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The Washington Flyer
October 16, 2015
“There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.”
John Adams
Early Education Studies Offer Conflicting Information
results of two studies, both released in September, are offering conflicting information regarding the benefits of early education as a necessity for the long-term success of children. One study, conducted by the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University and titled “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Program,” showed that not only did the benefits of preschool disappear by third grade but also that those students who did not attend preschool fared better than those who did. A second study from Miami conducted by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families showed that 90% of the Latino, low-income students who attended Miami’s publicly funded preschool program passed the third grade test. This study, however, did not compare these results with those children who did not attend preschool; rather it was solely focused on measuring the effectiveness of Miami’s public preschools in improving academic success of Latino children within the school system. The study did state that the high percentage was an improvement as most children who do not come from English-speaking homes fall behind academically. Significantly, both of these studies focused on a small, controlled population; and to date, a large scale study on preschool benefits has yet to show long-term positive results. As stated by Steve Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research, “If you look at every study on preschool, fadeout is pervasive. You have to have a really big immediate effect to get any effects in the long term. And these can be squandered if the school system isn’t good enough.”
Common Core Controversy Continues as Test Results Show Problems
Despite a recent claim that the Common Core Standards (CCS) have won the standards war, the controversy continues to grow as more test results emerge indicating the goal of the standards is not being met. Last week,
Arkansas education officials decided to redefine the achievement indicators in order to reflect a more positive outcome for the test results. Arkansas students took the CCS-aligned PARCC test, which uses a 5-level scoring mechanism, with level 4 defined as “proficient” and level 3 meaning “approaching academic expectations.” However, Arkansas leaders determined that for their state, level 3 would now be considered “proficient.” This change in definition means that 64% of Arkansas students scored a “proficient” level in reading. Had Arkansas used the PARCC scoring definition, the actual number of students considered proficient would have been only 36%. For math, 60% scored at the redefined proficiency level compared to 28% by the PARCC definitions. Critics are noting that not only will this be confusing to parents but it will also make it extremely difficult for a nationwide comparison of students’ tests scores, which was one of the key reasons for creating the CCS and the assessments in the first place. Arkansas is the second state to redefine proficiency level, following Ohio. In Louisiana, students also took the PARCC assessment, and test scores were “well below the state’s long-range achievement goals.” Neal McCluskey of the CATO institute points out that the assessments created to align with the CCS have lost support (the PARCC is down to 11 participating states plus DC from the initial 25), and this is a strong indication that the CCS continue to lose support as well.

Pro Life

Planned Parenthood Announces It Will No Longer Accept Money for Baby Body Parts
This week, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards
announced in a letter to the National Institutes of Health that the abortion institution will no longer accept “reimbursement” from the sale of aborted baby body parts. The letter states, “In order to completely debunk the disingenuous argument that our opponents have been using—and to reveal the true political purpose of these attacks—our Federation has decided, going forward, that any Planned Parenthood health center that is involved in donating tissue after an abortion for medical research will follow the model already in place at one of our two affiliates currently facilitating donations for fetal tissue research. That affiliate accepts no reimbursement for its reasonable expenses—even though reimbursement is fully permitted under the 1993 law.” Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation after the release of several videos which expose the abortion giant for selling body parts of aborted babies. Pro-life supporters argue that this latest move by the abortion provider suggests that they were indeed aware that these activities were illegal. Last weekend, approximately 20,000 people across the nation participated in protests against Planned Parenthood facilities.



Department of Education Introduces New Acting Education Secretary
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced he will resign at the end of December; and John King, the current Deputy Education Secretary at the department, will serve as
acting secretary for the remainder of this Administration. King will not hold the official title of Secretary of Education as he has not received Congressional approval, and a vote is unlikely to happen in the remaining months of President Obama’s term. Mr. King joined the Department of Education in 2014 after a tumultuous tenure as commissioner of New York state public schools, during which he oversaw the implementation of the Common Core Standards and supported the expansion of charter schools. Last Friday, AACS joined a conference call in which Secretary Duncan and Mr. King discussed an ambitious agenda for the next 16 months, which includes education summits for teachers and campaigns to increase school attendance rates and close the achievement gap. When asked about Title 1 portability in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), King said that from his perspective two relatively broad issues must be addressed—accountability and completion. He is less concerned with the issue of portability.


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American Association of Christian Schools
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