Martin R. West

    Author Bio:
    Martin West is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and Editor-in-chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. West’s research examines the politics of K-12 education policy in the United States and the impact of policy on student learning and non-cognitive development. West has served on the board of contributors of Evidence Speaks, a weekly series of reports by a standing panel of researchers under the editorship of Russ Whitehurst, with a commitment to elevating the role of methodologically rigorous research in the formation of education and social policy. His most recent book (co-edited with Joshua Dunn), From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American Education (Brookings Institution Press), looks at the increase in judicial involvement in education policymaking over the past 50 years. Before joining the Harvard faculty, West taught at Brown University and was a research fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He is a founding board member of Rhode Island Mayoral Academies and lives with his wife, Grace, and two sons, Quinn and Sam, in Newton, MA.


What American Families Experienced When Covid-19 Closed Their Schools

Parents report little contact with teachers and less student learning, but also broad satisfaction; charter and private schools provide more opportunities for student-teacher interaction

Education Reform and the Coronavirus

“In that longer-term sense, at least, the tasks of education and education reform, of teaching and learning, are every bit as life-and-death as anything happening in a hospital emergency room or intensive care unit.”

SUMMER 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 3

In Fight Against Grade Inflation, Those Rare Tough Teachers Are Champions

The editor recalls the only “C” on his academic record, in high school calculus.

SPRING 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 2

Democrats Dodge a Charter Question — and for a Reason

It took until the third hour of the third Democratic presidential debate for education policy to make an appearance.

WINTER 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 1

Public Support Grows for Higher Teacher Pay and Expanded School Choice

Results from the 2019 Education Next Poll

WINTER 2020 / VOL. 20, NO. 1

An Authoritative Look at Charter Schools and Segregation

Have charter schools intensified the already high levels of segregation afflicting American public schools?

FALL 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 4

Not So Apolitical, After All

Sleep time, start time story offers wake-up call

SUMMER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 3

The Strikes Keep Coming

Will districts demand reform in exchange for needed raises?

SPRING 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 2

Looking Past the Wreckage of a Disgraceful Confirmation Process

By securing a conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future, Kavanaugh’s confirmation can be expected to accelerate ongoing shifts to the right in constitutional doctrine.

WINTER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 1

Public Support Climbs for Teacher Pay, School Expenditures, Charter Schools, and Universal Vouchers

Results from the 2018 EdNextPoll

WINTER 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 1

Privatization in American Education: Rhetoric vs. Facts

Given the recent rhetoric of education reform’s critics, one might be forgiven for thinking that American private schools are at the peak of their influence.

FALL 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 4

The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on school choice, Common Core, higher ed, and more

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

Justice Gorsuch, Meet James G. Blaine

The Supreme Court has a new opportunity to clarify matters in a case scheduled for oral argument on April 19, just days after Justice Neil Gorsuch’s arrival on the bench.

SUMMER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 3

Under New Administration, Small Measures Could Foster Big Change

The best solution may be to offer federal support for programs that the states themselves design, advancing the cause of school choice while respecting the principle of local control that Trump has also championed.

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

What Do Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools?

EdNext poll compares charter, district, and private schools nationwide

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

Common Core and vouchers down, but many other reforms still popular

WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1

Schools of Choice

Expanding opportunity for urban minority students

Spring 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 2

The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on testing, opt out, common core, unions, and more

WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1

What Effective Schools Do

Stretching the cognitive limits on achievement

FALL 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 4

No Common Opinion on the Common Core

Also teacher grades, school choices, and other findings from the 2014 EdNext poll. Full results also available at education

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Reform Agenda Gains Strength

The 2012 EdNext-PEPG survey finds Hispanics give schools a higher grade than others do

Winter 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 1

The Middle School Plunge

Achievement tumbles when young students change schools

SPRING 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 2

The Public Weighs In on School Reform

Intense controversies do not alter public thinking, but teachers differ more sharply than ever

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Pyrrhic Victories?

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been. For the other side of the debate, please see A Battle Begun, Not Won by Paul E. Peterson, […]

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Meeting of the Minds

The 2010 EdNext-PEPG Survey shows that, on many education reform issues, Democrats and Republicans hardly disagree

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

Grading Schools

Can citizens tell a good school when they see one?

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

The Persuadable Public

The 2009 Education Next-PEPG Survey asks if information changes minds about school reform.

