The Common Core is at a critical juncture. While many surveys show that support for the standards themselves remains strong, implementation has not been without major challenges.
The Fordham Institute supports school choice, done right. That means designing voucher and tax-credit policies that provide an array of high-quality education options for kids that are also accountable to parents and taxpayers.
Conducted jointly by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Public Impact, the new research study Searching for Excellence: A Five-City, Cross-State Comparison of Charter School Quality sheds light on charter performance — in Albany, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, and Indianapolis. These cities were highlighted because they have relatively large numbers of charter schools and charter school students. These are cities where charters have been part of the educational landscape for a decade or more. Read this exciting report today!
Rigorous standards and aligned assessments are vital tools for boosting education outcomes but they have little traction without strong accountability systems that attach consequences to performance. This pilot study lays out the essential features of such accountability systems, intended to add oomph to new common standards and aligned assessments.
Will the move toward virtual and “blended learning” schools in American education repeat the mistakes of the charter-school movement, or will it learn from them? The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, with the support of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, has commissioned five deep-thought papers that, together, address the thorniest policy issues surrounding digital learning. The goal is to boost the prospects for successful online learning (both substantively and politically) over the long run. In this first of six papers on digital learning commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Frederick M. Hess explores the challenges of quality control.
After more than ten years under NCLB, that law’s legacy continues to be fiercely contested. This analysis of NAEP scores—focusing on Texas and on the entire nation—by former NCES commissioner Mark Schneider finds that solid gains in math achievement coincided with the advent of "consequential accountability," first in the trailblazing Lone Star State and a few other pioneer states, then across the land with the implementation of NCLB. But Schneider warns that the recent plateau in Texas math scores may foreshadow a coming stagnation in the country’s performance. Has the testing-and-accountability movement as we know it run out of steam? How else might we rekindle our nation’s education progress?
Political leaders hope to act soon to renew and fix the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind). In this important paper, Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Executive Vice President Michael J. Petrilli identify 10 big issues that must be resolved in order to get a bill across the finish line, and explore the major options under consideration for each one. Should states be required to adopt academic standards tied to college and career readiness? Should the new law provide greater flexibility to states and districts? These are just a few of the areas discussed. Finn and Petrilli also present their own bold yet "reform realist" solutions for ESEA. Read on to learn more.
The latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) garnered all the usual headlines about America's lackluster performance and the rise of competitor nations. And to be sure, the findings that America's 15-year-olds perform in the middle of the pack in both reading and math are disconcerting for a nation that considers itself an international leader, priding itself on its home-grown innovation, intellect, and opportunity. But that's not the entire story. Read on to learn more.
This study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute finds that low-performing public schools—both charter and traditional district schools—are stubbornly resistant to significant change. After identifying more than 2,000 low-performing charter and district schools across ten states, analyst David Stuit tracked them from 2003-04 through 2008-09 to determine how many were turned around, shut down, or remained low-performing. Results were generally dismal. Seventy-two percent of the original low-performing charters remained in operation—and remained low-performing-five years later. So did 80 percent of district schools. Read on to learn more.
Each year the Thomas B. Fordham Institute conducts an analysis of urban school performance in Ohio. We found that in 2009-10, 26 percent of public school students (district and charter) in Ohio's Big 8 urban communities attended a school rated A or B by the state, 28 percent attend a C-rated school, and 47 percent attended a school rated D or F.
As a charter school sponsor (authorizer), Fordham submits an accountability report to the Ohio Department of Education at the end of November each year. The report includes profiles of each Fordham-sponsored school, as well as graphics comparing the achievement data of our schools, their home districts, and statewide averages. You'll also find pertinent information on Ohio charter school spending over the last decade, and in the introduction, a timely analysis of the political and legislative environment impacting Ohio charters in 2008-09 that explains why the title, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is befitting.
When Private Schools Take Public Dollars: What's the Place of Accountability in School Voucher Programs?Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn, Jr., Christina Hentges, Amber M. Northern, Ph.D.
Voucher opponents often argue that it's unfair to hold public schools accountable for results under the No Child Left Behind Act and various state rules while allowing private schools that participate in school voucher programs to receive taxpayer dollars without similar accountability. In pursuit of a reasonable middle ground, we sought the advice of twenty experts in the school-choice world. This paper presents their thoughts and opinions, as well as Fordham's own ideas.
In this study of the No Child Left Behind Act system and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) rules for 28 states, we selected 36 real schools that vary by size, achievement, diversity, etc. and determined which ones would or would not make AYP when evaluated under each state's accountability rules. If a school that made AYP in Washington were relocated to Ohio, would it still make AYP?
This yearly report covers Fordham's sponsorship practices throughout the year as well as newsworthy events related to our sponsored charter schools. You can also find detailed reports on all of Fordham-sponsored schools. Each school report contains information on the school's academic performance, educational philosophy, and compliance for the 2007-2008 school year.
This report has a simple aim: to present results from international assessments so readers can judge for themselves how American students stack up globally. It shows how the U.S. has performed internationally in education in recent years, and it provides a glimpse of how education looks in several top-performing nations.
