Descriiption: The Academic Literacy Assessment is assessed using an Analytic Ess

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Descriiption: The Academic Literacy Assessment is assessed using an Analytic Essay Assignment, designed to help students learn how to read, understand and analyze critically complex debates and dialogues in education. This semester the focus is on Charter Schools. You will be reading two passages that present arguments for or against charter schools. It is important to learn how to read such debates and develop an informed understanding of various perspectives. This assessment is used to inform admissions decisions to Teacher Education Programs. Passing requires a final score of 7 or above (see scoring guidelines below).
DIRECTIONS: USE PASSAGES A & B TO RESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING ASSIGNMENT.
In a response of approximately 300-400 words, identify which author presents a more compelling argument. Your response must:
• Outline the specific claims made in each passage
• Evaluate the validity, relevance, and sufficiency of reasoning and evidence used to support each claim
• Include examples from both passages to support your evaluation
Your response should be written for an audience of educated adults. With the exception of appropriately identified quotations and paraphrases from the sources provided, your writing must be your own. The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of edited American English.
Advice:
1. When evaluating an argument’s evidence, your first task is to identify the key position of each author on charter schools.
a. What claims are the authors trying to prove/want you to accept?
b. To what extent is each author for/against charter schools (i.e. completely/partially)?
c. Do the authors have anything in common?
2. Identify key reasons for each author’s position (overall it should be possible to summarize each article with two or three key reasons).
a. What specific facts does each author use to support their claim?
b. How is the evidence supposed to relate to the claim?
3. Finally, evaluate the claims.
a. What is the strength of the reasoning and evidence? Note that the assignment asks you to consider both reasoning and evidence, that is, a combination of the authors’ philosophies or values of education and their use of empirical evidence or data.
b. Consider whether the reasoning and evidence is valid, sufficient, relevant, and representative.
c. Do the authors acknowledge and respond to possible counter-arguments fully and fairly?
Suggested Outline:
– Present a clear 1-sentence statement on which of the two authors you think has a more compelling argument. This statement should be followed by the main reasons you believe this.
– Follow with which one of the two passages you thought was weaker in comparison and explain why. – Finish with which one of the two passages you thought was stronger in comparison and explain why.
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Passage A:
Why I Like Charter Schools, By Robert Maranto
War talk by men who have been in a war is always interesting; whereas moon talk by a poet who has not been in the moon is likely to be dull.” – Mark Twain, from Life on the Mississippi Charter schools elicit opinions from three kinds of people: those who love charter schools, those who hate charter schools and those who have actually been inside a charter school.
For the lovers, often people whose children are having a horrible time in traditional public schools, the choice is easy. Charters are different, so they must be better.
Charter haters expend even less cognitive effort. In my experience, few charter haters have ever set foot inside a charter school. Traditional public schools work for us, and often we work for them, so we hate the competitors with the same enmity that New York Yankees fans feel for the Red Sox. I hate to say it, but much of school politics concerns cash contracts and team loyalties, not kids.
Some haters focus on failing charters, while ignoring the many studies indicating that charters running more than two years produce slightly greater academic gains and far more teacher and parent satisfaction. (For research summaries, see my co-edited A Guide to Charter Schools:
Research and Practical Advice for Educators, available at www.rowman education.com.) Others state, without evidence, that successful charters must be cheating in some way.
On several occasions I have offered to take charter opponents to visit charter schools. Each time I have been rebuffed. This reminds me of my late uncle who hated African Americans – yet never actually had met any!
Suffering Kids
I’ve now done fieldwork in more than 50 charter schools in eight states, as well as more than 20 traditional public schools in four states, and I’ve read much of the literature. From this I know that charters will not replace traditional public schools. Where charters are allowed to flourish, as in Arizona with its 10 percent charter market share, they mainly help kids who need help and harm traditional public schools that need to be shaken up.
On the latter point, in a 2009 quantitative analysis published in the Journal of School Choice, Scott Milliman and I show the best predictor of where charters pop up is ineffective school district leadership. Charters grow where school administrators treat parents and teachers like “tall children.” Some superintendents are great, and most are OK, but at least a few who I’ve observed have the ethics and tactics of Joseph Stalin. Such leaders can survive for decades, so long as they serve the powerful. Non-influential parents know if they complain, their kids will suffer. For them, charters offer a way out. After enough parents and teachers leave, the school board may terminate the superintendent, and Perestroika begins.
But that’s in bad schools. What about good schools, like those run by my friend Paul Hewitt during his years as a superintendent? A basic fact that school reformers like me need to admit is that traditional public schools actually do a pretty good job serving traditional kids. Unfortunately, traditional public schools too often bore
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or bully gifted kids. As a mother in Pennsylvania told me, her daughter “was picked on for being smart. … Teachers and administrators say they crack down on bullying, but when the popular kids are bullying, they just think it is funny.” Moving her child to a charter school, she said, was “the greatest thing we have ever done.”
