certification, charter school practice, education improvement, improving teaching practice, international pupil achievement comparisons, Uncategorized

BASIS North Scottsdale – Information Session, 5/2/2017 – Greyhawk Club

1))About 80 attendees – approximately 10% were African-American, 0% Hispanic. Nationally, BASIS students are 40% Caucasian (non-Hispanic), 25% Hispanic, African American, and mixed, 35% Asian/Indian. Up to 20% of students are reduced- or free-lunch.

I did not recognize anyone from SUSD Administration or its Board. They already know everything there is to know about BASIS and its plans?

BASIS now has about 15,000 enrollees, mostly in Arizona, San Antonio, D.C., and China. Next year, per CEO Peter Bezanson (from another source), BASIS expects to serve more than 20,000.

2)The handout material was very heavily skewed towards comparing BASIS pupil achievements vs. others in U.S. nationwide, and globally. The presenter made it quite clear that their focus was on exceeding all global competitors. No reference to comparative Arizona pupil achievements. (SUSD high-schools are below the Arizona average.)

3)None of the presenters or individuals pictured claimed to have a PhD or EdD.

Managing/leading K-12 education is not ‘rocket science’ as the preponderance of graduate degrees within public schools seems to imply. What is required – high performance standards (including not just ‘all pupils,’ but everyone – including staff, leaders, and parents, along with basic management/leadership skills.

4)The BASIS learning model consists of each classroom having two teachers – one is a subject-matter expert (at least a B.A. in the subject being taught), the other a ‘learning’ expert with an education degree. Class sizes range from 28 to 30.

BASIS’ ability to utilize a ‘team-teaching’ model is clearly indicative of it having a dramatically lower cost base – including teacher pay/benefits. The claim made by some that it has high administrative expenses does not hold water – at least part of that misperception derives from differences in how BASIS classifies expenses. I suspect school and district overheads, as well as Special Education are also far lower within BASIS than in typical public schools.

5)Grades 1 and up pupils rotate among classrooms during the day, according to the subject. The learning expert stays with them, the subject-matter expert does not.

6)Passing 6 AP exams is required to graduate; the average is 11.7. BASIS pays the costs.

7)Eleventh and twelfth-grades are optional for many/most – it is common to have enough credits to graduate after the 10th grade. Those remaining through the 12th grade would be expected to complete a ‘Senior Project’ that typically involves serving as an intern, with both local entity and BASIS staffers helping out; would take about 1/3 of the total time that final year. Those finishing 12th-grade at BASIS could complete a ‘triple-major.’

There is about a 9% ‘turnover’ rate for pupils in grades K-8; other than transfers from other BASIS schools, it is very unlikely that an outside student would be allowed to enter a BASIS middle- or high-school. This accounts for at least part of the drop-off in enrollment in grades 7 – 12. Further, the ability to graduate from high-school at the end of the 10th-grade probably explains a good part of the enrollment drop-off in BASIS Scottsdale.

8)Grades 1-8, possibly also 9-12, pupils first see an outline of what the day’s work will involve. They’re expected to copy this, and bring it home to facilitate completion and parental involvement.

9)Middle-school pupils have 9 hours/week of science, along with potentially 6 writing opportunities/day.

10)BASIS is considering opening a new school Fall of 2018. Either in North Scottsdale (between Bell & Jomax, 64th St. and somewhere East), or Deer Valley, Surprise, Maryvale, South Scottsdale. Plan would be to have 3-4 classes for each grade that the school opened with. Locations and number of grades chosen will depend on parental interest.

11)Staff help graduating students with their application essays, resumes, etc. – as well as basic counseling.

12)Latin is mandatory in grades 5 and 6. Chinese is a regular part of K-4. Pupils in K-4 have 20 minutes of reading/day.

13)There is no ‘professional development’ during school days.

14)Their marketing material utilizes branding (they don’t teach math – rather ‘Saxxon  math,’ not just reading – but ‘Phonics’ and ‘whole word’), as well as unique aspects of their curriculum. Most of all, however, the material focuses on achievement, especially that vs. U.S. high schools in general, as well as results vs. international tests.

