The Urban Institute made national headlines last spring when it released an influential study suggesting that Teach For America recruits were more effective than other teachers in North Carolina's high schools. One criticism of the study at the time, though, was that the researchers were comparing the TFA teachers with a group of teachers with a hodgepodge of training. In answer to the critics, researchers Zeyu Wu, Jane Hannaway, and Colin Taylor decided to update their study with a larger sample of teachers and students. They added data for 32 teachers and more than 2,000 students, and re-ran the ...


The blogs were buzzing over the weekend with the latest findings from the federal evaluation of the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarship Program. You can catch some of the chatter here and here. Also, see the full story on EdWeek's homepage today. Begun in 2004, the program attracts notice because it's the first federally funded school voucher program in the United States and it's up for renewal. In the first two years of the study, though, the federally funded researchers found the voucher students were not doing any better academically than those who had applied for—but failed to nab—one...


Here's today's quiz item for readers: In the illustration at right, draw a line to show that the bottle is half full. Easy, right? Apparently, not for everyone. Pennsylvania State University researcher Lynn Liben has posed this question to hundreds of adults and children and found that surprisingly high percentages of them get it wrong. Instead of drawing a line parallel to the horizon—that's the right answer, in case you're spatially challenged—test-takers might draw slanted lines in different directions. And females are more likely than males to answer incorrectly, or to be unsure of their answers. The problem,...


Flypaper appears to have the scoop on who will be the Obama administration's choice to head the Institute of Education Sciences. It's another Chicagoan: John Q. Easton, the executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. You can read his biographical information here. According to the blog post, Easton's nomination is still in the vetting process, but, unless he has unanticipated tax problems that threaten to derail his Senate confirmation, he is set to replace Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst, who left the institute directorship in November. The consortium does not do much in the way of randomized controlled trials, ...


I have a story in today's online edition of Education Week that describes a spate of disappointing findings coming out of the large-scale, randomized studies that the Institute of Education Sciences has been underwriting in recent years. Experts contend that randomized studies—in other words. experiments in which participants are randomly assigned to either treatment or control groups—are the "gold standard" for determining what works in education and in many other fields. So there was much hope that this new generation of studies would point to some strong programs that practitioners would feel confident about using in their own...


If this article in Friday's issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education is correct, attendance is going to be down at next month's meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The Washington-based group typically draws between 12,000 and 16,000 researchers to its yearly conventions. And this year's meeting is scheduled to take place April 13-17 in sunny San Diego, a not unattractive destination. But the association is anticipating a dip in attendance because of the current economic climate. Budget constraints, in fact, have prompted some state university systems to limit convention travel to professors or other faculty members ...


Remedial courses are intended to provide an academic leg up to students who come to college lacking the academic skills they need to survive in higher education. But the courses can be expensive, costing colleges across the nation an estimated $1 billion a year. And students don't get academic credit for remedial coursework, which can lengthen the time it takes for them to earn a degree and start a career. So are remedial courses worth all that expense and time? Possibly not, according to a new study that's in the publishing pipeline. Paco Martorell of the RAND Corp. and Isaac ...


We're going to have to stop calling the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse the "nothing works" clearinghouse. Set up in 2002 to vet research on educational programs and practices, the clearinghouse got that unfortunate nickname because so few of its early reviews turned up educational interventions that were any more effective than what educators were already doing. This new statistic from Mathematica Policy Research Inc., the Princeton, N.J., company that operates the clearinghouse, suggests that times have changed: Of the 100-plus reports now posted on the clearinghouse Web site, 62 percent have at least one outcome ...


A hat tip to the NYT for this article, which was published in today's paper. It reports on research that found that 9th graders whose schools are within a block of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese than students whose schools are a quarter of a mile or more away from one. The researchers studied a sample population that included millions of students over a decade and took into account differences among the students in income, education, and race. Bottom line: They found that obesity rates in schools within one-tenth of a mile of a pizza, burger, ...


Borrowing from the Teach For America concept, Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt, guest bloggers over at the NYT's The Wild Side, have proposed an intriguing way to spend some of the $8.2 billion in federal stimulus funds set aside for research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Their idea is to recruit college graduates to spend a few years working, TFA-style, in research laboratories. The recruits would spend a few weeks in the summer at a lab skills boot camp and then dive into the laboratory workforce in the fall. The hope is that the experience, besides providing ...


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