Trends in the News

Alternative Education Models and Funding Mechanisms

All Posts

PBS, 5/27/19

How Wyoming manages to keep its rural schools open

The one-room schoolhouse may seem like a distant memory from U.S. history, but about 200 of them still exist today, including Wyoming’s tiny Valley Elementary School. It has only six students, but in Wyoming, education funding is redistributed so that students can have access to similar resources, no matter how small or remote their location. Many small schools across the country have closed in recent years due to state funding issues and population shifts. But in rural Wyoming, one school with just six students has so far survived. Wyoming spends between $15,000 to $18,000 per student per year in K-12 education. Among the top in the nation and maybe unique to Wyoming is the funding model that recaptures money from wealthy districts and redistributes those to school districts that are called entitlement districts.

Institute of Education Sciences, 5/9/19

Weighted student funding is on the rise. Here’s what we are learning.

Weighted student funding (WSF) is a funding method that aims to allocate funding based on individual student needs. While large districts are increasingly using WSF systems, little research exists to assess their effectiveness. In this guest blog, Dr. Marguerite Roza, Georgetown University, discusses her team’s ongoing…research study that seeks to document and understand WSF designs and features as implemented in the field, and to gauge the extent to which WSF designs are associated with reducing achievement gaps.

Chalkbeat, 4/1/19

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has made over $100 million in education grants since 2018, new disclosure shows

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has issued $110 million in grants to education causes since January 2018, according to new details posted to the organization’s website. The list of grants represents CZI’s first thorough accounting of its own education giving, and the total indicates that the organization remains one of the largest players in education philanthropy. The information, which also includes a list of investments in for-profit companies, sheds new light on the strategy of CZI. CZI says it donated to more than 80 organizations over the last 15 months, but other gifts were dwarfed by grants to the Summit charter network and New Schools Venture Fund, which together took in more than $40 million.

Education Week, 3/4/19

Ex-Microsoft CEO (no, not that one) giving big to K-12

The Ballmer Group, created by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie, has quietly committed more than a quarter-billion dollars to K-12-related organizations and projects over the last two years. The flow of money includes more than $100 million granted to organizations working to improve opportunities for children and families in poverty, as well as a $59 million investment in a for-profit software company seeking to ease the flow of student data between K-12 school districts and nonprofits. The Ballmer Group’s known activity to date primarily reflects a “wraparound approach” to education, said Sarah Reckhow, an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University. It emphasizes the community context in which children grow up, and it relies heavily on people with extensive experience in the social-services field and deep roots in the communities where grants are being awarded.

New York Times, 2/28/19

Betsy DeVos backs $5 billion in tax credits for school choice

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday pitched a $5 billion federal tax credit that would fund scholarships to private schools and other educational programs, throwing her weight behind what will be a difficult legislative undertaking to fund the Trump administration’s signature education initiative. Ms. DeVos will join Republican lawmakers in championing legislation that would allow states to opt into a program that provides individual and corporate donors dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs that help families pay private-school tuition and other educational expenses. The program would also allow states the flexibility to fund other programs, like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, after-school and remedial programs.

EdSurge, 2/20/19

How to make district-wide innovation personal—and collaborative

A new case study by Entangled Solutions at Arcadia Unified School District highlights the following five takeaways which show that keeping people front, center and involved is key to scaling personalized learning effectively across any school community. 1. Build a culture of agency and risk-taking: “To get to a point where a teacher is vulnerable in a classroom in front of kids, we had to highlight ways you can fail and talk about it in a positive way,” said Greg Gazanian, Arcadia’s chief strategy and innovation officer. 2. Engage the community early and often: Arcadia has engaged its community in a multi-year effort to not just explain what it is doing, but also give community members a seat at the table to help define its goals. 3. Seek a partnership rather than a product: How teachers and students interact with each other and with the curriculum often is more important than the actual software they use. 4. Plan big, but start small: Arcadia has been intentional about who pilots the AltSchool platform first and the sequence of teachers with which it will grow its innovation efforts over time. 5. Set clear goals you can measure.

Chicago Tribune, 2/9/19

Time to say goodbye to 5-hour school days? Naperville school district officials say yes

In the past, a school day was mandated by Illinois to be five hours of direct supervision by a teacher, and how the state funded schools was based on student attendance during those days. In August 2017, the evidence-based funding formula was signed in to law, shifting the way state money is allocated to school enrollment figures and the number of students in need of extra supports. Because funding was no longer tied to attendance, the law also opened the door to more flexibility in terms of where and how students received instruction. Naperville District 203 has already taken great steps at the high school level toward making e-Learning days a reality by offering more blended classes, which combines direct-teaching days with days for independent online instruction.

CRPE, 11/30/18

Funding a nimble system

In this essay, Travis Pillow and Paul Hill explore what it would take to ensure that personalized and weighted funding follows students across multiple learning experiences, and could meet the needs of all students. Information through online portals and navigators who help families select the best options for their children are critical, the authors argue, as are addressing oversight and helping manage the transition from traditional funding models. “Low-income students or students with special needs who receive larger funding allotments under the weighted student funding system would be more likely to have money left over after covering the cost of school enrollment…Parents would have a more versatile mechanism to respond to needs that arise during the course of their children’s education,” write Pillow and Hill.

Forbes, 1/15/19

How this Chicago nonprofit is changing education as we know it

One Chicago-based organization, LEAP Innovations, is changing the education narrative and bringing forth innovation for every child. LEAP Innovations has worked with more than 120 schools across the Chicago area to implement personalized learning, and have supported over 2,400 current and pre-service educators. Through their work, they’ve reached 30,000 students since their launch date and nearly 90% of the students they impact are children of color. This interview with Phyllis Lockett, the Founder and CEO, highlights how she’s bringing innovation and personalized learning to the classroom.

Education Week, 1/8/19

Gates giving millions to train teachers on ‘high quality’ curricula

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to invest in professional development providers who will train teachers on “high quality” curricula. The investment, at around $10 million, is a tiny portion of the approximately $1.7 billion the philanthropy expects to put into K-12 education by 2022. Nevertheless, it’s likely to attract attention for inching closer to the perennially touchy issue of what students learn every day at school. Gates officials emphasized that the new grants won’t support the development of curricula from scratch. Instead, grantees will work to improve how teachers are taught to use and modify existing series that are well aligned to state learning standards. The funding announcement also comes as a number of recent reports conclude that teacher training suffers by focusing on general teaching strategies rather than on how to use a specific curriculum.