Examples: A BASIS.ed-managed charter graduate is 281 times more likely to earn a perfect score on the PSAT, 30X more likely on the SAT, etc., along with AP Exam pass rates vs. all countries and vs. the entire U.S.

15)Student support programs foster every student’s successful transition into BASIS – before and throughout the school year.

16)Homework: About 15 minutes/evening for K, one-four hours in high-school.

17)Pupils in grades 4-6 (?) take comprehensive exams mid-year. The exams are produced by central staff – based on the curriculum uses, and the questions are not known by the teachers. The point – to evaluate teacher proficiency mid-year, followed by corrections and improvements as needed.

Evaluation of teacher performance, including the granting of substantial merit-based bonuses, is based on both observations of classroom instruction, and on student learning results on high-states assessments.

18)None of the attendees asked any questions about BASIS teacher salaries.

19)Elementary school music and art are provided once/week.

20)BASIS Scottsdale (opened 2003 – Grades 4-12 has 1,092 enrollees. Of those 73 contributed $1,500+ to its 2015-16 Annual Teacher Fund, 62 contributed $2,500+, 16 contributed $5,000+, and 6 contributed $10,000+. Fewer than half of BASIS families donate annually, and the average BASIS donation system-wide is about $700.

BASIS Scottsdale Primary (opened 2015 – Grades K-3) has 529 pupils. Of those 21 donated to the 2015-16 Annual Teacher Fund at a $1,500+ level, 13 at the $2,500+ level, and one at the $5,000+ level.

education expenditures, education improvement, education management, improving teaching practice, international pupil achievement comparisons, teacher evaluation, Uncategorized, value-added measures

America’s Schools Don’t Need More Money, They Just Need Basic Management!

The U.S. already spends more/pupil than any other developed nation in the world – except Luxemburg, yet achieves only middling results in international pupil achievement tests. It also has nearly tripled inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending since the early 1970s, with very little to show for it.

Regardless, any news about American education is almost always about needing much more money, and/or information about some new purported plan (eg. preschool) that will bring major improvements – just add money. Almost never do we here how poorly schools are managed – so not surprisingly, nobody is interested in that important topic.

Fortunately, I’ve developed a list of essential managerial improvements that would finally move America’s schools forward, and would very much like to see them implemented.

 Therefore, I’d support more money for public schools, even though we already spend more/pupil t han every other developed nation except Luxemburg – IF

1)we set challenging, credible, and relatively near-term goals for improving pupil achievement, starting at the state level for each grade, and then deploying those goals in a consistent fashion down to every county, district, and school,

2)encouraged the achievement of those goals with substantial financial rewards linked to their accomplishment – on an individual teacher, principal, and superintendent level,

3)lengthened the school day (Asian nation pupils go as long as 12 hours on some days),

4)lengthened the school year (Asian nation pupils attend up t o 240 days),

5)implemented computer systems that allow easy intra-year pupil testing during the year (quality isn’t possible if only checked once a year) and quickly (2-3 days) analyzed pupil gain results vs. goals, and then aggregated the data for each teacher, principal, and superintendent. Such a system should also be used to evaluate curricula and textbook selections, and all subsequent significant spending programs – including facility rebuilding/major non-safety or comfort renovations, A separate record for each pupil would include his/her prior achievement, age, district, a teacher identifier, primary language spoken at home, Free Lunch status, and Special Education classification – the purpose being to isolate ‘value-added’ from ‘expected’ progress,

6)ceased wasting money creating smaller class-sizes, and instead paid high-performance teachers to voluntarily take larger classes (the research is clear – it provides very little/no benefit except possibly in the first few grades),

7)ceased wasting money paying teachers for added years of experience and additional coursework (again, the research is clear – little/no benefit), and

8)implemented overhead spending limits.

