Jay P. Greene
Are school reformers right-wingers or centrists — or neither?
A review of “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones!” by William Ayers, Crystal Laura, and Rick Ayers
A review of Commitment and Common Sense by David P. Driscoll
Three experts weigh in, and look to the future
Is test-based accountability “on the wane”? The question is based on a fallacy. For something to be on the wane, it has to exist, and test-based accountability has never truly existed in the United States.
A review of The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
A review of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth and “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why” by Paul Tough
A review of “The 160-Character Solution,” by Benjamin L. Castleman
A review of Presidents, Congress and The Public Schools, by Jack Jennings
A review of “The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education” by Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris
Students realize gains in knowledge, tolerance, and more
Learning from Live Theater Education Next, Winter 2015 Empirical Strategy Because the randomized controlled trial approach has the important feature of generating comparable treatment and control groups, we can use a straightforward set of analytic techniques, designed for use in social experiments, to estimate the impact of a school field trip to see live theater […]
Latest book indifferent to the standards of social science
Taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more
“The Educational Value of Field Trips” Education Next, Winter 2014 Empirical Strategy Because the randomized controlled trial approach has the important feature of generating comparable treatment and control groups, we can use a straightforward set of analytic techniques, designed for use in social experiments, to estimate the impact of a school tour to an art […]
Supplemental Study and Methodological Appendix
Picking the anecdotes you want to believe: A book review of Marc Tucker’s “Surpassing Shanghai”
Is collective bargaining for teachers good for students?
Interest groups wage war against merit pay
Long live education reform
Review of Marguerite Roza’s Educational Economics
Review of William A. Fischel’s Making the Grade
Parents should decide when their disabled child needs a private placement
An evaluation of Florida’s program to end social promotion
Murray and Rothstein find some unexpected common ground
Don’t blame private options for rising costs
Value-added analysis is a crucial tool in the accountability toolbox–despite its flaws
Vouchers and the Test-Score Gap
Florida gets its “F” schools to shape up
Vouchers improve public schools in Florida
The disconnect between fantasy and reality
Education is like parenting — the correct approaches are highly context-specific.
“It is all too common for researchers to misinterpret the policy implications of these experiments, even when they are properly conducted.”
Students taking part in multiple arts-focused field trips showed improved school engagement, higher test scores, and increased tolerance.
Too many social scientists, too few truths to discover
Students randomly assigned to receive texts to remind them to complete the FAFSA while they are seniors in high school are significantly less likely to complete an AA or BA degree.
New research by David Deming and Kadeem Noray finds that students who major in STEM fields initially experience elevated salaries and rates of employment, but the skills their occupations require change so rapidly that their training quickly becomes obsolete.
The National Art Education Association and the Association of Art Museum Directors just released a new study examining the effects of student field trips to art museums.
Schools are not more responsive to parent and community preferences regarding the arts because parents and communities no longer really control their schools.
The hard reality is that the process of human development is complex and highly varied, so we just don’t know the optimal arrangements for all children.
Rand has released its evaluation of the Gates Foundation’s Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative and the results are disappointing.
Field trips may be just as important for doctoral training as K-12 education.
One debunks myths with facts, not an alternative narrative.
A new study examines the effects of an experiment in which some community college students received free computers and others did not by lottery.
A central problem with the nudge approach is that we know too little about the lives of others to know with confidence what is good for them or how our nudges will affect their entire lives.
The problem with Portfolio Management is the centralized and overly-active nature of a single quality-control entity.
What do students learn from field trips to see live theater? As it turns out, quite a lot.
A new study examines the connection between teacher reports about behavior when students are 11 and later life outcomes for those students.
A rigorously designed study out of Denmark shows that cultural activity among students is strongly (and likely causally) related to later academic success.
The benefits of private school choice are clearly evident in long term outcomes, not near-term test scores
What do the grantees of major education reform foundations tweet about?
If the evidence does not clearly show the superiority of a high-regulation approach to school choice, we may need to rely on our values when deciding how to proceed.
On what basis will regulators be able to judge quality to protect families against making bad choices?
Over-relying on test scores and declaring with confidence that we know what works and what doesn’t can lead to big policy mistakes.
Priming students to think about religion increases students’ willingness to delay gratification as well as their political tolerance.
Around one third of the variation in PISA test performance across countries can be explained by how much effort students are willing to exert rather than what they know
Charters in Massachusetts would have been better positioned politically if they had not previously neglected to benefit more middle and upper-middle class families.
