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How We End The War Over Standardized Testing

The academic merits of standardized testing in schools have long been questioned. In an article for Common Dreams, TCF VP for Policy and Programs Greg Anrig writes that aside from testing, a surefire way to measure success is the level of collaboration among administrators, teachers, parents, and students.

Demanding schools have those types of assessments in place is fine, but making those assessments standardized, centrally controlled, and implemented en masse across the nation is never going to work.

Read the full article with Anrig's comments.

Tags: standardized testing, school quality, collaboration

Why Teachers Must Be at the Table

TCF fellow Halley Potter writes for Inservice, the blog of international education association, ASCD, as a guest blogger on the topic of teacher voice in schools. Potter highlights the success of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network based in California, which sends 86 percent of its graduates to college.

Unlike most charter schools, Green Dot has had a teacher union from the start. "We began with a deep-rooted belief in the importance of teachers at the table, for there to be built-in collaboration for teachers and managers," explains Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot's Chief Executive Officer.

Potter's full blog post can be read here.

Tags: teacher voice, teacher unions, charter schools

Is There a Middle Ground in ESEA Reauthorization That Serves Both Sides’ Interests?

Support for "portability" and high-poverty schools is a contentious debate that relies heavily on the details involved. TCF fellow and education expert Rick Kahlenberg's research is cited in a blog post featured by the National Education Policy Center. Kahlenberg argues that socio-economic integration is a far better and less costly alternative to pouring funds into high-poverty schools directly.

Current proposals offer too little in the way of financial incentives to fundamentally alter student enrollment trends. "But," Kahlenberg remarks, "every school has his price. What is the magical amount of extra money low-income students should have in their backpacks to be attractive to middle-class schools? That’s an empirical question that surveys of school administrators could answer definitively. Meanwhile, past experience shows that financial arrangements can be made to assuage middle-class schools."

Check out the whole blog post.

Tags: socio-economic diversity, school choice, portability, high-poverty school

A Promising Type of Charter

TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter believe in the power of schools that embrace socio-economic diversity and foster teacher voice. The charter school landscape in Philadelphia at the moment is hitting a point of contention with the School Reform Commission pushing for priority of low-income schools and saying that there is generally no place for economically integrated charter schools. Kahlenberg and Potter cite their insightful book, "A Smarter Charter" and say that the idea of public education is more than academics, but also to promote social mobility and social cohesion.

Indeed, the guidelines under which the School Reform Commission operates make no mention of teacher voice or student integration. To the contrary, the guidelines give priority to schools in neighborhoods that have higher poverty rates. On one level, this is understandable, because low-income students are in the greatest need. But given that low-income students perform best, on average, in socioeconomically integrated schools, why not make room for charters that take that approach?

Read Kahlenberg and Potter's full article from

Tags: teacher voice, socioeconomic integration, poverty rate, education reform, a smarter charter

Beyond Stuyvesant: How Other NYC High Schools Are Promoting Equity

February 16, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Halley Potter TOPICS: Education, Improving Access to Quality Public Schools

TCF fellow Halley Potter looks at Veritas Academy, a high school in Flushing, Queens, for ideas on how to promote high-quality education in integrated settings.

Tags: veritas academy, new york city, education, diversity in education

Saving School Choice Without Undermining Poor Communities

The "No Child Left Behind" bill is up for debate once again with Republicans and Democrats struggling to compromise on proper policy. While Democrats support the system that provides funding directly to schools Republicans believe those same funds should be allocated directly to students who can then choose which school to attend. TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg says that if executed properly, the Republican proposal to allow "portability" could increase socio-economic diversity in schools and foster better student environments.

Those findings would suggest that the Republicans’ principle of portability, in fact, has in it the seeds of a solution to reduce economic segregation through public-school choice—if, and only if, portability is properly structured. In order to accomplish this, portable federal Title I funding, as well as state and local funding, would need to be weighted heavily enough to give poor kids sufficient money in their "backpacks" that middle-class public schools would want to recruit them to attend.

Read the full article featured in The Atlantic.

Tags: school funding, school choice, portability, no child left behind




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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