Friday, April 30, 2010

What works, what doesn't

Harvard professor Paul E. Peterson says educational research is getting better and more powerful. For example, he cites the significant new release
of the long-delayed Head Start RFT, which shows that any student gains in learning are gone by the end of first grade. Billions and billions of federal dollars have funded Head Start over the years, and billions more are being proposed for a universal pre-school program. Now that an RFT has shown Head Start yields few, if any educational benefits, the pre-school lobby is shaking in its boots.

So what does work? 

When RFTs show that so much doesn’t work, it is all the more interesting that most RFTs show that school choice does. Patrick Wolf’s IES-funded evaluation of the Washington, D.C. school voucher program had a strongly positive impact on student learning in reading, though not in math. And two charter school studies, one in Massachusetts, the other in New York, showed clear benefits from the formation of charter schools.

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