US News And World Report Closes Cheating Loophole — Charters Tank

Gary Rubinstein's Blog

U.S. News & World Report produces several influential annual ‘best of’ lists in all kinds of categories.  In education they rank colleges, graduate schools, and, of course, high schools.

In recent years, charter schools have been dominating the U.S. News high school rankings.  Reform propaganda outlets, like The74, gleefully touted the success of charter schools in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in columns like this and this.

Two years ago I wrote about how the KIPP New York City high school was ranked as the 4th best high school in New York State and then I uncovered that they actually cheated on this by assigning their students to four different schools, one of which became a top performing school.  Based on my research, KIPP was eventually disqualified off the list.

While KIPP’s cheating scheme was truly dishonest, other charter schools gamed the ranking system another way. …

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Pastors for Texas Children: Great News for Public Schools in the Lone Star State!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Our good friends who lead Pastors for Texas Children—the Revs. Charles Foster Johnson and Charles Luke—have great news to report from the Lone Star State. It was a bipartisan victory for five million children, their teachers, and their public schools!

       The 86th Session of the Texas Legislature, just completed on Monday, May 27, was the most productive on behalf of our 5.4 million schoolchildren in recent memory. Certainly, it was the finest session in the six years Pastors for Texas Children has been in existence.

The signature policy achievement of this legislature was House Bill 3, which secured over $5 billion dollars in new funding for our 8500 Texas public schools, enacted a significant teacher pay raise, implemented full-day, high quality Pre-Kindergarten instruction—and did all of this without any standardized test contingency and without any substantive push for a private school voucher. While some regressive forces in state government…

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Pearson Wants to Expand Its Virtual Schools Market; Its “Connections Academy” in Louisiana Is No Selling Factor


Connections Academy is a virtual K12 (and possibly pre-K12) school operated by education business mammoth, Pearson.

According to Pearson’s February 2019 earnings call, Pearson is focused on expanding its Connections Academy market. Pearson is undergoing restructuring; it has (and continues to) reduce its workforce and has been selling off less-profitable companies in an effort to recover from unrealized profits, including those Pearson expected from Common Core (CC) and CC-related PARCC testing.

(For Pearson’s market performance over the last decade, click here.)

Pearson reports that the US virtual schools market is worth more than $1.5B and that it sees a “strong pipeline of 2 – 5 new schools in 2019,” with a plan to “scale up in existing states [and] target states with high growth potential.”

In April 2018, Pearson announced opening three new Connections Academies. The way that Pearson establishes its virtual schools in…

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Shawgi Tell: The Untold History of Charter School Failure

Diane Ravitch's blog

Shawgi Tell, a Professor in upstate New York, thinks the public needs that charter school failure is widespread, commonplace, and underreported. Even now, mainstream publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal treat charter schools reverentially, as if they know how to perform education miracles.

Professor Tell assembles research showing the frequent failure of charters. 

Open the link to see a great cartoon.

He writes:

It is worth noting that both public schools and privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools are victims of expensive, curriculum-narrowing, time-consuming, high-stakes standardized tests produced by large for-profit corporations that have no idea what a human-centered education looks like. Such corporations are retrogressive and harmful in many ways; they are not concerned with the growth and well-being of children, or the future of society.

The research on how damaging and unsound these expensive corporate tests are is robust, unassailable, and constantly-growing.


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Texas: Good News on School Funding!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Our friends, Pastors for Texas Children, have been strong allies in the fight to improve public schools.

They daily remind us that support for good public schools is bipartisan. Both chambers of the Texas Legislature are controlled by Republicans, and many of them support their community public schools. Working with members of both parties, PTC and many parent groups repeatedly defeated vouchers in Texas

Now Charles Foster Johnson brings good news about school funding. 

We are gratified to report that the stalemate has ended on House Bill 3, the historic public school funding bill passed with virtually unanimous approval by the House of Representatives earlier this session. The bill has been held up for weeks over intense debate about certain measures attached to the bill by the Senate, mainly around property tax relief policy. 

While we are waiting for the actual bill language, it is clear that our neighborhood…

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Eliminating Worldwide Illiteracy with Electronic Tablets but Without School Teachers?


This blog will take a one-week early summer break and come back in June on a new, three-day, Monday-Wednesday-Friday summer schedule.  Look for a new post on Monday, June 3.

Diane Ravitch made the announcement yesterday morning on her blog:  A U.S. philanthropy has awarded $10 million in prize money to two companies—Kitkit School and Onebillion—for developing and testing out in Tanzania an electronic tablet program for teacherless education.  “You knew this was coming, didn’t you?” writes Ravitch.

First it was Bridge International Academies, the for-profit, international private school venture underwritten by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other philanthropists and operating in Kenya, Liberia, Uganda and India. At Bridge Academies, students must pay tuition, teachers in the schools must continually recruit new students, and teachers must present scripted curricula delivered to them electronically from a central site.  Critics have pointed out that by employing less educated teachers who merely…

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Louisiana’s VAM: Quantitative Bungling on Display


This post is about value-added assessment (VAA), also called value-added modeling (VAM). I saw that Louisiana’s “father of VAM,” LSU psychology professor, George Noell, and others, had recently published a VAM reflection related to VAM usage on Louisiana’s teacher preparation programs (TPPs), entitled, “Linking Student Achievement to Teacher Preparation: Emergent Challenges of in Implementing Value Added Assessment,” and I just had to write about it.

(You can read the article for free by signing up for a 14-day trial here; meanwhile, I have contacted the publisher for permission to link to full article. Stay tuned.)

Notice that Noell’s et al. title includes the carefully-selected term, “linking,” because it is a tricky game to establish that VAM proves causation and not just correlation. However, the big buzz about VAM usage in education is that VAM is often reverently consulted in decisions about the professional fates of teachers, schools, and TPPs.

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The Public Good? Betsy DeVos Doesn’t Get It.


When she spoke recently at the Education Writers Association, Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, swallowed whatever humility she has and presumed to redefine the role public education in our society.  Betsy loves freedom from government (even though she works for the government), and she can’t seem to discern any difference between what is good for the individual and what is good for us all together.

Here is what she told the nation’s education journalists: “I entered public life to promote policies that empower all families. Notice that I said ‘families,’ not government… I am a common-sense conservative with a healthy distrust of centralized government. Instead, I trust the American people to live their own lives and to decide their own destinies… Margaret Thatcher said that government ‘has no source of money other than the money people earn themselves.’ There is no such thing as ‘public money.’…

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Cartoons on Technology at Work, Home, and School

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

For this month, I have collected a melange of cartoons about technology use in different venues. Enjoy!



























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CREDO’s New Orleans “Learning Gains” a Sleight of Information


According to Emily Langhorne of Forbes, education reformers should “rejoice” because in May 2019, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released this summary and accompanying presentation of New Orleans charter school “learning gains.”

According to CREDO, New Orleans charter school “learning gains” are impressive when compared with those of the state:

In reading, New Orleans students experienced stronger learning gains in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 compared to the state average learning gains. In math, New Orleans students posted greater learning gains in 2014-15, similar progress in 2015-16, and stronger growth in 2016-17 compared to the state average.

Now, what CREDO has not released are actual average scores on the tests, nor did they offer any caution that greater “learning gains” are not synonymous with higher average test scores.

It is possible to have a fantastic “learning gain” and still fail a test.

It is also possible to…

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