Think Twice Weekly Report

FEBRUARY 24, 2024 - MARCH 1, 2024

The Think Twice Weekly Report compiles public education-related policy reports, research and articles of interest to policymakers, educators and stakeholders. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to highlight recent reports that may be used to support or undermine the work of our subscribers in supporting public schools. We encourage you to take a moment to scan these reports and determine if they may be used by policy makers to assist or erode your mission.

Policy Reports


Source: Center of the American Experiment
Date: 2/27/2024
National Experts Highly Critical of Minnesota's Social Studies Standards

"A data practices act request from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) revealed that national reviewers hand-selected by Gov. Tim Walz's own agency were severely critical of the draft K-12 social studies standards recently approved by an administrative law judge. The department is legally required to send the draft standards out for review but did not disclose the expert reviews until American Experiment used a public data request to obtain them.

Three of the four expert reviewers - with years of experience related to social studies subject matter - criticized the standards and benchmarks. Reviewers highlighted not only political bias but numerous examples of broad and imprecise wording, definition and contextual problems, and immeasurability. "

Assessment / Grading

Source: Fordham Institute
Date: 2/28/2024
Think Again: Does "equitable" grading benefit students?

"Recent years have seen a flurry of new grading policies that risk lowering academic standards in the name of equity. Newly popular practices include “minimum grading” policies, which prevent teachers from assigning students less than 50 percent credit; prohibitions on grade penalties for late work; and bans on grading homework and class participation. Such changes in grading practices, which accelerated during the pandemic, deserve greater scrutiny. Indeed, they risk removing both discretion from teachers and crucial incentives for students to study hard and cooperate with teachers and peers. Although some grading reforms may benefit students, those that water down expectations ultimately harm the students they are meant to help. "

K-12 Education / School Finance and Funding

Source: Reason Foundation
Date: 2/29/2024
Public education at a crossroads: A comprehensive look at K-12 resources and outcomes

"The primary objective of this study, Public Education at a Crossroads, is to provide a comprehensive snapshot of K-12 public education resources and outcomes so that policymakers are better equipped to make these choices. By bringing together key revenue, expenditure, enrollment, staffing, and student performance data from the past two decades, this report gives stakeholders in all 50 states a solid foundation for assessing public education trends at a crucial moment. Looking forward, they should use this information to ask important questions like what their goals are for students and whether resources are being deployed toward those aims.

Importantly, this study is geared toward shining light on the school finance decisions made by state and school district officials over time, and not evaluating the degree to which those decisions have been effective. Nevertheless, longitudinal outcomes on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exams are included since they are a straightforward and common way to measure student progress. While these data have limitations, they serve as a useful barometer for student achievement and how public schools are performing. Because student demographics vary considerably across states, NAEP data for low-income students are provided to allow for more meaningful comparisons."

School Finance and Funding

Source: Bellwether
Date: 2/27/2024
After the Policy Win: First-Year Implementation of Tennessee's New School Funding Formula

"In 2022, Tennessee overhauled its education funding formula to improve outcomes for the 1 million students in the state. The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act (TISA) was designed to simplify the existing funding formula and more equitably allocate resources to schools.

Bellwether's case study, After the Policy Win: First-Year Implementation of Tennessee's New School Funding Formula, documents the first year of TISA's implementation. This analysis highlights Tennessee's progress thus far and the opportunities for further action and communication. "

School Segregation

Source: New America
Date: 2/29/2024
Crossing the Line: Segregation and Resource Inequality Between America's School Districts

In a new research report, New America's Education Funding Equity Initiative analyzes nearly 25,000 pairs of adjacent school districts to measure how district borders create deep economic and racial divisions, producing radically different educational resources and experiences for students in different districts-even districts that are right next door to each other. It also features stories about these disparities told by local educators and families. An accompanying multimedia story shows what these divides mean for American school districts and communities, and an interactive national map and data tool allows users to explore American school districts and the borders that surround them.

Reports Reviewed

GLC seeks to ensure that policy briefs impacting education reform are based on sound, credible academic research. Below are reviews conducted with GLC support.

Once Again, University of Arkansas Charter Funding Report Makes Unfounded Claims

Source: University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform
Reviewed by: Mark Weber, Rutgers University

Mark Weber of Rutgers University and the New Jersey Policy Perspective reviewed Still a Good Investment: Charter School Productivity in Nine Cities and details the faulty methodology that undermines the validity of its conclusions.

What We're Reading

Research and articles that we want to highlight for subscribers as potential resources:

Philadelphia's 'Renaissance' charter schools did not produce what was promised

By: Dale Mezzacappa, Chalkbeat

A Chalkbeat analysis has found that the dramatic turnaround promises of the Renaissance program never materialized.

Welcome to the GOP's new education agenda: Loot our public schools for private vouchers

By: Gov. Roy Cooper and Gov. Andy Beshear, USA Today

Gov. Roy Cooper and Gov. Andy Beshear authored this opinion piece that calls out the truth about voucher schemes "....we're so alarmed that legislators want to loot our public schools to fund their private school voucher scheme. These vouchers, instituted in the 1950s and 1960s by Southern governors to thwart mandatory school desegregation, are rising again thanks to a coordinated plan by lobbyists, private schools and right-wing legislators."

Policies Restricting Teaching About Race and Gender Spill Over into Other States and Localities

By: Ashley Woo, Melissa Kay Diliberti, Elizabeth D. Steiner, RAND

In this report, the authors explore how the impact of state policies restricting teachers' instruction is spilling over into places where no such restrictions exist, and why teachers who are not subject to state-level restrictions are choosing on their own to limit their classroom discussions of political and social issues. The authors also examine how teachers' instructional decisions are associated with their state and local policy contexts and local political climate.

How HBCUs are building a stronger Black teacher pipeline

By: Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

Amid ongoing efforts to diversify the K-12 teacher workforce, a United Negro College Fund report finds some historically Black colleges and universities are working to get Black students in the teacher pipeline by tapping into faculty networks, establishing relationships with school districts and using financial aid as a recruitment tool.

Miami schools under fire over Black history permission slip flap

By: Andrew Atterbury, Politico

School officials in Miami-Dade County appear to be rethinking a controversial policy requiring students to get parental approval before hearing guest speakers on subjects like African American history and the Holocaust after the district received widespread backlash.