Education Reform has taken the counter-productive path of focusing narrowly on identifying the “scientifically” validated techniques to maximize math and reading test scores.
Here are some basic lessons in political science for the leadership of the ed reform movement to help them avoid political failures and electoral defeats.
Just as choice is achieving escape velocity, a groupthink gang is grabbing the reins of ed reform organizations to advocate for greater restrictions and regulations on choice.
The New York Times has a front page piece on charter schools in Detroit that is so factually mistaken, misleading, and tendentious that it requires a response.
Given the disconnect between test scores and later life outcomes we need significantly greater humility about knowing which schools are succeeding.
There seems to be something very important about character skills in education even if we do not fully understand how to define, measure, or alter them.
A big problem with building a centralized authority to govern all schools is that you cannot count on the good guys being in charge of that process forever.
And should schools with persistently low test score gains be shut down even if parents continue to choose them?
If tests were reliable indicators of school and program quality, they should consistently be predictive of later-life outcomes. But they’re not.
if we’re unable to develop strong measures of school quality that can be used remotely, we should instead rely on the judgments of those closer to the situation, including parents.
If regulators were to rely primarily on test scores when deciding which programs or schools to shutter and which to expand, they would make some horrible mistakes.
A study finds that students who are more non-responsive to survey questions (skipping items or saying “don’t know”) have significantly lower educational attainment and fare less well in the labor market,
A broader education, including the arts, may be essential for later success in math and reading as well as the proper development of civic values and character skills,
Brookings fellow Michael Hansen has a piece blaming high school sports for distracting public schools from their mission.
A new book from Harvard Education Press aims to launch an honest and open discussion about effective strategies for foundations.
Non-cog or character skills are incredibly important but if we are going to use these and other ideas to improve education, we are going to need a significant shift toward funding research and greater patience to bring those ideas to fruition.
A new study finds that the more people attended religious private schools as children, the less anti-Semitic they are.
What is the right amount of regulation for school choice?
The evidence is increasingly clear that test scores are only weakly correlated with other desirable outcomes from schools.
High-regulation of school choice comes with a cost to quality.
In their desire to protect disadvantaged students, the backers of a heavy-regulation approach have ironically done serious harm to these students by driving away most of the supply
Why do most government programs not require accountability for performance? Because we trust that the interests of participants are aligned with the public interest in providing them with the benefit.
My fear is that just when school choice is achieving escape velocity as a self-sustaining and expanding policy, the love for high-regulation may do serious harm to these programs and the children they intend to help.
A new initiative aims to define, develop, and validate measures of what have often been called non-cognitive skills, but we think are more accurately described as character traits.
Common Core is unlikely to produce meaningful changes in practice without an aligned test that punishes schools and educators, but those types of harsh consequences are unlikely to survive the political opposition of educators and parents.
Think tanks have chosen to focus almost exclusively on advocacy efforts, not realizing that effective advocacy requires generating new, high-quality information.
I am wary of portfolio districts, mayoral takeovers, and other proposals for a super-regulator to govern all choice and traditional schools.
If you want to create real change, you have to change the system of incentives — not just create new institutions that will be governed by the same perverse incentives.
Because kids aren’t left to their own devices as much these days, it is remarkably rare to find young people organizing theater performances by themselves.
Not every student will benefit from music, theater, or sports, and very few of them will go on to careers in music, acting, or sports, but those of us who support a broad education recognize that all of these activities have important benefits for many students and should be part of schools.
I’m interested in the arts and humanities because I’m interested in education including some understanding of the human condition. But I’m also interested in choice because that’s how I believe the humanities are most likely to be pursued and effectively promoted.
Boston’s successful charter schools appear to be able to get students to know more stuff but do not improve their ability to think quickly, keep things in memory, or solve new problems.
With the withdrawal of Iowa this week from the Smarter Balanced testing group, there are only 26 states that plan to use one of the two national tests to assess their students during the 2014-15 school year.
When policy discourse is taken over by slogan-speak, it undermines the credibility of future attempts at serious policy discussion.
The relative weakness of novice teachers is not proof of poor teacher preparation.
People with more money tend to be better organized and effective at protecting their interests than poor people, so designing a program to stick it to wealthy people is generally a bad idea.
As long as folks have little appreciation for the arts and humanities are dominating ed reform discussions, we are unlikely to make much progress in reviving those topics in schools.
The paradoxical logic of military and political strategy is a result of the fact that in the strategic world one’s opponent is able to react to your efforts with counter-moves.
