Monday, November 25, 2013

Daily Quizzes Improve Grades- Especially for College Students From Low SES Populations

Original Wallace School, Hoboken NJ

A hallmark of my Jesuit education was daily quizzes. Mostly in Latin classes but not necessarily exclusively. Now comes an excellent study on the impact of daily quizzes on student achievement. While the study was conducted with college age students, there is no reason why the results should not generalize to broader populations (i.e. younger students). According to a published story in the Daily Texan by Wynne Davis as well as the New York Times, psychology professors Samuel Gosling and James Pennebaker have found that students perform better in an online classroom with daily “benchmark” quizzes rather than a traditional classroom with monumental midterms. UT has transitioned some courses to an online platform, developed by the two professors, named Texas Online World of Educational Research, in which students can participate online through broadcasted lectures that are formatted much like a television show. This is their third semester teaching with the new method.
“We started daily testing people, and we thought maybe it improves performance, and we found that it does improve performance in students, especially in students with low socioeconomic backgrounds. The idea is that if they bring their laptops in, we can give them personalized feedback based on their responses … to integrate many of those things that work well in an intimate class and try to scale those up for the big classes.” -Samuel Gosling
After using the new program, the professors compared the students’ performances to years past and saw a few major differences, Pennebaker said.

Copyright PLoS ONE
“First, students did better on the tests than in previous years when we used a conventional teaching approach,” Pennebaker said. “Second, our students made high grades in their other courses both that same semester and the semester afterwards. Third, our new method reduced the traditional achievement gap between those from upper middle and lower middle class students.
Summary: Grading college students on quizzes given at the beginning of every class, rather than on midterms or a final exam, increases both attendance and overall performance.
Original Research Article: CLICK HERE 
Citation: Pennebaker JW, Gosling SD, Ferrell JD (2013) Daily Online Testing in Large Classes: Boosting College Performance while Reducing Achievement Gaps. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79774. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079774

Friday, November 15, 2013

Unequal Progress on Standardized Tests

Source: US Center for Education Statistics and NY Times 
A recent story in the NY Times by Motoko Rich entitled "U.S. Reading and Math Scores Show Slight Gains" is worth a read in light of the continuous claims of American education failing and U.S. students falling behind other countries. -Dr. Petrosino

American fourth and eighth graders showed incremental gains in reading and math this year, but achievement gaps between whites and blacks, whites and Hispanics, and low-income and more affluent students stubbornly persist, data released by the Education Department on Thursday showed. The results of the tests — administered every two years as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the nation’s report card — continued an upward trend in both areas over the past two decades. But still, far less than half of the nation’s students are performing at a level deemed proficient in either math or reading.
“There are some positive results here, which we were heartened to see,” said Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the exams. “But places where we had hoped to see improvement, we didn’t.”
Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said in a telephone briefing that schools were having to expend too much energy to bring underprivileged students up to the level of more affluent peers. He urged more focus on the years before formal schooling begins, citing President Obama’s proposal to help states finance preschool for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds. “Why do we want to stay in the catch-up business?” Mr. Duncan asked. 
The average fourth-grade math score this year was 242 on a scale of 500, up from 241 in 2011, the last time the federal assessment results were released. The average eighth-grade math score was 285, up from 284 two years ago.
In reading, the average fourth-grade score edged up slightly to 222 from 221 two years ago, while the average eighth-grade score rose to 268 from 265. About 400,000 fourth graders and 350,000 eighth graders took the exams; the results represent both public and private schools.

Read Full Article: CLICK HERE

Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 NAEP: NEW JERSEY SOLIDIFIES TOP STATE RANKING-NJ’s public education system is among the highest performing in the nation.

Erie-Lakawanna Terminal Hoboken, NJ circa 1950's

According to the Education Law Center, the 2013 results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have been released, and New Jersey once again stands as a top performer among participating states. Here’s how New Jersey’s performance stacks up against other states on the test known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”
Overall, NJ students rank high compared with students in other states:
  • 4th Grade Math: only 3 states have higher scores than NJ
  • 4th Grade Reading: no states score higher than NJ
  • 8th Grade Math: only 1 state scores higher than NJ
  • 8th Grade Reading: no states score higher than NJ
NJ’s low-income students also perform well when compared with low-income students in other states:
  • 4th Grade Math: only 9 states have higher scores than NJ
  • 4th Grade Reading: only 1 state scores higher than NJ
  • 8th Grade Math: no states score higher than NJ
  • 8th Grade Reading: no states score higher than NJ
Comparing NJ’s 2011 and 2013 NAEP results, 4th and 8th grade scores were unchanged in both math and reading for all students and most race and income subgroups, except for:
  • a significant 9 point gain for Hispanic 8th graders in math;
  • a significant 6 point gain for low-income 8th graders in reading.
These results again demonstrate that NJ’s public education system is among the highest performing in the nation.
“I hope these results will end the false narrative of public school failure too often heard from politicians who should know better,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director. “The results also show that we still have a lot of work to do, particularly with our most at-risk students. Let’s use these results to redouble our commitment to New Jersey’s recipe for success: provide fair school funding for all districts, expand preschool across the state, and support local educators and parents in the hard work of school improvement, especially in our highest poverty communities.”

Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Public Education, Edge Still Goes to Rich- NY Times

Columbus Park Hoboken NJ circa 1930's
The following article discusses some of the more finer points about public education and the association of income and wealth has to do with educational attainment. A good read. -Dr. Petrosino 

“There aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility — the idea that you can make it if you try — than a good education,” President Obama told students at the State University of New York in Buffalo in August.

It is hardly a partisan belief. About a decade ago, on signing the No Child Left Behind ActPresident George W. Bush argued that the nation’s biggest challenge was to ensure that “every single child, regardless of where they live, how they’re raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America.”
This consensus is comforting. It provides a solution everyone can believe in, whether the problem is income inequality, racial marginalization or the stagnation of the middle class. But it raises a perplexing question, too. If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?
Money, to be sure, is not a silver bullet that will automatically lift the test scores of poor American children and close performance gaps. How the money is deployed is absolutely crucial.
Still, the disparity matters a lot. Social and economic deprivation has a particularly strong impact on student performance in the United States. Differences in socio-economic status account for 17 percent of the variation in test scores, according to O.E.C.D. researchers, compared to 9 percent in Canada or Japan. In New York, according to Peter Applebee, an expert on education finance at the United Teacher’s union, only 18 percent of students in the poorest 10 percent of school districts scored above proficiency level in math last year. In the richest tenth, 45 percent did.
These gaps will be hard to close until the lopsided funding of education changes. As income and wealth continue to flow to the richest families in the richest neighborhoods, public education appears to be more of a force contributing to inequality of income and opportunity, rather than helping to relieve it.

Read full article by CLICKING HERE

Friday, November 1, 2013

What is the Approximate Disaggregated Cost per Student for Children Enrolled in the Hoboken Public Schools? Answer: $10,413 (Charter), $13,659 (PreK) and $28,937 (Hoboken District Public Schools)

2013-2014 Hoboken Public School Budget Overview
(student enrollment numbers +/- 3 students)
The $64 Million Dollar Question of late appears to be, what is the cost per student in the Hoboken School District? Evidently this is causing some debate, arguments, and disagreements. The topic came up in a recent candidates debate and there have been a number of "letters to the editors" in local area newspapers and online forums and reported by local media

Calculating per pupil costs is not as complicated as some make it appear and not as simple as some make think. In general, the calculation involves the district's total expenditures divided by the district's total number of students

According to the 2013-2014 Hoboken Board of Education Budget Overview total revenues were equal to $64,300,000. This is the total revenue for the Hoboken District Pubic School plus the Hoboken charter schools, plus the State Mandated and Funded PreK program.  While estimates seem to vary, a general consensus for total number of students serviced by the public schools seems to be 3,100. Unfortunately, this would not give us an accurate per pupil cost since these three entities (the Hoboken School District, the charter schools, and the PreK program) operate in different buildings, with different resources, different salary guides, and consist of different districts and providers. It makes much more sense and is more accurate to parse the numbers so that revenues are matched with the appropriate entity-- charter schools, the PreK program and finally the Hoboken School District. 

Charter School Per Pupil Costs

A review of the official NJ School Performance Report website indicates that there are 757 students attending charter schools in Hoboken. Let's round this off to 750 since this is not an exact science. According to the 2013-14 Budget overview, there is $7,810,000 directed to Hoboken's charter school. This works out to about $10,413 per charter school student in Hoboken

State Mandated and Funded PreK Program Per Pupil Costs

There are 746 children enrolled in the State mandated PreK program in Hoboken. According to the 2013-14 Budget overview, there is $10,190,000 directed to Hoboken's State Mandated and Funded PreK Program. This program is executed primarily via contracted providers such as Catapult (contract terminated 2013), HOPES, CAP, Inc., and Mile Square Early Learning.This works out to about $13,659 per PreK Program student

Hoboken District Public Schools Per Pupil Costs

There are about 1600 students enrolled in the Hoboken Public Schools if you take the number of 3,100 to be true and if you take away the 750 charter school students and the 746 PreK children (Again, not an exact science but roughly 3,100 students - 1500 students = 1600 students). According to the 2013-14 Budget overview, there is $46,300,000 directed toward the Hoboken District Public Schools. This works out to about $28,937 per Hoboken District Public School student

If we wanted to round this out, I think it would be fair to say charter schools spend about $10,500 per student, PreK spends about $14,000 per student, and the Hoboken District Pupil Schools spend about $29,000 per student. 

Admittedly, this is a simple calculation but it does something that is very important. It disaggregates the total budget into its constituent parts and gives us a comparative and proportional sense of the relative costs per student in Hoboken. Once per student costs are accurately estimated, more informed policy decisions can be made by politicians, taxpayers, and voters concerning costs and outcomes of their educational dollar. 

How does this compare? According to an official release on April 12, 2013 by the State of New Jersey Department of Education, there is an average of $18,047 spent per pupil in the state. In fact, by clicking here you can view an interactive map of per pupil spending for the entire state of New Jersey. The State's calculation for "cost per student" uses a more complicated and multi-factor model and does not always correspond with the fairly straight forward statistic used by some agencies and entities.

According to some policymakers, "cost per student" is not always the best statistic for evaluating the cost of education. There are certain issues with using that rubric that do not always scale well and there are requirements certain schools and districts have that others do not. Nonetheless, like a pitcher's ERA in baseball, "cost per student" is a statistic that seems to resonate with most people when talking about educational funding. Unlike a pitcher's ERA, there is some discussion and debate concerning what factors to consider in its calculation.