Report Card onAmerican EducationRanking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and ReformDr. Matthew LadnerDave Myslinski
Report Card on American Education:Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform© 2013 American Legislative Exchange...
Table of ContentsAbout the Authors	 vAcknowledgements	 viForeword: Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma	 viiChapter 1 : Refor...
Chapter 4: The Global Achievement Gap........................................................................................
www.alec.org vDR. MATTHEW LADNERDr. Matthew Ladner is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Exc...
vi Report Card on American EducationWe wish to thank the following for making this Report Card on American Education possi...
www.alec.org viiFrom the first day of my administration,education has been a cornerstone of myagenda. Improving our school...
viii Report Card on American EducationFOREWORDtheir state currently stands, and what positivechanges they should consider....
Reform-Minded PolicymakersEnact Large Changes in 2012CHAPTER1
2 Report Card on American EducationDuring the 2011 legislative sessions, anumber of blockbuster reforms wereproduced acros...
www.alec.org 3Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012cause students to drop out, or if the retention itself...
4 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEteacher, count yourself lucky. A great many stu-dents attending dysfunctiona...
www.alec.org 5Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012“Last-in, first-out” (LIFO) policies, however,forbid s...
6 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEThe other option to alternative certification wasnot more traditionally cert...
www.alec.org 7Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012prospective teaching candidates must completerigorous ...
8 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEMathews’ use of the term “bet” proved pre-scient, as Forster then challenged...
www.alec.org 9Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012an ESA-eligible student must sign an agreementwith the...
10 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEIf Jay Mathews still has some money burninga hole in his pocket, we are mor...
www.alec.org 11Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012Charter school opponents often claim thatcharter scho...
12 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEFOUR STATES ADOPT LETTER GRADESFOR SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY IN 2012Few, if any, ...
www.alec.org 13Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012“This,” starts student Matthew Carpenter inWired, “is...
14 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEway. For instance, 85 percent of Stanford’s in-per-son, paying students sto...
www.alec.org 15Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012recent examples of such research are summa-rized here...
16 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONE
Closing Achievement Gaps: SomeStates Jog while Others CrawlCHAPTER2
18 Report Card on American EducationIn 1997, Professor Lawrence Stedman char-acterized the state of academic achieve-ment ...
www.alec.org 19Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlThere will always be differences in academicach...
20 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOa family of four could earn a maximum of justmore than $40,000 to qualify f...
www.alec.org 21Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlTHE WHITE–BLACK ACHIEVEMENT GAPThe yawning gap ...
22 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOFigure 5 presents the absolute size of white-black achievement gaps by stat...
www.alec.org 23Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 6 takes these possibilities into account...
24 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOfourth-grade reading gap between white and His-panic students stood at an a...
www.alec.org 25Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 8 | Combined NAEP White-Hispanic Achieve...
26 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOIf Georgia were to maintain its current pace,then it would close the white-...
www.alec.org 27Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 10 | Combined NAEP White-Hispanic Achiev...
28 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOstate, lacks a similar major urban district. Highscores among non-poor stud...
www.alec.org 29Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawleconomic achievement gap in approximately 59yea...
30 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOyoungsters with disabilities has itself developedinfirmities, handicaps and...
www.alec.org 31Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawlmay have lessened the misidentification of chil...
32 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOscores for children without disabilities for eachmajor NAEP test.Not surpri...
www.alec.org 33Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawlhuge, is still only slightly larger than half t...
34 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWO
3CHAPTEREducation Policy Gradesand Academic Performance
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition

2,567

Published on

The 18th edition of the Report Card on American Education is a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels, focusing on performance and gains for low-income students, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.



Authors Dr. Matthew Ladner and Dave Myslinski analyze student scores, looking at performance and improvement over recent years. When combined, these policy measures build the state’s overall policy grade. Furthermore, the Report Card highlights education policies states have enacted and provides a roadmap to best practices, allowing legislators to learn from each other’s education reforms.



This year, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin writes an inspirational forward citing her state’s education reforms in teacher quality, school accountability, and literacy.



For more information, please visit www.alec.org.

Published in: Education
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
2,567
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
6
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Transcript of "Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform; 18th Edition"

  1. 1. Report Card onAmerican EducationRanking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and ReformDr. Matthew LadnerDave Myslinski
  2. 2. Report Card on American Education:Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform© 2013 American Legislative Exchange CouncilAll rights reserved. Except as permitted under the UnitedStates Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication maybe reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means,or stored in a database or retrieval system without the priorpermission of the publisher.Published byAmerican Legislative Exchange Council1101 Vermont Ave., NW, 11th FloorWashington, D.C. 20005Phone: (202) 466-3800Fax: (202) 466-3801www.alec.orgFor more information, contactthe ALEC Public Affairs office.Dr. Matthew Ladner and David J. MyslinskiLindsay Russell, Director, Education Task ForceISBN: 978-0-9853779-1-5Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform has been published by the AmericanLegislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as part of its mission to discuss, develop, and disseminate public policies that expandfree markets, promote economic growth, limit the size of government, and preserve individual liberty. ALEC is the nation’slargest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators, with 2,000 members across the nation. ALECis governed by a Board of Directors of state legislators, which is advised by a Private Enterprise Advisory Council representingmajor corporate and foundation sponsors.ALEC is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public policy organization. Individuals, philanthropicfoundations, corporations, companies, or associations are eligible to support ALEC’s work through tax-deductible gifts.
  3. 3. Table of ContentsAbout the Authors vAcknowledgements viForeword: Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma viiChapter 1 : Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012.................................................................................1Literacy-Based promotion Advances as research Finds Long-Term Benefits 2Teacher Quaity Reform Advances 3Alternative Teacher Certification Acquires Strong Supprt in 2012 5Lawmakers Continue to Run Up the Score on School Choice Cynics 7Charter Schools Maintain Momentum Buttressed by Strong Research 10Four States Adopt Letter Grades for School Transparency in 2012 12Massive Open Online Courses Arrive with Substantial Implications 12Conclusion: Once More unto the Breach Dear Friends 14Chapter 2: Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawl........................................................................17Caution: Achievement Gaps are not Always What They Appear 18Achievement Gaps: International Evidence of a National Disgrace 19The White-Black Achievement Gap 21The White-Hispanic Achievement Gap 23Trends in Economic Achievement Gaps by State 26Trends in the Achievement Gap for Disabled Students 29Conclusion: Glacial and Uneven Progress on Achievement Gaps 33Chapter 3: Education Policy Grades and Academic Performance...............................................................................................35Public Categories 36Homeschooling Regulation Burden Level 37Overall Policy Grade 37Is the Investment in State Per-Student Public Education Spending Paying Off? 37Ranking States on the Performance of General-Education Low-Income Students 38State SNAPSHOTS...............................................................................................................................41
  4. 4. Chapter 4: The Global Achievement Gap..............................................................................................................................................94American K-12 Costs grew Far Faster than Academic Achievement 95American K-12 and “Baumol’s” Disease 96State Academic Achievements in International Perspective 98State Academic Gains in International Perspective 99Conclusion: Deeper Reforms are Needed to Close the Global Achievement Gap 101Appendices...............................................................................................................................................................114Appendix A: Methodology for Ranking the States 106Appendix B: Methodology for Grading the States 110Appendix C: Index of Figures and Tables 112Appendix D: Model Legislation for K–12 Reform 113Appendix E: Education Reform Organizations 117
  5. 5. www.alec.org vDR. MATTHEW LADNERDr. Matthew Ladner is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Excellence inEducation. He previously served as Vice President of Research at the Goldwater Institute. Prior to join-ing Goldwater, Ladner was director of state projects at the Alliance for School Choice. Ladner has writ-ten numerous studies on school choice, charter schools, and special education reform and coauthoredReport Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform forthe American Legislative Exchange Council. Ladner has testified before Congress, the United StatesCommissiononCivilRightsandnumerousstatelegislativecommittees.LadnerisagraduateoftheUniversityof Texas at Austin and received both a Masters and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University ofHouston.LadnerisaSeniorFellowwiththeFoundationforEducationalChoiceandtheGoldwaterInstitute.Ladner lives in Phoenix, Ariz., with his wife Anne and children Benjamin, Jacob, and Abigail.DAVE MYSLINSKIDave Myslinski serves as the State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now! at the Foundation forExcellence in Education. He previously served as the Education Task Force Director at the AmericanLegislative Exchange Council, where he focused on digital learning, K-12 education reform, and highereducation. Prior to that, Myslinski worked on state issues relating to health care and telecommunications.Mr. Myslinski is a graduate of Rutgers University.About the Authors
  6. 6. vi Report Card on American EducationWe wish to thank the following for making this Report Card on American Education possible:First, we thank the Alleghany Foundation and the Gleason Family Foundation for their generous sup-port for the creation and promotion of this book.The authors would like to specifically thank Education Task Force Director Lindsay Russell for her tire-less work and guidance in the production of this publication.We also thank Michael Bowman, Ron Scheberle, Edward Walton, and the professional staff of ALEC fortheir assistance in all aspects of this publication.Acknowledgments