The brute force and directness required for adopting national standards makes its effective implementation in a diverse, decentralized, and democratic country impossible.
It’s amazing how some very smart people can commit billions of dollars and untold human effort to something like Common Core without having thought the thing through.
I would be happy opposing state testing requirements for all schools (choice and traditional public) if those schools had some reasonable mechanism for accountability.
State testing makes choice schools look worse than they really are, and there’s no evidence that state testing requirements improve outcomes or ensure quality.
There is no doubt that forcing communication in short, 140 character bursts coarsens debate and polarizes differences by removing subtlety and nuance. But there is an antidote to this corrosive effect of Twitter — meeting people in person
The new PISA results are out and education charlatans of every stripe are finding proof of their own preferred policy solution.
Testing requirements are a concession that should only be granted if necessary to expand choice. And a requirement that choice schools take any one of a long list of standardized tests is much more desirable than requiring the state test.
Is the Common Core approach really tight on the ends of education but loose on the means for accomplishing those ends?
Let’s hope that the Gates Foundation and its followers reconsider their abandonment of the small schools of choice reform strategy.
One cannot know what causes success only by looking at a successful place (or set of successful places).
Schools of choice appear to be open to students with disabilities but aren’t as bureaucratically inclined to label students as disabled as are traditional public schools.
There’s no reason to believe that the absence of high school sports explains the difference between student achievement in the US and countries like Finland and South Korea.
Much progress has been made in the use of systematic evidence in education policy-making, but the field just can’t seem to shake the enduring attraction of the flim-flam man who relies on faulty evidence as well as selective and distorted interpretations of evidence.
Students assigned by lottery to receive field trips learn academic content, increase critical thinking, become more tolerant and empathetic, and are more likely to become cultural consumers who seek these enriching experiences on their own in the future.
We can fix schools — that is, traditional public schools — by going around them.
The current system of back-loading teacher compensation to provide large pension benefits only to teachers who remain in their profession in the same state transfers wealth from more mobile or short-term teachers.
Will seeing live performances affect student understanding of great works of dramatic literature? Will it influence their values (particularly tolerance and empathy) and their taste for future cultural consumption?
In the TV series Lost some of the characters believed that a set of six numbers had to be entered into a computer every 108 minutes or something terrible would happen.
My student, Collin Hitt, and colleague, Julie Trivitt, have an amazing paper on how we can efficiently measure an important non-cognitive skill that is strongly predictive of later life outcomes.
Looking back on it, I see that summer camp was probably the closest thing to true liberty that our kids had experienced.
With its rating of teacher prep programs, the National Council on Teacher Quality, has joined the “we know what works” chorus.
In her new book, Follow the Money, Sarah Reckhow is clearly advising foundations to avoid top-down reform strategies, but the largest foundations are not heeding her advice.
It is a common refrain that athletics have assumed an unhealthy priority in our high schools, but data show that high schools that devote more energy to sports also produce higher test scores and higher graduation rates.
This will probably be the biggest, most comprehensive, and highly rigorous examination of the effects of school tours of an art museum.
The purpose of education isn’t only what the centralized authorities decide it is and bother to measure.
There’s been a 50% increase in the teaching workforce, but we have not seen improved results. Some people try to explain this by blaming special education and English Language Learners, but they’re wrong.
I’ve long argued that the teacher unions are hardly better at running their political interests than they are at running schools.
The dust hasn’t yet settled from the resolution of the Chicago teacher strike, but it appears that the reforms the city were able to retain will result in a better “true” merit pay system than the “phony” merit pay plan they were forced to concede.
If a race to the bottom is fueled by the desire to satisfy federal bureaucratic rules, why would we think the solution is in the adoption of more federal bureaucratic rules?
Even if we could identify a single, best way to educate all children, who is to say the people controlling the nationalized education system would pursue those correct approaches?
School reform organizations are often doing some great work but I have to tell you than many have some of the worst names I’ve ever heard.
Supporters of charter schools have four gold-standard randomized control trials on their side. Opponents of charter schools have no equally rigorous evidence on their side.
The “best practices” method that is gaining popularity among more-impressionable education policy wonks and that Tucker used in Surpassing Shanghai simply cannot support causal claims about “what works.”
Late last year there was a big brouhaha about misconduct in Florida’s McKay Scholarship program, which allows disabled students to use public funds to choose a private school if they prefer.
The Department of Health and Human Resources is up to its old tricks of delaying research whose results are likely to undermine their darling program, Head Start.
