Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brian Jacob on NCLB offers up a Q + A with my friend and colleague Brian Jacob in regard to his recent research on the No Child Left Behind system of performance measures, rewards and sanctions for government schools in the US.

I think Brian is correct that NCLB has increased math performance among low income students. Even though it is poorly designed even by the standards of performance management systems in government, NCLB has forced institutional attention on performance at schools in very poor neighborhoods, and that is all to the good.

At the same time, using NCLB to fix your government schools is a bit like using a chain saw to fix your DVD player - collateral damage is likely. Any full accounting of the costs and benefit of NCLB must include the former as well as the latter, where the former include all the myraid varieties of induced strategic behavior by schools, districts and states. A paper that attempted to perform that cost-benefit calculation in a serious way, and relative to policy-relevant counterfactual sets of institutions, would also be of great value.

On a different theme, I hope this indicates that will pay more attention to local researchers when discussing the issues of the day than its parent, the Ann Arbor News, did.

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