‘Alternative’ Education: Using Charter Schools to Hide Dropouts and Game the System
School officials nationwide dodge accountability ratings by steering low achievers to alternative programs. In Orlando, Florida, the nation’s tenth-largest district, thousands of students who leave alternative charters run by a for-profit company aren’t counted as dropouts.
Accelerated Learning Solutions (ALS), a more than $1.5 million-a-year “management fee,” 2015 financial records show — more than what the school spends on instruction.
alternative schools at times become warehouses where regular schools stow poor performers to avoid being held accountable.
Concerns that schools artificially boosted test scores by dumping low achievers into alternative programs have surfaced in connection with ongoing litigation in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, and echo findings from a legislative report a decade ago in California. The phenomenon is borne out by national data: While the number of students in alternative schools grew moderately over the past 15 years, upticks occurred as new national mandates kicked in on standardized testing and graduation rates.
The role of charter alternative schools like Sunshine — publicly funded but managed by for-profit companies — is likely to grow under the new U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, an ardent supporter of school choice. In her home state of Michigan, charter schools have been responsible in part for a steep rise in the alternative school population. She recently portrayed Florida as a national model for charters and choice.
No Child Left Behind was supposed to improve educational outcomes for students long overlooked — including those who were black, Hispanic and low-income.
Nationwide, nearly a third of the alternative-school population attends a school that spends at least $500 less per pupil than regular schools do in the same district. Forty percent of school districts with alternative schools provide counseling services only in regular schools. Charter alternative schools — both virtual and bricks-and-mortar — in Ohio, Georgia and Florida have been accused of collecting public money for students who weren’t in classes.
Orlando schools are not unique in using alternative programs to remove struggling students from traditional classrooms. As far back as 2007, a legislative report in California warned that the state’s accountability system allowed traditional schools to shirk responsibility for low-performing students by referring them to alternative schools. The state is currently reviewing its standards for alternative schools.
Companies running schools in this niche often save costs by relying on computer programs that reduce the need for credentialed teachers. The market can be lucrative: As enrollment grew, ALS’ management fees from the schools it operates in Orange County more than doubled from $2.5 million in the 2012 school year to $5.4 million in 2015. The company says the fees pay for back-office services, such as human resources, as well as school-based support for areas such as curriculum, reading, math, security, and professional development.
The company’s affiliate — the controversial Nashville-based Community Education Partners, or CEP — contracted with school districts to serve students with behavior problems. The company, founded by a lawyer and Republican Party operative named Randle Richardson, ran schools for students who had committed disciplinary violations in cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston and Orlando for more than a decade. Critics called CEP’s schools prison-like and dangerous, and charged that their academics were sub-par.
instructors have to take device choices into consideration when they’re choosing apps
2) Teach Not Just for Consumption but for Curation
Students use their phones to capture video or audio interviews and post them to Twitter’s live streaming service, Periscope, at various times throughout the course.
3) Try Texting for Exam Review
As an alternative, he began texting review questions every few hours for the next exam and found that he was getting a “much higher frequency of interaction.” Teacher Text, as he called it, never supplied the answers, just questions — sometimes multiple choice and other times open-ended. To keep students’ interest, he’d use at least a few of those questions on the actual test. “They’re going to be more inclined to pay attention to every question because I may give them 50 questions of review and have four or five of those on the test,” he said.
The result: “Grades started to climb pretty quickly.”
4) Perform Safe Texting, but Try It Everywhere
adopted remind from iKeepSafe, a free service that provides an interface between the teacher and the students for the purposes of texting. The tool has simplified the process of instructor texting, a practice that has overall helped students “to feel more connected.”
5) Fit Your Mobile Approach to Your Subject
[flashcard apps] like Quizlet and StudyBlue that can replicate the ongoing study or rehearsal of learning
might stream a quick lesson on the fly through Periscope or hold a 15-minute class discussion through a chat on Twitter.
“I’ll just say, ‘Here’s my hashtag, and I’m going to be live here at 9 to 9:15 p.m. Central time,'” he explained. He typically intends to broadcast a question about every five minutes and allow people to respond. “It’s interesting. You shoot out one question and you get bombarded. People are putting resources in there. In 15 minutes, I’ve barely gotten two questions off. But they have the hashtag and they can go back and harvest the resources that other people put up.”
Sahlberg, an education scholar and the author of Finnish Lessons 2.0, answers the theoretical question in his article’s title, writing in part: “I argue that if there were any gains in student achievement they would be marginal. Why? Education policies in Indiana and many other states in the United States create a context for teaching that limits (Finnish) teachers to use their skills, wisdom and shared knowledge for the good of their students’ learning.”
more about Finland Phenomenon in this IMS blog
What suggestions do you have to make the course better for you, your peers, or the instructor?
Katie Linder Research Director Extended Campus, Oregon State University 4943 The Valley Library Corvallis, Oregon 97331 Phone 541-737-4629 | Fax 541-737-2734 Email: email@example.com
At the University of Illinois, we have been using Informal Early Feedback as a way to gauge information from our students to help improve the courses before the end. Here are a couple of links to our site. The first is the main page on what IEF is and the second is the question bank we offer to faculty. This is a starting point for them, then we meet with those who want to work on tweaking them for their specific needs.
If you go to the Facebook Live Map and browse the live feeds, you’ll often see people talking about nothing in particular, with unflattering close-up camera angles and scratchy audio. People often shift their phones from hand to hand when they tire of holding them, and brush the mic without realizing it.
#2: Invest in a Mobile Phone Setup Budget: $150-$300
iPhone Setup When choosing a mount for an iPhone, consider the iOgrapher ($60), shown below. Attach the 37mm wide angle lens ($40) if you want to get more people or surroundings in the video. Android and Windows Phone Setup The Saramonic SmartMixer ($149) fits any phone (including the iPhone) and incorporates both audio and video stabilization in one piece of gear. The mics are stereo, and you can angle them however you want to capture multiple people talking.
#3: Broadcast From Your Desktop
Budget: Free-$600 Going live from your computer allows you to bring in guests to interview, add pre-recorded video, graphics, titles (so people know who the hosts are), and more.
You can use the built-in camera on your computer or a USB camera, like the Logitech C920 ($99).
OBS OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is open-source software, which means it’s available for free.
OBS is a great option, but it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of paid software to make it intuitive or easy to use. You’ll need to do a bit of setup and testing before you go live.
Wirecast Wirecast ($495) has been around for years and has come a long way in the last few months as Facebook Live has exploded in popularity. The interface is a little more intuitive than OBS, but still requires some setup and experimentation.
Here’s where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the biggest K-12 issues
By Stephen Noonoo
October 24th, 2016
more than 2,500 educators responded to an informal eSchool News poll asking which candidate best represented their vision for the future of K-12 education. (Clinton won that poll with 58 percent of the vote, while Trump received 28 percent; 12 percent were undecided.)
about the candidates and their positions on education, check out the infographic compiled by eCampus News, which hones in on higher education issues, such as college tuition costs.
Judith Boettcher book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide(second edition, Jossey-Bass 2016). In chapter three, “Best Practices for Teaching Online: Ten Plus Four,” you and your co-author Rita-Marie Conrad provide a list of 14 best practices for teaching online. How can these best practices help faculty?
when faculty are first asked to teach online, most do not have a lot of time to prepare. They are seldom given much coaching, mentoring, or support — often they are just kind of thrown into it,
Personalized learning means that while all students master core concepts, students ideally practice increasingly difficult use of those core concepts in contexts and settings desired by individual students.
we really need to step up to much more effective use of rubrics. Rubrics can define intellectual outcomes in several key areas, such as critical thinking, for example.
great course design is at the core of creating great online learning experiences. We need to ensure that the desired learning outcomes, the course experiences, and the ways we gather evidences of learning are all congruent, one with the other. Course experiences should help students develop the knowledge and expertise that they desire, and the evidences of learning we require of students should be meaningful and purposeful and where possible, personalized and customized.
Digital badges unify the learning that happens in these diverse contexts—often at a relatively granular level—with a common and portable representation of achievement.
include a consistent set of metadata or information about the nature of the assessment, experience, or criteria that led to the skills or competency-based outcomes represented;
incorporate authentic evidence of the outcome being certified;
can be shared, displayed, or pulled into different kinds of platforms and environments in both human-readable and machine-readable formats;
can be distributed in a simple, consistent format, fostering relationship building, networking, and just-in-time career development opportunities;
are searchable and discoverable in a range of settings; and
offer data and insights about how and where they are used, valued, and consumed.
As a marker of achievement, a digital badge looks both backward and forward at the same time: backward to the experience or assessment that was completed to qualify for it, and forward to the benefits, rewards, or new opportunities available to those who have earned it.
Some of the possibilities you might consider include:
Serving as an alternate qualification for lifelong learning. Degrees and licenses certify summative achievements often following formal education programs or courses of study; do your digital badges provide official certification recognizing learning that is more granular, formative, or incremental?
Surfacing, verifying, or sharing evidence of achievement. How can we surface discrete evidence that certifies a skill or accomplishment, and by doing so arm learners with official recognition they can use toward new opportunities? Does validating and making a specific success or outcome more visible, portable, and sharable help a learner move successfully from one learning experience to the next?
Democratizing the process of issuing credit. How can we empower anyone who can observe or assess meaningful achievements to issue digital recognition of those accomplishments, even if that means that credential issuing becomes less centralized?
Exposing pathways and providing scaffolding. How can we better suggest or illuminate a path forward for learners while also enabling that pathway and progress to be shared with an external audience of peers or potential employers?
Supporting ongoing engagement. How can digital badges support learners incrementally as they progress through a learning experience? Can we enhance motivation before and after the experience?
The process for developing an effective badge system can be broken into steps:
Create a badge constellation. A constellation is a master plan or blueprint that shows all of the badges you intend to offer and how they relate to core themes or to each other.
Map meaning to each badge and to the overall badge system. Ensure that each part of your constellation has a value to the earner, to your organization, and to those who would reward or offer opportunities to bearers of each badge.
Identify or develop an assessment strategy. How will you know when an earner is ready to receive a badge? Are existing assessments, observation opportunities, or measures already in place, or does your system require new ways to determine when an individual has qualified for a digital badge or credential? What activities or work will be assessed, and what evidence can accompany each issued badge?
Determine relationships within the system and how learners progress. Is your plan one that shows progress, where components build on one another? How does one badge relate to another or stack to support ongoing personal or professional development?
Incorporate benefits, opportunities, and rewards into the system. Work backwards from the benefits that will be available to those who earn badges in your system. Does each badge serve a greater purpose than itself? What doors does it unlock for earners? How will you communicate and promote the value of your badges to all constituents?
Address technology considerations. How will you create and issue badges? Where and how will the badges be displayed or consumed by other systems and platforms in which they realize their potential value?
Develop an appropriate graphic design. While the visual design is but one element of a badge rich with data, how an achievement is visually represented communicates a great deal of additional information. Digital badges offer a unique and powerful opportunity to market the skills and capabilities of those who complete your programs, and badges promote your initiatives as well as your organization and what it values.