Now the issues of choice, tenure, merit pay, testing, and accountability are a normal part of the discussion.
Patrick Wolf and John Witte and a team of researchers have released their final round of reports on the Milwaukee school choice program.
If they agree that Common Core is sort of mediocre, why does Wilson support them while Wurman oppose them?
Yes, answers Roland Fryer in an amazing study released this month.
Supporters of digital learning, many of whom were among the strongest supporters of national standards, have organized in opposition to the imposition of a single test on the nation’s schools.
National standards will fail because it is not possible to have a centrally determined set of meaningful standards that can accommodate the legitimate diversity of needs, goals, and values of all of our nation’s school children.
Ed Week, Ed Sector, and others are picking up on a hyperventilating story from the free weekly Miami New Times about misconduct in Florida’s McKay Scholarship voucher program for disabled students. The stories were embarrassing, but the reaction by the New Times and others has been completely lacking in perspective.
Last week the education task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) endorsed measures urging states to oppose adoption and implementation of the federally “incentivized” Common Core standards.
The problem with teacher unions and public sector collective bargaining is that the checks and balances provided by market competition are absent.
According to the Global Report Card that Josh McGee and I developed, tiny Waconda, Kansas is one of the top-performing school districts in the United States. Other than being the home to what residents claim is the world’s largest ball of twine, one might not think that there was anything exceptional about this rural, farm community in north central Kansas.
Steve Jobs embodied the entrepreneur as humanitarian — not because he gave away his wealth as if to cleanse himself of the sin of having earned it, but because he created and promoted consumer items that significantly improved our lives while justly generating enormous wealth for himself, his employees, and shareholders. Jobs also had quite a lot of smart things to say about education reform.
Coverage of the new Global Report Card (GRC) that Josh McGee and I developed is gaining steam. The GRC allows users to compare student achievement in virtually every one of the nearly 14,000 school districts in the United States against the achievement in a set of 25 developed countries.
Our nearly exclusive focus on improving the education of the poor has concealed the sub-par education being provided in many of our most affluent school districts.
Podcast: Jay Greene discusses his new study, which examines student achievement in virtually every school district in the United States and compares the performance of U.S. districts with the performance of students in 25 developed countries.
Keep your eyes out for tomorrow’s release of the Global Report Card. This is a project conducted by Josh McGee and me in which we measure student achievement in virtually every school district in the U.S. against the performance of students in an international comparison group consisting of 25 developed countries.
Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, and Netflix CEO, Reed Hasting, have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal that starts out great but then goes dramatically downhill.
Digital learning has significant potential but it also faces significant political barriers. Existing regulations, such as seat-time requirements, teacher certification requirements, and the immobility of student funding all stand in the way of rapid expansion of digital learning in K-12 education. Notice that I did not include the lack of a national set of standards as a significant barrier to the expansion of digital learning.
Philanthropists with billions of dollars to devote to education reform should build new institutions and stop trying to fix old ones.
The Gates interview in the Wall Street Journal confirmed two things about the Foundation’s education efforts: 1) they’ve realized that the focus of their efforts has to be on the political control of schools and 2) they are uninterested in using that political influence to advance market forces in education
The unions succeed by intimidating politicians with their raw power while convincing the public that teacher unions love their children almost as much as the parents do. But when the public face of the teacher unions is the Army of Angry Teachers, they no longer seem like Mary Poppins.
The OECD has a report, Education at a Glance 2010, that provides a shockingly flawed comparison of the amount of time U.S. teachers work relative to teachers in other countries.
A common pitfall for foundations is to fantasize that they know what works and what doesn’t rather than encouraging market forces to sort that out. This point is nicely illustrated by a new report released by Andrew Coulson at Cato.
Let’s stop trying to fix Detroit, LA, or Chicago public schools. They need to be replaced with new organizations with new missions and new methods of education. That’s how we can reform schools — by replacing them.
It is now clear, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s own description, that the Department is in violation of the law by which it was created.
Charles Miller observed the extensive use of passive voice in the Fordham reply to the criticism over a nationalized set of standards, curriculum, and assessments, which serves to conceal who is supposed to be doing the described actions.
If advocates of the nationalization of education had greater intellectual integrity, they would openly declare that they favor nationally uniform standards, curriculum, and assessments. But “intellectual” and “integrity” are not the first things that come to mind when thinking of the U.S. Department of Education-Gates-AFT-Fordham coalition pushing nationalization.
