This is a great discussion with John Garen, Ph.D., professor of economics at the University of Kentucky and adjunct scholar with The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, about school choice and the current education system in Kentucky.
Federal study indicates supplemental reading programs don’t work
Education Week reports (subscription) that a second-year follow-up study released yesterday of some supplemental reading programs that are supposed to improve student comprehension – don’t.
Certainly, nationwide performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicates that reading has made scant improvement since the early 1990s.
The new federal study says only one of the three programs examined, ReadAbout, showed any positive impacts on reading comprehension, and those improvements were limited to the social studies area. Ed Week says, “ReadAbout showed no statistically significant effect, however, on tests measuring students’ comprehension of reading more generally, or of science texts.”
Of the first report, released last year, Ed Week said the federal research effort found “none of the four programs studied—Project CRISS, ReadAbout, Read for Real, and Reading for Knowledge—is effective.”
By the way, in the second year of the study, Reading for Knowledge was not even included because “more than half the schools assigned to use it for the study declined to continue.” That may be the most damning indication of all.
So, where does this leave us?
The NAEP, which does evaluate comprehension, indicates the programs, not the federal study, are faulty.
How can education exist in such an information vacuum of non-performance?
And, what does this tell us about all the educator claims we’ve heard for years about knowing how to teach kids?
There has been a lot of talk recently about charter school legislation in Kentucky.
One potential candidate bill offered late last week by the Kentucky Department of Education is supposed to be modeled after charter legislation in Colorado.
Is Colorado a good choice?
Here is a breakout of the proficiency rates (percent of students scoring at or above “Proficient”) from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math and reading assessments. Using the Main NAEP Data Explorer (Link found here), I was able to disaggregate the numbers according to the type of school in Colorado, either a charter school or a non-charter school.
Furthermore, while I have reservations about the study overall, even the report from CREDO which I discussed some time ago recognizes Colorado as one state where charter schools do outperform their traditional public school counterparts.
Now, the question is, how faithfully does the Kentucky Department of Education’s proposal really follow the law in Colorado?
Charters done right outperform
Charter schools in New Orleans will outnumber traditional public schools by two to one next year according to The Times-Picayune.
Do you really think this would be happening if charters done right were not better?