The preceding would improve pupil achievement. More money for more of the same hasn’t worked for over 40 years and there’s no reason to believe that would change.

education expenditures, public schools, Uncategorized

Arizona, South Korea, and Japan Education Overview

Asian pupils regularly outperform those in America and Arizona. Here’s some interesting comparisons in terms of costs, length of school day and school year, class sizes, and teacher pay:

The best I could come up with was comparing Arizona in 2008 with 2008 Japan and South Korea. Arizona spent $8,735/pupil in 2008 (per the Auditor General’s “Arizona School District Spending 2015” report – available online), while Japan spent $8,301 and South Korea $6,723. Both nations regularly considerably outperform the U.S. and Arizona).

http://www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/money-cant-buy-genius – source for South Korean and Japanese spending. There are a number of ‘incidental’ fees for after-school activities in Japan, eg. piano, and they’re not included in the preceding – eg. music lessons.

South Korea has the world’s highest high-school graduation rate (97%+) and Japan’s is also very high (95%). South Korean parents also, however, spend an average $1,000/pupil on ‘hagwons’ (night and weekend private schools), raising the total to about $7,750 – about $1,000/pupil less than Arizona. I estimate that same $1,000/pupil expenditure in Japan for juku/cram-schools, raising their total to about $9,300 – about $1,000 more than Arizona in 2008.

The possibly ‘really bad news’ is that reportedly there is a problem with youth suicides in South Korea associated with education pressure; possibly also in Japan, to a lesser degree. However, that is countered by this article –


showing a one-third lower suicide rate for 15- 19 year-olds in South Korea than the U.S. Japanese 15 – 19-year-old suicide rates are also lower than in the U.S., while Singaporean rates are slightly higher. (The linked source was the only school-age data I could find.)

Bottom-Line: Arizona public school expenditures/pupil/day are about the same as for public schools in Japan and South Korea. However, its school year (180 days) and school day (6 hours) are far less than in Japan and South Korea (240 days, up to 12 hours), and its graduation and pupil achievement levels lag both. Arizona class sizes are also smaller than those in Japan (33 for lower secondary, 28 for elementary) and South Korea (35 and 28), much smaller than in China (53 and 38 for elementary), and its teachers are paid about the same. Finally, in 2008, almost 84% of South Korean high-school students went on to university, dropping to 72% in 2012.

earnings, education expenditures, education improvement, education management, effective teachers, Eric Hanushek, impact of poor-performing teachers, improving teaching practice, public schools, tenure, Uncategorized

Tennessee’s ‘Value-Added Assessment System’ + D.C.’s Impact Evaluation = Significant Improvement in Arizona Pupil Achievement and Future Earnings


William Sanders was a professor of statistics at the University of Tennessee’s school of agriculture. In response to a challenge, he began experimenting with data compiled from Tennessee public schools. The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) database provided access to histories of individual student measurements of achievement in math, reading, language arts, science, and social studies from 1990 through 1996. Because the data includes years of information, the formula adjusts for one-offs, such as a smart kid who bombs on testing day or a teacher who cheats to get a bonus. The following research presents results of cumulative teacher effects in math from grades 3 to 5 using the data from two of Tennessee’s larger metropolitan systems. Its value-added approach filters out socioeconomic level and prior achievement differences of students. Professor Sanders, now retired, received the 2015 James Bryant Conant Award, one of our most prestigious education honors, for this work. Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and individual school districts in at least 15 other states now use Sanders’ findings.

Tennessee’s 1992 Education Improvement Act established a statewide half-cent sales tax to boost K-12 spending, as well as the ground-breaking TVAAS. Summaries are made public and printed in Tennessee newspapers. The scores have consequences – schools whose cumulative gains from each of the five subjects at least match the gains in the national norm are eligible for additional state funds. Districts failing to achieve average gains of at least 95% of the national norm are subject sanctions. Each teacher also receives a report card. Scores became used for bonuses (responding to the state-mandate for performance pay plans) after the TEA signed on to a successful application for a federal $500 million Race to the Top grant.

