The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is pleased to share our 2009-10 Sponsorship Accountability Report. The report, Renewal and Optimism: Five Years as an Ohio Charter Authorizer, contains a year in review for Ohio's charter school program, detailed information on the Fordham Foundation's work as a charter school sponsor, and data on the performance of our sponsored schools during that year.
When it comes to public-sector pensions, writes lead author Mike Lafferty in this report, "A major public-policy (and public-finance) problem has been defined and measured, debated and deliberated, but not yet solved. Except where it has been." As recounted in "Halting a Runaway Train: Reforming Teacher Pensions for the 21st Century," these exceptions turn out to be revealing—and encouraging. As leaders around the country struggle to overhaul America's controversial and precarious public-sector pensions, this study draws on examples from diverse fields to provide a primer on successful pension reform. Download to find valuable lessons for policymakers, workers, and taxpayers looking for timely solutions to a dire problem.
Representatives from twenty states are hard at work developing Next Generation Science Standards—and using as their starting point the National Research Council's recently released Framework for K-12 Science Education. This review of that framework, by Paul R. Gross, applauds its content but warns that it could wind up sending standards writers off track. This appraisal find much to praise in the Framework but also raises important concerns about a document that may significantly shape K-12 science education in the U.S. for years to come. Download to learn more.
"Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students," is the first study to examine the performance of America's highest-achieving children over time at the individual-student level. Produced in partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association, it finds that many high-achieving students struggle to maintain their elite performance over the years and often fail to improve their reading ability at the same rate as their average and below-average classmates. The study raises troubling questions: Is our obsession with closing achievement gaps and "leaving no child behind" coming at the expense of our "talented tenth" and America's future international competitiveness? Read on to learn more.
Any number of organizations are offering advice about what to teach schoolchildren about the events of September 11, 2001, yet (unlike that day's murderous pilots) most sorely miss the mark. Fordham's publication, "Teaching about 9/11 in 2011: What Our Children Need to Know," highlights the danger of slighting history and patriotism in the rush to teach children about tolerance and multiculturalism. It combines ten short essays by distinguished educators, scholars, and public officials from our 2003 report, "Terrorists, Despots, and Democracy: What Our Children Need to Know," essays that feel more timely than ever, and includes a new introduction by Chester E. Finn, Jr. reflecting on how the lessons of these essays apply today.
Ohio adopted the Common Core standards in ELA and math in June 2010, but now stands at a crossroad in making sure statewide assessments are aligned to those standards. Ohio is a participating member in two federally funded assessment consortia—the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)--but is a decision-maker in neither. This primer outlines both consortia and suggests that Ohio make a decision soon to begin the massive reboot required to realign assessments, professional development, and accountability systems to match the Common Core.
Each year, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute conducts an analysis of student achievement in Ohio's Big 8 urban districts and charter schools. 2010-2011's analysis looks at performance, growth (as measured by value-added), growth over time, comparisons between students in district schools, charters (and charters by type and authorizer type), e-schools, and more.
In this "Ed Short" from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Amanda Olberg and Michael Podgursky examine how public charter schools handle pensions for their teachers. Some states give these schools the freedom to opt out of the traditional teacher-pension system; when given that option, how many charter schools take it? Olberg and Podgursky examine data from six charter-heavy states and find that charter participation rates in traditional pension systems vary greatly from state to state. When charter schools do not participate in state systems, they most often provide their teachers with defined-contribution plans (401(k) or 403(b)). But some opt-out charters offer no alternative retirement plans at all for their teachers. Read on to learn more.
In this Fordham Institute paper, analysts examine public data and find that the proportion of students with disabilities peaked in 2004-05 and has been declining since. At the state level, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts have the highest rates of disability identification, while Texas, Idaho, and Colorado have the lowest. Read on to learn more.