Virtual School Meanderings

October 1, 2014

News from the NEPC: Meta-Analysis Finds ‘Effects’ That Aren’t There

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Meta-Analysis Finds ‘Effects’ That Aren’t There

NEPC reviewer explains that study’s own data contradict authors’ conclusions

Contact:

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Francesca López, (520) 621-0307, falopez@email.arizona.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/mqyft8l

BOULDER, CO (September 30, 2014) – A recent meta-analysis of charter-school effects overstates its own findings, according to a new review published today.

Francesca López, an education professor at the University of Arizona, reviewed A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on the Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The report was published in August by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. The report, by Julian R. Betts and Y. Emily Tang, draws on data from 52 studies to conclude that charters benefited students, particularly in math.

“This conclusion is overstated,” writes López in her review. The actual results, she points out, were not positive in reading, not significant for high school math, and yielded only very small effect sizes for elementary and middle school math.

The reviewer also explains that the authors wrongly equate studies of students chosen for charter schools in a lottery with studies that rely on random assignment. Because schools that use lotteries do so because they’re particularly popular, those studies aren’t appropriate for making broad comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, López writes.

The review identifies other flaws as well, including the report’s assertion of a positive trend in the effects of charter schools, even though the data show no change in those effects; its exaggeration of the magnitude of some effects; and its claim of positive effects even when they are not statistically significant. Taken together, she says, those flaws “render the report of little value for informing policy and practice.”

“The report does a solid job describing the methodological limitations of the studies reviewed, then seemingly forgets those limits in the analysis,” López concludes.

Find Francesca López’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review
-meta-analysis-effect-charter.
Find

A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on the Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement, by Julian R. Betts and Y. Emily Tang and published by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, on the web at:
http://www.crpe.org/publications/
meta-analysis-literature-effect-charter-schools-student-achievement
.
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

September 24, 2014

News From The NEPC: Efficiency Report Has Many Problems

From yesterday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Efficiency Report Has Many Problems

NEPC review explains flaws in attempt to rank countries by educational efficiency

Contact: 

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Clive Belfield, (917) 821-9219, Clive.Belfield@gmail.com

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/l5emoy3

BOULDER, CO (September 23, 2014) – A recent report purporting to score and rank national education systems on efficiency has drawn extensive media attention in both Europe and North America. But a new review published today explains that the report has serious problems and generates extreme conclusions and unrealistic policy proposals.

Professor Clive Belfield reviewed The Efficiency Index, written by Peter Dolton, Olivier Marcenaro-Gutiérrez, and Adam Still and published by GEMS Education Solutions, based in London, England. Belfield’s review is published today by the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Belfield is an economist at Queens College in New York whose research focuses on resource allocation and cost-effectiveness.

The Efficiency Index ranks 30 countries on their educational system “efficiency” through a model that compares national test scores, national teacher wage rates, and pupil-teacher ratios. The test scores used are from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

“Looking across the 30 countries, the model predicts that, in order to get a 5% increase in PISA scores, teacher wages would have to go up by 14% or class sizes would have to go down by 13 students per class,” Belfield writes. “But the optimal wages and class sizes for any given country may sometimes demand an increase or decrease in one or the other factor.”

Based on its model, the report identifies those wage levels and class sizes that are optimally efficient for each country. Those optimal levels, Belfield notes, are sometimes surprisingly extreme. Switzerland, for example, would have to cut wages nearly in half to achieve its “optimal” teacher salary, while Indonesia would have to triple teacher wages. “For four countries, the optimal class size is estimated at fewer than two students per teacher,” Belfield writes.

Such anomalies expose the weaknesses in each of the study’s three key elements, Belfield says: “the output measure is questionable, the input measures are unclear, and the econometric method by which they are correlated does not have a straightforward economic interpretation.”

Consequently, the report does nothing more than “satisfy an apparent keenness for reports that rank countries – and especially for reports that castigate low-rank countries,” Belfield writes – but it fails, he concludes, to advance an understanding on how to make education more efficient.

Find Clive Belfield’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-efficiency-index
.Find The Efficiency Index by Peter Dolton, Olivier Marcenaro-Gutiérrez, and Adam Still, and published by GEMS Education Solutions, on the web at:
http://www.edefficiencyindex.com/
book/files/assets/common/
downloads/
The%20Efficiency%20Index.pdf
.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

September 19, 2014

Eighth Annual NEPC Fellows Research Panels: What Do We Know, and What Should We Know, About Virtual Schools?

Today I am participating in the Eighth Annual NEPC Fellows Research Panels on the topic of “What Do We Know, and What Should We Know, About Virtual Schools?” with Luis Huerta, of Teachers College, Columbia University.  Below are my slides from the session.

September 18, 2014

News from the NEPC: **Fruit Not Yet Ready to Pick

From Tuesday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Fruit Not Yet Ready
to Pick

Report’s recommendation of AppleTree charter preschool as a national model is premature without rigorous study

Contact:

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

W. Steven Barnett, (848) 932-4350, sbarnett@nieer.org

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/m29avxg

BOULDER, CO (September 16, 2014) – A recent report argues that a Washington, D.C., charter pre-school is particularly successful. The report then seeks to leverage that contention as strong support for a recommendation to open many more charter pre-schools nationwide, as an optional way to expand access to early education.

