Monday, May 11, 2009

Today's Random Thoughts

-I've had another 24 hours to think about, and I still think that Brooks' op-ed was sloppy and irresponsible. And I still think that he owes his readers an apology. Actually, the more I think about it the more problems I see with it. To imply that the only important part of the Promise Academy's program is its "no excuses" approach is simply ridiculous. I'm going to take some time to comb back through both Tough's book and Dobbie and Fryer's working paper and will have some more thoughts on this on Wednesday or Thursday.

-I'm also annoyed at the generally sloppy reactions of many to the phasing out of the D.C. voucher program. I can see an argument for maintaining it, but the notion that the program has been proven to work is not one. Everyone needs to understand that the evaluation of the program found found decidedly mixed results. The normally reliable blog on American politics run by the Economist stumbled over this. Kevin Carey, meanwhile, raises a different and interesting argument -- that the voucher program was never going to grow large enough to transform education in the district.

-I always wondered what would happen to alt cert programs if the teacher shortage in high-poverty schools ended. NYC isn't looking to hire many people this year, and it seems much more willing to discourage traditionally certified applicants than it does TFA members or NYC Teaching Fellows. Meanwhile, would people lay off the teachers in the teaching reserve? Yes, some of them shouldn't be teaching anymore but a lot of them are there through no fault of their own. Encouraging principals to hire more of these teachers is long overdue.

-I have a backlog of posts I want to write, but my yardwork is coming along nicely. With a little help (ok, a lot of help) from friends, family, and contractors I expect my yard to look quite nice by the end of the month. I'll try to find time for some interesting and thoughtful posts to find during downtime.


Stuart Buck said...

The DC voucher study (caveat: I know and work with two of the authors) found that:

"With the exception of cohort 1, the positive reading achievement impacts on the other subgroups ranged from 3 to 5 additional months of learning, or one-third to one-half of a typical 9-month school year. The reading impacts for cohort 1 are equivalent to 1.5 or 2 years of extra learning (14 to 19 months)."

1.5 to 2 years of additional learning for the cohort that had vouchers the longest . . . that's nothing to sneeze at.

Corey Bunje Bower said...

It also found no positive impact for math overall (which is usually more easily affected by in-school factors) and no positive impact on reading scores for those coming from schools declared in need of improvement. Nor did students attending schools on vouchers think that their schools were any better or safer than those who didn't receive vouchers.

I consider those decidedly mixed results. I never said that plug should be pulled on the program, only that those advocating for continuing the distribution of vouchers fairly present the research results.

Stuart Buck said...

Well, when a tiny and poorly funded program shows results that range from neutral to hugely positive, without any negatives in sight, that seems worth noting.

mmazenko said...

Have you contacted Brooks? I've generally found him receptive to criticism.