Housing Policy Is Education Policy (For Now)

I really enjoyed this Conor Dougherty piece on housing policy, and it makes me want to read his book Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America. This part in particular stood out to me:

Nearly all of the biggest challenges in America are, at some level, a housing problem. Rising home costs are a major driver of segregation, inequality, and racial and generational wealth gaps. You can’t talk about education or the shrinking middle class without talking about how much it costs to live near good schools and high-paying jobs.

However, Conor Williams’ recent piece for The Washington Post argues that this need not be the case. Rather than waiting to win economic development battles city by city and block by block, charter schools “offer the possibility of unlinking housing and school access now.”

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

We Don’t Know That Much About How to Prepare Teachers

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has a new consensus report on teacher preparation. One of their conclusions says this (emphasis added):

The research base on preservice teacher preparation supplies little evidence about its impact on teacher candidates and their performance once they are in the classroom. Preservice programs in many states assess the performance of teacher candidates for purposes of licensure, but few states have developed data systems that link information about individual teachers’ preservice experiences with other data about those teachers or their performance. Overall, it is difficult to assess the causal impact of teacher preparation programs.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Latest Edu-Reads

As the charter school debate becomes increasingly partisan, Bellwether has a new report on autonomous schools, schools that occupy the middle ground between “traditional” and “charter.”

Brandon Lewis talks with Shaniola Arowolaju, a D.C. native and parent organizer, about how challenging it can be for parents to find the right school for their child.

“So for now, the thousands of minority parents relying on charter schools are on thin political ice, with indifference coming from the Republicans and hostility coming from the now-dominant wing of the Democratic Party.” That’s from Andy Rotherham and Richard Whitmire in The Hill on the deteriorating politics around charter schools.

Beth Hawkins interviews outgoing Louisiana schools chief John White.

Colleges that are part of the American Talent Initiative are on track to meet their collective goal of recruiting 50,000 more low- and middle-income students, but there are signs the gains are slowing. H/t to Goldie Blumenstyk.

The Urban Institute has a fun graphic on who would benefit from free college programs.

Mike Goldstein and Scott McCue on how they took the risk away from people wanting to become teachers: they guaranteed candidates a teaching job, and let students pay back their tuition after they graduated and found a job.

A big new CALDER paper looks at academic mobility. How much does a students’ relative performance in third grade predict how they will perform in later grades? The authors find quite large correlations (aka very little mobility) across six states. Moreover, the districts that see gains tend to help all of their students improve:

We also show that school districts exhibit statistically and economically significant variation in academic mobility. The predominant driver of cross-district variation in total academic mobility is absolute mobility, not relative (within district) mobility. That is, districts differ much more by whether they are effective in raising achievement throughout the entire distributions of their students than they do in their ability to improve lower-performing students’ relative ranks internally. Indeed, we do not find evidence of large differences across districts in relative mobility, which suggests that districts do not, in fact, differentially specialize in educating students at different achievement levels within their distributions (e.g., high versus low achievers).

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Latest Edu-Reads

Bellwether’s first early childhood newsletter came out last week. You can subscribe for updates here.

“While the average causal effect of hosting a student teacher on student performance in the year of the apprenticeship is indistinguishable from zero in both math and reading, hosting a student teacher is found to have modest positive impacts on student math and reading achievement in a teacher’s classroom in following years.” That’s from a new paper by Dan Goldhaber, John M. Krief, and Roddy Theobald about the impact of being an apprentice to an student teacher.

This Tampa Bay Times piece on how school choice is dividing Florida Democrats along racial lines is a must-read for anyone who cares about the choice issue, or the 2020 election.

Re Florida school choice, a new NBER study finds that the state’s private school choice program boosted outcomes for public school students.

Here’s Bonnie O’Keefe on the school choice politics in Newark.

The Oscars uses ranked-choice voting. Now so will Maine.

A new policy brief from AIR looks at the lasting benefits and strong cost-benefit returns of early college high schools.

That said, young college graduates aren’t faring as well today as their peers did in the past:

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Edujob: Digital Marketing Associate for Bellwether Education Partners

Bellwether is seeking a Digital Marketing Associate to support Bellwether’s external relations efforts in a broad array of marketing, communications, and fundraising activities.