Teacher effectiveness is the single biggest factor influencing gains in achievement – many times greater than poverty, race, class-size, or per-pupil expenditures. Differences in pupil achievement of 50 percentile points were observed as a result of teacher sequence after only three years.

The effects of teachers on student achievement are both additive and cumulative, with little evidence of compensatory effects.

As teacher effectiveness increases, lower achieving students are the first to benefit. The top quintile of teachers facilitate appropriate to excellent gains for students of all achievement levels. Highly effective teachers tend to be effective with all groups of students, regardless of initial achievement level, while highly ineffective teachers produce unsatisfactory gains among all groups of students.

Students of all different ethnicities respond equivalently within the same quintile of teacher effectiveness.

If any child is assigned two very weak teachers in a row, without major intervention that child never recovers from it.

The same pattern of results has been found in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Hillsborough County (Oregon), and Los Angeles – with different researchers and tests involved.


http://media.hoover.org/sites/default/files/documents/0817929320_13.pdf – a more readable and later summary of Sanders’ research and results.


Others (eg. Eric Hanushek) have repeatedly demonstrated that better teachers provide a better economic future for their pupils – by as much as $400,000 over a lifetime.


Still another approach, that of D.C.’s Impact system for evaluating teachers, has also passed the cold scrutiny of researchers – and more importantly, helped significantly boost pupil achievement in D.C.



Bottom-Line: The preceding (‘rank and yank’ and D.C.’s ‘Impact’) have proven that significant improvements can be brought to public school pupils. Even in SUSD. To boost/ensure acceptance, acceptance of these improvements in evaluation could be made a requirement for significant raises for individual teachers – the same method Michelle Rhee used to get D.C. teachers to drop tenure protection, accept determination of future raises by pupil achievement and observation, as well as possibly being terminated for prolonged poor results.



Loyd Eskildson


college debt, college graduates' job placements, education expenditures, education improvement, foreign policy, immigration, international literacy comparison, international pupil achievement comparisons, military spending, public schools, terrorism

Time to Mind Our Own Business

America has a number of serious, long-term and growing internal problems. Yet, we devote little or no attention to those problems – instead creating new ones. The list of current problems include:


1)The world’s largest government debt – currently about $19 trillion, and growing.

2)The world’s most expensive healthcare system – expected to hit 20% of GDP by 2020 (vs. an estimated 4% for Singapore), yet middling and recently declining outcomes, with millions lacking needed coverage and the likelihood of that growing substantially in the relatively near term.

3)The world’s second most expensive public school system, with middling and declining achievement for high-school graduates vs. other OECD nations.

4)The world’s greatest problem with legal/illegal drug abuse.

5)The world’s most expensive defense system (more than the ten next most expensive – combined), yet an inability to create a sense of credible homeland security.

6)The world’s most expensive college education system, leaving millions with a lifetime of debt, only about half actually graduating after matriculating, and about half those who do graduate unable to obtain jobs requiring that college education.

7)An adult population below the OECD world average in basic skills.

8)Infrastructure needs of about $4 trillion by 2020.

9)A weak economy, with much of its prior manufacturing hollowed out by offshoring or sending jobs to Mexico. (Also the world’s greatest trade deficit).

10)Millions of poorly educated immigrants, along with millions more of their relatively poorly-educated descendants,

11)An estimated 3.3 million Muslim immigrants in the U.S. – a dangerous and growing internal ‘5th column.’

12)An almost totally dysfunctional national-level government. (Regulatory, lobbyist, big business capture, twisted/false information, stalemate, domination by ideology.)

13)Growing vulnerability to global warming.

14)Simmering, always threatening, racial divisiveness.

15)Highest murder rate among OECD nations, Mexico excepted.