I’ve talked to more than a few kids over the years who thought they would have joined the ranks of teen suicide victims had they not left for charters. Those cases fit with research published by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (www.crpe.org).
Of course, traditional public schools already have anti-bullying programs. Those programs work well for those they employ and for politicians who want to say they are doing something about the problem. Unfortunately, I know of no evidence they work for kids, especially those whose parents lack clout.
Unresponsive Leaders
And then there are the at-risk kids. The simple fact is that traditional public schools do an awful job teaching the disadvantaged. I know school administrators who say privately, “You just can’t teach those kids.” Yet a few charter schools, such as KIPP, Harmony and Dove Science Academy, have not given up and collectively show you can prepare most disadvantaged kids for college.
As the methodologically sophisticated 2010 Mathematica Policy Research evaluation “Student Characteristics and Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools” (www.mathematica-mpr.com) shows KIPP does not weed out low performers. It turns them into middle and high performers. I’ve done hours of fieldwork at high-poverty charters with high achievement and can say with some authority that traditional public schools can copy most of the playbook, if they want to. The fact is most parents are not fools. If a regular public school serves their kids, they will stay. But if a traditional public school fails their kids, who gains when we make them stay? Don’t tell me with a straight face it’s all for the children.
Source: Maranto, R. (2011). Debating charter schools. The School Administrator, 68(7), 27-31.
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Passage B:
Why I Don’t Support Charter Schools, By Paul M. Hewitt
Engraved on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty is a poem by Emma Lazarus called “The New Colossus.” The poem gives voice to this most majestic lady and the ideals of our nation when it states: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
As an educator who spent more than 35 years in public schools, I’ve always felt this could well be the motto for our system of public education. I strongly believe charter schools are, by their very nature, organizations that exclude students and violate a most sacred ideal of our great nation.
Our public school system was conceived on the foundation of equality as a vehicle to provide cohesiveness in a diverse land. In the mid-1800s, Horace Mann established a system of common schools based on his concern with the separation of the social classes and the ethnic groups immigrating to America. He believed by combining the rich and the poor in one common school we could remove the injustices of social class conflict and have a common set of moral and political values. The charter school movement is producing a system completely counter to these democratic ideals.
Jonathan Kozol, the noted author and civil rights advocate, called charter schools “the most segregated of all public schools. They should be called Plessy v. Ferguson schools because they have taken us back to the doctrine of separate and equal.” Many of the more high-profile charter schools, such as the Knowledge Is Power Program schools, are located in inner-city areas where they are populated largely by one racial group, primarily African-American students. Conversely, it is not difficult to find charter schools located in ethnically diverse areas where the ethnic breakdown of the students at the charter school does not represent that of the community in which it is located. When we throw in tuition tax credits, open enrollment and home schooling, we put together a perfect system for maintaining segregation by ethnic group and economic class in our society.
False Assumptions
High-quality education for everyone must be our prime goal, and the proponents of charters are constantly touting their educational effectiveness and superiority to the local public schools. In almost all cases, the research to support this claim of superiority is technically flawed or based on false assumptions (see http://nepc.colorado.edu.)
Those of us who have worked in the public school system realize a world of difference exists among students of the same ethnic group. Some students are highly at-risk and live in a dysfunctional single-parent home. Using what is called open enrollment, charter schools often will restrict their enrollment to only those students who have a parent who will take the initiative to enroll the child and then commit to ongoing support and involvement in the school.
Public school teachers know that children with involved and supportive parents almost always will be more successful in school than their nonsupported counterparts. Charter schools that have highly rigorous and
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demanding programs will either scare away the most at risk or, if they should happen to enroll, they will quickly depart in a cruel game of Darwinian selection. Where do these students go? They return to the local public schools, which legally must accept them. This practice is called “creaming” by Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System and once a high-level supporter of charter schools in the U.S. Department of Education during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Not surprisingly, proponents of charter schools vehemently argue this practice does not occur.
The Washington Post reported in mid-May that the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law filed a legal complaint against the District of Columbia Public Schools, alleging the city’s charter school system discriminates against students with disabilities. A similar legal action was taken by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the Louisiana Department of Education on behalf of thousands of students with disabilities who had been denied access to New Orleans’ charter schools.
When similar students are compared, charter schools match up poorly against their public school counterparts. In maybe the best study of charter school performance, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (http://credo.stanford.edu) at Stanford University examined charter school performance in 16 states, looking at 2,403 charter schools. The researchers matched students using multiple factors to ensure true comparability between the comparison groups. In math, only 17 percent of the charter schools exceeded their public school counterparts, while 37 percent posted scores that were significantly lower than the public schools.
Discriminatory Effects
Why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon to support charter schools when 83 percent of charters have not proven to be academically superior to the traditional public schools in their communities? Why are charters appealing when they tend to separate children by race and social class and when they subtly discriminate against the most at-risk youth in our society?
I would be the last person to contend that public schools are flawless. However, the charter school movement is not in the best interest of our nation. Our public schools were founded on an ideal of providing every student with an equal educational opportunity. Charter schools do not promote this ideal.

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