Paul E. Peterson

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    Author Bio:
    Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Editor-In-Chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. Peterson is a former director of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and of the Governmental Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He received his Ph. D. in political science from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Foundation, and the Center for Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is the author of the book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning (Harvard University Press, 2010). He is also the author or editor of numerous other publications including the following: School Choice International: Exploring public private partnerships (co-editor with Rajashri Chakrabarti) School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy (co-editor with Martin R. West) Reforming Education in Florida: A Study Prepared by the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education (editor) The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools (with William G. Howell) Generational Change: Closing the Test Score Gap (editor) No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability (co-editor with Martin R. West) The Future of School Choice (editor) Our Schools and our Future (editor) City Limits The Urban Underclass (co-edited with Christopher Jencks) Price of Federalism Welfare Magnets (with Mark C. Rom) The New American Democracy (with Morris P. Fiorina, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer) Four of his books have received major awards from the American Political Science Association. Most recently, he was awarded the Martha Derthick Best Book Award for The Price of Federalism. The award is presented to the author of a book published at least ten years ago that has made a lasting contribution to the study of federalism and intergovernmental relations. Peterson is a member of the independent review panel advising the Department of Education’s evaluation of the No Child Left Behind law and a member of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force of K-12 Education at Stanford University. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers were among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.


The Ideal Blended-Learning Combination

Is one-third computer time about right?

SPRING 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 2

The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on testing, opt out, common core, unions, and more

WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1

CREDO Reveals Successful Charters’ Secret Sauce

What are the general lessons to be learned from the many case studies of successful chartering?

SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

States Raise Proficiency Standards in Math and Reading

Commitments to Common Core may be driving the proficiency bar upward

SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

Government Should Subsidize, Not Tax, Marriage

Social policies have influenced the rate of growth in single-parent families

SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 2

No Common Opinion on the Common Core

Also teacher grades, school choices, and other findings from the 2014 EdNext poll. Full results also available at education

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Accountability for Students: Exit Exams

An excerpt from What Lies Ahead for America’s Children and Their Schools, a new book edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Richard Sousa

U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests

It’s not just about kids in poor neighborhoods

FALL 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 4

Despite Success in New York City, It’s Time for Charters to Guard Their Flanks

School districts and teachers unions are fighting charters with renewed energy.

SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 3

The Education Iron Triangle

An excerpt from Teachers Versus the Public

Common Core and the War on Self-Deception

Learning the truth about schools helps the school reform cause

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Information Fuels Support for School Reform

Facts about local district performance alter public thinking

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Charter Schools Survive a Biting ‘Rain of Terror’

Charter schools, once little more than glass miniatures, are proving to be the toughest, most enduring of all education reforms.

Winter 2014 / Vol. 14, No. 1

The 2013 Education Next Survey

Americans React to Common Core and Other Education Policies

WINTER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 1

Despite Common Core, States Still Lack Common Standards

Students proficient on state tests but not national

FALL 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 4

Middle Class Students Trail Peers Abroad

The America Achieves study reveals in an alternate way an international achievement gap that my colleagues and I have been identifying over the past three years.

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

The Impact of School Vouchers on College Enrollment

African Americans benefited the most

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

Revelations from the TIMSS

Half or more of student achievement gains on NAEP are an illusion

Spring 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 2

Reform Agenda Gains Strength

The 2012 EdNext-PEPG survey finds Hispanics give schools a higher grade than others do

Winter 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 1

Is the U.S. Catching Up?

International and state trends in student achievement

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

Running in Place

Americans are learning more but are not catching up to the rest of the world

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12. NO. 4

Not All Teachers Are Made of Ticky-Tacky, Teaching Just the Same

The true import of the Chetty study

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

Neither Broad Nor Bold

A narrow-minded approach to school reform

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

The International Experience

What U.S. schools can and cannot learn from other countries

Photos: Additional images from the Education Next-PEPG Conference

WINTER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 1

Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?

The latest on each state’s international standing

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

The Public Weighs In on School Reform

Intense controversies do not alter public thinking, but teachers differ more sharply than ever

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Eighth-Grade Students Learn More Through Direct Instruction

Students learned 3.6 percent of a standard deviation more if the teacher spent 10 percent more time on direct instruction. That’s one to two months of extra learning during the course of the year.

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

The Case Against Michelle Rhee

How persuasive is it?

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

A Battle Begun, Not Won

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been. For the other side of the debate, please see Pyrrhic Victories? by Frederick M. Hess, Michael J. Petrilli, […]

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Happy 10th Anniversary, Education Next!

Over the decade, we have witnessed—perhaps contributed to—the advance of school reform.

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Wasting Talent

Everyone’s local school needs to do better

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

Teaching Math to the Talented

Which countries—and states—are producing high-achieving students?

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

We Know Our Schools

All school evaluations, like all politics, are local

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Meeting of the Minds

The 2010 EdNext-PEPG Survey shows that, on many education reform issues, Democrats and Republicans hardly disagree

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

State Standards Rise in Reading, Fall in Math

Most state standards remain far below international level

View the Underlying Data

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Competition and Charters Spur Innovation

School markets are creative, not static

Summer 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 3

Charter High Schools

Promising results from charters that educate teens

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

A Courageous Look at the American High School

The legacy of James Coleman

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

A Recession for Schools

Not as bad as it sounds

Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

What Happens When States Have Genuine Alternative Certification?

