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The Bubble Bursts: The 2015 Opt-Out Movement in New Jersey

September 1, 2016

"The Bubble Bursts: The 2015 Opt-Out Movement in New Jersey" analyzes the scope, factors, and context of the opt-out movement that occurred in New Jersey in the spring of 2015. Using test participation data released in February 2016 by the New Jersey Department of Education, we found that approximately 135,000 students did not take the state assessment in the spring of 2015. Depending on how it was calculated, this represented between 11-19% of the population of students eligible for testing in grades 3 to 11 in the state. There was also a positive correlation between higher district opt-out rates and wealthier districts. We found that several factors contributed to these trends. Predominant amongst these were an accumulated skepticism with high stakes testing in general and the new PARCC assessment in particular, concerns from the Common Core State Standards rollout, teacher union opposition to premature teacher accountability, and confusion in the messages of state policymakers about graduation requirements. These explanatory factors were based upon interviews with over 30 state policymakers, professional education association representatives, advocacy group leaders, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students.

Parallel Play in the Education Sandbox: The Common Core and the Politics of Transpartisan Coalitions

January 1, 2016

In Parallel Play in the Education Sandbox: The Common Core and the Politics of Transpartisan Coalitions," Patrick McGuinn and Jonathan Supovitz examine the successes and limits of transpartisan opposition to Common Core. What are the lessons of the Common Core fight for education policy? Are there lessons applicable to other fragile areas of bipartisan cooperation? This report is the third in a series of New Models of Policy Change case studies published by New America.

Building a Lattice for School Leadership: Lessons From England

March 1, 2015

This policy brief examines the evolution of the educational leadership development system in England to see what ideas American leaders and policymakers might take from looking transnationally. The brief is based on a more in-depth examination of that leadership development system described in a CPRE research report entitled "Building a Lattice for School Leadership: The Top-to-Bottom Rethinking of Leadership Development in England and What It Might Mean for American Education". The research report was based upon a year of research on school leadership in England that included extensive background research, site visits to schools and leadership programs, and over 20 interviews with government officials, teachers and school leaders, university researchers, union officials, and both forprofit and non-profit school leadership providers.

Building a Lattice for School Leadership: The Top-to-Bottom Rethinking of Leadership Development in England and What It Might Mean for American Education

November 1, 2014

This report examines the educational leadership development system in England over the last 15 years to identify ideas American leaders and policymakers might learn from looking cross-nationally. The report describes the rise of the National College for School Leadership in England, which spearheaded much of the early policy development and enactment and the subsequent governmental shift towards a more decentralized policy of fostering school networks. Supovitz envisions the potential assimilation of these two movements into an integrated lattice for school leadership. The lattice for school leadership in England is the careful integration of formal and social learning opportunities for leaders. It features a centrally developed, high-quality leadership development program combined with lateral social networks. These complementary elements of leadership development are carefully enmeshed in a system that provides clear responsibilities for multiple levels of leadership within schools, incentives for identifying and grooming leadership within schools, pathways for leadership progression, and certification for leader attainments. All of these elements are supported by an accountability structure that emphasizes the contribution of school leadership and teaching in school improvement.

The Role of the Common Core in the Gubernatorial Elections of 2014

November 1, 2014

After the Spring 2014 primaries, the Common Core State Standards were viewed as a political hot potato. As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said, "the Common Core has become toxic, I think it's radioactiveâŠIt has become an incredibly controversial topic on both the left and the right." Even so, the Common Core turned out to play a role in some of the governor's races in November 2014. In this analysis of candidate positions and the role of the Common Core across the 36 gubernatorial races of 2014, CPRE researchers Bobbi Newman, Jonathan Supovitz and Arial Smith used campaign websites, debate transcripts, State of the State addresses, Twitter accounts, and candidate interviews, to identify the positions of 62 of the 81 candidates (including 3rd party representatives). Our findings show that support for, and opposition to, the Common Core was pretty evenly split, mostly across party lines. Arguments in support of the Common Core tended to emphasize economic benefits, while opposition emphasized Federal intrusion and the importance of local control. In a few races, the Common Core became a substantial issue.

Slowing Entropy: Instructional Policy Design in New York City, 2011-12, Policy Brief

October 1, 2014

How do policymakers craft policies, particularly centered on the Common Core State Standards, to be more resilient and less likely to disintegrate during enactment? Researcher Jonathan Supovitz in Slowing Entropy: Instructional Policy Design in New York City, 2011-12 examines the design of a New York City Department of Education policy intended to engage teachers and principals across NYC with the instructional challenges of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This summary provides an instructive backstory to some of the thought processes of the policy architects and provides insight into the way that careful policymaking can be more resilient to decay as it enters the rough-and-tumble reality of school communities.