  7. 7. www.alec.org viiFrom the first day of my administration,education has been a cornerstone of myagenda. Improving our schools is the rightthing to do for our children, but it also serves asan investment in our communities, our futureworkforce and our long term prospects for eco-nomic growth. Over the last two years, I am hap-py to announce that, through a collaborative ef-fort, Oklahoma successfully implemented a seriesof comprehensive reforms that put our childrenand our schools on a pathway to greater success.To promote our focus of “College, Career, andCitizen Readiness,” we decided to take a three-pronged approach advancing teacher quali-ty, school accountability and a greater focus onliteracy.To ensure teacher quality, we needed to makesure that underperforming teachers could belet go without jumping through expensive legalhoops. Although most of our educators are excel-lent, the lengthy and expensive appeals processused to dismiss those who were underperformingwas a burden on the state and our schools. Underthe old system, teachers dismissed by local schoolboards could appeal the decision through “trialde novo,” a seemingly endless legal process thatwas costly for schools. Reforms I signed into lawin 2011 now allow locally elected school boardsthe full authority and final decision in releasing ateacher that is under performing.We also focused on literacy, one of the founda-tions of any good education. Studies have shownfrom kindergarten through third grade that chil-dren learn to read, but from fourth grade forwardthey read to learn. What we found in Oklahoma,however, was that children were being sent to thefourth grade without the basic reading skills need-ed to learn,” thus falling farther and farther behind.The main culprit was a policy known as “so-cial promotion,” or the practice of allowing stu-dents to advance with similar aged peers regard-less of subject knowledge.Oklahoma’s legislature passed, and I signedinto law, a bill ending that practice and requir-ing every third grader to read at grade appropri-ate level before they can advance.We can now be confident our children are ei-ther prepared for success or else are receiving ad-ditional literacy help during their most criticallearning years.Increasing accountability is another corner-stone of the reform measures we have pursued inOklahoma. We cannot improve our schools un-less we can first identify our strengths and weak-nesses. To do so, we have recently instituted anew, easily understood A-F grading system forour public schools.With the new system in place, parents, stu-dents, teachers and administrators have an easyway of measuring their schools progress. Goodand improving schools are now publicly recog-nized for their successes, which we should all beproud of. And if a school is falling behind, we canidentify that problem and fix it.Implementing positive reforms, such as thosewe made in Oklahoma, requires collaborationand information. To create effective legislation,ALEC’s Report Card on American Educationserves as a helpful guide for education reform-ers across America. The Report Card offers an as-sessment of American Education and a blueprintfor how to make changes. With a comprehensivestate-by-state evaluation—providing spendinglevels and achievement data, an education policygrade, and state NAEP performance rankings—reformers across the country can assess whereForewordby Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma
  8. 8. viii Report Card on American EducationFOREWORDtheir state currently stands, and what positivechanges they should consider.We live in an aspirational society and the op-portunity to receive a quality education is a partof the American Dream. The time to act is now—not just in Oklahoma, but across America. I amasking each reader of this guide to join me inpledging to improve our schools and give everychild the opportunity to receive a dream-worthyeducation that builds the foundation for a betterAmerica.Sincerely,Mary FallinGovernor of Oklahoma
  9. 9. Reform-Minded PolicymakersEnact Large Changes in 2012CHAPTER1
  10. 10. 2 Report Card on American EducationDuring the 2011 legislative sessions, anumber of blockbuster reforms wereproduced across a variety of educationpolicy areas. The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2011“The Year of School Choice,” and Education Weekreported on a “sea change” of teacher tenure andevaluation policy.i,iiThat momentum continued in2012 with major reforms impacting a variety ofK–12 policy domains. In addition to major poli-cy advances, a number of high-quality academ-ic studies strongly buttressed the case for thesecrucial reforms. Importantly, with state educationpolicy now beginning to accept a student-drivenenvironment, it has freed education innovators tofield-test stunningly novel digital learning tech-niques that have the potential to revolutionizelearning not just in the United States, but aroundthe world.In this chapter, we summarize legislativeachievements and new high-quality research thatreinforce the case for still more—and more sub-stantial—reform. Despite the quickening pace ofreform in recent years, one must keep things inperspective and not become complacent with thehard-earned battles we have won thus far. Theaverage American student still attends a schoolsystem that routinely practices social promo-tion, where school choice is scarce to non-exis-tent, where course options are limited for stu-dents seeking education beyond core classes,and where highly effective teachers go unreward-ed. At the same time, highly ineffective teachersremain untouched by corrective actions. Manystates continue to cling to absurd barriers to en-try for those seeking to join the teaching profes-sion, despite demonstrations that the barriers donothing to promote student learning and have nolink to teacher effectiveness. Most states continueto boost teacher pay based upon demonstrablymeaningless credentials and age alone.Despite these challenges, many reform-mind-ed state policymakers have replaced these an-tiquated policies with practical ones, bringingstates’ educational systems into the 21st centuryLITERACY–BASED PROMOTIONADVANCES AS RESEARCH FINDSLONG–TERM BENEFITSPresident Bill Clinton noted in his 1998 State ofthe Union address, “When we promote a childfrom grade to grade who hasn’t mastered thework, we don’t do that child any favors. It is timeto end social promotion in American schools.”iiiIt has taken social scientists many years to con-firm Clinton’s common-sense assertion. Many inthe nation’s colleges of education oppose the ideaof earned promotion, citing concerns such as thepossibilities of higher dropout rates and harm tochildren’s self-esteem.These opinions, however, most often are basedon unsophisticated studies carried out on some-times-flawed retention policies. A new generationof methodologically sophisticated statistical stud-ies employing powerful statistical techniques,carried out on more thoughtful earned promotionpolicies in Florida and New York City have led agrowing number of states to take decisive actionthat curbs rigid social promotion policies.ivAnswering tricky research questions such as,“Does this drug kill people or is it the cancer we’retreating?” requires researchers to employ power-ful statistical techniques. The impact of retentionpolicies represents just such a question. Oppo-nents claim that retention causes higher drop-out rates, but it is difficult to determine wheth-er the academic problems that trigger retentionReform-Minded PolicymakersEnact Large Changes in 2012
  11. 11. www.alec.org 3Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012cause students to drop out, or if the retention itselfcauses students to drop out.The ideal research design involves a randomassignment of children into retention and promo-tion groups, but this is impractical for a numberof obvious reasons. Researchers, however, havedeveloped analytical techniques that approach arandom assignment study in quality.Retention policies in Florida and New YorkCity require students to score above a certainthreshold in order to move onward to the suc-ceeding grade. In Florida, this is focused exclu-sively on third-grade reading, with the default be-ing for a child scoring at a very low level to beretained.Recently, researchers have begun to studythe academic trends of students scoring justabove the retention threshold and comparingthem to both students who were retained andstudents who scored low enough to qualify for aretention but who received an exemption in or-der to advance.TEACHER QUALITY REFORM ADVANCESIn his Oct. 24, 2003, column in The New YorkTimes, progressive columnist Bob Herbert relat-ed a conversation with a New York City publicschool teacher:“‘You have teachers who are very diligent,’ saida middle-aged teacher from the Bronx. ‘Theywork very hard, and even come up with moneyout of their own pockets to pay for supplies, oreven to help these children when they are introuble. But there are many, many others whoare not remotely interested in these kids. Theytell the kids to their faces: ‘I don’t care whatyou do. I’m still going to get paid.’”vThe fact that you are reading this book nowalmost certainly indicates that you likely had anumber of effective and selfless teachers of thesort Hebert describes. One can only describe any-one who thinks these types of teachers are any-thing but underpaid as deluded. If you never hadto sit in a class with the exact opposite sort ofFIGURE 1 | JURISDICTIONS WITH LITERACY–BASED PROMOTION POLICIES(STAR = NEW YORK CITY)WAORCAIDNVAZUTWYCOWIMOARGAKSOKMNINOHPASCFLAKMT NDSDNENMTX LAIAILMINYKYTNMS ALVANCMEHIWVVTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC
  12. 12. 4 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEteacher, count yourself lucky. A great many stu-dents attending dysfunctional schools are not sofortunate.The political power and preferences of educa-tion union bosses have largely made it impossibleto reward the former, or to remove the latter fromthe classroom.Fortunately, this has begun to change—a wel-come development after years of miserable sta-sis. Lawmakers in some states, including Flori-da and Indiana, have taken aggressive steps to tiethe compensation and retention of both teachersand principals to student performance and otherfactors. Unfortunately, educators and lawmakersin a sadly large number of other states have donenothing of the sort.New research indicates lawmakers should ur-gently update antiquated human resource poli-cies impacting teachers. A landmark 2011 study byHarvard and Columbia University professors dem-onstrated that individual teachers make immedi-ate and lasting impacts on student test scores. Re-searchers isolated an individual teacher’s impact bytracking student test score trends when a highly ef-fective teacher transfers between schoolsThe researchers established that not only dostudent test scores rise with an effective teach-er in the classroom, but, on average, student testscores from that teacher’s former class fall oncethe teacher transfers. The study, in short, foundextremely powerful evidence to demonstrate thatindividual teachers are not identical widgets andought not to be treated like interchangeable fac-tory workers.The Harvard and Columbia researchersfound long-term impacts even more impressive.By matching tax return data of students fromthe Internal Revenue Service with student out-comes, the authors demonstrated the long-termimpacts of effective teachers. Ultimately, thesehighly effective instructors produce positive ben-efits ranging from higher college attendance ratesand higher earned-income levels to lower teenagepregnancy rates for students.viRunning opposed to looking at each teach-er as an individual, union methods and influ-ence take a different tack. Most notable are em-ployment policies that focus simply on seniority.Firing teachers simply based on seniority, with-out regard to effectiveness, represents one of themost morally repugnant policies unions cling to.The salience of the issue emerged dramatically asthe nation plunged into a prolonged recession in2008. Temporary federal measures delayed theneed for large layoffs in public schools, but like-ly only kicked the can down the road. Researchon teacher quality demonstrates conclusively thatsome teachers are far more effective than others.Policies to reduce the teacher workforce that ig-nore teacher quality will result in an academ-ic catastrophe for American students. A numberof states—but far too few—have taken the nec-essary action to introduce common sense intoteacher human resource policy.Despite recent progress, The New TeacherProject, an organization with the goal of ensur-ing excellent teachers are available to all students,identified 14 states—Alaska, California, Hawaii,Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, NewYork, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,West Virginia, and Wisconsin—where it is illegalfor school administrators to consider student per-formance in making layoff decisions. This objec-tionable policy caters to the self-interest of a few,while endangering many children’s futures.viiImagine a school district that, due to fundingcuts, must reduce its teacher payrolls by 10 per-cent. If layoffs occur only according to seniority,then all teachers laid off will be young teachers,regardless of their effectiveness. As we detailed inthe 17the edition of ALEC’s Report Card on Amer-ican Education last year, researchers have foundexperience to be only weakly related to effective-ness, meaning that schools can employ both high-ly effective young teachers and ineffective veteraninstructors.Antiquated human resource policies that re-ward teachers with “step pay” —increases basedon age alone—may artificially inflate wages forolder teachers while artificially depressing young-er teacher wages. District officials also end up fir-ing more young teachers when they have to cutteaching jobs to achieve the same savings, leav-ing fewer teachers available to teach. These pol-icies also explicitly prohibit adjustments for ef-fectiveness. A district required to make cutscould potentially let go of a relatively small num-ber of higher paid ineffective teachers in order tokeep a larger number of younger, more effectiveinstructors.