Today a Manifesto was released opposing the effort by the U.S. Department of Education-Gates-AFT-Fordham to develop a set of national curriculum and assessments based on the already promulgated Common Core national standards.
Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley has a must-read piece in the WSJ today.
Once the Gates-Fordham-AFT-USDOE coalition settles on the details of nationalizing standards, curriculum, and testing, it will become extremely difficult to change anything about education.
Most people are familiar with RhINOs (Republicans in Name Only), which is a pejorative for Republican officials who differ from other Republicans on certain key issues. Stuart Buck and I would like to introduce to the policy lexicon the term MPINO — Merit Pay in Name Only.
The editors at Education Next have two essays on the state of education reform. I don’t really disagree with much of what either essay has to say. It is all just a matter of emphasis and framing. They see a greater danger in over-confidence and I see a greater danger in burnout.
In Education Myths I argued that we needed to rely on science rather than our direct experience to identify effective policies. Our eyes can mislead us, while scientific evidence has the systematic rigor to guide us more accurately. That’s true, but I am now more aware of the opposite failing — believing that we can resolve all policy disputes and identify the “right way” to educate all children solely by relying on science.
Rick Hess along with Daniel Lautzenheiser have devised a ranking of the “public presence” of education academics. One of the problems with the ranking is that it combines some measures that accumulate over one’s career with other measures that only count accomplishments in the last year. In a lightly revised ranking I have tried to standardize the measures so that those with longer careers would have no particular advantage.
The reaction of New York Times reporter, Sam Dillon, and LA Times reporter, Jason Felch, to my post on Monday about erroneous claims in their coverage of a new Gates report could not have been more different.
The Gates Foundation is funding a $45 million project to improve measures of teacher effectiveness. As part of that project, researchers are collecting information from two standardized tests as well as surveys administered to students and classroom observations captured by video cameras in the classrooms.
The Oklahoma legislature and its Democratic Governor adopted a law allowing disabled students to use public funds to attend a private school if they wished to do so. But, according to Education Week, four Oklahoma school districts have decided not to offer these vouchers that are required by state law. The reasons given for willfully disobeying the state law are varied.
The U.S. Department of Education’s “What Works Clearinghouse” (WWC) is supposed to adjudicate the scientific validity of competing education research claims so that policymakers, reporters, practitioners, and others don’t have to strain their brains to do it themselves. It would be much smarter for folks to exert the mental energy themselves rather than trust a government-operated truth committee to sort things out for them.
I have no idea why a bunch of ed reformers are so gloomy.
When times get tough, school systems and their enabling reporters blame special education. Regular readers of JPGB and Education Next have seen this argument debunked before, but I feel compelled to do it again in response to a sloppy and lazy article in the Wall Street Journal.
Mike Petrilli has finally tried to address the problems we’ve raised regarding national standards. Despite Mike’s best efforts, I’m afraid that national standards and assessments still sound like a really bad idea.
The revised set of proposed national standards were released last week. I don’t know what else to write about this without sounding like a broken record. The bottom line is that this is a really dangerous movement that is receiving support from some people who should know better.
I think I’ve discovered a new medical disorder that I call Reformer’s Disease. Good and smart people involved in education reform can easily be stricken with this disorder in which they visualize a desirable reform policy and then imagine that they can simply impose that policy on our education system and that it will come out as they want.
The national standards train-wreck is pulling into the station, again. This time it is a completely voluntary set of national standards in the same way that complying with a 21-year-old drinking age is completely voluntary for states to receive federal highway money. States had to commit to a rushed and largely secretive national standard setting process as part of the Race to the Top application.
The purpose of our piece was to summarize a body of research supporting the desirability of special education vouchers. Sara Mead’s letter raises a number of objections, but she provides nothing to refute our evidence.
Hawaii decided to fix their budget shortfall by eliminating 17 days from this school year in exchange for an 8 percent reduction in teacher salaries. It’s not a bad deal… as long as you are a teacher.
Video: Jay Greene talks with Education Next about vouchers for disabled kids, the fastest-growing type of voucher today.
Controversies surrounding the celebration of Columbus Day raise a number of interesting questions. Unfortunately, many of the new answers offered are at least as simplistic and historically false as the established answers they are meant to replace.
Beneath the over-reactions and counter-over-reactions on Obama’s speech today is a real issue — Who should have primary responsibility for raising (educating) children?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas high school students can now receive additional course credit toward graduation for participation in athletics.
One of the (many) problems with education policy analysts is that a large number of them live in or around Washington, D.C.
‘Tis the season for teacher burnout stories.