Hillary Clinton Should Listen to Her Friend Raj Chetty on Teacher Effectiveness

By 11/19/2015 0 Comments

When Hillary Clinton wanted to talk to an esteemed researcher on social mobility, she called Raj Chetty, a Stanford economics professor, a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and a winner of the John Bates Clark medal, given to the best American economist under age 40. At Clinton’s request, Chetty flew to her Manhattan office to spend hours going over his research. Clinton then cited his work by name.

When Clinton wanted to talk to an esteemed researcher on teachers, she apparently did NOT call Raj Chetty. If Clinton had talked to Chetty about this issue, she might have learned about his work linking value-added measurement (VAM) scores of teachers to their students’ long-term life outcomes like teen pregnancy rates, college attendance, and early-career earnings. But rather than embracing these findings, Clinton directly refuted them at an AFT roundtable last week:

I have for a very long time also been against the idea that you tie teacher evaluation and even teacher pay to test outcomes. There’s no evidence.  There’s no evidence. Now, there is some evidence that it can help with school performance. If everybody is on the same team and they’re all working together, that’s a different issue, but that’s not the way it’s been presented…

Clinton and Chetty are both busy people, so maybe they haven’t had time to connect about education yet. But her “no evidence” refrain is simply wrong. She could have learned this by reading the 5-page summary of evidence Chetty compiled in 2014 with John Friedman and Jonah Rockoff, which concludes that:

…VAM estimates provide information about the causal impacts of teachers on their students’ test score growth. This includes evidence from four separate studies that have directly tested whether VAMs measure correlation or causation… All four of these studies reach the same conclusion: VAMs that control for students’ lagged test scores primarily capture teachers’ causal effects rather than correlations due to other factors not captured in the model. To our knowledge, there is no experimental or quasi-experimental study to date that reaches the opposite conclusion.

The actual implementation of new teacher evaluation systems incorporating student growth is certainly complicated, and there are challenges but also some bright spots and early lessons. I get that we’re in the midst of campaign season and candidates will make overly bold statements. But we should expect policymakers to study and learn from the latest developments in research and practice, not just blindly repeat outdated talking points. So here’s hoping Clinton reconsiders the “no evidence” refrain and consults with Raj Chetty on all of his work, not just some of it.

– Chad Aldeman

This first appeared on Ahead of the Heard.

The Winter 2016 Issue of Education Next Is Here

By 11/19/2015 0 Comments

The cover story is the 2015 EdNext poll on school reform, which finds continuing high levels of support for educational testing and little sympathy for the opt-out movement.

The New ESEA, in a Single Table

Capitol Hill staff have reached an agreement on the reauthorization of ESEA. What’s in the compromise? Here’s what I know.

Time’s Up: Full-Time Virtual Charter Schools Must Become Transparent Together

By 11/18/2015 0 Comments

The full-time virtual charter schools that care about quality need to band together and create a membership organization and take responsibility for their industry’s results.

Is America’s Poverty Rate Exceptional? It Depends On How You Define Poverty.

America’s efforts to combat poverty look very different in international comparison depending on what you count and how you measure.

R.I.P. John Chubb

John Chubb was a fine scholar, tireless education reformer, and creative innovator.

Behind the Headline: John E. Chubb, Education Researcher and National Private School Leader, Dies

By 11/16/2015 0 Comments

Influential education researcher and leader John Chubb passed away last week.

Behind the Headline: Sources: House and Senate Negotiators Have Reached Preliminary ESEA Deal

By 11/13/2015 0 Comments

On Thursday evening, Alyson Klein of Politics K-12 broke the news that, after weeks of long and hard negotiations, House and Senate lawmakers have reached preliminary agreement on a bill for the long-stalled reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, multiple sources say.

Behind the Headline: How To Build a Better Teacher: Groups Push a 9-Point Plan Called TeachStrong

By 11/12/2015 0 Comments

A coalition of 40 education groups is launching a campaign called TeachStrong aimed at “modernizing and elevating” the teaching profession, reports Lyndsey Layton in the Washington Post.

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