The Best of July: Our 7 Most Popular Articles (and Videos) of the Month

We’ve rounded up our 7 most popular and buzzed-about stories (and videos) of the month. Get these monthly 74 highlights, as well as our weekly picks for the day’s top education articles at other outlets, delivered right to your inbox — sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

1. Exclusive: Data Show Charter School Students Graduating From College at Three to Five Times National Average

Some of Noble’s college-bound seniors. (Photo by Richard Whitmire)
The response has been enthusiastic and overwhelming for our new multimedia series “The Alumni,” by Richard Whitmire. For those who have not yet explored the site, its groundbreaking statistics, or its videos, we’ll let the introduction do the work: A high school diploma can’t be the end of the story — not when only about 9 percent of children from low-income families go on to complete college. That’s why America’s top charter school networks have launched a revolutionary campaign to continue supporting students long after they leave high school. The Alumni goes inside these efforts — and for the first time publishes new data that reveal a college graduation breakthrough.
Of particular note is the first chapter in the series, which surveys never-before-seen college completion data from some of America’s top charter networks. The new goal set by many of these networks is to grade themselves on the percentage of their students who go on to earn four-year college degrees in six years, all the more radical given the fact that these networks educate low-income, minority students, whose college graduation rates pale in comparison to their more affluent white peers — a mere 9 percent earning degrees within six years, compared with 77 percent of students from high-income families as of 2015.
As Whitmire reports, networks are seeing six-year college numbers that are three to five times this national average. If public and private high schools across the country catch on, this seemingly small ideological tweak in the charter sector has the potential to transform the entire American education system.

Be sure to check out the several profiles, student testimonials, and videos in the series (we’ll continue adding to the microsite every Wednesday). Here’s one inspiring crowd favorite:

2. Paying Teachers Not to Teach Is Absurd — but Reviving NYC’s ‘Dance of the Lemons’ Hurts Kids, by Daniel Weisberg
Photo: Getty Images
Daniel Weisberg’s essay on New York City’s Absent Teacher Reserve pool was reprinted by TIME magazine, among other outlets. A decade ago, New York City and its teachers union agreed to put teachers whose jobs were eliminated into the pool — with full salary and benefits — rather than foist them on principals who might not want them in their schools. Now, the 800 or so excess educators in the ATR pool are costing the city about $100 million a year, so the mayor and the schools chancellor are reinstating forced hiring of teachers to get them out of limbo. That, writes contributor Dan Weisberg, is a huge mistake; bringing back the “Dance of the Lemons” will only hurt students, particularly low-income kids. (Read the full essay)
3. Intensive Preschool Programs Can Yield Massive Returns, Especially for Boys, Nobel Laureate’s Study Shows, by Kevin Mahnken
Photo: NBER

Two of the country’s earliest and most influential child care studies have produced an annual return on investment of nearly 14 percent, says Nobel Prize–winning economist James Heckman. In an analysis of the Carolina Abecedarian Project and the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education (ABC/CARE), a pair of 1970s-era experiments that provided high-quality preschool to poor families, Heckman’s team of researchers found that participants were healthier, demonstrated higher IQs, earned more money, and were less likely to commit a crime than members of a control group. Researchers project that the programs have generated an impressive $7.30 of benefits for every dollar spent. (Read the full article)

4. Social-Emotional Learning Boosts Students’ Scores, Graduation Rates, Even Earnings, New Study Finds, by Kate Stringer
Photo: Getty Images
When students learn the tools to manage their emotions, it sticks with them — even 18 years into the future — affecting their potential to graduate high school, attend college, have healthy bodies and minds, and even have heftier bank accounts. That’s according to new research from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Their review of 82 social-emotional learning programs used by 97,000 students “is marking a shift,” they said, in the way social-emotional learning is viewed for its lasting value in education. (Read the full article)
5. UCLA Steps In to Rescue a Struggling Middle School — and Creates a Model for Change in South Los Angeles, by Sarah Favot
An imposing middle school in South Los Angeles not far from where the LA riots erupted once bustled with 2,000 students. But only 350 remain as families have fled for higher-achieving schools. Now, UCLA is stepping in with a unique set of reforms, its first attempt to improve an existing school. “It’s a revival … and, dare I say, even a divine plan,” one teacher told Sarah Favot. (Read the full profile)
6. NAACP to Deliver Blow to Charter Schools Today After Public Hearings Critics Say Were Setups, by Beth Hawkins
Going into July 26, the NAACP was widely expected to release a report cementing its opposition to the creation of new charter schools, a moratorium called for at the same meeting last year. But even prior to its release, numerous education activists and other groups representing people of color said the report’s negative stance was preordained, noting that “listening sessions” held in cities throughout the country in recent months frequently reserved little time for parents, students, and teachers from charter schools. As Beth Hawkins lays out in this feature, public charter schools frequently outperform their traditional district counterparts with children of color, but the NAACP’s past resolutions have claimed that the independent schools divert money from traditional schools and fuel segregation. School choice advocates and other union watchers also question whether the NAACP’s opposition has been influenced by the steady flow of contributions it’s received from the country’s two major teachers unions. (Read the full article)
7. Ohio’s ESSA Reboot: State School Leaders Make Big Pivot After Outcry Over Testing Requirements, by Kevin Mahnken
After a year of outreach, public feedback, drafting, and revision, Ohio finally found itself on the verge of submitting its new accountability framework under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to the federal government. But as the plan has taken shape, it has been dogged by a public itching to roll back the prevailing regime of high-stakes standardized tests, leading to missed deadlines, critical press coverage, and a round of reworking. Although not everybody’s happy, more people feel heard, and the plan now awaits approval from Governor John Kasich before heading to the Department of Education. Kevin Mahnken offered the behind-the-scenes story of one state’s great education debate. (Read the full article)

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