In “Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools,” Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer measure how the effectiveness of 35 charter schools in New York City is correlated with the kind of big picture (macro) reform measures that politicians and most economics of education researchers look at in comparison with instructional detail (micro) factors that get adjusted inside schools. The micro factors win. Specifically,
…class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not correlated with school effectiveness.
In stark contrast…an index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research — frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations — explains approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness.
The authors do offer the caveat that the relations may not be causal. I’ll add one more caveat and then a question. The caveat is that the students in charter schools, and students in NYC public schools more broadly, may not be typical of students across the nation.
The question is, if practices such as those documented by the authors really work, why aren’t they more widely adopted? Ignorance among educators? Special selection of educators into working in certain charter schools?