We are committed to building a team that reflects the varied backgrounds and experiences of the students we seek to serve. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them our way!

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Want a Teaching Job? Get a Special Education Endorsement!

A new working paper on the labor market for special education teachers includes a remarkable graph. The orange bars in the graph below represent the hiring rates for Washington state teacher candidates with a special education endorsement (click on the graph to see a bigger version). Earning a special education education endorsement appears to be a way to combat the effects of recessions: Even in the depths of the Great Recession, more than 75 percent of newly trained teachers with a special education endorsement secured a teaching job in Washington within three years of graduation.

The green bars, in contrast, represent teacher candidates with only an elementary education endorsement. While the green and orange bars look similar in recent years–when teacher hiring has been strong–the hiring rates look very different during economic downturns. For elementary education graduates in 2010, they had only about a 45 percent chance of securing a teaching job in Washington within three years.

The paper is titled “The Special Education Teacher Pipeline: Teacher Preparation, Workforce Entry, and Retention” by Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Natsumi Naito, and Marcy Stein. Find it on the CALDER website here.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Latest Edu-Reads

My Bellwether colleagues are launching an early childhood newsletter. You should sign up!

Here’s Nisha Smales on the complex pathways early childhood educators take into the classroom.

Rising teacher pension costs are eating into expenditures on teacher salaries. Primarily, this seems to be about reductions in staffing rather than outright cuts to individual salaries.

The 13th annual CALDER conference has some interesting new research papers. I’m especially partial to this Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, and Mavzuna Turaeva study on between- and within-school segregation in North Carolina.

EdSource on dual enrollment gaps in California.

I’m (very!) late to it, but this Nat Malkus report on the evolution of career and technical education is fascinating. For example, check out Table 6 on the changes in CTE concentrators by gender.

“In Mississippi, nearly 33,000 students — almost all of them African American — attend a school district rated as failing, like Holmes. White students account for less than 5 percent of enrollment in these districts, according to a Hechinger Report analysis of state data.” That’s Bracey Harris taking a deep dive on academic segregation in Mississippi.

USA Today takes a look at private placements for public school students with a disability. They find, “In California, Massachusetts and New York, for instance, the share of white students in private placement exceeds the share in public special education by about 10 percentage points. And in both California and Massachusetts, low-income students with disabilities were only half as likely to receive a private placement as their wealthier special education peers.”

John Arnold has a reminder on the long-term trends in childhood poverty rates:

“Hand-washing is one of the most important tools in public health. It can keep kids from getting the flu, prevent the spread of disease and keep infections at bay.” That’s from this old NPR story about a doctor who championed hand-washing before his time.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

The Rush Back Toward Career Pathways

I missed this Liz Bowie story on Maryland’s effort to scale up career and technical education. Bowie does a nice job balancing the tensions and trade-offs, and lots of people I respect are behind the Maryland plan, but this still makes me nervous:

At the end of the 10th grade, students would have to qualify for the career or academic paths by passing a test or some other measure that showed they were prepared for basic, entry-level college classes. The Kirwan plan estimates about 65% of students in the state would meet that bar by 2030, boosted by other parts of the education package, such as more pre-kindergarten and intensive support for students at schools with high poverty rates.

Is this just another form of tracking? Even assuming everything goes as planned, what happens to the 35 percent who don’t meet the bar for either pathway?

I’m working on a paper on this very topic right now, and we’re finding that states aren’t paying close enough attention to determine whether their college and career pathways are equally rigorous and accessible for all students. We’ll have more to say on this soon!

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman

High School Rankings Are Incomplete

The Urban Institute has a new paper seeking better ways to identify high schools that are producing positive outcomes for historically underserved students. Using data from Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia, they find that, “…school quality is not a monolith. Schools that see gains on one metric do not necessarily see gains across other metrics.”

They find that test score gains and college enrollment rates have a correlation of just 0.13. They conclude, “schools that are good at raising test scores are not necessarily the same schools that are good at preparing students to enroll in college.”

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Back in 2015, I published a similar paper looking at the overlap of high school metrics in Tennessee. The traditional metrics that states use to assess high school quality–test scores and graduation rates–are insufficient to answer the harder questions of whether high schools are preparing students to be successful in college or careers.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman