Thursday, January 26, 2012

North Carolina: Evaluation of online credit recovery

There's little research on the impact of online credit recovery programs so far. However, a recent North Carolina study does shed some light on teacher and student perceptions, as well as student success, in online credit recovery in that state.

While the report notes that "mastery rates" (successful completion of credit recovery) have been on the rise since the program's launch in 2008, fewer than 7 out of 10 students (67%) achieved mastery in summer 2010. Yet online credit recovery students seemed very pleased with the model, and identified specific approaches that supported their success. For example, students noted that teachers used various approaches to address the self-discipline issues that led many students to fail the course the first time around. Students also were very likely to agree or strongly agree on the presence of several key teaching quality indicators in their credit recovery programs:
  • "'My teacher does a good job teaching in the online environment.' 93.7% of CR (credit recovery students) agree/strongly agree"
  • "'My teacher provides timely and regular feedback on course assignments, assessments, and my progress.' 89.3% of CR agree/strongly agree"
  • "'My teacher provides content and assignments that address students' different levels of understanding.' 80.8% of CR agree/strongly agree"
  • "'My teacher provides or suggests strategies to help students succeed in this course.' 90.5% of CR agree/strongly agree"
Wow! The researchers also noted that credit recovery students were more likely than online general studies or honors students to agree/strongly agree on the presence of these teacher attributes in their courses. Would fewer students have been in credit recovery in the first place had their original teachers been creating a positive learning environment, providing student success strategies and differentiated instruction? Quite possibly. This study provides a toehold in the research on what students positively respond to in the online credit recovery environment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ECS 12 for 2012 is here!

Yesterday, ECS released its 12 for 2012 report, identifying not necessarily the "hottest" or "biggest" issues of the year, but the issues that demand our attention as a nation and, if we act in a thoughtful and meaningful way, through which we have the potential to greatly improve public education in this country, from the earliest years through postsecondary. Of course, there are other critical issues that didn't make the list--improving high school graduation rates, improving college-readiness and transitions for traditionally underserved students, and improving state accountability systems, to name just a few--but we had to draw the line somewhere.

What are your thoughts? Where were we spot-on? Are there issues you feel do not meet the criteria that all 12 for '12 entries were expected to meet? Other criteria for inclusion we did not consider? Looking forward to receiving feedback, as there has already been talk about doing this again in 2013.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New York: Let's run schools more efficiently

State of the state season is upon us. One of the first governors to deliver a state of the state address was Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. Among Governor Cuomo's proposals: appointing a bipartisan education commission to work with the legislature to recommend reforms in critical areas, including management efficiency.

Approaches already implemented in Virginia and Texas may provide food for thought for this proposed commission. Virginia legislation requires the department of planning and budget, upon a district's request, to initiate a review of the district's noninstructional expenditures. This review should identify opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs for the division in such areas as overhead, human resources, procurement, facilities use and management, financial management, transportation, technology planning, and energy management. School districts must pay 25% of the cost of the review in the fiscal year following the completion of the final report.

Texas takes a slightly different approach. Legislation directs the comptroller to identify districts and campuses that use resource allocation practices that contribute to high academic achievement and cost-effective operations. In doing so, the comptroller must ensure resources are being used for instruction, and must evaluate the operating cost for each student and for each program, and the staffing cost for each student.