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Trends in the News

Alternative Education Models and Funding Mechanisms

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The Hechinger Report, 8/8/18

A year of personalized learning: Mistakes, moving furniture and making it work

In the first year of a new program, a large San Diego district experiences small victories despite growing pains… Vista High School principal Anthony Barela had a vivid image of what school here could look like after a $10 million grant to reimagine learning: Rolling desks and chairs, with students moving freely and talking about their work. Better attendance, class participation and graduation rates. One year later, Barela has watched some of this vision flourish — including new classes and ways of teaching — while other parts never took off… Barela contends that Vista’s approach is making a tangible impact in an area he’s long considered paramount: attendance… After Vista High School rolled out personalized learning, its freshman class’s attendance rate was 15 percent higher than the same group’s attendance had been in eighth grade, and its average GPA was 0.2 points higher

SBNation, 7/31/18

How LeBron James’ new public school really is the first of its kind

James’ I Promise School opened Monday to serve low-income and at-risk students in his hometown.  I Promise will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and greater access to the school, its facilities, and its teachers during down time for students. That’s a formula aimed at replicating some of the at-home support children may be missing when it comes to schoolwork. I Promise is a regular public school, not a charter or a voucher-receiving private school.  Per the state of Ohio, Akron’s schools were given just $10,028 in state and local funds per student in 2016 — more than the statewide average, but still a relatively low figure for a city of a little under 200,000.  Ten thousand dollars per student can’t cover those services, but the buy-in from the LeBron James Family Foundation can.

Chalkbeat, 7/31/18

With big names and $200 million, a new group is forming to push for the ‘portfolio’ model

Several big names in education reform are teaming up to start a new organization designed to change how schools are managed in cities across the U.S. — and they say they’ve already raised $200 million.  The City Fund, as the group is being called, will push cities to expand charter schools and district schools with charter-like autonomy. It represents a big increase in visibility and influence for advocates of the “portfolio model” of running schools, a strategy that’s been adopted by cities like New Orleans, Denver, and Indianapolis. The basic idea is that families should be able to choose among different schools, and that those schools should be free to operate as they see fit. In addition, schools should be held accountable for their performance — largely based on test scores — with good ones growing and bad ones closing, while an oversight body coordinates essential functions like enrollment across schools.

Education Dive, 7/19/18

Gates Foundation funds resources to help schools ‘unlock time’

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a $2.2 million grant to make free resources available to school leaders who are redesigning their schedules to better fit personalized, project-based and other learning models that call for flexibility.  The Unlocking Time initiative features online resources related to bell schedules, case studies from schools, and the School Time Assessment — a survey that school leaders can administer to learn more about how they use time.

Hechinger Report, 7/2/20

Is the new education reform hiding in plain sight?

Philanthropists, state education officials, reform advocates — even charter school leaders — are examining personalized learning. But personalized learning raises big questions about educational equity. Is it important for all children to be taught common skills and content? Could personalized learning spur an even more splintered society? Concerns about the content, or even the variable pace, of personalized learning derive from a middle-class educational ideal that is outdated and misses the point, says Trace Pickering, leader of Education Reimagined and co-founder of Iowa BIG. More important, he said, is for educators to ask, “How can we effectively self-actualize human beings?”

Des Moines Register, 2/9/18

Iowa plan to expand school choice includes ESAs, charter school access

Education savings accounts function similar to a voucher program by allowing parents to use state money tax-free to fund private school tuition or other non-public school expenses. Rogers’ plan would prevent the money from being used for home-school expenses. Proponents say the proposal is a way to ensure their tax dollars support their own child’s education, even if they don’t attend public schools. Others favor education savings accounts as a way to ensure lower-income families can access the education facilities of their choice.

The 74, 2/13/18

Analysis of personalized learning programs in Chicago shows that strong teacher leaders, not technology, key for financial sustainability

The key to financial sustainability is a principal’s ability to discern what matters for their model and then use the flexibilities they have to align resource allocation to supporting those key elements. In the schools studied, teachers and teacher leadership were critical to model success.

The analysis is part of a new report, titled “Sustaining Innovation & Preparing for Scale: Financial Sustainability and Analysis of Personalized Learning School Models,” released Tuesday by Afton Partners and LEAP Innovations, a nonprofit that supports personalized learning.

Education Week, 2/8/18

Personalized learning for the ‘whole educator’? Chan Zuckerberg announces new grants

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has already said it wants to expand the notion of “personalized learning” to include the “whole child.” Friday, the group went a step further, announcing a new round of grants that will focus on supporting the “whole educator,” including the “professional, social, and emotional well-being” of teachers.