Literature Review Chapter: Economic Issues of Student Achievement

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[. . .] The growing commercialization not only undermines the fundamental justification for the special social and economic role played by nonprofit organizations but also constrains the ability of nonprofits to effectively play their role in disadvantaged neighborhoods." ( )

Public Charter Schools Program start-up funding sources include private donors (83%), the state in which the school is located (45%), authorizer funding (16%) and other sources (16%). (U.S. Department of Education, 2002) Charter school reports of uses of start-up subgrants include the following where percentage of schools is n=292:

Instructional materials -- 87%

Professional development 79%

Computer Materials 78%

Consultants 61%

Recruiting and public relations 60%

Renovations 58%

Staff salaries 61%

Renting or leases 41% (U.S. Department of Education, 2002)

III. Non-Profit Accountability

The work entitled "Non-Profit Charter Schools Want Public Dollars, Private Operations" states that Charter schools are able to conceal certain information from the public view. The specific information referred to in this report is that regarding the practices of Charter School Management, a private company reported to hire "all school employees and manages the school's finances…." while keeping a great many details "of its financial operations secret." (Schools Matter, 2009) There has been a recent ruling in the State of Delaware known as the 'Right-to-Know-Law' which defines the access of the public to information on private companies along with other nongovernmental entities that perform work for public agencies. (Schools Matter, 2009, paraphrased) This statute is reported to have become effective and to explicitly grant access to the public of private company and nongovernmental entities that perform government work that was not expressed set out in the previous laws. It is however, reported, that not all Charter Schools hire out their financial processes and "typically disclose extensive information about their fiances through their federal nonprofit earnings statements, which all nonprofits make public." (Schools Matter, 2009) The work of Rockoff and Turner (2008) reports a study which examined the accountability system of a New York school. It is reported "We find no evidence that these grades were related to the percentage of students tested, implying that accountability can cause real changes in school quality that increase student achievement over a short time horizon. We also find that parental evaluations of educational quality improved for schools receiving low accountability grades. However, changes in survey response rates hold open the possibility of selection bias in these complementary results. Theoretical and empirical work by economists points out both the promise and pitfalls of school accountability systems. These systems aim to place pressure on schools to improve a set of quantifiable outcomes, often student achievement as measured by standardized tests."

IV. Gaps and Collective Actions Required to Turnaround Schools

In the executive summary of the work entitled "The School Turnaround Field Guide" published by the Wallace Foundation the primary gaps and collective actions required to turnaround schools include those listed in the following table labeled Figure 1 in this study.

Figure 1

Gap and Collective Actions Required for School Turnaround

Gaps

Collective Actions

Capacity

Promote the entry of new quality providers and scale proven operators.

Create training and recruitment approaches to attract and develop turnaround talent.

Create and staff distinct turnaround offices or divisions.

Funding

As possible, repurpose current ongoing funding sources to address turnaround needs.

Ensure that specific turnaround funding streams are included in ESEA reauthorization.

Promote the use of one-time funding to build long-term capacity and infrastructure.

Public and Political Will

Build awareness of the need for change among students, parents, educators, policy makers, and communities.

Engage and mobilize stakeholders, and build public demand to advocate for needed changes.

Establish laws and policies that support those making difficult decisions.

Conditions

Change the culture of engagement between schools, districts, and states from compliance to cooperation.

Establish laws and policies that ensure needed school and district autonomies and capacity.

Develop and implement shared accountability systems at the system and school levels.

Research and Knowledge Sharing

Ensure funding and attention are directed to rigorously studying and comparing the efficacy of turnaround interventions.

Document and share turnaround successes and challenges to improve implementation.

Create opportunities and infrastructure to collect, organize, and share research and best practices.

Source: The Wallace Foundation (2011)

V. Defining Student Achievement

Student achievement is reported to be "…more than passing a standardized test. A policy that focuses only on an achievement gap may focus primary attention on reducing the gap rather than on increasingly overall achievement levels of all students." (Institute for Policy and Economic Development, 2002) Student achievement can be defined as inclusive of: (1) academic attainment reaching beyond what a state test or other standardized test currently measures; (2) job skills and preparation; (3) citizenship; (4) appreciation of arts; and (5) development of character and values. (Institute for Policy and Economic Development, 2002) Different approaches to policy-making is noted among school boards in various schools and findings show that "large urban districts that were dominated by political decision-making orientation performed more poorly on student achievement indicators than the few professional urban boards." (Institute for Policy and Economic Development, 2002)

Summary and Conclusion

The factors affecting the achievement levels of students in nonprofit schools and in fact, in all school models are myriad in nature. Student achievement is more than just a passing grade on a standardized test and funding while shown to have no direct or linear impact on student achievement does impact the achievement of students depending upon the manner in which the school funding is allocated. Policy-makers in combination with political entities all play a part in the nonprofit schools effectiveness in educating students and supporting high levels of achievement among students. Today's nonprofit schools are faced with fiscal challenges as funding is down due to the economy while the demands for funding are at an all time high. While the Wallace Foundation has set out an effective plan for turning around schools and furthering student achievement these schools will still be dependent upon local school boards and policy-makers to make the correct decisions for funding allocation.

References

Brenner, Christine Thurlow, Sullivan, Gary L. And Dalton, Elizabeth (2002) Effective Best Practices for School Boards: Linking Local Governance with Student Achievement Success. IPED Technical Reports. Institute for Policy and Economic Development. 1 Jan 20-02. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=iped_techrep

Charter School Facility Finance Landscape (2010) Educational Facilities Financing Center, 2010. June. Retrieved from: http://www.lisc.org/docs/resources/effc/2010CSFLandscape_r.pdf

Ebrahim, Alnoor (2010) The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. 11 Mar 2010. Retrieved from: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6387.html.

Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program -- Final Report (2004) Policy and Program Studies Services. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/choice/pcsp-final/finalreport.pdf

Evans, Selvyn (2011) Benefits of Enforcing Accountability and Audits in Nonprofit Organizations. Ezine Articles. Retrieved from: http://ezinearticles.com/?Benefits-of-Enforcing-Accountability-and-Audits-in-Nonprofit-Organizations&id=4062572

Executive Summary -- The School Turnaround Field Guide (2011) The Wallace Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.wallacefoundation.org/pages/executive-summary-school-turnaround-field-guide.aspx

Freemont-Smith, Marion R. (2007) The Search for Greater Accountability of Nonprofit Organizations: Recent Legal Developments and Proposals for Change. The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations Harvard University. March 2007. Working Paper No. 33.8. Retrieved from: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/hauser/PDF_XLS/workingpapers/workingpaper_33.8(Mar07).pdf

Lips, Dan, Watkins, Shanea, and Fleming, John (2008) Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement. The Heritage Foundation. 8 Sept. 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/09/does-spending-more-on-education-improve-academic-achievement

Lockwood, Robert E. And McLean, James E. (1993) Educational Funding and Student Achievement: You Be The Judge. Retrieved from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED369143&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED369143

Nonprofit Accountability: The Sector's Response to Government Regulation. 16 March 1999. Conference Notes Norman A. Sugarman Memorial Lecture. Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved from: http://www.qual990.org/np_account.html

Non-Profit Charter Schools Want Public Dollars, Private Operations (2009) Schools Matter. 25 May 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2009/05/non-profit-charter-schools-want-public.html

Nonprofit to Focus on Failing New Orleans Public Schools (2009) RENEW Charter Management Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.renewschools.org/?p=1

Powell, WW. And Steinberg, R. (2006) The Non-Profit Sector: A Research Handbook. Yale University Press. Retrieved from: http://books.google.com/books?id=7n8dPi2ew9YC&dq=nonprofit+schools+funding+and+student+achievement&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Rockoff, J.E. And Turner, L.J. (2008) Short Run Impacts of Accountability on School Quality. National Bureau of Economic Research. December 2008.

Smith, Mark R. (2011) Forecast 2011: Clouds Breaking, Business Looking Up. The Business Monthly. Retrieved from: http://www.bizmonthly.com/1_2011/1.shtml [END OF PREVIEW]

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