High Stakes Testing in Eastern India

In Eastern India, 600 high school students were expelled for cheating on year 10 exams. Parents and friends of students scaled the out walls of school buildings to pass cheat cheat sheets to students taking tests inside. If these students do not pass the exams they cannot continue their education that leads to jobs in a very competitive market.

Funding for Musical Instruments

The band Portugal. The Man together with StubHub and Dr. Martens is putting $1 million worth of musical instruments in US schools, focusing on underfunded schools. This initiative, partnered with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, was introduced at South by Southwest media event in Austin, Texas. This project will continue over the next year and will include others artists and musicians.

CPS Sees a Drop in Suspensions and Expulsions

Great news for Chicago Public Schools. There has been a 60% drop in student suspensions in CPS mid year due to revisions to the district’s code of conduct, which now focuses on alternatives to removing misbehaving students from schools while keeping them focused on learning. The district has also seen a 38% drop in expulsions across K-12 grade levels as a result of the policy changes set in motion during January 2014.

Performance Improvement in Schools (and Medical Care)

The team at Atlantic Research has long been in the work of performance improvement and capacity building in schools and school districts.  The work is so intense, we rarely take time to think about other sectors’ work and their versions of performance improvement.  Check out this link to an article from the managed medical sector: http://www.ajmc.com/publications/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n2/Faster-by-a-Power-of-10-A-PLAN-for-Accelerating-National-Adoption-of-Evidence-Based-Practices

Authors Natalie Erb, Joshi Maulik, and Jonathan Perlin create a great case for PLAN–Performance, Leadership, Alignment, and what’s Next in the continuous improvement work in managed medical care.  This reminds me of the work in school turn-around.  Where we are successful, we underpin the work on constructs to create meaning, fidelity, linkages, and sustainability.

This piece might be of use in your own work of continuous improvement.  After all, Juran, Deming, Crosby, and other “Quality” gurus spent their careers teaching that CQI, QA, and all other forms of performance improvement have a distinct discipline-across sectors.

Worth a read:  http://www.ajmc.com/publications/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n2/Faster-by-a-Power-of-10-A-PLAN-for-Accelerating-National-Adoption-of-Evidence-Based-Practices

Race, Class, and Starbucks

There are many links to story about Starbucks retreating from its “Race Together” campaign by discontinuing printing on its cups.  Here’s one:  Starbucks baristas no longer writing ‘Race Together’ on cups

Let’s hope they don’t retreat from their soft campaign to engage customers in discussion about race, and class, and disadvantage in America.  Backing away from these discussions will surely prevent progress–sorely needed progress in these areas.

Teen Trendsetters Advocate Literacy

Teen Trendsettters is a mentoring program that pairs high school students with elementary students falling behind in reading. Elementary students in the program have responded well and are more motivated to read. Parents are reporting increased fluency and drive to read. These high school students are sending the message to kids, it’s important read.

Achievement Gap Still Exists, but Narrows

High school graduation rates are at an all time high, but the achievement gap for low-income, black, Hispanic and English language learning students still exists. To keep the graduation rate improving experts insist on a continuing to hold schools accountable for performance of poor and minority students. In 2002 a law was signed that required states to disaggregate annual achievement data for poor and minority students. This was a historic move, and has helped schools to respond to inequalities.

California’s Parent-trigger Law

The California Parent Empowerment Act was designed to aid turn arounds of troubled schools initiated by students’ parents votes to overhaul the structure and operations of their schools. Changes range from hiring a new principal to changing the school into a charter. California’s parent-trigger law allowed for these initiatives to help failing schools through parent input. Most of the schools where parents have used the law serve predominantly Hispanic and African-American students from low-income families.

Bonds from Voters for School Funding

Tulsa Public Schools got approval of bond from voters to fund the districts technology updates. Over 85% of students in the district are on free and reduced lunch and don’t have multiple devices at home to work on. The funding will go towards laptops for each student to use on school grounds. The money will go to the schools transportation network, classrooms, and libraries.

Property Taxes and School Funding

2012 funding data from the National Center of Education Statistics has released some shocking figures on spending in regard to the poorest school districts in the nation. In 23 states the local governments spend less per pupil in the poorest school districts than in the richest districts. This comes at a time when more than half of our public school students are living in poverty.
States like Pennsylvania and Illinois use a formula that uses property taxes to allocate funding. The higher the property tax the more funding for kids in that area, in effect giving more resources to the rich and fewer to the poor. This all too common system continues to give kids who already start out behind fewer resources.
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