The DeHavilland Blog

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What happens...

What happens when you tell everyone who lives within a school district exactly how their local elementary and middle schools are doing?

We’re about to find out.

I’ve mentioned the Education Consumers Foundation’s work in Tennessee before; the organization is trying to increase awareness, understanding, and use of the value-added data generated by the state’s Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

For the past two years, the Foundation has taken the value-added performance scores of every elementary and middle school in the state, ranked them, and provided this data to the public through its website (see here). ECF also launched the Value-Added Achievement Awards to recognize and reward principals of some of the highest-achieving schools in the state.

Now that these applications of the data are in place, our focus is turning to awareness. People who already understand value-added data understand the importance of the charts and awards; the challenge is that not enough people in Tennessee are familiar with TVAAS.

So we’ve selected a single county – Sumner County, just north of Nashville – to conduct a mailing to every single household (55,300 sites) with detailed information on value-added performance, achievement on state tests, and free/reduced lunch rates (a common proxy for poverty) for every elementary and middle school in the county.

The mailing was sent last Monday, and should hit en masse this week – it will be fascinating to see what impact it has on local discussions regarding school performance.

BTW, to see the letter that was sent out, click here, and to see the brochure with detailed information on Sumner schools, click here. (Note that both are PDF files.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Light blogging

It's been a month since I've written anything of substance here - hopefully that will change soon. It's been a busy time with client deliverables (including some very exciting work on value-added data in Tennessee and STEM education nationally, which I'll share soon), conference planning/preparation, and the inevitable illnesses that come with kids in daycare/school and a change in the weather.

But things are looking up - I should be back in action soon.

New conference website

We've updated the website for the Effective Education Partnerships Conference - take a look at

And a reminder - our call for session presenters is open through December 14, 2007. Go here to learn more.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cuts to education spending in CA

More evidence showing the impact of the subprime lending crisis on education spending - which I still believe is simply a head start on a bigger crisis to come:

California's deteriorating budget could derail Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's much-anticipated "year of education reform" – a year in which he was expected to take on the state's underperforming school system, education advocates said Tuesday.

As he prepares his proposed 2008-09 budget for release in January, the governor this week directed all state departments to work up spending plans that are 10 percent less than current spending.

Such a move could reduce K-12 education spending by $5 billion or more for the fiscal year that begins next July. And it also would require lawmakers to take the politically tenuous move of suspending Proposition 98, which guarantees schools a cut of state revenue.

Nine trillion dollars in debt

According to this article, the national debt has reached $9 trillion dollars. Trillion, with a "T".

They note that it took from George Washington to Ronald Reagan to reach the first trillion in debt; the next $8 trillion has all been added on in the last 20 or so years.

While this debt was incurred at the federal level, and the feds supply less than 10% of education spending to K-12 education, there are still implications. Unless we start to see some fiscal discipline, I'm not worried about the feds cutting their contributions; however, this level of debt is weighing more and more on the value of the dollar, with even supermodels refusing to get paid in US currency.

A weak dollar has lots of implications, not many of which are good for the economy, which in turn hurts funding at all levels of government.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Partnering with Business Coalitions

Techniques, the magazine of the Association for Career and Technical Education, is running an article by me titled "Partnering with Business Coalitions." Access it in PDF form from this page.