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Credits Crunched

Arizona rulings hit scholarships and special education vouchers

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Educating the Public

How information affects Americans’ support for school spending and charter schools

Summer 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 3

School Choice International

Higher private school share boosts national test scores

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

The 2008 Education Next-PEPG Survey of Public Opinion

Americans think less of their schools than of their police departments and post offices

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

Is the Price Right?

Probing American’s knowledge of school spending

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

No Choice in Milwaukee!?!

Remarkable finding by an un-credible study

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

What Americans Think about Their Schools

The 2007 Education Next—PEPG Survey

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

Is Your Child’s School Effective?

Don’t rely on NCLB to tell you

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Crowd Control

Does reducing class size work?

Summer 2003 / Vol. 3, No. 3

Tough Love

The value of high grading standards

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Gray Lady Wheezing

The AFT hoodwinks the Times

Winter 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 1

School Reform Economics

Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? by JAMES J. HECKMAN AND ALAN B. KRUEGER, EDITED by BENJAMIN M. FRIEDMAN

Spring 2005 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Strike Phobia

School boards need to drive a harder bargain

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Blog Posts/Multimedia

A Disappointing National Report Card

What explains the disappointing results?


Surveying the Charter School Landscape

From the Editor: Some highlights from the Spring 2018 issue of Education Next


Laptops in the Classroom: An Open and Closed Case

Do professors who study education policy allow their students to use laptops in the classroom?


Personalized Learning 1.0

In 2002, years before the current fervor over personalized learning, the state of Florida embraced a primitive form of the concept with its test-based promotion policy.


The Battle over Blaine Amendments Heads Back to the States

On the heels of its decision yesterday in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, the Supreme Court today granted cert to and vacated state supreme court decisions out of Colorado and New Mexico that used Blaine Amendments to exclude religious schools from government aid programs.


Broad Majority, Narrow Ruling for School Choice in Trinity Lutheran Case

The Supreme Court closed out its Spring 2017 term this morning by announcing its opinion in a case with potential implications for private school choice.


At the Ballot Box, a Test for Bay State Charters

Question 2 has given Massachusetts voters a unique chance to weigh in on the future of school choice in their state.


Why Delaying School Start Dates is a Bad Deal for Students

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that all public schools in the state must delay the start of classes until after Labor Day and end the school year by June 15.


Transition Time

Big transitions are underway throughout American education.


Should Non-Cognitive Skills Be Included in School Accountability Systems?

Evidence confirms that student skills other than academic achievement and ability predict a broad range of academic and life outcomes.


From Evidence-based Programs to an Evidence-based System: Opportunities Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

A series of provisions in the new education law encourage the use of evidence to inform the kinds of decisions states are now empowered to make.


James Coleman, the “Equality of Opportunity” Study, and School Choice

Coleman’s work spawned a large body of research comparing the effectiveness of district, private, and (later) charter schools in preparing students for college and life. A new article reviews that research.


Why Do Two Good Polls Get Different Results?

Gauging public opinion on parental opt-out, charters, Common Core and vouchers


Public Supports Testing, Opposes Opt-Out, Opposes Federal Intervention

If those in our nation’s capital want to modify federal education policy along lines preferred by the public at large, they will enact a law that resembles the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate.


Teachers and the Public Oppose Agency Fees Charged By Teachers Unions

Judging by a recent survey, a plurality of the American public and an equally large share of teachers oppose forced union payments.


Partisanship and Public Opinion on the Common Core

In Louisiana, where the fight over Common Core has been particularly salient, the effect of the “Common Core” label was even more negative than in the American public as whole, and the impact on polarization was greater.


Preserving the Federal Role in Encouraging and Evaluating Education Innovation

Increased reliance on competitive grants has been arguably the defining feature of the Obama administration’s K-12 education policy.


Why Annual Statewide Testing Is Critical to Judging School Quality

Accountability based on grade-span testing judges schools based on the students they serve, not how well they serve them.


Fixing No Child Left Behind: Oral Testimony of Martin West

Congress should maintain the law’s current annual testing requirements while restoring to states virtually all decisions about the design of their accountability systems.


The Limitations of Self-Report Measures of Non-Cognitive Skills

Researchers need to find better ways to study non-cognitive skills like conscientiousness, self-control, and grit.


Mixed Results for Arizona’s Charter Schools

Charter schools vary more in their impact on student performance on state tests than traditional public schools; there are more charters with very large positive or very large negative test-score impacts than there are traditional public schools with such extreme outcomes.


Why Do Americans Rate Their Local Public Schools So Favorably?

Americans assign far higher grades to the public schools in their local community than to the public schools of the nation as a whole.


