NEWSLETTERS
The Education Innovator #43
Volume II
Archived Information


The Education Innovator
 November 15, 2004 • Number 43
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Feature
San Diego Business Roundtable for Education Charter Schools Accountability Tools
What's New
The U.S. Department of Education revamps the "Choices for Parents" webpage; Secretary Paige addresses winners of the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award; OII co-sponsors a one-day education summit for parent advocates with the New York State Education Department and EPIC; OII hosts a workshop for district leaders to help them implement public school choice; grant competitions for the Advanced Placement Test Fee and Incentive Programs announced; the National Association of Charter School Authorizers holds its annual national conference in Philadelphia; new "High School Choice" website helps Boston's eighth graders decide which public high school is right for them; research study supports the link between parent involvement and academic achievement in high poverty elementary schools; and the Education Leaders Council sponsors session on supplemental educational services.
Innovations in the News
Baltimore is becoming a trailblazer in Maryland with the conditional approval of three new charter schools along with the conversion of seven existing public schools to charters, plus information on charter schools, choice, school leadership, and school report cards.

San Diego Tosses Charter Schools a Rope as They "Swim" in Data
Graphs, charts, and tables are usually seen in math class in most schools. However, some San Diego charter schools, in keeping with the accountability and results-based principles of No Child Left Behind, have taken the initiative to incorporate data collection and analysis in their ongoing improvement process. As a result, teachers and administrators can be seen pouring over charts, tables, and other data-analysis tools on a regular basis.

Thanks to the San Diego Business Roundtable for Education, school officials at 15 charter schools (several of which were organized by the Roundtable over the last decade) are learning how to use data-based inquiry, develop "robust but parent-friendly" school accountability report cards, and promote communication, collaboration, and continuous improvement. This is all aimed at finding ways to improve academic achievement and hold schools accountable for doing so.

The Roundtable developed the "Data Analysis and Accountability Plan," which is supported by a grant from the Girard Foundation, a La Jolla-based organization that supports education reform. The plan focuses on teaching school leaders how to analyze and synthesize data and build an accountability-oriented school culture within each school.

The data-analysis support program is currently in its third year. The first year focused on research—identifying essential questions, finding gaps in existing assessment models, and determining what data were presently being used to guide decision-making.

This year, the project is focusing on solidifying a school-wide accountability culture and using data to plan improvements in school performance. Ginger Hovenic, President and CEO of the San Diego Business Roundtable for Education, says, "by the end of this school year, the charters will have established a complete process with the tools and staff capacity to measure and understand data about their schools, so that planning, based on evidence, can take place." As the schools become stronger data-driven organizations, the Roundtable hopes that the impact on student achievement will be readily apparent.

The inter-school connection among the 15 participating schools is especially important in this process. Currently, the schools meet three times a year to collaborate. During these sessions, outside consultants also investigate the schools' data analysis programs.

While the San Diego Business Roundtable is the organization responsible for maintaining the rules and logistics of the data-analysis systems, the schools themselves are developing their personal methods of data-collection and analysis. The process involves teachers from the participating schools, the administrators, and outside consultants.

Since the data-analysis program is still in its final year, its creators are hesitant to directly link current performance results to the data-analysis practices. However, they are confident that the accountability the program demands will prompt schools to make improvements in all of the necessary places, which will directly translate into improved student achievement.

The de-centralized, but collaborative effort of the charter schools in San Diego County in partnership with the San Diego Business Roundtable could be a benchmark for accountability efforts in other communities.

The Office of Innovation and Improvement funds several San Diego charter schools through the Charter Schools Program.

Resources:
  • San Diego Business Roundtable for Education
  • San Diego Business Roundtable Charter Schools
  • Charter Schools Program
  • School Report Cards download files MS Word (893K)
Note: The featured project is an example of one educational accountability approach and is described to help schools implement the provisions of No Child Left Behind. The project is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the project may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.

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What's New

From the U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education has revamped the "Choices for Parents" webpage under No Child Left Behind on the Department's website, with added information and resources. (Nov. 10)

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige recently addressed winners of the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The 300 schools were recognized as schools with a high percentage of disadvantaged students who are making dramatic improvements on state assessments, schools whose students score in the top 10 percent on state tests, or private schools that perform in the top 10 percent of schools nationally. (Nov. 5) (See also Keystone Elementary School in Innovations in the News.)