From the Inside In: An Examination of Common Core Knowledge & Communication in Schools

March 1, 2014

In this report, CPRE researchers explore how Common Core knowledge and influence are distributed inside of schools and how these configurations may help teachers to engage with the Common Core and influence their understanding and implementation. To do so, we used a mixed-method approach to examine knowledge and influence in eight schools, including five elementary schools and three middle schools. Our central method was a survey of knowledge and influence of all faculty members in a sample of eight schools. These data are supplemented with interview data from a purposeful sample of teachers and administrators in the eight schools. Sponsored by the General Electric Foundation, which also provides support to New York City through its Developing FuturesTM in Education Program, the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania has examined Common Core implementation in New York City in a series of studies. In 2013 CPRE released the findings of two investigations, one which described how the district constructed the 2011-12 Citywide Instructional Expectations (CIEs) for teachers, which were a small number of assignments for school faculties to complete during the school year to facilitate their engagement with the new Common Core (Supovitz, 2013). The second report examined how a diverse sample of 16 schools understood and implemented these CIEs and how their choices influenced their levels of engagement (Goldsworthy, Supovitz, & Riggan, 2013). A third report is a companion to the current report, focusing on teacher collaboration as a means of cultivating and transferring knowledge about the Common Core.

Evaluation of the GE Foundation-Supported Demonstration Schools Initiative in Milwaukee Public Schools, SY 2012-2013

December 1, 2013

The Milwaukee Public School district (MPS) Demonstration Schools Initiative provided intensive support to 10 MPS elementary and middle schools implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics and English language arts. This evaluation report was designed to answer two overarching questions: How did MPS implement the Demonstration Schools Initiative in Year One, and what factors shaped the implementation? Is there evidence of teachers' adoption of the instructional shifts associated with the CCSS? This evaluation found that teachers in the Demonstration Schools ended the 2012-2013 school year with significantly higher CCSS knowledge in both mathematics and English language arts than did teachers in the comparison schools.

Evaluation of the GE Foundation-Supported Coaching & Demonstration Schools Initiative in Erie Public Schools, SY 2012-2013

November 1, 2013

This evaluation report summarizes the evidence of the implementation and early impacts of the General Electric Foundation's (GEF) Demonstration Schools Initiative in the Erie Public School district (EPS) conducted by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) during the 2012-2013 school year. The Demonstration Schools Initiative provided intensive support to four schools (two elementary, one middle, and one high) implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics and English language arts. Concurrently during the 2012- 2013 school year, EPS also continued their implementation of another GEF-supported initiative -- the Coaching Initiative -- using a cadre of instructional coaches in mathematics, science, and ELA for the other schools in the district. In both the Coaching and Demonstration School Initiatives, instructional coaches are key agents of change. Their function is to target and customize the support needed at the building, grade, and teacher levels to shift teachers' understanding and practice to align to the CCSS. For the Demonstration Schools Initiative, coaches also focused much of their time trying to develop professional learning communities (PLCs) within their schools. This evaluation was designed to answer three overarching questions: Did teachers in the Demonstration Schools gain more knowledge of the CCSS as a result of their participation in the GEF-supported initiative? What were the impacts of the initiative for the teachers in the GEF- Foundation supported Demonstration Schools compared to the rest of the district? How did teachers perceive their respective coaches throughout the district?

TASK Technical Report

October 1, 2013

This report reviews the development, piloting, and preliminary results from the large-scale field trial of the TASK Instrument ( In the first section, we review the need for an assessment of teachers' capacity for learning trajectory-oriented instruction and the theoretical foundations that inform our work. We then describe the instrument and its development. Next, we detail the scoring process and the training of raters. The final section contains the analysis of the large-scale field trial conducted in 2012â13. We conclude with some directions for future work with this instrument.

The Lived Experience of Standards Implementation in New York City Schools, 2011

July 1, 2013

The College and Career Readiness Standards, referred to as the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) in New York City, are increasingly the focus of educational reform efforts across the United States. Each year for the past several years, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has created a set of focusing expectations for schools in order to guide their engagement with the CCLS. In the 2011-12 school year, which is the focus of this report, the New York Citywide Instructional Expectations (CIEs) asked schools to engage in two central activities. First, teachers in grade levels or subject areas were asked to collaboratively examine student work and analyze the gaps between current curriculum, instructional practice, and student performance relative to the expectations of the Standards. Second, schools were asked to identify and implement performance-based assessments, or "tasks," within a CCLS-aligned curricular unit, such that all students would experience at least one task in literacy and one in mathematics. The NYCDOE designed these activities as a set of carefully chosen opportunities for schools to engage with the more rigorous expectations for teaching and learning embodied in the Standards. The hope was that, by engaging with these learning opportunities, school staff would develop a deeper, shared understanding of the Standards, and could begin to address the scope of change necessary to meet the higher expectations. CPRE's evaluation of CCLS implementation in New York City in 2011-12 allowed us to examine how a diverse sample of 16 elementary and middle schools engaged with the CIEs.

TASK: A Measure of Learning Trajectory-Oriented Formative Assessment

June 1, 2013

This interactive electronic report provides an overview of an innovative new instrument developed by CPRE researchers to authentically measure teachers' formative assessment practices in mathematics. The Teacher Analysis of Student Knowledge, or TASK, instrument assesses mathematics teachers' knowledge of formative assessment and learning trajectories, important components of the instructional knowledge necessary to teach to the high expectations of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Researchers found that the majority of teachers of mathematics in grades K-10 in urban and urban fringe districts focused on their students' procedural skills rather than their conceptual understandings, indicating that there is significant room for growth in teacher capacity to identify, interpret, and respond to students' conceptual understanding.