Marcus on Tenure & Test Scores

December 2, 2009

HT Education Week

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

On NRO today, Marcus soldiers on through the endless New York test score tenure wars, reporting on a gutsball move by Mayor Bloomberg:

New York’s state legislature gave teachers a gift last year by banning the use of student test-score data in tenure decisions. Many expect the legislature to allow the law to expire next year, but Mayor Bloomberg refuses to wait. Last week, he ordered schools chancellor Joel Klein to use the data anyway, arguing that the teachers up for tenure this year were hired in 2007, and a careful reading of the law suggests it applies only to teachers hired after July 1, 2008.

I’m not a Bloomberg fan on any other issue, but on education he’s a cut above most mayors. And remember, he does this in a town with a City Council so thoroughly corrupted by the unions that legislators actually read from union cue cards during hearings.

Everyone Wins in the Wall Street Journal

November 4, 2009

Everybody Wins

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Today’s Journal has a hard-hitting editorial on Marcus’s new study showing that competition from charters improves regular public schools in NYC.

Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses as evidence continues to roll in about the positive impact of charter schools…State and local policy makers who cave to union demands and block the growth of charters aren’t doing traditional public school students any favors.

And where did you read about it first? Oh yeah.

Grading New York

November 13, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Our old friend and colleague Marcus Winters has just released a study on New York City’s school grading program:

In 2006-07, New York City, the largest school district in the United States, decided it would follow several other school systems in adopting a progress report program. Under its program, the city grades schools from A to F according to an accumulating point system based on the weighted average of measurements of school environment, students’ performance, and students’ academic progress.

The implementation of these progress reports has not been without controversy. While many argue that they inform parents about public school quality and encourage schools to improve, others contend that grades lower morale at low-performing schools. To date there has been too little empirical information about the program’s effectiveness to settle these questions.

Schools that recieve D and F grades repeatedly are subject to takeover by the city. A previous study (Rockoff and Turner 2008) found positive results from the program but lacked student-level data. Marcus’s study has got student-level data, regression discontinuity – the whole smash. Tale of the tape:

Students in schools earning an F grade made overall improvements in math the following year, though these improvements occurred primarily among fifth-graders.

Students in F-graded schools did no better or worse in English than students in schools that were not graded F.

Whatever problems NCLB may have, school accountability does work in places where state and local government have the political will to do it seriously. Even in places where the problems seem intractible, like New York City.

EMTs are standing by in case certain people’s heads explode.

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