One would hope, that with this list of formidable problems, the U.S. would be concentrating on reducing and/or eliminating them. Unfortunately, that is far from reality. Consider the headlines within the first section of the 12/17/2016 Wall Street Journal:


1)”Obama Suggests Putin Had Role in Election Hacking.” Maybe he did. But what about the numerous agencies our government supported within Russia (eg. International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Agency for International Development, Radio Free Europe), aimed at subverting that government? Our support for overthrowing Iran, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the Vietnam War, Iraq War I – and stationing troops in Saudi Arabia (one of two major motivating factors for 9/11), support for Israel (the other major motivating factor for 9/11), cyber-snooping on allies as well as others?

2)”Saudis Rethink Investing in U.S.” Prompted by a recent law allowing U.S. citizens/entities to sue the Saudi Arabian government. (Long history here – preceded in turn by our stationing troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War I.)

3)”U.S. to China: Return Our Sea Drone.” What were we doing in China’s back yard, how do we know this wasn’t another tool to snoop on China?

4)”Conservative Israelis Greet Pick for U.S. Ambassador.” This new ambassador supports Israeli’s settling in Palestine (stealing their land) and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem while abandoning U.S. policy of seeking a Palestinian state. Moves all likely to greatly inflame Mid-East tensions, again.


Unfortunately, there was nothing at all on solving/progress on our own problems.

education management, public schools, Uncategorized

The SUSD Board Is Being Conned – Again!

I looked at the 9/13/16 Agenda and supporting materials. Seems like Dr. McCauley’s ‘purpose’ has become to create data displays for the Board that cover up reality and make things look good. For example – NOBODY in the general public that I know of pays much, if any attention to percent of ACT test-takers. THEY WANT TO KNOW WHERE SUSD IS (absolute score), WHERE IT’S GOING (trends), AND HOW IT COMPARES (Great Hearts, Basis, PVUSD)!!! I provided data for each of those questions, she omitted all of it.

At the 9/23/16 Board meeting there was also supposed to be a commitment to specific pupil achievement improvement goals AT EACH SUSD SCHOOL for AZMerit 2017 testing – NADA! I was assured of this personally by Dr. B. when I took my time to suggest to her how to boost SUSD (and thereby her standing). Those goals were also supposed to take into account public and charter competitor performance!! Meeting such goals is essential to ending the pupil losses and retuning SUSD to respect in the  community.

You (the Board) and administration have even passed on the opportunity to share lessons learned between yourselves and Great Hearts!!! (Incredibly valuable. They volunteered to do so!!!)

Instead, the 9/13 meeting consisted of more arcane education gobble-de-goop by district presenters, ‘forgetting’ to commit to timelines for significant improvements, and no accountability for anyone. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, more whining about, ‘We simply need to make Dr. B permanent!!’ What the Hell for – wasting everybody’s time, money, and our pupils future??? She should have taken immediate action JANUARY!!! I’D FIRE HER – if for no reason other than past dishonesty!!! (You know exactly what I’m talking about.) YOU ARE BEING CONNED AGAIN!!! Show me a track record of her impacting pupil performance (and not simply riding a rising SES influx) anywhere!!!!! You couldn’t do worse if you tried!!!

Finally, why do you think SUSD has had problems with declining achievement and enrollment for about a decade – IT’s NOT REALLY THE SUPERINTENDENT, IT’S THE BOARDS THAT ALLOWED (implicitly encouraged) SELF-SERVING ADMINISTRATORS TO CON THEM!!!! Your job is to confront reality, set expectations appropriate for the new world of globalization, follow-up, and reward accordingly – not rubber-stamp time-wasting excursions into self-delusion (eg. omitting uncomfortable trends and competitors’ achievements).

Do you people even give a G** D*** about improving SUSD enrollment and pupil achievement? Why don’t you all just stay home and let the fraud continue without wasting time with meetings. Yes, it’s new names/faces, new verbiage, but also the same old crap run by a pompous loud-talking administration and rubber-stamped by 5 people that don’t know up from down about education, management, or leadership.

