University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Posts Tagged ‘Public School’

Keeping the Promise for 10 years: El Dorado celebrates a decade of supporting student scholarships

In The View from the OEP on February 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

Imagine someone promised you a scholarship to any accredited public or private educational institution in the U.S. and the only requirement was to graduate from high school.

A program in El Dorado has been keeping that promise to students for ten years!  And over 2,000 students have furthered their education on the Promise.

promiseThe El Dorado Promise program is a $50 million scholarship program established and funded by the Murphy Oil Corporation in January 2007 and modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise. The program provides every graduate of El Dorado High School who has been enrolled in the El Dorado Public School district since at least ninth grade with up to $40,000 of tuition who has been enrolled in the El Dorado Public School district since at least ninth grade.   Students can use the scholarship to attend any accredited two-year or four-year, public or private educational institution in the U.S.

Last night, Gov. Hutchinson and Claiborne Deming from Murphy Oil Corp joined parents, students, teachers, and school officials to celebrate the Promise’s 10th birthday

Liz Murray, was the keynote speaker and her speech was amazing!.  She was homeless at age 15 and completed her degree at Harvard in 2009.

promise_speaker_002_t311Photo from El Dorado News

Outcomes from the Promise include higher college attendance rates among graduates, increased participation in Advanced Placement courses and increased enrollment in El Dorado Public Schools.  Promise scholars have attend 129 different colleges in 29 states, and many return to El Dorado high school to share their college experiences.  In fact, ten have brought the Promise home and returned to El Dorado to work in the district.

We are excited to see continuing stories about the El Dorado Promise!

 

 

HB1208 and HB1222: More channels for Arkansas students

In AR Legislature, The View from the OEP on January 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

tv

Two bills introduced in the Arkansas state legislature have gotten us thinking about TV, cable, and Netflix.

The first bill, (HB1208), would allow districts to adopt a policy allowing private school or homeschool students to enroll in academic courses at a the public school, and provides funding to the district for each student that does so.

The second bill, The Arkansas Parental Empowerment for Education Choice Act of 2017 (HB1222), would create Education Savings Accounts that parents could use to support non-public schooling options such a private school tuition or curriculum materials for homeschoolers. 

More details about the bills are provided below, but essentially, one bill provides support for public schools that offer part-time academic enrollment to students who are not currently attending public school, and the other provides financial support parents that want a non-public option. The bills move our students closer to learning what they need, when they need, where they need.

And that’s why we were thinking about TV….

When we were growing up there were a few channels on the TV and they were the same for everyone.  Along came the VHS (and the doomed Betamax) and you could rent movies to watch at home and even set up your VCR to record something off of the TV. Then came cable, and (for a price) you could get cool shows on Showtime and HBO.  Soon you could record your shows on devices like TiVo, and pause and fast forward through commercials (which we LOVE)!  Some people got frustrated with the ‘cable packages’ (where you have to pay for lots of channels you will never watch in order to get the one or two you want) and have left cable for on-demand streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu.  The students in our classrooms now likely ONLY stream their content.  These services allow subscribers to watch what they want, when they want, where they want.

There are parallels to learning: In the past there were mainly public schools and private schools.  Additional options have increased in Arkansas and across the country- including virtual, charter, and homeschool options. Now we are getting options to mix and match- public schools are getting the opportunity to allow these students to enroll for a specific class or two and parents who are choosing the non-public options are getting an opportunity to get some financial support for their student’s education.

We look forward to seeing how these bills progress through the session.  We think students benefit from both these bills and don’t see a significant downside.  Famillies and students expect to be able to make choices that best match thier needs. Educational options should provide students opportunities to do the same.


HB1208 would allow districts to adopt a policy allowing private school or homeschool students to enroll in academic courses at a the public school, and provides funding to the district for each student that does so.

What it is: Students who are not attending public school may, if the local public school district agrees, enroll in an academic class at the local public school. Homeschool students are already allowed to participate in interscholastic activities such as sports, fine arts, or clubs.

Districts are not required to allow homeschool or private school students to enroll.  If the district did allow enrollment, the state would pay the district an amount equal to 1/6th of foundation funding for each course in which a homeschool or private school student enrolls. Given that foundation funding for 2016-17 is $6,646, that works out to about $1,100 per class/student annually. Districts can limit the enrollment to certain grade levels or courses, to a certain number of students, and/or set specific admissions criteria.  We like the idea of homeschool students having access to Project Lead the Way courses, AP classes, or any class taught by an outstanding public school teacher.

Who is eligible:   Any district may choose to adopt such policies and any homeschool or private school student may enroll if the local district allows.  There is no enrollment cap included in the legisaltion. In 2015-16, 19,229 students were homeschooled, a population equivalent to about 4% of the public school population.  Homeschool rates (as a percentage of the public school population) ranges from 0% to over 15%.


The Arkansas Parental Empowerment for Education Choice Act of 2017 (HB1222)

What it is: In lieu of attending a public school, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) allow families to allocate funding to non-public schooling options of their choice. The amount equivalent to the foundation funding amount ($6,646 for 2016-17) will be placed in an ESA and the funds can be used to:

  • pay tuition at a private school,
  • purchase curriculum or instructional materials for homeschool studies, 
  • purchase tutoring services, 
  • pay fees for AP examinations, college placement examinations, Industry certification examinations,  
  • pay tuition for after-school or summer programs focused on academic instruction,
  • make contributions to a college savings account,
  • pay tuition or fees at an institution of higher education,
  • pay for specialized services for eligible students (such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, audiology), and/ or
  • pay transportation costs for travel to educational services.

Who is eligible:  The proposed program would allow any child eligible to enroll in a K-12 public school in the state to qualify for the ESA.   Five states that currently have ESA programs:  Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee, have limitations about the types of students who are eligible. Students must be identified with special needs to be eligible in Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  Students in Arizona and Nevada must have previously attended a public school to be eligible.  Arkansas is the first state to propose a fully-universal ESA.

Given maximum funding, approximately 2,000 students could receive an ESA for the 2017-18 school year. This is 0.4% of current public school enrollment.  In the first year, if the number of students applying for an ESA exceeds the funding available, accounts will be offered through a weighted lottery that ensures students receiving Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) are proportionally represented. Statewide, 61% of public school students currently receive FRL so the lottery would be weighted to ensure that 61% of the accounts were allocated to FRL students. If fewer than 61% of applications are from FRL-eligible students, 100% of the FRL students will be selected for an account.

In subsequent years, if the number of students applying for an ESA exceeds the funding available, current users and their siblings are prioritized for ESAs.

Initial analysis of fiscal impacts of the bill indicate it will likely be cost neutral for the state.

Stop Scapegoating: Educating kids should be the focus

In The View from the OEP on January 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

In case you missed it- we wanted to share our Op-Ed from the paper this weekend about charter school enrollment in Little Rock.


 

img_3836The approved expansion of two Little Rock-area charter schools led many to express fears that charter schools skim off the easiest-to-educate students and leave “those other kids” for traditional schools. Specifically, concerns were raised that charters would decrease the white population of Little Rock School District and increase the district’s percentage of poor students.

We at the Office for Education Policy also care about the interactions between public charter schools and traditional public schools and decided to investigate what the data had to say about these questions. We examined student-level enrollment and academic data from the 2008-09 to 2014-15 school years. We tracked annual student moves to understand who leaves the Little Rock district for charters and how those moves impact racial and socioeconomic integration.

We found that students who left the district for charters were typical, both demographically and academically, and their exits increased racial and socioeconomic integration in the district.

As a reminder, charter schools are public schools. Like traditional public schools, there is no cost for students to attend. Unlike traditional public schools, to which students are assigned based on their address, open-enrollment charters are open to any student. Charters are authorized to serve a specific number of students, so students must apply for a seat. If more students want to attend than there are seats, students are selected through a random lottery. Students who are not selected can remain on a wait list. Charter schools cannot select or reject student applications based on demographic or academic characteristics. Charters must administer all state exams and abide by identical accountability requirements.

About 15 percent of students (excluding graduates) leave the Little Rock School District each year for some other schooling option. We were surprised to find that nearly half of these students (7 percent) leave the Arkansas public school system entirely–they move out of state, drop out, or select private or home school settings. Some (6 percent) move to other public school districts; half move nearby to the North Little Rock or Pulaski County districts, and half move to other public schools in the state. Perhaps surprisingly, given all of the attention given to charter transfers, only 2 percent (fewer than one of every seven who leave) of students transfer from the Little Rock district to charter schools each year!

What do we know about these students?

First, the 2 percent of students who transferred into area charters were representative of the district student population as a whole. Students who moved to charters were 64 percent black and 19 percent white, compared to the district population of 67 percent black and 20 percent white. Socioeconomically, 61 percent of students who moved to charters were eligible for free/reduced lunch, while 69 percent of district students participated. Students who left for area charters were not more likely to be white or economically advantaged than the overall district population.

Students who left for area charters performed similarly on state assessments as students who remained. In four of the six years examined, there were no statistically significant differences in scores between students who left for charters and those who remained in the district. However, students who left for charters were average performers in their school in all years examined. This finding refutes the argument that charters poach the best students.

Further, we found that when students exited the district for charters, the schools they left behind became less racially and/or socioeconomically segregated.

Our findings contradict critics’ concern that charters increase racial and socioeconomic segregation. One fact we must acknowledge is that Little Rock district schools are already racially and socioeconomically segregated. Thus, when students exit, they are most often leaving segregated settings. We found that black students who leave tend to exit schools with an above-average percentage of black students, and white students leave schools with an above-average percentage of white students.

Residential segregation in Little Rock, as in many other cities throughout the U.S., results in racial and socioeconomic segregation of residentially assigned public schools. Charter schools allow for students to enroll regardless of ZIP code. Little Rock families who choose to sever the link between where they live and the school that their children attend are countering the racial and socioeconomic segregation of traditional public schools.

Those who are passionate about equity should stop demonizing charters and chasing the false argument that charters cause segregation; instead, we should focus our collective energy on providing an affirming and effective learning environments for all Little Rock public school students–regardless of sector.

A wise school leader once said that “the students don’t care whether the sign outside the school says ‘Charter’ or not.” They simply need effective teachers who care about them and prepare them for the future.

Sarah C. McKenzie is the executive director of the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Elise Swanson is a research assistant at the Office for Education Policy and a distinguished doctoral fellow in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

Editorial on 12/31/2016

http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2016/dec/31/stop-scapegoating-20161231/

 

Rewards and Recognition

In AR Legislature, The View from the OEP on December 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Here at the OEP, we love to see schools get recognized for excellence.  Last Friday, the Arkansas Department of Education announced the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program (read the commissioners memo about the program here).

The ADE rankings of schools are posted on the OEP website here and you can look to see how your school fared in the performance and growth/graduation rankings.

Show me the Money!

The program is offering almost $7 million in reward funds to 158 schools (out of 1,037 schools in the state). Education funding is not often allocated at the school-level by the state, and so this program is unique in distributing funding directly to schools, as opposed to the district-level.

Schools receive $100 per student for being in the top 5% of schools in the state and $50 per student for being in the top 6-10% of schools in the state.

Schools can spend the money on:

  • Non-recurring bonuses to faculty and staff,
  • temporary personnel to assist, maintain and improve student performance, or
  • educational equipment or materials.

A school committee including the principal, a teacher elected by the faculty, and a parent representative (as selected by the PTA or another parental involvement group) determine how the school would like to spend the funds, and the proposal must then be approved by the ADE.

There are two categories of rewards: Performance and Growth/ Graduation.

 Performance Rewards:

  • Performance awards are based on student performance on the 2015-16 state assessments in ELA and Math.

There are 51 schools in the top 5% and 52 schools between 6% and 10%:

  • 76 are elementary schools (14% of the state’s elementary schools),
  • 25 are middle and junior high schools (12%of the state’s middle and junior high schools)
  • 2 are high schools (less than 1% of the state’s high schools – only Haas Hall Fayetteville and Bentonville)

Not surprisingly, the schools rewarded for performance are less poor than the state: only 33% of students in the top 5% performance schools and 45% of students in the top 6-10% receive free-and-reduced lunch, while schools that did not receive a performance reward serve 64% FRL population.

Although there is a relationship between student performance and poverty, there isn’t a strong correlation between performance rank and student poverty.  The figure below shows the relationship between each school’s Performance Rank and % FRL.  The schools in the green box are schools identified for performance rewards as they were ranked above the 90th percentile.  On the far left side of the figure, you can see a school with a performance rank of 99 and 0% FRL.  If you look to the right side of the figure, however, you can see that a school with 80% of students eligible for FRL received a performance rank of 95. This school, College Station Elementary from PCSSD, is an example of a school where students are high performing despite academic risk factors.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-11-23-59-am

 

As can be seen in the figure below, the Northwest and Mentral regions have the highest percentages of performance reward schools (48% and 32% respectively).

perf_legend

performance-state

 

 

Growth/ Graduation Rewards:

  • Growth awards are based on school-level growth in student performance from the 2014-15 to the 2015-16 state assessments in ELA and Math.
  • For high schools, this award is based on the ranking on their 2015 graduation rate.

Growth: There are 35 schools in the top 5% and 40 schools between 6% and 10%:

  • 50 are elementary schools (9% of the state’s elementary schools),
  • 25 are middle or junior high school, in addition to a few small high schools (12% of the state’s middle and junior high schools.

Graduation: There are 15 high schools in the top 5% and 15 schools between 6% and 10% (11% of the state’s high schools).  More than half of these schools are 7-12 schools, and the average enrollment is less than 300 students.

We would expect student growth and graduation to be less correlated to student participation in FRL, and it is a little more diverse, but the schools rewarded for growth and graduation  are still less poor than the state: only 36% of students in the top 5% growth/grad schools and 49% of students in the top 6-10% receive free-and-reduced lunch, while schools that did not receive a growth/grad reward serve 63% FRL population.

The figure below shows the relationship between each school’s Growth Rank and % FRL. High schools with graduation rankings are not included in the figure, to allow better examination of the relationship between poverty and growth. The schools in the green box are schools identified for growth rewards as they were ranked above the 90th percentile.  On the far left side of the figure, you can see a school with a performance rank of 98 and 7% FRL.  If you look to the right side of the figure, however, you can see that a school with 92% of students eligible for FRL received a performance rank of 92. This school, Pine Bluff Lighthouse College Prep, is an example of a school where students are demonstrating high academic growth despite academic risk factors.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-11-23-52-am

 

As can be seen in the figure below, the Northwest and Central regions have the highest percentages of growth/graduation reward schools (43% and 33% respectively).

growth-legend

growth-state

Closing Thoughts:

Hooray!   Congratulations to all the schools who received awards!   We love the use of a student-level growth model to reward schools who are making strong gains with their students but may not yet be achieving the highest levels of performance.  We did find it interesting, however, that there was such overlap between the awards: only 1/4 of the schools who received an award for growth did not also receive an award for performance.

Hmmm…We are concerned that the reward money is flowing only to certain areas of the state as almost no schools in the Southwest or Southeast regions of the state received reward money for performance or growth/ graduation.

We hope that schools who didn’t receive a reward this year examine the data to see which schools that are similar to them DID.  In both the performance and growth graphic, we can see that there are schools with similar FRL % ages performing at very different levels.

We would also be interested in seeing how schools are spending the money and what impact that is having on teachers and students.

We hope you and yours enjoy the holiday and stay tuned for more analysis about student performance and growth!