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What’s Good In Public Education?

Reporting on public education too often subscribes to the “if it bleeds, it leads” school of journalism. Little wonder the American public grades schools nationwide a “C” or below (PDK/Gallup, 2015). And little wonder the hard-working educators and administrators inside our schools feel their efforts aren’t appreciated. 

Yet good things are happening in our schools every day. Moreover, by many indicators American education is performing better than ever. CPE attempts to balance the record by publishing our Top 10 list of what’s good in public education. Our first list appeared in the American School Board Journal in 2012. We updated it this year to commemorate CPE’s 10th anniversary. 

The challenges public schools face in order to prepare all students to be successful adults are well-known. But we ask you to take a moment to celebrate our schools for how far they have come, and for the strong footing they have set for taking on the task ahead.

A Top 10 List

Presentation delivered by CPE director Patte Barth at the National School Boards Association’s annual conference, April 10, 2016.

Read More About It

What's Good In Public Education (PDF) — published in the April 2016 issue of the American School Board Journal.

Read Even More About It

Learn more about CPE’s Top 10 developments in public education:

10. Modernized Career Technical Education
The Path Least Taken Part 1 and Part 2:  A description of the high school graduates who had not entered college by age 26, and an analysis of how they perform economically and socially compared to their peers who went to college.

9. Robust data systems
Data Privacy Fact Sheets (PDF): What school boards need to know about protecting student and staff data privacy. Developed in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign. 

Data First: CPE’s website dedicated to promoting the use of data in gauging school quality. The site includes 29 data questions about performance, resources, programs and results with guidelines for interpreting and using the data. It also features a learning center with short videos and presentations. 

Leading the Change: Tools to help school leaders transform low-performing schools.  

8. High-quality pre-kindergarten
CPE’s Pre-K page: Features early education research, communication tools, videos and policy briefs.  

English language learners
What research says about English language learners: A review of the most effective instructional approaches to helping non-native English speakers become English proficient.  

PIRLS of Wisdom: A comparison of the performance of language minority students in four countries, including the U.S.  

College going rates
Data First, Are our students enrolling in college: Ninth graders chance for attending college. 

Getting back to the top: An international comparison of college completions.  

Chasing the College Acceptance Letter: An analysis of what it takes to be accepted to college.   

Elementary Secondary Act
Useful resources about the newly passed ESEA, now called Every Student Succeeds Act, prepared by our colleagues at the National School Boards Association.  

High-level high-school course-taking
High school rigor and good advice: Setting up students to succeed. An analysis of high school experiences that lead to success in college.  

Is high school tough enough: A research review on high-level high school courses.  

Math achievement
The curious case of Algebra II (PDF): Why it’s important for all students to graduate with this high-level course or its equivalent.  

A guide to international assessments: A description of the various international tests and tips for interpreting the results. While there is newer test data, the guidelines for examining the scores are still relevant.  

The proficiency debate: A guide to NAEP achievement levels. How to interpret NAEP scores.  

Data First, Are our students ready for college: How to interpret ACT and SAT scores.  

High school graduation
Keeping kids in school: Effective practices for making sure all students graduate.  

Better late than never: Examining late high school graduates. A look at outcomes for students who need five or six years to earn a diploma compared to on-time graduates, GED recipients and drop outs.  

1. Public school still the school of first choice
School choice (PDF): What the research says. An overview of the range of school choices available to parents, including public schools, with data on the impact of each on student achievement. 

Eight characteristics of effective school boards: A research review of school board behaviors that are related to higher district performance. 

An American Imperative: The case for public education by former NSBA Associate Executive Director Michael Resnick.  

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Inside This Section

Investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten education yields benefits for kids, school, and communities.
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Data First
How good are your schools? How can they improve? Data can provide answers.
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