Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Nice words from NCTQ

NCTQ had some kind words about me and Profit in a recent PDQ.

Even the most die-hard ed reformers will admit to the occasional twinge of self-doubt over the ability  of teachers, however talented, to overcome the adversity that fills so many   students’ lives.  Sure, great teaching matters, but is it spitting in   the wind to try and place a legion of great teachers in classrooms filled   with many kids whose families and neighborhoods can so quickly undermine any   progress? As Diane Ravitch put it, “Teachers can have a profound effect   on students, but it would be foolish to believe that teachers alone can undo   the damage caused by poverty and its associated burdens.”In a policy brief   written with his usual clarity and elegance, UC Santa Barbara economist   Richard Startz and author of Profit   of Education (one of our favorite books) puts forth a reassuring   argument. The fact that school-based ed reforms (such as improved teacher   quality or reduced class size in the primary grades) explains only a small   fraction of variation in student outcomes does not mean that those reforms   aren’t likely to have an important and cost-effective benefit.  Using   two real-world examples and then a quantitative model of the “decomposition   of variance,” Startz makes the case that the important thing on which ed   reformers should focus is impact,   pure and simple.  He cites the well-known Tennessee STAR study of small   class size as one of his two examples: the impact of class size reduction was   sufficiently large that the fact that background variables   “out-explain” performance effects of the intervention by thirty to one did not   change the calculation that it was still a viable reform strategy.To paraphrase Startz, the bottom line on teacher quality is this: Because the   marginal impact of having a better teacher is huge, the fact that teacher   inputs explain very little of student outcomes is immaterial to assessing the   promise of policy interventions related to teacher inputs.

Whew! We feel better already!

Julie Greenberg

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You can subscribe to NCTQ’s PDQ newsletter at http://www.nctq.org/p/.

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