From OII
OII co-sponsored a one-day education summit for parent advocates, "Working Together to Make No Child Left Behind a Reality." The New York State Education Department and Every Person Influences Children (EPIC), an OII-supported Parent Information and Resource Center, were also co-sponsors. The purpose of the conference was to help parent advocates help New York City families, schools, and communities understand the implications of No Child Left Behind and such provisions as supplemental educational services and public school choice. (Nov. 13)

Last week, OII sponsored a workshop for district leaders to help them implement the public school choice provisions of No Child Left Behind. Attendees learned how to put into practice some of the key success factors in the Innovations in Education guides: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs and Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs. (Nov. 9)

Funding Opportunities
The grant competitions for the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program and the Advanced Placement Incentive Program have been announced. The deadline for the Notice of Intent to Apply for the Test Fee Program is December 1, 2004, and the deadline for Transmittal of Applications is December 13, 2004. The deadline for the Notice of Intent to Apply for the Incentive Program is December 15, 2004, and the deadline for Transmittal of Applications is January 5, 2005. (Nov. 12)

Charter Schools
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) held its annual national conference in Philadelphia. The conference featured discussions about issues facing charter schools, and participants included authorizers, researchers, policy experts, and education professionals. (Oct. 25, 26)

Choice
WGBH Eye on Education's new "High School Choice" website helps Boston's eighth graders decide which public high school is right for them. The site guides visitors through the selection process, highlights facts to consider, and provides side-by-side school comparisons. (Oct. 18)

Parental Involvement
Research by Sam Redding et al, conducted for the Academic Development Institute (which houses two Parental Information and Resource Centers funded by OII), is featured by the Harvard Family Research Project. The study supports the link between parent involvement and academic achievement in high poverty elementary schools. (Nov. 2004)

Supplemental Educational Services
The Education Leaders Council is sponsoring a session to help state and local education officials responsible for the supplemental educational services under No Child Left Behind. The session will take place on December 4, during the second day of the two-day conference, in Orlando, FL. (Nov. 10)

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Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Baltimore is becoming a trailblazer in Maryland's budding charter school movement with the conditional approval of three new charter schools, along with the conversion of seven existing public schools to charters. These will be the first charters approved under Maryland's two-year-old state law. [More-Baltimore Sun] (Nov. 9)

An OII charter schools grant to Wisconsin is allowing Appleton, which currently has 10 charter schools, to expand its public school options. [More-Post-Crescent] (Nov. 9)

At Wyoming's first Schools of Choice conference, Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship called on Wyoming residents to support charter schools, saying they offer a solution to the state's high dropout rate. [More-Billings Gazette] (Nov. 8)

New Hampshire State Representative J.B. Hunt (R-Rindge) will introduce a bill in January to request $1 million in funding for the handful of charter schools operating in the state and those in the planning stages. [More-Portsmouth Herald] (Nov. 7)

Choice
School choice advocates in the Utah state legislature are eager to enact tax credits for students to attend private schools, based on, among other sources, Utah State University research that concluded tax credits will save public schools millions of dollars. [More-Salt Lake Tribune] (Nov. 11)

Belmont High School in Belmont, MA, will host a "Belmont Idol 2004" competition to help fund scholarship opportunities for School Choice seniors, as well as student activities throughout the year for the over 50 students who have chosen to attend Belmont High through the school choice program. [More-Belmont Citizen Herald] (Nov. 12)

Schools in the optional schools (also known as "school choice") program in Memphis have success stories to tell. For example, Keystone Elementary, an "optional school" since 1991, was named a 2004 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Nearly all of the 11,300 students in the Memphis choice program got their pick this year, and on November 14, the district held a school fair, spotlighting the 31 schools in the program. [More-Memphis Flyer] (Nov. 4)

School Leadership
Philadelphia schools managed by private or nonprofit organizations are showing gains on standardized tests. For example, the 20 schools in Philadelphia that are managed by Edison Schools Inc. averaged a gain of 10 percentage points of students scoring proficient or above on state tests of math and reading. Additionally, 23 other schools managed by educational management organizations made adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind—from 7 last year. Recently, OII co-hosted a conference entitled, "Innovations in Education: Building a Public-Private Partnership Model for K-12 Reform," with the Philadelphia School District and Drexel University. [More-Washington Post] (Nov. 9)

School Report Cards
A television station in mid-Michigan explains school report cards and the meaning of "Adequate Yearly Progress." [More-WLNS-TV]

High school report cards issued in Kalamazoo, MI, focus on the academic progress and achievement gaps of minorities, children with disabilities, and other subgroups of students. Business leaders say this is necessary because, "You can't cure a problem unless you identify it." School officials also see school report cards as a challenge, but "a good thing." As one superintendent said, "they put the bar higher, then it will become progressively more difficult. Our task is to keep leaping more and more over that bar." [More-Kalamazoo Gazette] (Nov. 5 and 7)

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Last Modified: 10/31/2007