But a review of the report, written by experts on early childhood education, cautions that it fails to make the case that the D.C. charter under study is unusually effective – or that its charter status is the driving force for any success it may be having.

W. Steven Barnett and Cynthia E. Lamy, both of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, reviewed Seeds of Achievement: AppleTree’s Early Childhood D.C. Charter Schools, by Cara Stillings Candal and published by the Pioneer Institute. The review was undertaken for the Think Twice think tank review project, of the National Education Policy Center, which has published the review today. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Barnett, an economist and Rutgers professor, is director of NIEER. Lamy is a developmental and educational psychologist and research fellow with NIEER, where her research focuses especially on children at risk of academic failure due to the many influences of poverty.

“While the AppleTree model may well be as effective as the Pioneer authors suggest, this report lacks rigorous evidence regarding the model’s development, implementation, cost and effectiveness,” write Barnett and Lamy in their review.

The report bases its argument for the program’s effectiveness on pre-tests and post-tests, but its lacks a comparison group as a control and is silent on whether the children enrolled in the program are representative of the larger local population or comparable to children enrolled in other preschool programs, the reviewers write.

“Sample sizes, attrition, and statistical methods are unreported, and no statistical tests of significance appear to have been conducted,” write Barnett and Lamy. Additionally, they observe, the report fails to demonstrate that any success at Appletree is attributable to its charter status.

By contrast, they point out, there already exist public-school-based preschool models shown through rigorous evidence to be highly effective.

“We will not know whether AppleTree can add to the preschool policy debates without more rigorous evaluation of the program and its effects,” they conclude.

Find the review by W. Steven Barnett and Cynthia Lamy on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-seeds-of-achievement
.
Find

Seeds of Achievement: AppleTree’s Early Childhood D.C. Charter Schools, published by the Pioneer Institute. On the web at:
http://pioneerinstitute.org/
download/seeds-of-achievement-appletrees-early-childhood-d-c-charter-schools/
.
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/ 
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.

September 11, 2014

News from the NEPC: **Pipeline Problems

Also from Tuesday’s inbox…

Research and analysis to inform education policy
and promote democratic deliberation
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Pipeline Problems

NEPC Review finds two recent reports overreach in recommendations to improve recruiting of school principals

Contact:

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

Arnold Danzig, (408) 924-3722, arnold.danzig@sjsu.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/ku76dm8

BOULDER, CO (September 9, 2014) – Two recent reports that recommend implementing measures intended to recruit and retain more effective school principals offer some sensible discussion of the working conditions principals face – but both reports then recommend remedies that go beyond the research evidence, according to a new review released today.

Arnold Danzig, a professor of education and director of the EdD program in educational leadership at San José State University, reviewed the two reports for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The reports under review are Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Great Principals at Scale: Creating District Conditions that Enable All Principals to be Effective, jointly published by The Bush Institute and New Leaders.

Lacking Leaders attributes a paucity of superior candidates for principalship to ineffective hiring practices. It recommends greater autonomy in staffing decisions, increased district-level collaboration, and better pay – as much as $100,000 annually above current principal salary levels – to attract the best candidates. “No research in the report, however, justifies the size of the salary recommendation or demonstrates salary as the most important factor influencing principal recruitment, selection, or retention,” Danzig points out in his review.

Great Principals recommends better school and district alignment of goals and strategies, along with district-provided support structures and greater local autonomy for principals.

Danzig notes that “while both reports focus on the principal as the primary source of leadership in schools, neither considers other important sources of leadership.” Also, while both reports suggest that potential principals might be recruited from workplaces other than schools where the same skills are in demand, that suggestion “underestimates the human context of teaching and learning.”

Because of such limitations, the recommendations sections of the two reports are not particularly useful, even though the reports do a good job introducing issues around principal working conditions, Danzig concludes.

Find Arnold Danzig’s review on the NEPC website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/
thinktank/review-
principals-pipeline


Find
Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, on the web at:
http://edexcellence.net/
publications/lacking-leaders-
the-challenges-of-principal-recruitment-selection-and-placement
.

Find Great Principals at Scale:  Creating District Conditions that Enable All Principals to be Effective, published by The Bush Institute and New Leaders, on the web at: http://www.bushcenter.org/
alliance-reform-education-leadership/great-principals-scale
.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter and would like to receive it regularly, click
http://nepc.colorado.edu/
and then click the button in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this: 


The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Its mission is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information about the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.


 

Copyright © 2014 National Education Policy Center, All rights reserved.
You’re receiving this email because you have opted in at our website or sent a personal request to be included. Thank you.
Our mailing address is:

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, 249 UCB
University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Add us to your address book

 For all other communication with NEPC, write to nepc@colorado.edu.
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