  13. 13. www.alec.org 5Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012“Last-in, first-out” (LIFO) policies, however,forbid such rational decision-making and are in-defensible in terms of promoting the best inter-ests of students. Fortunately, a small but growingnumber of states have required schools to use stu-dent academic progress as a factor when makinglayoff decisions. Figure 2 notes states that havemade this critical change.With teachers’ employment based on perfor-mance, teachers’ unions often express fears thatschool administrators will fire older teachers sim-ply because they are older and thus more expen-sive. Such accusations show very little confidencein public school administrators, most of whomstarted off as teachers themselves. Moreover, theycompletely ignore the body of federal civil rightslaws that protect against age discrimination. Ulti-mately, these scenarios represent little more thanscare tactics intended to preserve a broken sta-tus quo and jobs for longtime union members, al-though many who repeat the story may fail to rec-ognize it as such.Ending LIFO, however, only represents a nec-essary first step to overhauling a badly brokensystem that is not structured to recruit and retainhigh-quality instructors. Research clearly showsthat highly effective teachers make a substantialdifference in the lives of students, but most statescontinue to reward teachers for certifications andmaster’s degrees often unrelated to student learn-ing gains. This expensive practice is estimated tocost an additional $15 billion for our country’seducation outlays each year.viiiStates and districtscan better allocate their educational dollars by di-recting them to rewarding and retaining effectiveteachers instead of paying teachers for holding—and in many cases, earning—a certificate.ALTERNATIVE TEACHER CERTIFICATIONACQUIRES STRONG SUPPORT IN 2012Facing rapid student enrollment growth that thestate’s universities could not keep pace with ontheir own, Florida lawmakers embraced multiplealternative certification paths during the 1990s.FIGURE 2 | STATES THAT HAVE BANNED “LAST–IN, FIRST–OUT” POLICIES AS OF AUGUST 2012(SOURCE: STUDENTS FIRST)WAORCAIDNVAZUTWYCOWIMOARGAKSOKMNINOHPASCFLAKMT NDSDNENMTX LAIAILMINYKYTNMS ALVANCMEHIWVVTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC
  14. 14. 6 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEThe other option to alternative certification wasnot more traditionally certified teachers, but, inmany cases, no teachers at all. Alternative certifi-cation coincided with a substantial improvementin academic achievement, did nothing to preventsuch progress, and likely helped make it possible.Analysis of teacher characteristics and studenttest score gains indicate that alternative certifica-tion succeeded in attracting many highly qualifiedcandidates into the teaching profession. Geor-gia State Economist Tim R. Sass analyzed Flori-da certification routes and student test score gainsand identified 10 routes to certification in Florida.Examples include traditional programs, full rec-iprocity, and Educator Preparation Institutes—partnerships between the Florida Department ofEducation and the community college system.The Florida data warehouse maintained bythe Florida Department of Education contains in-formation about the route that teachers took forcertification and information about the types andnumber of courses taken in college. Sass includesa number of tables on the level of academic prep-aration of teachers by certification status. A sum-mary is in Table 1.In a broad sense, the data demonstratesthat alternatively certified teachers had higherSAT scores as entering college students. For in-stance, the average traditionally certified stu-dent earned an SAT score of 937, while the av-erage score for the highest scoring alternativecertification candidates—who were certifiedthrough the American Board for Certificationof Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)—was 1096. Al-ternative certification paths have allowed addi-tional academically accomplished candidates toenter the profession. The passing rates for theFlorida General Knowledge Certification Ex-ams also varied by certification route, generallythe alternative routes.Sass analyzed student learning gains by cer-tification route and finds that alternatively certi-fied teachers have similar academic gains to thosetraditionally certified—similar to the findings ofprevious studies. Sass, however, found positiveresults for ABCTE, particularly for math teachers,who performed better, on average, than for tradi-tional preparation program graduates. Across allspecifications and tests, ABCTE teachers boostmath achievement by 6 to 11 percent more thantraditionally prepared teachers.These results have implications for alterna-tive certification beyond the ABCTE program,as selectivity is a key feature of the program, andTable 1 | Characteristics of Teachers by Certification Route(Source, Sass 2011)Certification PathwayPercent fromMost SelectiveColleges(Barron’sRankings)Percent fromLeast SelectiveColleges(Barron’sRankings)Percent PassingState GeneralKnowledgeReadingCertificationExam on FirstAttemptAverage SATScoreTraditional Florida College ofEducation13.9% 19.6% 66.3% 937Course Analysis 19.2% 16% 64.5% 955Certified in Another State 7.8% 21.3% * *Graduate of an Out of StateTeacher Preparation Program7.5% 23.3% 55.9% *District AlternativeCertification Program22.9% 13.5% 76.4% 1029Educator Preparation Institute 22.3% 14.4% 91% 1029American Board for Certificationof Teaching Excellence22.5% 18% 100% 1096College Teaching Experience 35.8% 9.4% 69.2% **=Data not available
  15. 15. www.alec.org 7Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012prospective teaching candidates must completerigorous content examinations to be certified.Sass rightly cautions that the ABCTE cohort isnot large, so further research is warranted. Likethe empirical investigations into the learninggains for students with Teach for America teach-ers, the gains in reading are much smaller thanthose in math, which merits further investiga-tion. Researchers should continue to investigatethe link between selectivity of programs and stu-dent test score gains.ixFlorida’s positive experience reinforces na-tional research on alternative teacher certifica-tion. Harvard University scholars Daniel Nadlerand Paul E. Peterson succinctly summarized thefindings of their investigation into alternative cer-tification with What Happens When States HaveGenuine Alternative Certification? We Get More Mi-nority Teachers and Test Scores Rise. Nadler andPeterson distinguish between states with genu-ine and non-genuine alternative certification, be-cause many states have alternative certificationpaths on the books that require students to takeyears of coursework in a college of education.Nadler and Peterson identified 21 states withgenuine alternative teacher certification and thentracked the National Assessment of EducationalProgress (NAEP) gains for all states. They found:In states that had genuine alternative cer-tification, test-score gains on the NAEP ex-ceeded those in the other states by 4.8 pointsand 7.6 points in 4th- and 8th-grade math,respectively. In reading, the additional gainsin the states with genuine alternative certi-fication were 10.6 points and 3.9 points forthe two grade levels, respectively. Among Af-rican Americans, test-score gains were alsolarger in the states with genuine alternativecertification.Nadler and Peterson then used informationfrom the U.S. Department of Education’s Officefor Civil Rights to measure the extent to whichthe race and ethnicity of each state’s teachingforce matched the state’s overall adult popula-tion. They found that states with genuine alterna-tive certification had teaching forces more closelyaligned with the ethnic makeup of the state andcited specific examples of alternative certificationprograms that were used disproportionately byminority degree holders to enter the teachingprofession.xFlorida’s experience has been consistent withboth of these national findings. Florida’s NAEPscores have improved substantially, and Nadlerand Peterson found Florida to have one of themost racially representative teaching forces in thenation.LAWMAKERS CONTINUE TO RUN UPTHE SCORE ON SCHOOL CHOICE CYNICSIn early 2011, an exchange between FriedmanFoundation for Educational Choice senior fellowGreg Forster and The Washington Post educationcolumnist Jay Mathews led to an interesting wa-ger. Forster provided Mathews with a summary ofhigh-quality random-assignment research show-ing a variety of positive benefits associated withschool choice programs. In response, Mathewswrote a piece that ran on The Washington Post’sWeb site on March 25, 2011, titled “Voucherswork, but so what?”xiMathews conceded the overwhelmingly pos-itive random assignment research on schoolvoucher programs, calling them “impressive.” Hethen, in essence, argued that charter schools arethe politically easier path to parental choice andthat vouchers were essentially irrelevant:The young educators who have led the ro-bust growth of charters prefer to work in pub-lic schools. Many voters will continue to re-sist sending their tax dollars to private schools,particularly with the pressures to cut back gov-ernment spending that are likely to be with usfor many years.If I am wrong about that, and the politicalwinds blow in a pro-voucher direction, thenForster’s good paper will be a useful addi-tion to the debate. But I think we are better offspending what money we have on public char-ter schools.It will take some big change in the culture—at least a half-century away—to give Forsterthe opportunity for universal vouchers thathe hopes for. I am not going to live that long.Charters are the better bet.xii
  16. 16. 8 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEMathews’ use of the term “bet” proved pre-scient, as Forster then challenged Mathews to awager. Mathews bet dinner at a restaurant of thewinner’s choice that 10 or fewer state legislativechambers would pass a private choice programexpansion in 2011. Lawmakers promptly blast-ed past that low bar. Forster, being a good sport,agreed to raise the bar from 10 legislative cham-bers passing a private choice program to seven ac-tual program enactments or expansions.America’s lawmakers quickly surpassed thathigher bar as well. Congress reenacted Wash-ington, D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program(DCOSP); state lawmakers created brand newprograms in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, NorthCarolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Arizona, Col-orado, and North Carolina created entirely newprograms without previous precedent in 2011—Empowerment Savings Accounts in Arizona, adistrict-created voucher program in Colorado,and a personal use tax-credit program for stu-dents with disabilities in North Carolina.Indiana lawmakers created the nation’s mostexpansive school voucher program and expand-ed their preexisting tax credit program. Ohiolawmakers expanded their preexisting “failingschools” voucher and created a new program forspecial-needs children. Wisconsin lawmakers ex-panded Milwaukee’s voucher program and cre-ated a new one for Racine. Lawmakers expand-ed most preexisting choice programs nationwide.With such ample justification, The Wall StreetJournal proclaimed 2011 as “The Year of SchoolChoice.”xiiiWhen the smoke cleared, lawmakers had sur-passed the Forster-Mathews threshold by a widemargin. In 2012 lawmakers surpassed that thresh-old again, surprising those who asked themselves,“How are we going to top 2011 this year?” The yearafter “The Year of School Choice” turned out to be“The Year of School Choice: Part II.”Louisiana, with the strong partnership ofLouisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, State Superin-tendent John White, and state legislators tookthe lead with two far-reaching pieces of legisla-tion. First, Louisiana lawmakers created a schoolvoucher program to rival Indiana’s by creating thestatewide Louisiana K–12 Scholarship