Please do everyone a favor -close SUSD’s doors. ALL of THEM! Or, start attending Great Hearts and BASIS meetings and learn how to manage and lead!!!

education management, police management, Uncategorized

Management Lessons from Police Commissioner Bratton

Bill Bratton, along with his staff and the Comstat reporting system provides a widely applicable model for improving a basic public service.  He was first appointed NYC Police Commissioner (then 30,000 employees) by then Mayor Giuliani after t he 1993 mayoral election. In his job interviews with Giuliani, he’d committed to fast, dramatic results: a 40% reduction in crime within three years, and a measurable reduction in public fear within four. A 1993 poll showed that almost 60% of city residents believed crime had gotten worse during the prior four years, and 45% said the quality of life had gotten so bad they would move out the next day if they could.

Before taking office, Bratton asked for the resignations of all senior staff. Then he put together a new team of ‘deep selects’ (Jack Maple – Deputy Chief, John Timoney – Department Chief, Louis Anemone – Chief of Patrol, John Miller – Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Michael Julian – Chief of Personnel) comprised of mostly people he knew and had deep respect for.

It was then argued that NYPD’s biggest failure had been focusing on corruption rather than crime. As a result, crime control had been neglected in the effort to avoid bad press. A goal was announced – a 10% reduction in crime in 1994.

Previously policies and procedures were one-size-fits-all for each of the diverse 76 precincts. Decoy and undercover operations were performed by specialized task forces that knew little about the various precincts and their needs; similarly with narcotics and detective units. “Commanders went to community meetings and got their heads handed to them about the crimes in their precincts, but didn’t have the power to address those issues – that had to go up to the top, and then flow back down.” Bratton changed that, placing main authority in the precinct commander’s hands, creating what he called “76 miniature police departments.” Staff was cut from the specialized units and added to the precincts. Weak commanders were replaced with stronger leadership, and the division level eliminated entirely – precinct commanders now reported directly to borough commanders.

Promotions had occurred through an ‘old-boy network’ – “if you hung around long enough, they’d promote you.” Timoney rated precincts according to crime – “A,” “B,” and “C.” New commanders began in a C precinct with a moderate workload, then was promoted accordingly. The high-crime districts received the highest pay and prestige. Leadership positions at headquarters were awarded based on success in the precinct command. Creativity was encouraged.

Traditionally at the NYPD, the only results that had been measured were the response time to emergency calls, and the presence or absence of corruption scandals. The department didn’t even have up-to-date crime statistics, and trends were not tracked. The most current data available was 3 – 6 months old. Pattern burglars or robbers were discovered by accident. Bratton had previously learned in Boston about the importance of tracking crime on a daily basis. The lieutenant at each precinct was made responsible for data accuracy.

Precinct commanders weren’t simply turned loose in the new environment – accountability was provided by an elaborate computerized system that measured precinct commander effectiveness. NYPD’s technology department told Maple it would take 6-12 months to computerize the data-collection and summarization process. But Maple and Bratton were in a hurry. “We were losing six people a day being murdered in the city at that time, another 15 or 20 being shot,” Bratton says. “Lives were being lost.” With money from the Police Foundation, funded by private donors to support the department, Maple and his team bought a Hewlett-Packard 360 computer.  “Jack [Maple] and his people quickly wired that up and began the Compstat revolution,” says Bratton.

Twice a week at 7 A.M., Maple would then lead three-hour meetings to examine crime trends in several precincts. Each precinct commander would appear once a month to report on progress and be grilled about problems in his district. Commanders would learn from the experiences of their peers. Eight foot square computer monitors on the walls displayed detailed maps for all to see – arrest data, crime rates shooting incidents, list of residents on parole, data on citizen complaints. Sometimes precinct leaders were publicly embarrassed, at other times high-performing commanders and officers would be recognized.

More training was provided in proper policing techniques. Minimum hiring requirements were raised. Commanding officers were given as much information as they wanted about internal corruption investigations in their precincts. The internal affairs unit was also made accountable via their own meetings. The media received greater access, and in turn, the department received greater publicity.

By the end of 1994, index crime in New York City had declined by 12 percent compared to 1993, exceeding Bratton’s promise of 10 percent (nationwide, it dropped a scant 1.1 percent).