NCLB allows each state to define proficiency as it sees fit and design its own tests. This study compares state tests to benchmarks laid out by the Northwest Evaluation Association to evaluate proficiency cut scores for assessments in twenty-six states. The findings suggest that the tests states use to measure academic progress and student proficiency under NCLB are creating a false impression of success, especially in reading and especially in the early grades.
January 8, 2007, was the fifth birthday of the No Child Left Behind Act. This isn't just another milestone to be celebrated (or mourned). The law is now due for an update from Congress. But will NCLB be reauthorized on schedule? What changes are likely? No one knows for sure, but the ubiquitous 'Washington insiders' might be in a better position than others to cast prognostications. While not a 'representative sample' of thousands, their inside knowledge adds valuable insight.
For information on Fordham's unique role as a charter school sponsor in Ohio, there's no better source than The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Sponsorship Accountability Report 2005-06. The report offers a comprehensive account of Fordham's sponsorship policies and practices-as well as individual profiles of all Fordham-sponsored schools. Included in the profiles are descriptions of each school's educational program, school philosophy, and overall academic performance based on state achievement data.
The Fordham Report 2006: How Well Are States Educating Our Neediest Children? appraises each state according to thirty indicators across three major categories: student achievement for low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students; achievement trends for these same groups over the last 10-15 years; and the state's track record in implementing bold education reforms. It finds that just eight states can claim even moderate success over the past 15 years at boosting the percentage of their poor or minority students who are at or above proficient in reading, math or science.
To Dream the Impossible Dream: Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America's SchoolsMichael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Education policy leaders from across the political spectrum flesh out and evaluate several forms that national standards and testing could take.
American middle schools have become the places "where academic achievement goes to die." So says Cheri Yecke, K-12 Education Chancellor of Florida and author of the new Fordham report Mayhem in the Middle: How middle schools have failed America, and how to make them work. Today's middle schools have succumbed to a concept of "middle schoolism" in which a strong academic curriculum is traded for one that focuses more on emotional and social development, and less on learning the basics. And the achievement data reflects "middle schoolism's" results. In 1999, U.S. eighth graders scored nine points below average on the TIMSS assessment of math. What's more, these same eighth graders had outperformed the average by 28 points as fourth graders in 1995! According to Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr., "Trying to fix high schools while ignoring middle schools is like bandaging a wound before treating it for infection."
The standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Excellence (NCATE) are of critical import for America's future teaching corps and will wield disproportionate influence for decades to come. Over the past fifteen years, 25 states have outsourced the approval of teacher preparation programs to NCATE by adopting or adapting its standards as their own; the other 25 have various 'partnerships' with the organization. Which makes it all the more disturbing that central to these standards is the call for teachers to possess certain 'dispositions' such as particular attitudes toward 'social justice.' As Professor William Damon of Stanford University explains in Fordham's latest Fwd: Arresting Insights in Education, NCATE's framing of the 'dispositions' issue has given education schools 'unbounded power over what candidates may think and do.' This is leading to (understandable) charges of ideological arm-twisting and Orwellian mind-control.
Co-published by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and AccountabilityWorks, with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, this report looks at six elements of K-12 accountability systems in 30 different states. Each state is rated on standards, test content, alignment of tests to standards, test rigor, testing trustworthiness and openness, and accountability policies. The major conclusion: while some states have the basis of a sophisticated and rigorous accountability system in place, no state has every element of a serious standards-based education reform package in place. And few states are as open to evaluation as they ought to be.
With the passage of the politics-governance Act (NCLB), states have had to adjust their accountability systems to comply with federal law. As a result, in the summer of 2003 Ohio's Governor Taft signed House Bill 3, which dramatically changed the state's assessment system and what it means for charter schools. This report helps charter school leaders coordinate their testing and data reporting procedures to meet state and federal guidelines, in the hope that all students might surpass Ohio's academic expectations.
Will the sanctions for failing schools laid out in the politics-governance Act (NCLB) succeed in turning those schools around? This report draws on the results of previous efforts to overhaul failing schools to provide a glimpse at what may be expected from NCLB-style interventions. The results: no intervention strategy has a success rate greater than 50%, so policymakers are urged to consider additional options for children trapped in failing schools.
Just one month after President Bush signed the politics-governance Act into law, a provocative set of expert papers commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation explores the legislation's key features: it's testing and accountability provisions. The papers identify the questions left unresolved by Congress and the many hurdles facing the U.S. Education Department and states, districts, and schools as they try to make this ambitious law a reality. The papers also offer suggestions for clearing those hurdles.
President Bush campaigned on a strong education-reform platform, promising the American people that for the first time in a long time, commonsense?not special interest groups?would dictate federal education policy. Just before he entered the Oval Office, we handed him a briefing book on steps he could take to help transform the K-12 education system. In this "Memorandum to the President-Elect and the 107th Congress," we explained how the federal government has wasted billions of dollars on ineffective programs and offered suggestions for making continued federal funding matter.
Cizek provides a helpful primer on standardized testing. He identifies key terms, clarifies important distinctions between types of tests, and explains how to interpret (and not to interpret) their scores.
With OECD data, Walberg shows that the United States' educational system is the 'least productive in the developed world.'