We get more minority teachers and test scores rise

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

Few States Set World-Class Standards

In fact, most render the notion of proficiency meaningless

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

The Persuadable Public

The 2009 Education Next-PEPG Survey asks if information changes minds about school reform.

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Powerful Professors

Research can change the political agenda…if the circumstances are right

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Virtual School Succeeds

But can we be sure about the students?

Summer 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 3

For-Profit and Nonprofit Management in Philadelphia Schools

What kind of management does better than the district-run schools?

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

What Is Good for General Motors

For years, our public schools have paid as little attention to personnel costs as General Motors has.

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

The Home-Schooling Special

Today's choicest choice

Winter 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 1

The Next President Had Many School Choices

Will he provide similar opportunities for others?

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

The 2008 Education Next-PEPG Survey of Public Opinion

Americans think less of their schools than of their police departments and post offices

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

Today’s Education-Industrial Complex

Why aren’t schools an issue in the 2008 election?

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

Excellence Reformers Need to Make a Choice

Is accountability the reform of the past?

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

Good News for Presidential Candidates

The public supports a wide range of education reforms

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

A Lens That Distorts

NCLB’s faulty way of measuring school quality

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

What Americans Think about Their Schools

The 2007 Education Next—PEPG Survey

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

Politics First, Students Last

A well-heeled commission issues a weak-kneed report

Summer 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 3

The Entrepreneurs and the New Commission

Changing minds in the education establishment

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

The NCES Private-Public School Study

Findings are other than they seem

Winter 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 1

Learning from Catastrophe Theory

What New Orleans Tells Us about Our Education Future

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Is Your Child’s School Effective?

Don’t rely on NCLB to tell you

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Vouchers in New York, Dayton, and D.C.

Vouchers and the Test-Score Gap

Summer 2001 / Vol. 1, No. 2

The Supreme School Board

Vouchers on Trial

A view from inside the courtroom

Summer 2002 / Vol. 2, No. 2

Ticket to Nowhere

In the wake of A Nation at Risk, educators pledged to focus anew on student achievement. Two decades later, little progress has been made

Spring 2003 / Vol. 3, No. 2

Voucher Research Controversy

New looks at the New York City evaluation

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

The Brown Irony

Racial progress eventually came to pass—everywhere but in public schools

Fall 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 4

The Children Left Behind

Now it is certain, on its third anniversary, that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is a monumental achievement. The accountability provisions of the law shine a bright light on the performance of schools across the nation, forcing many of them to attend to long-ignored problems. But new evidence confirms what was known when the law […]

Spring 2005 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Johnny Can Read…in Some States

Johnny can’t read … in South Carolina. But if his folks move to Texas, he’ll be reading up a storm. What’s going on? It turns out that in complying with the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), some states have decided to be a whole lot more generous than others in determining whether students […]

Summer 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 3

Let the Public In

How Closed Negotiations with Unions Are Hurting Our Schools

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Keeping an Eye on State Standards

A race to the bottom?

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Of Teacher Shortages and Quality

Good teaching—the kind that can routinely raise student achievement—is the most valuable of all education resources. When a teacher inspires, children learn, even when the building is antiquated, the Internet is missing, and classes are bigger than usual. So teacher quality matters. A lot. Yet the standard measure of quality today, the teaching credential or […]

Spring 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 2

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Republicans and Democrats Disagree on the Relative Importance of Reading, Math, and the Arts

Americans have generally agreed on what should be taught in the public schools, but partisan debate has increasingly turned the core curriculum into a political football.


‘No-Racially-Disparate-Discipline’ Policies Opposed by Both Teachers and General Public

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.


Why Do Two Good Polls Get Different Results?

Gauging public opinion on parental opt-out, charters, Common Core and vouchers


Common Core: How Much Do People Know About Its Real Impact?

Are opinions about the Common Core driven by the public debate broadcast in the media or are they rooted in direct knowledge about what is happening in schools?


Public Supports Testing, Opposes Opt-Out, Opposes Federal Intervention

If those in our nation’s capital want to modify federal education policy along lines preferred by the public at large, they will enact a law that resembles the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate.


Diane Ravitch, Union Shops and the Education Next Poll

If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger


Teachers and the Public Oppose Agency Fees Charged By Teachers Unions

Judging by a recent survey, a plurality of the American public and an equally large share of teachers oppose forced union payments.


Racial Controversies Are As Misleading Today As They Were When The Moynihan Report Was Written

In its Spring issue, Education Next takes note of the 50th anniversary of a 1965 publication issued by the U. S. Department of Labor entitled “The Negro Family.”


Nathan Glazer on Revisiting the Moynihan Report

Fifty years ago the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report that identified a surprising rate of growth in the percentage of African American children born into single-parent families.


No Child Left Behind and Testing Help Hold Schools Accountable

Annual, statewide testing should be saved, and it can be if moderates in both parties fight off special interests.


