University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Posts Tagged ‘OEP Weekly Links (OWL)’

January 21, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

The OWL is snowed in this week, but look for us to post a new Policy Brief either on Friday or Monday highlighting Arkansas rankings in Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report. It has been widely reported recently that overall, Arkansas is earning a grade of B- (as compared to the C earned by the U.S.). Our report breaks down each graded section to provide further detail regarding how our education system measures up to the standards set by Quality Counts.

Across Arkansas this week, Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education, Tom Kimbrell, is in Helsinki, Finland where he and a group of American Professionals are checking out the high performing Finnish education system. Dr. Kimbrell was invited to attend this meeting by ASCD, formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. You can keep up with Dr. Kimbrell and his fellow educators by following their live blog from Helsinki.

Last week, Dr. Kimbrell and the Arkansas State Board of Education were busy approving two new charter schools at the monthly State Board meeting…meanwhile; the Pulaski County School District has set community meeting to discuss a proposal to close or consolidate some schools in the district.

In national news, all this talk in the news about the waves the U.S. Congress is planning to make must have stirred the White House up. Education Week is reporting that the White House is planning a fresh start on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (commonly known as No Child Left Behind). Details are supposedly going to be mentioned in the State of the Union Address next week.

Lawmaking at the state-level gets interesting in Florida where a State Legislator introduced a bill that would require elementary school teachers to evaluate parents based on “the quality” if their involvement in their children’s schools.

Northward, in Detroit, at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, teachers are stepping up and gradually assuming administrative duties and roles to become the city’s first teacher-led school.

Finally, a report from the Center for American Progress titled Return on Educational Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity – a yearlong effort to study the efficiency of the nation’s public education system – was released this week. The report includes the first-ever attempt to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district in the country. Some of the findings include:

  • Many school districts could boost student achievement without increasing spending if they used their money more productively.
  • Low productivity costs the nation’s school system as much as $175 billion a year.
  • Without controls on how additional school dollars are spent, more education spending will not automatically improve student outcomes.

There are more interesting findings, which you can view by clicking here. Let us know what you think!

Stay tuned for our next update on the State Legislature’s progress on relevant education bills being heard in the current session.

January 12, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on January 11, 2011 at 3:20 am

Across Arkansas this week, educators are reacting to the Quality Counts report released by Education Week. Quality Counts assigns a grade to each state based on performance in six broad sub-categories. Arkansas’ overall grade held steady from the Quality Counts 2010 report, earning a B- (81.4%), which is above the C (76.3%) grade earned by the nation. Stay tuned for a detailed Policy Brief coming from our office, similar to the brief we released last year, which breaks down Arkansas’ grades in each of the featured sub-categories.

The three large Pulaski County districts have seen a bit of turmoil this week. For example, supporters of Little Rock School District Superintendent Linda Watson are talking about potentially staging a walk-out as a demonstration of protest for Watson’s recent ousting by the School Board, and Charles Hobson, the Superintendent of Pulaski County Special School District reflects on a tumultuous six months as the school district head.

In national news, a New York judge ruled on Monday that the NYC Department of Education’s ratings for 12,000 teachers must be released to the public. This looks like something we saw in 2010 when the LA Times released the value-added scores of teachers amid a great deal of pomp and circumstance.

And if you are interested in looking at the public records lying around in your own state, the ADE release the Teacher Salary Schedule Analysis for School Year 2010-11 this week. The non-weighted state average for a newbie teacher is $31,592. Teachers in Arkansas top out on average at about $48,710.

Finally, we learned that Michelle Rhee has released a plan to fix the public education system. Her policy agenda is a pretty thick document (about 20 pages long), but Ms. Rhee boils her plans down to three categories: 1) Elevate the teaching profession by valuing teachers’ impact on students; 2) Empower parents with real choices and real information; 3) Spend taxpayer resources wisely to get results for students.

Interesting links this week, what do you think: can Michelle Rhee save education? Is her policy agenda appropriate? Should we create value-added scores of teachers? Are Arkansas teachers paid sufficiently? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment.