich.edu
Virtual School Research Base: Michael Barbour: (203) 997-6330, mkbarbour@gmail.com
Virtual School Policy: Luis Huerta: (212) 678-4199, huerta@tc.columbia.edu
Virtual School Policy: Jennifer King Rice: (301) 405-5580, jkr@umd.edu

More NEPC Resources on Virtual Education

BOULDER, CO (April 11, 2017) – Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017, a three-part report released today by the National Education Policy Center, provides a detailed inventory of full-time virtual schools in the U.S. and their performance, an exhaustive review of the literature on virtual education and its implications for virtual school practices, and a detailed review and analysis of state-level policymaking related to virtual schools.

The growth of full-time virtual schools is fueled, in part, by policies that expand school choice and that provide market incentives attractive to for-profit companies. Indeed, large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) now dominate this sector and are increasing their market share.

Although virtual schools benefit from the common but largely unsupported assumption that the approach is cost-effective and educationally superior to brick and mortar schools, there are numerous problems associated with virtual schools. School performance measures, for both full-time entirely virtual and full-time blended virtual schools, suggest that they are not as successful as traditional public schools.

The virtual education research base is not adequate to support many current virtual school practices. More than twenty years after the first virtual schools began, there continues to be a deficit of empirical, longitudinal research to guide the practice and policy of virtual schooling.

State policymaking in several key areas – such as accountability, teacher preparation, and school governance – continues to lag.

An analysis of state policies suggests that policymakers continue to struggle to reconcile traditional funding structures, governance and accountability systems, instructional quality, and staffing demands with the unique organizational models and instructional methods associated with virtual schooling. Accountability challenges linked to virtual schools include designing and implementing governance structures capable of accounting for expenditures and practices that directly benefit students.

The report’s policy recommendations include:

The specification and enforcement of sanctions for virtual schools and blended schools if they fail to improve student performance.
The creation of long-term programs to support independent research on and evaluation of virtual schooling, particularly full-time virtual schooling.
The development of new funding formulas based on the actual costs of operating virtual schools.

Find Virtual Schools Report 2017, Alex Molnar, Editor, on the web at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2017

Christopher Lubienski reviews two recent voucher studies on behalf of the National Education Policy Center in this post. (The post summarizes the findings and contains links to Lubienski’s report.)

The two studies under review purport to show the success of vouchers. One was prepared by the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, whose role is to cheerlead for vouchers. The other comes from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Lubienski concludes that neither proves the success of vouchers.

Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center, which had been one of the most respected critics of corporate education reform, has announced its intention to cross over and join the reformers! This is terrible news for all those who counted on its ability to marshall first-rate scholars to debunk the claims and hoaxes of the “reform” movement.

Welner says that he is to doing it for the money. The big money, he claims, is with parents and teachers, not hedge fund managers or the Walton or Gates or Broad Foundations.

To quote the press release:

BOULDER, CO (April 1, 2015) – The National Education Policy Center today announced that it is changing its mission statement and renouncing the pursuit of strong, equitable public schools.

NEPC director Kevin Welner admitted that the whole enterprise had been a ruse, and that he and his colleagues were really only in it for the money and for the elation of constant policy victories.

The NEPC’s mission statement has been “to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. … guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.”

Welner announced that the new mission statement would be “to promote policies that have a surface appeal, that are built on the whimsical magic of the free market, and that use schools to facilitate the reproduction of inequalities from generation to generation.” Research evidence, Welner added, would be created whenever necessary to prop up these goals.

“We know that by abandoning our past mission we’ll have to forgo the immense funding advantages that come from caring about high-quality evidence and equity and public schooling. But that was never really us. There comes a time when we must set aside our crass pursuit of financial support and dedicate ourselves to our true ideals. If this means trying to squeeze money from financially strapped hedge fund managers or ‘reform-focused’ foundations with tiny endowments, then that’s just what we will have to do,” said Welner.