From the CURMUDGUCATION blog: More Ohio Charter Fakery In John Kasich’s Wild West

More Ohio Charter Fakery

Posted: 29 Mar 2016 05:50 PM PDT

We’ve been here before. Back in January of 2015, the Columbus Dispatch reported

that some charter schools in Ohio were reporting on and taking state tax money in payment for students who did not, technically, exist.

John Kasich’s Ohio has been a veritable Wild West of education reform. It’s a great place to open up a charter and close it right back down again

, or to make a truckload of money providing “consulting” services

. Most famously, Ohio is also the state that set aside an entire official government office just to handle faking charter success numbers

in order to make the movement look successful, as well as mounting government moves to simply bushwack a public school system

and rip the “public” right out of it.

So last Friday’s news from the Columbus Dispatch

should come as no surprise.

Turns out that an Akron cyber-charter has some ‘splainin’ to do about student “attendance.”

Cyber-charter attendance, like cyber-charter homework and cyber-charter test-taking, is a nebulous thing that is not always super-clear. But the Akron Digital Academy had some problems that were plenty clear. For one, they gave students excused absences for weeks so that those students could work at jobs. Turns out “wanted to go work instead” is not recognized as a legit reason to play hooky. They also seem to have trouble counting the exact number of students with special needs (the ones for whom they get more money).

This comes on the heels of reports of yet another cyber-charter that scored almost a million extra dollars

by counting students that it had no right to count.

There are students who are well served by cyber charters. But as the cyber charter industry has “matured,” it has enjoyed more and more success by marketing itself as school for students who don’t really want to go to school. It’s only natural that such a market would appreciate a school that wasn’t too strict on that whole attendance thing.

Add to this the research showing that cyber charters are bad, so very very bad,that even the biggest defenders and fans of the charter industry will no longer stand up for them

and one wonders why any state allows them to operate at all outside of very strict and specific strictures. The need to clamp down on cyber charters should be obvious even in a state like Ohio, no matter how many invisible students they serve.

 

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: More Ohio Charter Fakery

Documenting common reforms strategies using the “Portfolio” approach provides little promise of meaningful benefits for school districts

BOULDER, CO (March 29, 2016) – A new but widespread policy approach called “portfolio districts” shifts decision-making away from district superintendents and other central-office leaders. This approach is being used in more than three dozen large districts, including New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Denver.

But the policy’s expansion is not being driven by evidence of success.

In a new brief released today, The “Portfolio” Approach to School District Governance, William Mathis and Kevin Welner explain that changes in governance involve complex trade-offs and that there exists a very limited body of generally accepted research about the effects of portfolio district reform.

But research evidence does exist concerning the four primary reform strategies that provide the foundation for portfolio districts:

school-level decentralization of management;

the reconstitution or closing of “failing” schools;

the expansion of choice, primarily through charter schools;

and performance-based (generally test-based) accountability.

The research into these strategies gives reason to pause— it provides little promise of meaningful benefits.

In the end, student outcomes in under-resourced communities will continue—absent serious policy interventions—to be driven by larger societal inequities, including structural racism and denied opportunities related to poverty.

While best practices in schools can mitigate some of this harm, the evidence indicates that simply imposing a changed governance approach will do little to overcome these core problems. In fact, Mathis warns, “the focus on governmental structural changes is a false promise, distracting from real needs and deferring needed efforts to address true inequities.”Mathis and Welner explain that instead of changing the governance structure of urban school districts, equity-focused reformers call for a strong and comprehensive redirection of policy to address concentrated poverty.

They nevertheless conclude that this equity-focused approach can be undertaken in a more decentralized, portfolio-based structure—should a community wish to take its district in that direction. The starting point of such a reform would be a restricting of authority, but a research-based model must also include elements that address opportunities to learn.

They offer the following five reforms:Adequate funding provided to our neediest schools,Stable school environments,Meaningful and relevant curriculum and pedagogy,Highly qualified teachers, andPersonalized instruction.Welner is Director and Mathis is Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

This brief is the third in a series of concise publications, Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

Find William Mathis and Kevin Welner’s brief on the NEPC website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/research-based-options

Source: The “Portfolio” Approach to School District Governance | National Education Policy Center