Program,which provides scholarships to students fromfamilies of modest incomes attending C-, D-, orF-rated public schools. To qualify, students mustlive in a household with an income at or below250 percent of the federal poverty rate—$57,625for a family of four in 2012. In all, approximately380,000 students out of Louisiana’s 700,000 stu-dents statewide are eligible to apply for a scholar-ship under the program.xivIn 2012, approximate-ly 950 out of Louisiana’s 1,300 statewide publicschools were graded as C or lower. Scholarship re-cipients can choose to attend non-public or A/B-rated public schools.Louisiana lawmakers also created a Tax Cred-it for Donations to School Tuition Organizationsprogram to provide scholarships for low-incomestudents. Louisiana policymakers had previous-ly created a scholarship for children with dis-abilities and provided a small tax deduction forprivate school expenses. Collectively, these pro-grams have made Louisiana one of the top privateschool choice states.For some time, Arizona lawmakers have beennational leaders in school choice reform And theywere not idle in recent years as Indiana and Lou-isiana policymakers made aggressive moves forthe title of the top parental choice state. In 2011,Arizona lawmakers created the EmpowermentScholarship Account (ESA) program—the first ofits kind in the nation. To replace a school vouch-er program for special-needs students that fell toa court challenge, the Empowerment ScholarshipAccount program created a novel approach to pa-rental choice, with special-needs students eligibleupon its implementation.Rather than a voucher program, ESA createseducation savings accounts for eligible students,which are managed by parents or guardians. Theaccounts can be used to support private schooltuition, the hiring of certified tutors, online edu-cation programs and even cover community col-lege or university tuition. Parents also may use thefunds to contribute to a 529 college savings planfor future higher education expenses. This createsa powerful incentive for parents to scrutinize edu-cation providers on both quality and cost.Under the program, the state deposits 90percent of an individual student’s annual pub-lic school funding total into an eligible stu-dent’s ESA. In return, the parent or guardian of
  17. 17. www.alec.org 9Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012an ESA-eligible student must sign an agreementwith the Arizona Department of Education to ed-ucate his or her child in core academic subjectsand agree not to enroll them in a public school forthe next school year.Originally only for special-needs students at-tending public schools, Arizona lawmakers in2012 expanded the eligibility of the ESA programto include students attending D- and F-ratedschools or school districts, children of active-dutymilitary members, and children who had passedthrough the foster care system. These changeswill take effect in the fall of 2013 making 20 per-cent of Arizona public school students eligible forthe program.Already known for creating the nation’s firsttax credit program in 1997, which allows taxpay-ers to make donations to a qualified scholarship-granting nonprofit organization and receive a dol-lar-for-dollar credit against their state income taxliability, Arizona lawmakers created a new indi-vidual scholarship tax credit for children in mid-dle- and low-income families. Similar to a corpo-rate tax credit program created in 2006 aimed atlow- and middle-income students, lawmakers in2012 created a new individual tax credit to raiseadditional funds for these students.Pennsylvania was one of the earliest states to fol-low Arizona’s example in creating a scholarship taxcredit program with its Education Improvement TaxCredit (EITC). In 2012, lawmakers expanded theEITC by $25 million to bring the statewide cap ondonations to $75 million. They also created a new$50 million tax credit—the Education Opportuni-ty Scholarship Tax Credit Program—for students at-tending a low-performing public school.Three new states joined the private parentalchoice family in 2012 as well, all with new taxcredit programs. New Hampshire lawmakersoverrode the veto of Gov. John Lynch to enact ascholarship tax credit program for low- and mid-dle-income students. Virginia legislators passedtheir own scholarship tax credit program, whileMississippi lawmakers passed a small tax cred-it program to benefit children with dyslexia. Fig-ure 3 is the revised map showing states that haveenacted one or more private school choice pro-grams, including the three new states for 2012.FIGURE 3 | States with One or More Private School Choice Programs, 2012(Star=Washington, D.C.)WAORCAIDNVAZUTWYCOWIMOARGAKSOKMNINOHPASCFLAKMT NDSDNENMTX LAIAILMINYKYTNMS ALVANCMEHIWVVTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC
  18. 18. 10 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEIf Jay Mathews still has some money burninga hole in his pocket, we are more than happy tomake the same bet with him for 2013.CHARTER SCHOOLS MAINTAIN MOMENTUMBUTTRESSED BY STRONG RESEARCHThe 2011–2012 school year saw 5,714 charterschools in operation educating almost two mil-lion students. Of these charter schools, almost 10percent (518) were newly opened in 2011. Figure4 illustrates the growth in the number of charterschools nationwide between 2001 and 2011. Alltoo often, this level of growth is happening de-spite the inaction of lawmakers in many states.The Center for Education Reform annual-ly grades states’ charter school laws. In 2012,only Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Washing-ton, D.C., and newcomer Indiana had A-gradedcharter school laws. Figure 5 shows states scoringan A-rated charter school law in blue and B-ratedcharter laws in green.Indiana lawmakers improved their charterschool law grade from a B to an A in 2011, whileMaine’s lawmakers enacted their first char-ter school law in 2011, however it only earneda C grade. Idaho lawmakers removed a cap oncharter schools to move up to a B. Arizona im-proved from a B to an A—mostly on the basisof allowing universities to authorize charterschools—and Michigan lawmakers removed acap on university authorized charter schools af-ter a long multi-year struggle on the part of char-ter school advocates.On the other hand, 2012 sessions met withdisappointments in Alabama and Mississippi.xvThe Alabama debate included some truly absurdfear mongering from charter school opponents re-garding the possibility of Muslim charter schools.These came despite the fact that charter schoolscannot teach religion, and the only place anyonehas been using charter schools as al-Qaida train-ing centers is in the fever dreams of opportunisticcharter school opponents.ALEC has developed a set of model bills tostimulate improvement of America’s charterschool laws. A growing body of research indicatesthat students would benefit substantially fromstronger charter school laws. The Global ReportCard, published by the George W. Bush Insti-tute, recently found that one-third of the nation’stop 30 school districts ranked by mathematicsscores were charter schools.xviThis is an impres-sive achievement considering that charter schoolsstill only constitute 5 percent of the nation’s pub-lic schools.xviiFigure 4 | Total Charter Schools, 2000-2011(Source: Center for Education Reform)20001,65101000200030004000500060002001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 20112,0092,3372,6323,0623,4723,8404,2204,6245,0435,4535,714
  19. 19. www.alec.org 11Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012Charter school opponents often claim thatcharter schools look better on paper than they ac-tually are because they “skim the cream” in select-ing highly motivated students. A growing bodyof empirical work, however, disproves the notion.Most charter school laws require a random lot-tery for admission when applicants exceed avail-able seats. This requirement creates the necessaryconditions for a high-quality random assignmentstudy. Additionally, the locations where charterschools are most often found are indeed wherethey are most often needed—districts notable forhistorically poor academic performance.A random assignment design represents thegold standard of social science research. The Foodand Drug Administration mandates random as-signment in evaluating the efficacy of new drugsbecause it is the most powerful research methodavailable. Random assignment is especially usefulin answering questions regarding whether char-ter schools perform better than district schoolsor whether they may simply appear to do so be-cause they draw more highly motivated studentsand parents.In a random assignment study, students arerandomly assigned into an experimental group(lottery winners) and a control group (lotterylosers). The random assignment of students intothese groups isolates our key variable of interest:the impact of charter schools. All the parents whoapplied for the lottery were motivated to seek anew school for their child. The key difference be-tween the two randomly chosen groups of stu-dents is the fact that one group got the opportuni-ty to attend a charter school and the other groupdid not get the same opportunity.Currently, four random assignment charterschool studies tap into charter school effectivenessand provide some high confidence. In one study,a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, Duke,and the University of Michigan examined the ac-ademic impact of charter schools for students inBoston. They found that the charter school effectsare “large enough to reduce the black-white read-ing gap in middle school by two-thirds.”xviiiStanford University economist Caroline Hox-by performed separate random assignment stud-ies on charter schools in New York City and Chi-cago. In Chicago, Hoxby found that “students incharter schools outperformed a comparable groupof lottery losing students who remained in regularChicago public schools by 5 to 6 percentile pointsin math and about 5 percentile points in reading.… To put the gains in perspective, it may helpto know that 5 to 6 percentile points is just un-der half of the gap between the average disadvan-taged minority student in Chicago public schoolsand the average middle-income non-minority stu-dent in a suburban district.”xixHoxby also found a substantial charter schooladvantage in New York City: “On average, a stu-dent who attended a charter school for all of gradeskindergarten through eight would close about 86percent of the ‘Scarsdale–Harlem achievementgap’ in math and 66 percent of the achievementgap in English.”xxMathematica research performed a randomassignment study on 36 charter middle schoolsacross 15 states for the U.S. Department of Ed-ucation. Consistent with the Boston, Chicago,and New York charter school studies, this reportfound a positive and significant result for low-in-come students attending charter schools in urbanareas. The same study found significant negativeimpact for non-poor students attending charterschools in suburban areas. Researchers shouldfurther examine the suburban finding to deter-mine whether it holds up across a larger sampleof schools and to see whether the same patternemerges at the elementary and high school levels.The results for urban students, however, show aconsistent pattern of improved results associatedwith charter schools.xxiThe Obama administration’s Race to the Topcompetition generated a great deal of press bygiving states bonus points for removing char-ter school caps. Policymakers should recognize,however, that merely removing a statewide capis meaningless unless the state has a solid sys-tem of authorization—preferably with multipleindependent authorizers, including a statewideauthorizer. A state that only allows school dis-tricts to authorize schools, for instance, couldremove a statewide cap on the number of char-ter schools without seeing any increase in theactual number of charter schools. Lawmakersshould carefully examine the model ALEC billsto improve existing charter laws in their statesor create a high-quality statute in a state with-out a charter law.
