Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Random Thoughts

-The Christian Science Monitor has a piece asking if a longer school day will close the achievement gap.  In some ways, I think a longer school day is a no-brainer.  But I have two main reservations: 1.) If we're doing things wrong now, is doing things wronger for longer a good plan?  2.) Can we justify only lengthening the school day for certain districts, schools, or kids, or should we lengthen the school day for everybody -- including those who are doing ok?  If we do the latter, will it close the achievement gap?

-Carnegie Mellon has an interesting new idea to help researchers find survey participants.  They've created a "research cafe" in downtown Pittsburgh full of computer terminals and such that spit out coupons, gift cards, etc. for participants.

-The Freakonomics Blog weighs in on Roland Fryer's research on the Harlem Children's Zone.  I'm not sure if his working paper has changed since the last time I weighed in, but the claim that the school can close the achievement gap is still being made.  I've already discussed a lot of my concerns with the way people are interpreting what's happening there, so I have a different question today.  Hypothetically, if the school did, in fact, close the achievement gap, then what?  Are equal test scores really our end goal?  More on this on Sunday.

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