RTTT Scoring is Distorted by Politics

No one should be shocked that the “peer-review” process for Race to the Top is distorted by political considerations, especially since we at JPGB (among others) have been warning about it for months.  But it is nice to see someone actually document the existence and magnitude of the distortion.

One of my students at the University of Arkansas, Dan Bowen, conducted an analysis that was featured in AEI’s Education Stimulus Watch.  It predicted each state’s RTTT “peer-review” score based on independent ratings of state reform efforts by Education Week’s Quality Counts and others.  It then also considered whether political considerations were systematically related to a state doing significantly better or worse in the “peer-review” process than would be predicted by those independent ratings.  Dan found that states with hotly contested Senate or gubernatorial contests received significantly higher scores:

…having a contested seat for the 2010 election increases round-one RTT scores by at least thirty-five points, and up to seventy-seven points (15 percent of the total available points) if a state has contested races for both governor and Senate. Second, the inclusion of a state’s political circumstances, along with its education-reform record, improves the model’s capacity to explain and predict round-one RTT scores.
Dan does not mean to suggest that the peer-reviewers consciously changed their scores to advance the Administration’s political agenda.  Political distortions can and do creep into these processes in subtle ways, such as the weighting of different criteria in the scoring rubric, the selection of who is a reviewer, the informal signals sent to the reviewers about what factors should be considered, etc…
Be sure to check out the full report.

2 Responses to RTTT Scoring is Distorted by Politics

  1. allen says:

    At least we don’t have to worry about national standards being politicized!

  2. Patrick says:

    Nevada still lost, but the Senate seat race against Reid was the one and only reason why I thought Nevada had any chance of winning.

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