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A Tale of Two Rankings

Education Week released today its annual “Quality Counts” report, with a focus on early education. While the report does its due diligence and is incredibly comprehensive, it unfortunately misses the mark in terms of criteria, focusing on some not-so-important inputs that don’t ultimately determine student success.

This is the very reason CER created the Parent Power Index (PPI), a report card based on qualitative and proven state policies. The higher a state’s grade on the PPI, the more parents are afforded access and information about education options that can deliver successful outcomes for their children.

Low On Inputs, High on Parent Power

Aside from considering NAEP scores, the “Quality Counts” rankings focus on educational inputs, downplaying the progress made by states through meaningful reforms.

One such input is funding, which is why states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia, find themselves in the top tier of the “Quality Counts” report.

States such as the District of Columbia, Arizona, Idaho and Louisiana, which lead the pack on PPI, find themselves towards the bottom of the “Quality Counts” rankings.

For example, the District of Columbia places 38 on this year’s Quality Counts, but ranks 4 in Parent Power. The #4 PPI ranking is due to a policy environment that prioritizes school choice, teacher quality and data transparency. And judging by significant improvements on state assessments in recent years, students have been the primary beneficiaries of this policy environment.

By contrast, Maryland places third on “Quality Counts”, but drops a whopping 40 spots on the PPI. The Old Line State offers little in the way of public or private choices, and its charter school law is essentially one in name only. In 2014, Maryland test scores dropped to their lowest point in seven years.

If state officials are fortunate enough to see

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Get Talking: Holiday Conversation Starters

There’s nothing like gathering with family, friends, and colleagues over the holidays – whether it’s at the school play, a work party, or a neighborhood get-together.

But at all of these events, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with accelerating the pace of reform, because they think it will hurt our school system more than it will help.

These conversation starters stress the importance of improving our schools so parents have access to more and better education options for their kids – and at the very least, can give you something to talk about with Uncle Larry this year!

“Our public schools are just fine. I got a great education,” your uncle says.
We’re an increasingly global society, and with the U.S. ranking 27th in math and 17th in reading out of 34 countries, even our best-performing kids need better learning opportunities.

“But not all parents care”, your neighbor says.
What some perceive as a lack of caring could actually be the result of frustration. As a parent, it’s frustrating feeling like there is no other option for your child outside of the school that is failing them. Only 5% of U.S. children are able to take advantage of school choice opportunities.

“It’s not an education problem, it’s a poverty problem,” says your colleague.
Poverty is a challenge, but not an excuse. Our nation’s charter schools have proven this.A majority of the nearly 2.5 million children in the nation’s more than 6,500 charter schools are poor and minority, and yet they are performing better than comparable kids who have to attend their local public schools.

Let’s give the ultimate gift to parents and students this year by committing to remaining vocal about the importance of enacting parent-empowering education reforms. And,

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Closing the Semester’s Chapter

My internship here at The Center for Education Reform (CER) is drawing to a close and although I have spent an entire semester here, I am finding it hard to piece together words that accurately describe my experience. I met Outreach Coordinator, Tyler, at a nonprofit networking event, and immediately was hooked on CER and everything the organization stood for. On my first day, I was blown away by how much was going on at all times around the office. Press releases were being written, phone interviews were taking place, and all of the sudden I was heading out the door to attend a panel event. Amongst all of the hard work and deadlines, the thing that immediately separated CER from other offices was the heart that the staff puts into the work.

One of the most rewarding takeaways of this experience is seeing how many great people are behind education reform and knowing that I, in some way, helped. Updating data, researching topics, going to events, visiting charter schools; all of these day-to-day tasks I accomplished all went toward a greater goal. I loved that this wasn’t an internship where people were just clocking in and out. Instead, it was an environment of individuals who actually care about making education better. Attending events opened my eyes to the power of conversation and human interaction. I learned so much about other areas of education reform just by attending events and striking up conversation about CER and other organizations with those around me. It was amazing to be able to attend panel discussions, which covered education research and data, as well as First Fridays, where I could experience a more hands-on approach by visiting charter school classrooms. The mix of traveling to events and researching from a computer gave

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