  20. 20. 12 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEFOUR STATES ADOPT LETTER GRADESFOR SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY IN 2012Few, if any, actions by state policymakers havedone more to make a mockery of academic trans-parency and accountability than the widespreaduse of vague and misleading labels to describeschool performance. The most common flavor forthis practice involves stringing together a group offuzzy labels to describe school performance. Ar-izona lawmakers replaced their fuzzy label sys-tem with letter grades in 2010. Before that, Arizo-na schools often proudly displayed large bannersproclaiming that they were a “PERFORMINGSchool.”Such banners were hung secure in the knowl-edge that few Arizonans understood that “per-forming” was the second lowest performancelevel possible. With school grading, parentsand taxpayers instantly understand the possibleachievement levels. People respond differently toa D than to a “performing.”Florida pioneered the use of letter grades in1999, while New York City, a single district withmore students than in 12 different states, adoptedthe practice in 2006. In 2010 and 2011, lawmak-ers in Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico,Oklahoma, and Utah adopted A–F school grades.And in 2012, Alabama, Mississippi, North Caro-lina, and Ohio adopted the practice for schools intheir states.MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES ARRIVEWITH SUBSTANTIAL IMPLICATIONSWired magazine in 2011 featured a piece on afourth-grade “flipped” classroom—one where as-signing lecture material as homework frees upclassroom time for problem solving and in-depthprojects. This particular classroom used KhanAcademy, an online learning Web site with thou-sands of discrete academic lessons posted on You-Tube. (We discussed Khan in more depth in the17th edition of ALEC’s Report Card on AmericanEducation.) A growing number of education in-novators have used online resources to “flip” theclassroom.FIGURE 5 | States With A- or B- graded Charter School Laws, according to Center for Education Reform2012 Rankings(Dark Blue for A, Light Blue for B, Star Denotes Washington, D.C.)WAORCAIDNVAZUTWYCOWIMOARGAKSOKMNINOHPASCFLAKMT NDSDNENMTX LAIAILMINYKYTNMS ALVANCMEHIWVVTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC
  21. 21. www.alec.org 13Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012“This,” starts student Matthew Carpenter inWired, “is my favorite exercise.” I peer overhis shoulder at his laptop screen to see themath problem the fifth grader is pondering. It’san inverse trigonometric function: cos-1(1) = ?After your humble author had an involuntaryand painful flashback to his 1985 Trigonometryclass, he went on to read that this was MatthewCarpenter’s 642nd trig problem, and that he wasa 10-year-old student mid-way through the 4thgrade.Give that some thought: A formal evaluationof the efficacy of classroom flipping has yet to ap-pear, but some preliminary data released by KhanAcademy looks promising. In 2012, however, flip-ping the classroom was not the biggest bit of dig-ital learning news.Two Stanford professors, inspired by a presen-tation from Khan Academy’s founder and name-sake Sal Khan decided to put their graduate-levelcomputer science course online for free. Stanfordofficials drew the line at granting Stanford coursecredit for taking the course online, but the pro-fessors decided to issue certificates of comple-tion for online students successfully completingthe course. The course, which was focused on thetopic of artificial intelligence and required an ad-vanced grasp of mathematics, included lectures,readings and tests, and was open to anyone in theworld, free of charge.The subject of the course—artificial intelli-gence—required an advanced grasp of mathe-matics. Nevertheless, one of the two professorsthought they might get 1,000 students to takethe course. The other—a wide–eyed optimist—thought they could get 5,000 online students totake the class, along with the 200 in-person Stan-ford students.Both professors were wrong, as 160,000 peo-ple took the course and 20,000 of them success-fully completed it. One-hundred-ninety nationshad self-motivated citizens taking the course, andsome very interesting things happened along theFIGURE 6 | JURISDICTIONS ADOPTING A-through-F LETTER GRADES FOR SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY(STAR = NEW YORK CITY)WAORCAIDNVAZUTWYCOWIMOARGAKSOKMNINOHPASCFLAKMT NDSDNENMTX LAIAILMINYKYTNMS ALVANCMEHIWVVTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC
  22. 22. 14 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONEway. For instance, 85 percent of Stanford’s in-per-son, paying students stopped attending the class,explaining that they preferred to watch the lecturesonline because they could pause and rewind them.When ranking student performance on ex-ams, the top Stanford-affiliated student came in at411th out of the 20,000 students who completedthe course. So, despite Stanford’s serious entrancerequirements, physical access to the lectures andprofessor office hours, and what one would pre-sume would be an above the global average graspof English, Stanford students could not crack thetop 400.The advent of the Massive Open OnlineCourse (MOOC) has been quite a shock to thehigher education establishment, with a varietyof universities joining various projects such asCoursera, EdX, and Udacity to provide free on-line education. These courses offer the highestquality curriculum and teachers but are largelynot yet credit bearing. The implications for K–12,while less commented upon thus far, are also pro-found. With Ivy League-quality courses alreadyonline and free, it is only a matter of time un-til district, charter, private and home school stu-dents avail themselves to such courses, eventual-ly en masse.For instance, Coursera, a joint project of 16top American Universities, already has more than40 college-level online courses in topics rangingfrom humanities, medicine, biology, social sci-ences, and mathematics to business and comput-er science. These courses are currently offeredby professors from Stanford, Princeton, Rice, theUniversity of Michigan, and a number of other in-stitutions, and students take these courses free ofcharge. These are far more than simple online lec-tures; they include reading, homework assign-ments, and examinations. However, the lectureportions employ novel techniques, many of whichare impractical with a large number of students ina traditional learning environment. For example,instant “pop” quizzes require students to demon-strate that they have absorbed material before be-ing allowed to proceed. If a student “gets lost” ina lecture, the technology literally requires them tofind their way back to the path. Those who suc-cessfully complete the course receive a certificateof completion, which some higher learning insti-tutions currently accept for credit.With free access to such knowledge, currentinstitutions of education will have to adjust orwill find themselves falling out of favor. Unlim-ited students now have access—for free—to theworld’s top experts in virtually every field. Thechallenge for institutions will be accurately andcomprehensively assessing student knowledge.As employers recognize that not all knowledge isgained through the traditional classroom, the im-portance of certification and validation of knowl-edge will become ever more important.Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller believesthat the future of universities will include a re-tooling effort whereby professors add value to on-line instruction through applied learning proj-ects.xxiiThe same logic could also be applied toK–12 instruction. It is impossible to forecast justwhat the average school will look like in 50 yearsor how it will perform, but put your bets down ondifferent and better.CONCLUSION: ONCE MORE UNTOTHE BREACH DEAR FRIENDSThe stasis in school practices, a result of whatStanford political scientist Terry Moe describedas a “Whack–a-Mole” strategy by unions, hasbeen compromised. Teachers’ unions and otherelements of the status-quo coalition have blockedthe vast majority of reforms the vast majority ofthe time. The resulting policy uniformity acrossstates left little in the way of meaningful differ-ences among states. In 1989, no state providedmuch in the way of parental choice outside theschool district system. Academic and financialtransparency stood somewhere between abysmaland nonexistent at the school level. Evaluatingteachers based, in part, by student performanceconstituted little more than a fantasy held by asmall group of reformers.Going forward, state laboratories of reformwill allow for the continued evaluation of a num-ber of important reforms. Education reform nowrepresents a decentralized learning process and,as parental dissatisfaction turns into intoleranceof continued failure, the pace will likely quick-en in the years ahead. A virtuous cycle is un-derway whereby policymakers enact reforms,and academics—employing high-quality statis-tical techniques—have found encouraging evi-dence to support such policies. Some of the more
  23. 23. www.alec.org 15Reform-Minded Policymakers Enact Large Changes in 2012recent examples of such research are summa-rized here.More reforms lead to still more research. No-tice that no one has yet been able to produce arandom assignment study to suggest that schoolvouchers harm student achievement, or even alogically coherent argument in favor of uncondi-tional tenure, much less any high-quality statisti-cal evidence in favor of it. Through a decentralizedlearning process carried out on a blossoming va-riety of policies, the case for reform continues toget stronger.Meanwhile, a new generation of innovatorshas bypassed bureaucracy, bringing powerfullearning tools directly to students. The full impli-cations of this for the K–12 system remain impos-sible to forecast, but this much is clear: The bestis yet to come.