A Rescue Plan for the Black Family

Far from addressing the marriage problem, the federal government exacerbated it.


Simply By Forming an Exploratory Committee, Jeb Bush Places School Reform on the National Agenda

In 2016 neither Jeb Bush’s Republican primary opponents nor Hillary Clinton nor even Elizabeth Warren will be able to ignore the poor state of the nation’s schools. For they will be facing a candidate with the strongest school reform credentials any presidential candidate has ever had.


Do Teachers Support the Vergara Decision?

Courts have yet to reach a final verdict on teacher tenure and seniority rights, but the court of public opinion has already made a clear determination.


Demonstrate College Readiness If You Want a Federal Grant or Loan

Before receiving a federal grant that never needs to be repaid (as is the case with Pell grants and some loans), the recipient should demonstrate that they are worthy of support by passing an appropriate set of examinations.


What Parents Think About Their Public Schools

If one judged public opinion by conventional public discourse, one would soon conclude that parents in the United States are neatly divided between devotees of district-operated schools and choiceniks determined to avoid them. But Americans are a good deal more practical than that.


Comparing PDK and Education Next Polls

Differences between the two polls derive from the questions that are asked and the way in which they are posed.


Political Polarization Needlessly Divides the Public on Common Core and NCLB

Political polarization is making it increasingly difficult to sustain support for policy undertakings a majority of the public supports.


Saving Schools—Launching My MOOC on HarvardX

On September 8, “Saving Schools” launches. Four (free!) mini- courses on “History, Politics and Policy in U. S. Education”


Teacher-Tenure Decision Is NOT an Abuse of Judicial Power

Vergara precedents are multiple, judge’s actions restrained


U. S. Adults Perform Below International Average in Numeracy, Literacy and Problem Solving

The United States once had the best educational system in the world, but that day seems to have faded away. Unfortunately, the United States can no longer live on the great educational system it once enjoyed.


Can Education Polls Be Scientific? Or Is It All Interest Group Politics?

Sampling the public can be done pretty accurately by sophisticated polling firms, and all three of the just-released surveys have that in common. But even though sampling can be done in a scientific manner, question formulation in survey research is an art form.


The Public Supports Accountability and Common Core Standards

While many in state capitols and Washington, D.C. are placing bets against state and national accountability systems that range from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards, the public remains faithful to its long-standing commitment to hold schools, students and teachers accountable.


Latest Results on Common Core and Other Issues in EdNext and AP Polls

A comparison of the two polls reveals that responses depend quite a bit on how a question is posed.


While K–12 Schools Resist, Digital Learning Disrupts Higher Education

Although digital learning is making definite advances, it has yet to disrupt secondary education.


Readers Comment on Obama’s Failure to Close White-Black Test Score Gap

A number of people have commented on my finding that the black-white test score gap on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)’s long-term trend survey has failed to close during the Obama years.


Black-White Test Score Gap Fails to Close Under Obama

Student achievement, after rising steadily during the 1999-2008 period, has come to a virtual halt during the Obama Administration.


Peter Flanigan: A True Friend of School Choice

School vouchers never had a better friend than Peter Flanigan.


Randi Weingarten Provides a Teaching Moment

Why is Weingarten accusing Zimmerman of taking the law into his own hands after a jury of six women found that there was reasonable doubt that he was guilty?


Common Core State Standards: Do You Need To Be Proficient In Order To Be Proficient?

Too many people ignore international comparisons and set low expectations for U.S. students and their schools.


A Reply to NCTQ’s Defense of its Rating System

We will not know much about teacher preparation effectiveness until we can link teacher training directly to student achievement.


Do the NCTQ Rankings Identify Schools of Education that Produce Graduates Who Are Effective in the Classroom?

The National Council on Teacher Quality, in conjunction with U. S. News and World Report, has issued an ambitious report evaluating the quality of teacher preparation programs in schools of education across the United States.


Carnoy and Rothstein Disgrace the Honest Marxian Tradition

How do Carnoy and Rothstein manage to raise U. S. educational performance to international standards simply by adjusting for the social-class background of its students?


Did Republicans Win the Fiscal Cliff Battle?

Conventional wisdom says that Obama put one over on the GOP. The real story is quite otherwise.


Predicting the Future of American Education in 2013

Predicting what will happen in 2013 is a fool’s project. Consider 2012.


Sandy Hook

At this holiday season, ordinarily so joyful, all of our hearts are filled with sadness, thoughts, and prayers for the families of those 27 children and adults who lost their lives in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Charter Schools Top Story of 2012

According to research gathered by the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force, charter schools provided the fodder for more news stories in 2012 than any other educational topic.


If Johnny or Susie Cannot Read or Write … Neither Will Graduate from High School

Do graduation rates from high school have anything to do with student proficiency in reading and writing in 4th and 8th grade?


Are Americans Losing Confidence in Their Teachers?

Poll reveals less trust in teachers, especially among swing voters


Vouchers Help African American Students Go to College

Matthew Chingos and I have just released a study that for the first time makes use of data from a randomized field trial to identify the impact of school vouchers on college enrollments.

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