The model standards used to guide, prepare, and evaluate school leaders—including principals, their supervisors, and superintendents—are expected to be revised and released this fall, according to a recent article in Education Week. First, a revised version of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards will be released, followed by revised National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards. The purpose of the revisions is to reflect how leadership jobs have changed over the past decade and to clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

The effort to refresh the standards is being led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). “The demands on school leaders have never been greater,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO, in a news release describing the project. “To meet these new challenges, talented principals are essential. We are refreshing the standards to help ensure school leaders have the knowledge and skills to improve teaching and student achievement. The standards foster a common understanding of what education leaders’ jobs entail.”

To learn more, read the CCSSO press release and the Education Week article.

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Recent data released by the Afterschool Alliance show that a third of families with school-age children had enrolled at least one child in a summer program in 2013. That represents an increase from 2009, when only a quarter of families had enrolled their children in summer programs.

“In many communities, after-school programs morph into summer learning programs at the end of the school year,” said Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance. Such programs can help combat summer learning loss, which typically has the greatest effect on low-income children. Here are a few key findings from the Afterschool Alliance survey, which was conducted in spring 2014 by Shugoll Research:

  • Thirteen percent of the families surveyed said their children were enrolled in a free summer learning program in 2013.
  • For parents who paid for summer learning programs in 2013, the average weekly per-child cost was $250.
  • Nearly seven out of eight parents (86%) favored public funding for summer learning programs.
  • More than half of parents surveyed in spring 2014 (51%) said they wanted their children to participate in a summer learning program this summer.

To learn more, read this EdSource article or this Afterschool Alliance press release. Further details are available in this Afterschool Alliance survey summary. These data represent a preview of the forthcoming America After 3PM, 2014 report, which is set to be released this October by the Afterschool Alliance.

Note: A recent PreK-12 Learning Group blog post described a National Public Radio article questioning the value of summer school programs. The NPR article noted that there is little data available about the effectiveness of programs.

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The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant of more than $2 million to WestEd to conduct a large-scale efficacy study of Khan Academy’s math resources. According to the grant description, “This project will test the impact of Khan Academy resources on student outcomes in developmental math when the resources are integrated into normal classroom activities.”

WestEd will conduct research in California community colleges beginning in 2015 to compare educational outcomes for students using Khan Academy resources as opposed to students using “business-as-usual” materials. Specifically, the study will measure students’ course completion rates, their pass/fail rates, and their performance on an elementary algebra diagnostic assessment. The nonprofit Khan Academy produces a wide range of free instructional resources, including videos. In community colleges, the videos are often part of a “blended classroom” that combines traditional, in-person instruction with online resources.

To learn more about the Khan Academy evaluation, read this Education Week article or access the grant description on this Institute of Education Sciences webpage

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How productively are U.S. school districts using their resources? A new report from the Center for American Progress, titled Return on Educational Investment: 2014, attempts to answer that question by using a set of relatively simple productivity metrics in order to measure the achievement that a school district produces relative to its spending, while controlling for factors outside a district’s control, such as the cost of living and the percentage of students living in poverty.

The report cited a number of concerns, including these facts: low educational productivity remains a deeply pressing problem, state approaches to improving fiscal effectiveness vary widely, and in some districts spending priorities are misplaced. The report also set forth several recommendations for improvement:

  • States should build capacity for greater productivity gains through benchmarking, targeted grants, and assistance teams.
  • Education leaders should improve accounting procedures and create a multistate initiative that will focus on building more robust education budgets.
  • Educators should also improve the quality of fiscal data across states, and the Common Core State Standards initiative provides an example of how states can work together to create a stronger, more innovative education system.
  • States and districts should encourage smarter, fairer approaches to school funding, such as student-based funding policies.

“The bottom line,” says report author Ulrich Boser, “is that we believe policymakers and educators need to focus on what works in education and scale up those practices. This means focusing on effectiveness and on equity. We need, in other words, to look at both who gets education dollars and what they do with those dollars.”

Click here to learn more and to access the executive summary or full report.

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Increasing numbers of states and school districts are seeing the value of using learning analytics to help improve the quality of education they are able to provide to students, according to a new paper from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The report, titled Capacity Enablers and Barriers for Learning Analytics: Implications for Policy and Practice, provides examples of how states and districts are moving “from being data collectors to being data analyzers, able to use the vast amount of information being collected in a secure, practical, customized, and predictive system. Ultimately, many of the examples provide a glimpse into how districts are preparing to take advantage of learning analytics to meet the needs of each student.”

The paper states that the biggest challenge to implementing learning analytics is building capacity, and it offers suggestions for improving data policies and practices to help this happen. The report also offers examples of states and districts that are putting new types of data and assessment systems into practice.

Noting that policies and guidelines at the federal, state, and district levels have a direct impact on the potential implementation and use of learning analytics, the paper offers these recommendations for leaders at all levels:

  • Federal education leaders should continue to clarify and provide technical assistance on FERPA and COPPA; work to increase the cap on E-Rate funding; and embed incentives that support learning analytics in the next ESEA reauthorization.
  • State education leaders should consider policies that leverage Common Core State Standards and College and Career Readiness Standards; include learning analytics as a required aspect of teacher certification, preparation, and evaluation; ensure compliance with the Data Quality Campaign; and address the connection between learning analytics and competency-based learning.
  • Local education leaders should consider policies that elevate learning analytics as an essential component of professional development and include adequate guidance on the responsible use of technology and student data.

Visit this page on the Alliance for Excellent Education’s website to access the executive summary and full text of Capacity Enablers and Barriers for Learning Analytics.

Click here for information about the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group’s Fall Policy Exchange on September 11, which covers a variety of critical issues—including student data privacy—affecting the learning resource market.

Posted in Assessment, Data and Accountability, Education Policy, Education Reform, Educational Technology, School Management | Leave a comment