  24. 24. 16 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER ONE
  25. 25. Closing Achievement Gaps: SomeStates Jog while Others CrawlCHAPTER2
  26. 26. 18 Report Card on American EducationIn 1997, Professor Lawrence Stedman char-acterized the state of academic achieve-ment gaps in America with precision andbrutal honesty:Twelfth-grade black students are performingat the level of middle school white students.These students are about to graduate, yet theylag four or more years behind in every area in-cluding math, science, writing, history and ge-ography. Latino seniors do somewhat betterthan 8th-grade white students in math andwriting but, in other areas, are also four yearsbehind white 12th graders. … Schools and so-ciety remains divided into two different worlds,one black, one white, separate and unequal.xxiiiThe following recent data demonstrates thatnationally, 15 years after Stedman’s chillinglyaccurate assessment, little has changed. Amer-ica’s system of schooling continues to system-atically underserve low-income and minoritystudents, despite large, above-and-beyond in-flation increases in per-pupil spending. Thepicture varies considerably from state to statehowever, with some states having made solidprogress in closing gaps and others falling evenfurther behind.This chapter ranks states according to theirprogress in closing achievement gaps. For rea-sons we will explain, there is only one good wayto close an achievement gap: Realize gains for ev-eryone, with larger-than-average gains for disad-vantaged student groups. Understanding ways ofclosing achievement gaps in proper context willreveal a large variety in the effectiveness of stateefforts to close those gaps.CAUTION: ACHIEVEMENT GAPS ARE NOTALWAYS WHAT THEY APPEARAchievement gaps easily can mislead the unwarythinker. Consider, for instance, the white-blackachievement gap. Normally, we would think clos-ing this gap is good and desirable, and a growinggap is bad and undesirable.The way in which achievement gaps grow orclose, however, is vitally important. Imagine, forinstance, a state whose white-black achievementgap closed due to a decline in the achievementscores of white students accompanied by a de-cline in black scores, with white scores decliningat a faster rate. Congratulations! The achievementgap closed, but you have an academic catastropheon your hands. This may seem like a far-fetchedscenario, but it actually happened in West Virgin-ia, as we detail here.Likewise, an achievement gap can expand,even when all scores have risen, if the scores ofthe traditionally higher scoring group increasefaster. The District of Columbia, in the midst ofa substantial gentrification, has seen just such atrend over the past decade. Ethicists can debatewhether we should view the District of Colum-bia trend as a boon or a disaster, but it is clearly abetter state of affairs than in West Virginia—withall scores going up in D.C., and all scores goingdown in West Virginia—unless you are the sortwho places an irrationally high value on equali-ty of misery.If you fall into that trap, you may congratulateWest Virginia for its “closing” achievement gap,while scolding Washington, D.C., for its “widen-ing” gap. This shows the need to go deeper thanthe surface and to examine the crucial details ofhow states close achievement gaps, not simply ifthey close them.Closing Achievement Gaps: SomeStates Jog while Others Crawl
  27. 27. www.alec.org 19Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlThere will always be differences in academicachievement between various student subgroupsand non-schooling factors that contribute to suchgaps. On the whole, students from low-incomehouseholds will face greater challenges than thosefrom their wealthy classmates.“Bad gap closings” and “good gap expansions,”if we wanted to call them that, are the exceptionsrather than the rules, but they have happened, aswe have detailed. Nevertheless, broadly speaking,the sort of huge and appalling gaps found in Amer-ica point to deep flaws in our system of schooling.The vast majority of the time, states show a per-sistent achievement gap. The following data pointto a horrible but unavoidable conclusion: Ameri-can schools give the most to the children with themost. Far too many children who begin with lit-tle receive very little in the way of an education.Vast swaths of American children find themselveswarehoused more than educated in what has be-come government-subsidized daycare.First, we present both national and interna-tional data on achievement gaps. Next, we careful-ly examine both national and state-level achieve-ment data to rank state performance. Americanshave been crawling a marathon in closing achieve-ment gaps. Distressingly, some are crawling awayfrom the finish line. A few states, however, havestood up and begun to jog in the right direction.ACHIEVEMENT GAPS: INTERNATIONALEVIDENCE OF A NATIONAL DISGRACEThe Organization for Economic Cooperationand Development (OECD) began giving examsto measure student K–12 achievement in mem-ber nations during the late 1990s. The 2009 Pro-gramme for International Student Assessment(PISA) gave random student samples academicexams in 74 countries. The following PISA datafocus on 15-year-old students (10th graders inAmerica), as this is often the minimum age ofmandatory school attendance around the world.In short, this data is as close to a comparable fin-ished academic product as possible.The U.S. Department of Education performedan additional analysis of the American data tobreak down results by both income and racial/eth-nic subgroups. Figure 1 presents data for Ameri-can subgroups by income compared to PISA aver-ages. The chart divides the American sample intoquartiles based upon the percentage of students atthe school level who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch under the National School LunchProgram (NSLP). The program is administeredby the U.S. Department of Agriculture and pro-vides free and reduced-price lunches for childrenwhose family income falls below certain thresh-olds, which vary by family size and are updatedfrom year to year to account for inflation. In 2009,Figure 1 | PISA Combined Literacy Scores for 15-year-olds by School Affluence (Percentage of Studentsat American Schools Qualifying for a Free or Reduced Lunch)5510 100 200 300 400 500 600Mexico (Lowest OECD)75%-100%50%-74.9%U.S. Average25%-49.9%10.1%-24.9%Korea (highest OECD)Less than 10% U.S.539527502500471446425
  28. 28. 20 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOa family of four could earn a maximum of justmore than $40,000 to qualify for a reduced-pricelunch, but approximately 80 percent of these stu-dents qualify for a free lunch, which, for the samefamily of four, has a maximum family income ofjust over $28,000.xxivFigure 1 compares Ameri-can income subgroups against the performance ofthe lowest and highest OECD performers.The wealthiest Americans achieve quitewell—higher than average for the highest per-forming nation. Notice, however, how things slipby income: Students attending schools with amajority of low-income students score closer tothe average of Mexico (the lowest scoring OECDcountry) than to South Korea (the highest scoringnation). This is a disappointing result, to say theleast, given that American schools spend approx-imately four times as much per pupil on a pur-chasing-power-adjusted basis.xxvFigure 2 shows the same disappointing pat-tern by racial and ethnic subgroups.American 15-year-old white students score atan internationally competitive level, but one canonly describe the results for black and Hispan-ic students as catastrophic. Mexico’s schools mayproduce the lowest scores in the OECD, but on apoint-produced-per-dollar basis, they easily out-shine American schools serving black and His-panic students, despite having lower average fam-ily incomes.Researchers find the same achievement gapsin domestic and international testing data. Eachyear, millions of children—disproportionatelylow-income and minority children—fail to learnbasic literacy skills in the developmentally criti-cal grades. Rather than addressing these problemshead-on, standard practice involves simply sociallypromoting students to the next grade. Our collectivefailure to reform this shameful practice preserves asystem of schooling that routinely gives the least tothe students who start with the greatest needs.One can only describe the catastrophicallylow level of academic achievement among low-income and minority students as a crisis and asource of enormous national shame. The collec-tive failure of American schools and society to ed-ucate low-income and minority students has pro-duced what McKinsey & Company describes as a“permanent national recession” in America. Ob-viously, the economic impact of education fail-ure falls primarily upon the poor, but with conse-quences for everyone.In subsequent pages, we measure and rank theprogress of each of the 50 states and the Districtof Columbia in narrowing achievement gaps byrace/ethnicity and income. We will utilize NAEPdata to do so, making use of all four major NAEPtests (fourth-grade mathematics, fourth-gradereading, eighth-grade mathematics and eighth-grade reading) for the entire period for which all51 jurisdictions took these exams available at thetime of this writing (2003 to 2011).The data makes clear that some states havemade progress on narrowing gaps, while oth-ers continue to flounder as achievement gaps notonly fail to narrow but actually continue to grow.Figure 2 | PISA Combined Literacy Scores for 15-year-olds—American scores by Race and Ethnicity0 100 200 300 400 500 600Mexico (Lowest OECD)American Black StudentsAmerican Hispanic StudentsU.S. AverageAmerican White StudentsKorea (highest OECD) 539525500466441425
  29. 29. www.alec.org 21Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlTHE WHITE–BLACK ACHIEVEMENT GAPThe yawning gap in academic achievement be-tween white and black students continues to be-devil American schools. Figure 3 details the sizeof the gap between white and black achievementfor each of the main NAEP exams, plus the com-bined point total for all four tests in 2003 (the firsttests administered to all 50 states) and 2011 (thelatest available NAEP results at the time of thiswriting). The figure shows score gaps by subtract-ing the average score for black students from theaverage score for white students on the combinedfourth- and eighth-grade reading and math ex-ams, respectively, and then presents a combinedtotal from all four tests.Figure 3 shows that the national achievementgaps are very large. Despite some improvement be-tween 2003 and 2011, the white/black achieve-ment gap remained larger than 100 points in2011. To put these scores in context, on NAEPreading, the average amount of academic prog-ress achieved in an average academic year rough-ly equals 10 points.xviiIn other words, a group offifth graders could be expected to score about 10points higher than a group of fourth graders onthe NAEP reading test, all else being equal.The national 25-point gap between white andblack students in eight-grade reading in 2011 there-fore constitutes a gigantic problem: Black eighth-graders were reading at an average level compara-ble to white fifth-graders. Further, the fact that theresults in 2011 were a smidgen better than in 2003provides limited comfort. At this rate, assuminguninterrupted progress (a heroic assumption)the white-black achievement gap on eighth-gradereading would close in about 65 years.Nationwide, the country saw a 13-point de-cline in the size of the white-black achievementgap between 2003 and 2011. This averages rough-ly four points per NAEP test over that eight-yearperiod. This is a geological rate of progress rela-tive to the needs of the country to prepare all stu-dents for the challenges of the 21st century.The picture however becomes more promisingwhen examining state rather than national results.National stasis conceals a considerable amount ofvariation among states regarding improvements inreducing income achievement gaps.Figure 4 shows the reduction (or in some casesexpansion) in the size of the total NAEP white-blackachievement gap (negative numbers) and the statesin which the gap grew for the 2003-2011 period.(Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hamp-shire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota,Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming lacked black stu-dent populations large enough for NAEP to re-liably sample, and thus are not included in theanalysis. Washington D.C., lacked a white studentpopulation large enough to sample in the eighthgrade, excluding them from the analysis as well.)National leaders in reducing the white-blackachievement gap—New York, Louisiana, andFlorida—doubled the average rate of progress.The worst performing state, Oregon, saw almosta 23-point increase in the size of the white-blackachievement gap between 2003 and 2011.Figure 3 | White-Black Achievement Gap by NAEP Subject, 2003 and 2011304R 8R 4M 8M Combined2003201125 27 25 27 253531119106
  30. 30. 22 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOFigure 5 presents the absolute size of white-black achievement gaps by state using the 2011data—the combined NAEP fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics tests. The figuresagain represent the combined white scores minusthe combined black scores on the four NAEP testsgiven consistently since 2003. Rather than mea-suring trends, Figure 5 shows the absolute size ofthe gaps in 2011 by subtracting black scores fromwhite scores on the four main NAEP exams.Again, use caution when interpreting the data inFigure 5. For instance, West Virginia has the nation’ssmallest white-black achievement gap in the nation.Cause for celebration? Not in this case: West Virgin-ia also had the lowest scores for white students in thecountry on all four major NAEP tests in 2011.Black student scores in West Virginia are a bitabove the national average, but the small achieve-ment gap is largely explained by the low scores ofthe students who comprise almost 93 percent ofthe student population. West Virginia has whitescores far below the national average and blackscores that are approximately average, creating asmall white-black achievement gap, but hardlyone that anyone would wish to emulate.Figure 6, therefore, corrects for such issueswith regard to progress, or lack thereof. The trendlines presented in Figure 5 can provide a mislead-ing picture of trends if white students’ scores in agiven state have underperformed the national aver-age. Between 2003 and 2011, scores for white stu-dents were generally increasing. A state in whichwhite students’ scores increased below the nationalaverage, stagnated, or actually fell could show a de-cline in the white-black achievement gap. In someinstances this could happen even if black students’scores themselves were declining (e.g., if white stu-dents’ scores were declining at a faster rate).Figure 4 | Trends in the Combined NAEP White-Black Achievement Gap, 2003 to 2011(Negative Numbers=Declining Gap)-31-30 -20 -10 0 10 20OregonWashingtonMissouriOhioMarylandAlaskaSouth CarolinaVirginiaNebraskaColoradoMassachusettsPennsylvaniaNew MexicoDelawareIowaMississippiWest VirginiaConnecticutKentuckyAlabamaNorth CarolinaTexasNevadaWisconsinMinnesotaGeorgiaRhode IslandArizonaNational publicCaliforniaIllinoisIndianaMichiganOklahomaTennesseeArkansasKansasNew JerseyFloridaLouisianaNew York-28-26-25-23-22-21-21-20-16-16-16-13-13-12-12-12-11-10-10-9-9-8-8-8-7-6-6-6-5-4-3-2-2012581523
  31. 31. www.alec.org 23Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 6 takes these possibilities into account byonly ranking the trend of the white-black achieve-ment gap for states making at least average progressfor white students. This is, in fact, the best way toclose an achievement gap: Have both advantagedand disadvantaged students make gains, with thedisadvantaged student group showing larger gains.In summary, these states made truly admirableprogress on the white-black achievement gap.The white-black achievement gap is not goinganywhere fast. Florida, which advanced fastestduring this period, would take more than threedecades to close the gap if the current pace weremaintained. Colorado, the state with the slowestprogress, would close the gap between white andblack students in approximately 296 years at thecurrent pace.xxviiiThere are worse things afoot, however, thanwhat we see in Colorado. Recall from Figure 4that Alaska, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon,and Washington expanded the size of their white-black achievement gaps between 2003 and 2011.In Oregon, the question is not whether they canstart to close the gap but just how big it will getbefore deciding to do something about it.Reformers must recalibrate the scale of theirefforts if they wish to achieve meaningful resultswhile they are still alive.THE WHITE–HISPANIC ACHIEVEMENT GAPAmerica’s Hispanic children have also had con-siderable difficulty in closing the achievementgap. Figure 8 presents the 2003 and 2011 white-Hispanic achievement gaps for the four mainNAEP exams and the combined total. The gap-ing size of the 2011 gap overshadows the factthat each of the academic gaps shrank marginal-ly between 2003 and 2011. For instance, the 2009Figure 5 | Combined NAEP Achievement Gaps (4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math) by Jurisdiction, 20110 50 100 150 200 250West VirginiaHawaiiKentuckySouth DakotaOklahomaNew MexicoAlaskaWashingtonDelawareArizonaTexasOregonNevadaLouisianaNew YorkIndianaVirginiaGeorgiaKansasTennesseeMississippiFloridaNorth CarolinaIowaNational publicRhode IslandMassachusettsAlabamaOhioSouth CarolinaNew JerseyCaliforniaColoradoArkansasMaineMissouriMarylandNebraskaIllinoisPennsylvaniaMinnesotaMichiganConnecticutWisconsinDistrict of Columbia 23513613112512412412212212011811311111110910810810710610610610510410310110110099989897979595939392898985858382805149
  32. 32. 24 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOfourth-grade reading gap between white and His-panic students stood at an appalling 25 points—roughly equivalent to two and a half school yearsof academic progress.One might hope that language barriers ac-count for the gap and that it would narrow asthe billions of dollars spent on English-LanguageLearner programs took hold—hope in vain, thatis. The eighth-grade reading gap looms almostidentically large to the fourth-grade gap. At therate of progress achieved between 2003 and 2011(if steadily and consistently maintained—a heroicassumption) Hispanics will close the gap seen inFigure 7 somewhere around the year 2056.Figure 7 | National White-Hispanic Achievement Gaps by NAEP Subject, 2003-2011284R 8R 4M 8M Combined2003201124 2721 21 20282310488Figure 6 | Declines in the White-Black Achievement Gap on the Combined NAEP exams for States withAverage or Above White Academic Progress, 2003 to 20114051015202530FloridaNewJerseyKansasArkansasOklahomaCaliforniaArizonaMinnesotaGeorgiaTexasNevadaAlabamaKentuckyConnecticutNewMexicoPennsylvaniaMassachusettsColorado3586810910121213211622252326
  33. 33. www.alec.org 25Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 8 | Combined NAEP White-Hispanic Achievement Gap Trend, 2003-2011(Note: Negative Scores Signify a Closing Gap)-35 -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30HawaiiOhioWashingtonConnecticutWisconsinVirginiaPennsylvaniaWyomingOregonColoradoUtahNew JerseyTexasOklahomaMarylandCaliforniaIndianaNevadaArkansasMassachusettsKansasNew YorkFloridaNational publicNew MexicoIdahoArizonaRhode IslandNorth CarolinaNebraskaIowaMinnesotaMichiganIllinoisDelawareAlaskaGeorgia -31-27-26-24-24-24-21-21-18-18-16-16-16-15-15-15-12-12-11-11-8-7-7-6-6-4-3-2-204445122126The national situation hardly inspires confi-dence, although more progress is seen than in thecase of the black-white gap. State-by-state data,however, demonstrates amazing variability amongjurisdictions in closing the Hispanic achievementgap. One can find everything from inspiring suc-cess to worsening failure in the states.Figure 8 presents the trend for the combinedwhite-Hispanic gaps on the four main NAEP exams(fourth-grade math and reading, eighth-grade mathand reading). The Hispanic populations of a numberof states fell below the size required to reliably sam-ple, so they are not included in the analysis. Thesestates included Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana,Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hamp-shire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota,Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wy-oming. Washington, D.C., had eighth-grade whitepopulations too small to reliably sample as well.In total, 19 states reduced their total His-panic achievement gap more than the nation-al average, although most only by modestmargins. Notice the substantial variation inoutcomes among states: Delaware reduced theHispanic gap by approximately three-times thenational average. Meanwhile, Ohio suffered anincrease to the gap more than twice the size ofthe national decline.Figure 9 presents the absolute size of thewhite-Hispanic achievement gap using all fourmajor NAEP exams given in 2011. Note that thesame caveats previously discussed regarding thewhite-Black achievement gap apply to the His-panic gap as well.Figure 10 presents the figures for states mak-ing admirable progress on the white-Hispan-ic achievement gap—states with above-averagewhite and Hispanic student gains.
  34. 34. 26 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOIf Georgia were to maintain its current pace,then it would close the white-Hispanic achieve-ment gap in approximately 16 years. Colorado,the slowest of the states making admirable prog-ress, would take 448 years at its current pace. TheHispanic achievement “Hall of Shame” is made upof Connecticut, Hawaii, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vir-ginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, where the gapexpanded between 2003 and 2011.TRENDS IN ECONOMICACHIEVEMENT GAPS BY STATENationwide, the gap in achievement between poorand non-poor students on the combined NAEPassessments has declined somewhat between the2003 and 2011 NAEP, as shown in Figure 11.The gaps between students from low- andmiddle/high-income families are large and onlynarrowing slowly. A national achievement gapof almost 27 points on fourth-grade reading be-tween poor and non-poor students representsa very large gulf in academic achievement fromthe 2011 NAEP. On average, poor children willnot be reading approximately at the level of non-poor fourth-graders until they finish the seventhgrade. The situation proved only slightly betterin eighth-grade reading. Non-poor students alsooutscore poor students by a sizable margin infourth-grade math and by an even larger amountin eighth-grade math.Finally, Figure 11 sums all four gaps into a cu-mulative gap of 104 points for 2003 and 99 pointsin 2011. Mark your calendar for the year 2177 tocelebrate cutting the income achievement gap inFigure 9 | Combined NAEP White-Hispanic Achievement Gap in NAEP Scale Points, 20110 50 100 150 200 250KentuckyMontanaFloridaAlaskaMichiganLouisianaTennesseeWyomingArkansasGeorgiaSouth CarolinaOklahomaMissouriIndianaVirginiaDelawareKansasSouth DakotaNorth CarolinaIowaOhioNew HampshireMarylandTexasNew MexicoHawaiiAlabamaIdahoOregonNevadaIllinoisArizonaNational publicNebraskaNew YorkWisconsinWashingtonNew JerseyMinnesotaRhode IslandPennsylvaniaUtahColoradoMassachusettsCaliforniaConnecticutDistrict of Columbia 213129114114112111106102102100979592909089878786858282827978787676767573726766666461605956555453534733106
  35. 35. www.alec.org 27Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others CrawlFigure 10 | Combined NAEP White-Hispanic Achievement Gap Closing for States Making an Average orAbove-Average Progress for White Students, 2003-20110 5 10 15 20 25 30 35OregonColoradoUtahNew JerseyTexasOklahomaMarylandCaliforniaNevadaArkansasMassachusettsKansasNew YorkNational publicFloridaNew MexicoIdahoArizonaRhode IslandNorth CarolinaNebraskaIowaMinnesotaMichiganIllinoisDelawareAlaskaGeorgia 312726242424211818161616151515121211117766432221fourth-grade reading by half, assuming endur-ance of the current glacial pace of improvement.The national trend between 2003 and 2011failed to show much progress, but in terms ofsheer size of income achievement gaps amongstates, we find a remarkable amount of variation.Figure 12 presents the combined NAEP achieve-ment gap between poor and non-poor studentsfor all 50 states and the District of Columbia.Notice that the state with the largest incomegap, Connecticut, has an income achievementgap more than twice as large (121 points) as thestate with the smallest gap, Wyoming (60 points).Statistical evaluation of variation between thesescores lies outside of the scope of this work, butobviously, multiple demographic and other fac-tors influence the size of such gaps. Connecticut,for example, contains a large inner-city district(Hartford) into which many of the state’s low-in-come students have clustered. Wyoming, a ruralFigure 11 | The National NAEP Family Income Achievement Gap (Non FRL eligible minus FRL eligible) bySubject, 2003 and 2009284R 8R 4M 8M Combined2003201127 25 23 23 2328 2610499
