Eeek Cyber Charters in PA

Like the idea of value-added assessment? Of cyber charters? Well if you like both then one of the two will be ruined for you in a single post!

I am not an advocate of either value-added assessment or cyber charters  (in the lukewarm to concerned camp on both), but do think it is worthwhile to look and share some data. Thanks Ed Fuller here at Penn State for the picture.Cyber charter AGI 2015.jpg

NEPC On Portfolio Approach to Districts

“As policymakers and the courts abandoned desegregation efforts and wealth moved from cities to the suburbs, most of the nation’s major cities developed communities of concentrated poverty, and policymakers gave the school districts serving those cities the task of overcoming the opportunity gaps created by that poverty. Moreover, districts were asked to do this with greatly inadequate funding. The nation’s highest poverty school districts receive ten percent lower funding per student while districts serving children of color receive 15 percent less.

“This approach, of relying on under-resourced urban districts to remedy larger societal inequities, has consistently failed. In response, equity-focused reformers have called for a comprehensive redirection of policy and a serious attempt to address concentrated poverty as a vital companion to school reform. But this would require a major and sustained investment.

“Avoiding such a commitment, a different approach has therefore been offered: change the governance structure of urban school districts. Proposals such as ‘mayoral control,’ ‘portfolio districts,’ and ‘recovery’ districts (also referred to as ‘takeover’ or ‘achievement’ districts) all fit within this line of attack. These districts are often run by a governor or mayoral-appointed authority, with locally elected board members stripped of power. Such dramatic governance shifts are often couched as responding to fiscal or other immediate crises, thus requiring the tossing aside of state laws and union contracts.”

Read the rest here:

Our New Article on Opt-Out

This was a little bit of a side project that Dana Mitra, Mark Hlavacik, and I did during the past year and a half. It was finally published today!


Opting Out: Parents Creating Contested Spaces to Challenge Standardized Tests
Dana Mitra, Bryan Mann, Mark Hlavacik


We explore how the opt-out movement has responded to the combination of a stringent federal policy with weak and often variable implementation among the states. Gaps between federal expectations and states’ understandings of just how to make NCLB’s demands a reality have created policy ambiguity. Parents who oppose standardized testing have recognized the resulting tensions and oversights in state education systems as a policy vacuum rife with opportunities for resistance. We examine how parents have exploited policy ambiguity through creating contested spaces—places of agency in stringent policy environments in which grassroots can question policy authority and take action. We conclude by considering whether these contested spaces are sustainable and whether the policy outcomes generated in contested spaces are reasonably equitable.


parent participation; accountability; state policy; ambiguity (context); policy analysis; standardized tests


Read here: