• Kids Win: Colorado School Board Sets Students and Families Free with Voucher Program
    Douglas County, Colorado school board created a unique, if not unprecedented, voucher program, allowing tax dollars to follow Douglas County students to the school of their choice. Every single school system in America should adopt this model. Sadly, parents who need school choice the most tend to live in troubled urban school districts that fight to keep children trapped within geographic boundaries.
  • Charter Start-ups Are Four Times as Likely to Succeed as District Turnarounds* (Note Big Asterisk)
    An analysis released in today’s Education Gadfly finds that new charter schools in disadvantaged communities are almost four times as likely to reach above-average rates of student achievement as the closest district school. This raises serious questions about the wisdom of the federal government pumping $3 billion into school turnaround efforts instead of using some of the money to replicate and scale up successful charter models. However, the finding comes with several big caveats.
  • Tennessee links teacher evaluations to pay
    Tennessee’s State Board of Education has ratified new rules requiring that student test scores factor in evaluating, paying, and promoting educators. The rules tie 35 percent of teachers’ professional evaluations to their students’ results on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS). Teachers of tested subjects will be rated according to their students’ test score growth, while principals will be judged on school-wide gains. A law Tennessee lawmakers adopted last January requires linking 50 percent of educator evaluations to student growth. Promotion and retention, as well as pay raises and tenured status, will be affected by recorded learning gains.
  • Tennessee law ends social promotion of third-grade students
    Starting next school year, Tennessee third-graders will no longer be allowed to move on to the next grade unless they can demonstrate understanding of the curriculum and basic reading skills. The new state law, approved this month, exempts special education students. It also permits school systems to promote struggling third-graders if they provide them with proven remedial help before the beginning of their fourth-grade school year.
  • TN school districts examine teacher policies
    This summer, more than 30 Tennessee school districts — including Metropolitan Nashville and Rutherford County public schools — will no longer be required to notify their local teachers union when they want to transfer a teacher or change their school calendars. There are already state laws districts have to follow on teacher salaries that can’t be decreased unless a teacher is demoted, he said, and laws already give teachers a duty-free lunch and spell out things such as planning time.
  • Duncan Threatens to Alter No Child Left Behind
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is threatening to use the power of his position to alter key elements of No Child Left Behind if Congress doesn’t renew and upgrade the education law before the next school year begins. Mr. Duncan is promising to waive specific requirements of the law in exchange for states agreeing to adopt other efforts he has championed, such as linking teacher evaluations to student achievement, expanding charter schools and overhauling the lowest-performing schools. Effectively, he’s warning Congress that if it doesn’t overhaul the nine-year-old law, he’ll bypass lawmakers to get his way. Mr. Kline said his committee would pass legislation in small pieces so that members, particularly newly elected ones, can understand it. Mr. Duncan said individual states could apply for waivers and he might approve them in exchange for agreements to embrace other education changes.
  • TN school reform leader Jamie Woodson works to make old foes her allies
    The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, which is better known by its initials, SCORE, has helped set the stage for the efforts over the last two years to remake Tennessee schools. She [Jamie Woodson] wants SCORE to be seen as a major source of independent expertise — a group that can help state and local officials turn the ideas debated in Nashville over the last two years into concrete results.
  • Send Education Dollars and Decision-Making Back Home
    In an interview last week, Duncan expressed frustration at the “slow motion train wreck” that is No Child Left Behind, which is up for re-authorization. But the federal government has neither the authority nor the capacity to achieve local school improvement, as a half-century record shows.
  • Should home-schooled children be welcomed in public-school sports?
    Memphis, Shelby County Schools’ board of education is weighing whether to follow the athletic association’s recommendations and welcome home-schooled athletes. There, some board members have in recent weeks voiced worries about liability issues that could arise when home-schooled children are injured on a public school playing field. Newspaper editorials have followed, with skeptics asking whether children who divested from public schools should reap the benefits of the athletic competition those schools offer.

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