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How We Know Collaboration Works

TCF's Vice President for Policy and Programs Greg Anrig digs into the secret of student success, which he says is specific organizational practices. These organizational practices include 1) a coherent instructional guidance system; 2) ongoing support for teachers; 3) strong ties among school personnel, parents, and community service providers; 4) a student-centered learning climate; and 5) collective responsibility for school improvement.

Even in other countries, highly collaborative practices in schools are associated with unusually strong student outcomes. The report How the World's Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better analyzed school systems in 20 diverse countries that experienced sustained improvement (Mourshed, Chijioke, & Barber, 2010). One common thread was a strong reliance on teamwork to identify and respond to problems.

Read Greg's full article here.

Tags: teacher voice, standardized testing, organizational practices

Smarter Charters

TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter write for ASCD Educational Leadership("Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development") about how Shanker's original charter school vision is falling short in today's educational systems and performance is stalled when it comes to testing scores. Kahlenberg and Potter recommend ways to improve charter schools including greater empowerment for teachers and integration for students.

The best chance of using charter schools to improve other schools may lie in partnerships and pathways for collaboration. In Spring Branch, Texas, a partnership between the school district and two charter networks, KIPP and YES Prep, has resulted in a program in which administrators from a district school and a charter school located in the same building collaborate on planning and professional development.

Check out the full article here.

Tags: teacher voice, integration, charter schools, albert shanker

The President Was Right (Though Politically Clumsy) To Go After Those Luscious 529 College Accounts

TCF fellow Harold Pollack goes through the recent reforms proposed by President Obama on the 529 college savings account. Pollack says that only about 3 percent of families own 529 accounts, and they are for the most part in the affluent income bracket. Pollack says that he hopes the reforms on 529 accounts will shift to include the demographic groups that need college tuition assistance the most.

...there is something unseemly about affluent taxpayers becoming so irate when someone threatens to take away our goodies. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a fascinating report describing who in America actually owns 529 accounts. Only about three percent of families do. According to the GAO, the median annual income of 529 account holders was about $142,000. Median financial holdings (which do not include housing wealth) were about $413,000. GAO indicates that this is about 25 times the typical financial wealth among families that don’t have 529 accounts.

Read Harold's piece for Washington Monthly.

Tags: income redistribution, college tuition, 529 savings account, 1 %

Free Community College Means More Choices, Better Schools

President Obama’s plan to make community college free for every American could actually improve the quality of the schools.


Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare: “White Kids Get to Go to a School With a Montessori Approach

"A Smarter Charter" authored by TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter was referenced in a recent Salon article that profiles a number of schools that are being forced to transition from public school to charter model in hopes of lifting test scores and student performance. Charter school performance varies widely around the country, with results ranging from increased segregation to less teacher voice. "A Smarter Charter" provides a reminder of the original charter school model and advocates for increased diversity and strong teacher voice.

The authors conclude, “The current thrust of the charter school sector … is bad for kids.” They recommend “changes to federal, state, and local policy” and a greater degree of “neighborhood partnerships” among charters, public schools, foundations and universities if these schools are to “be a powerful vision for educational innovation in a new century.”

Check out the Salon article.

More info on the book "A Smarter Charter" can be found here.

Tags: teacher voice, public schools, educational diversity, education reform, charter schools

Socioeconomic Integration Is Critical for Obama’s New Community College Plan

January 14, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: The Century Foundation TOPICS: Education, Ensuring Fairness in College Admissions, Improving Access to Quality Public Schools

Guest blogger Jonathan Hasak explains why critics of President Obama’s community college plan who say the federal government would be mostly reducing the cost for higher-income families are missing the point entirely.





Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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