  36. 36. 28 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOstate, lacks a similar major urban district. Highscores among non-poor students contribute tothe gap just as much as low scores among poorstudents.Figure 12 shows the absolute size of the in-come gaps in 2011. Figure 13 shows the progress(or lack thereof) for all 50 states in closing theincome achievement gap on the combined NAEPexams. Some states moved the needle on loweringincome gap, while many others floundered help-lessly, their gaps growing larger.Figure 13 presents the combined NAEP in-come achievement gaps for all 50 states and theDistrict of Columbia for the 2003–2011 period.The figures presented in Figure 13 simply rep-resent the 2011 combined gap minus the 2003combined gap. Positive numbers signify a grow-ing income achievement gap, while negative num-bers show a declining gap.Broadly speaking, income gap figures by stateshow most jurisdictions in the middle: some hav-ing made limited progress, and a disturbinglylarge number of states having somewhat expand-ed their income achievement gap. Two jurisdic-tions—Washington, D.C., and Oregon—suffereddisturbingly large increases in income achieve-ment gaps.Figure 14 illustrates the trends in the econom-ic achievement gap for states making average orbetter academic progress for non-poor students.Florida, the state with the most rapidly clos-ing gap between 2003 and 2011, could close itsFigure 12 | 2011 Combined NAEP Income Achievement Gap by State—Non- Poor minus Poor scores onthe four main NAEP exams0 30 60 90 120 150WyomingOklahomaNorth DakotaIdahoMontanaWest VirginiaNew HampshireSouth DakotaMaineIndianaKentuckyDelawareUtahHawaiiNevadaIowaVermontKansasFloridaNew MexicoNew YorkTexasOhioArizonaTennesseeLouisianaArkansasNebraskaMissouriMichiganNorth CarolinaOregonAlabamaGeorgiaNational publicSouth CarolinaMinnesotaRhode IslandMississippiWashingtonWisconsinMassachusettsVirginiaNew JerseyAlaskaPennsylvaniaIllinoisMarylandCaliforniaColoradoDistrict of ColumbiaConnecticut
  37. 37. www.alec.org 29Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawleconomic achievement gap in approximately 59years if they maintain their current pace. California,the slowest moving of the states making admirableprogress during this period, is on pace to close thisgap in 880 years. As bad as this sounds, 19 statesand the District of Columbia all watched their eco-nomic achievement gaps expand during this period,putting them on pace to never close them.TRENDS IN THE ACHIEVEMENT GAPFOR DISABLED STUDENTSThe disability achievement gap does not generateas much attention as racial, ethnic, or econom-ic gaps, but policymakers should pay greater at-tention to trends in scores for children with dis-abilities. Few areas of K–12 policy have proved astroublesome and frustrating as the education ofchildren with disabilities. At the time of the pas-sage of the federal Education for All HandicappedChildren Act in the 1970s, public schools weredenying an estimated one million students accessto their schools.xxixOf all the trends in achieve-ment gaps, this one is easily the most trouble-some, with the least amount of state progress.While federal special education law stands asa landmark piece of legislation protecting disabledstudents from discrimination, huge problems sur-round the education of children with disabilities.Parents register enormous dissatisfaction with thelack of services available; researchers point to theover-identification of minority students and out-of-control costs; and teachers vent their frustration withthe amount of red tape and paperwork involved.In 2001, the conservative Thomas B. FordhamFoundation and the liberal Progressive Policy In-stitute (PPI) teamed up to summarize the situa-tion this way:“For this program that has done so much isalso sorely troubled. America’s program forFigure 13 | Trend in the Combined NAEP Non-Poor/Poor Achievement Gap Trend, 2003-2011-20 -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30New YorkIllinoisFloridaMassachusettsOklahomaMichiganNew JerseyIndianaWisconsinGeorgiaArizonaAlabamaNorth CarolinaRhode IslandDelawareIowaTennesseeNational publicNew HampshireWyomingHawaiiOhioTexasLouisianaMinnesotaVermontNew MexicoCaliforniaConnecticutMarylandPennsylvaniaIdahoNebraskaNevadaKansasMontanaSouth CarolinaColoradoKentuckyVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaMissouriUtahAlaskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMaineMississippiArkansasOregonDistrict of Columbia 26221199877666544432111100-1-1-1-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-3-3-3-4-5-5-6-7-7-7-8-9-9-10-10-10-13-175
  38. 38. 30 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOyoungsters with disabilities has itself developedinfirmities, handicaps and special needs of itsown. … [W]e are not educating many disabledchildren to a satisfactory level of skills andknowledge. Too often we are frustrating theirparents, distracting their teachers, hobblingtheir schools, and making it harder to keep or-der in their classrooms, all this despite the bestof intentions and the most earnest of efforts byfamilies, educators, and policymakers.”xxxThe Fordham/PPI message broke somethingof a taboo against criticizing the Individuals withDisabilities Education Act (IDEA) by exposing alegion of problems with special education. Theseproblems included, but are not limited to, the factthat IDEA emphasizes procedure over studentachievement, that an alarmingly large number ofchildren have been inappropriately placed in spe-cial education due to poor early reading instruc-tion, and there is evidence of racial bias in place-ment of minority children.xxxiBy some estimates, 40 percent of the in-crease in K–12 spending has gone toward specialeducation. Special education, in short, does toolittle to help children with disabilities and toomuch to harm children without disabilities. JayMathews of The Washington Post noted that theavailable research “suggests that the special ed-ucation system has led to widespread, if well-in-tentioned, misuse of tax dollars and has failed tohelp kids.”xxxiiMore recently, there has been evidence ofsome progress on the special education front. Af-ter decades of steady increases in the number ofchildren identified with a disability, the popula-tion of students with disabilities peaked in 2004–2005, with 6.7 million youngsters, comprising13.8 percent of the nation’s student population.The following year marked the first time sincethe enactment of IDEA that special-education par-ticipation numbers declined—and they have con-tinued to do so, falling to 6.5 million students by2009–2010, or 13.1 percent of all students nation-wide. There are multiple possible causes for thisdecline. The most hopeful of these is the possibil-ity that improved reading instruction through theproliferation of Response to Intervention (RTI)Figure 14 | Decline in the Combined NAEP Economic Achievement Gap for States Making Average orBetter Progress Among Middle-/High Income Students, 2003-2011102468101 122 23 3657 7710910FloridaMassachusettsNewJerseyWisconsinGeorgiaArizonaAlabamaRhodeIslandTennesseeNationalpublicHawaiiOhioTexasVermontNewMexicoCalifornia
  39. 39. www.alec.org 31Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawlmay have lessened the misidentification of chil-dren with reading problems as having a disabili-ty.xxxiiiFurther research is certainly warranted onthis subject.Figure 15 presents the disability gaps by sub-ject with NAEP data for both 2003 and 2011.We calculated these figures by subtracting thescores of children with disabilities from theFigure 15 | The National NAEP Disability Achievement Gap by Subject, 2003 and 2011354R 8R 4M 8M Combined2003201138 41 3822 2539 38137 139Figure 16 | Trends in the Combined NAEP Disability Achievement Gap, 2003-2011(Note: Negative Numbers Signify a Closing Gap)-40 -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60VermontSouth CarolinaRhode IslandNorth CarolinaMississippiHawaiiArizonaMissouriVirginiaOregonCaliforniaDistrict of ColumbiaMichiganMaineColoradoAlaskaMontanaNebraskaIowaIllinoisWashingtonWest VirginiaKansasNevadaSouth DakotaNational publicNew YorkUtahIdahoLouisianaMinnesotaConnecticutIndianaWisconsinPennsylvaniaWyomingNew HampshireAlabamaArkansasOhioFlorida -36-30-21-20-11-11-11-10-9-8-7-7-2-2133566678911121314192428303035363841445859-5
  40. 40. 32 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWOscores for children without disabilities for eachmajor NAEP test.Not surprising, the scale of the disabilityachievement gap is considerably larger than eitherthe economic or the racial/ethnic gaps. Disturb-ing, however, is that the disability achievementgap has been growing, rather than shrinking, andit is the only gap to do so.Figure 16 calculates the achievement gap trendfor each jurisdiction between 2003 and 2011.Again, states with negative numbers exhibit nar-rowing gaps, while states with positive numbersexperienced a growing gap between disabled andnon-disabled students during this period. Thischart does not include the 11 states that failed tomeet NAEP inclusion standards for children withdisabilities: Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Mary-land, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico,Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.xxxivSome ofthese states failed to test a very large percentageof their special-needs students on NAEP (some-times testing only a minority of students) makingtheir scores for special-needs students unreliablein our judgment.Notice the wide amount of variability amongjurisdictions with regard to the disability gap. BothNorth Dakota and Florida made almost five timesthe amount of progress in closing the disability gapas the national average, while North Carolina sawits gap grow by almost the same amount.Florida has the smallest disability achieve-ment gap in the nation at 110 points, which, whileFigure 17 | The Combined NAEP Disability Achievement Gap, 20110 50 100 150 200 250FloridaNew HampshireLouisianaOhioIndianaConnecticutWyomingMississippiNebraskaNational publicVirginiaNew YorkMaineSouth DakotaIllinoisKansasNorth CarolinaMichiganMissouriPennsylvaniaNevadaMinnesotaWest VirginiaWisconsinMontanaOregonAlaskaUtahSouth CarolinaIdahoWashingtonCaliforniaArkansasRhode IslandColoradoArizonaIowaVermontAlabamaDistrict of ColumbiaHawaii 212182177172172169167165164162160156154154153150147147146145145144144143141140140140139138136135135134133130127110167169146
  41. 41. www.alec.org 33Closing Achievement Gaps: Some States Jog while Others Crawlhuge, is still only slightly larger than half the sizeof Hawaii’s yawning gap. As Figure 18 shows,Florida also leads the way among states makingadmirable progress on the disability gap.Since 2001, all Florida children with disabil-ities have been eligible under Florida’s McKayScholarships for Students with Disabilities Pro-gram to transfer to a public or private school oftheir choice. While it is certain that other policychanges also helped increase academic achieve-ment among children with disabilities, we dohave evidence that the McKay Scholarship pro-gram has helped increase scores in Florida publicschools that are now facing higher levels of com-petition while directly aiding 25,000 students en-rolled in the program.xxxvIt could be that the McKay Scholarship pro-gram was largely incidental to Florida havingthe smallest disability gap and making the mostprogress—it’s just not very likely. The guaranteedright to a public education works better when youalso have the right to opt out of a different schoolsetting if needed.CONCLUSION: GLACIAL AND UNEVENPROGRESS ON ACHIEVEMENT GAPSThe average American school, district, and statedid precious little to narrow race- or income-based achievement gaps between 2003 and 2011.A disturbingly large swath of schools, districts,and states, in fact, did precisely the opposite. Giv-en the emphasis on testing and accountabilityushered in by the No Child Left Behind Act, onlythe scale of the disappointment can be in ques-tion; there can be no doubt that these results fallfar short of the hopes of the bipartisan group thatushered in that law.The genius of our founders, however, is stillat work: We have some states accomplishing farmore than others in lowering academic achieve-ment gaps. We move now to an analysis of gainsin order to get a firm grasp on the scale of successand failure in various jurisdictions.The incomplete information presented in thischapter does support one early conclusion: What-ever it is we are doing as a nation to improve theeducation to date, it has not been enough.Figure 18 | States Closing the Disability Achievement Gap without Below-Average Performance amongNon-Disabled Students, 2003-201130010203040Florida Arkansas Alabama Pennsylvania Louisiana3621 20711
  42. 42. 34 Report Card on American EducationCHAPTER TWO
  43. 43. 3CHAPTEREducation Policy Gradesand Academic Performance

×