The First Hard Evidence on Virtual Education

Florida high school students taking Algebra or English I online perform at least as well on state math and reading tests as do students taking the same courses in a traditional format.


Do Americans Know How Well Their State’s Schools Perform?

Evidence suggests that Americans have been wise enough to ignore the woefully misleading information about student proficiency rates generated by state testing systems when forming judgments about the quality of their state’s schools.


Do Math and Science Teachers Earn More Outside of Education?

Efforts to provide better pay for teachers in the high-demand subjects of math and science may be insufficient to offset the differences in outside earnings opportunities.


Using Technology to Drive Competition – and Change Student Culture?

Interstellar allows students anywhere to compete in real-time against similarly skilled competitors, in pick-up games if they like but also in structured leagues and tournaments.


Misunderstanding the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching Project

MET argues for a more balanced set of weights among value added, classroom observations, and feedback from student surveys.


Grounds for Dismissal

Podcast: Eric Hanushek and Marty West discuss two new studies that look at teacher dismissals.


Profiles in Courage and “Thuggery”

NEA Rhode Island assistant executive director John Leidecker was arrested Tuesday and charged with using his computer to impersonate state legislator Doug Gablinske in the context of the recent election campaign. Gablinske, a Democrat from Bristol, lost to an NEA-backed challenger in the primaries and mounted an unsuccessful write-in campaign to keep his seat.


The Passing of a Fighter

I was saddened to learn recently of the death of Lovett “Pete” Peters, the legendary philanthropist, education reformer, and founder of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, who passed away on November 11th at the impressive age of 97.


A Blown Analysis of Tolerance in Private Schools

Charles Blow, the “Visual Op-Ed Columnist” for the New York Times, devotes his Saturday column this week to the “private school civility gap” – a phenomenon he deems a “not-so-little, not-so-secret, dirty little secret among the upper crust.”


How Middle Schools Hurt Student Achievement

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on a new Education Next study showing that, at least in New York City, attending a standalone middle school rather than a K-8 school has a big negative impact on student achievement and attendance rates.


How Do Citizens Grade Schools?

For several decades pollsters have asked American citizens to grade the nation’s public schools, both nationally and within their local community. Yet we know next to nothing about how citizens go about answering.


EdNext Poll Shows Civil Rights Groups Out of Touch on Charters

Support for charters among the public at large has remained relatively stable since 2008. Among African Americans, however, support has increased from 42 percent to 64 percent. Meanwhile, Hispanic support for charters has increased from 37 percent to 47 percent. It is puzzling, then, that a coalition of prominent civil rights organizations last week issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration’s current emphasis on chartering as a strategy to turn around low-performing schools.


What Should Charlie Do? Latest Poll on Tenure and Merit Pay in Florida Finds Support for Change

In 2009 Education Next asked a representative sample of Floridians their opinion about teacher tenure and merit pay, the very issues that have just landed on Florida Governor Charlie Crist's desk. Although Crist initially supported the bill, he has given hints that union-backed protests are causing him doubts. “Shame on any public servant who doesn’t listen to the people,” he told the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday. So let’s have a look at what the people think.


Cash Incentives for AP Scores Yield Long-Term Benefits

In the Fall 2008 issue of Education Next, economist C. Kirabo Jackson reported that the Advanced Placement Incentive Program boosted AP participation rates in participating schools, the share of students receiving solid SAT or ACT scores, and the share of students going on to post-secondary education. The results were no doubt encouraging, but they left unanswered questions as to what would happen to students after they had enrolled in college. A follow-up study now available in the NBER Working Paper series puts these concerns to rest.


International Benchmarking

Video: Mark Schneider talks with Education Next about the limits to what we can learn from international tests.


The Lost Art of Book Reviewing: Editors Defend School Money Trials

The academic book review is a lost art. In days gone by, one could count on fellow scholars to lay out the books’ argument, skewer it, then identify a laundry list of factual errors that demonstrate the author was careless or worse.


Which Students Graduate from College?

Video: Matthew Chingos, an author of Crossing the Finish Line, talks with Education Next about which factors best predict whether students will graduate from college. High school grades and AP test scores are stronger predictors than SAT or ACT scores, this new study finds.


Swaying Public Opinion

Video: Martin West talks with Education Next about what it takes to change public opinion about reforms like charter schools.


Alternate Route Principals Not So Bad After All, New York Times Admits

A new NYU study finds that schools assigned new elementary and secondary principals trained by the Aspiring Principals Program of the New York City Leadership Academy outperformed other city schools with new principals who came through traditional routes in English Language Arts, and matched their performance in math.

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