Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fryer!

I’m late to this but it’s still relevant.   David Brooks’ recent column on the Harlem Children’s Zone occasioned a lively debate amongst the blogs about the methodology of the Doobie – Fryer study the column was based on (pdf) and whether or not Brooks overstated the results.   This Q & E  post has your key links to all that.   But the debate really buried the policy lede here.   There is a raging debate right now in education about whether or not and how much schools matter to student learning relative to other variables such as community, race, income and so forth.   Through some natural experiments embedded in the HCZ design, this study offers some evidence that despite all the hoopla about HCZ, it’s the schools that actually matter most even in the HCZ model.  In a policy debate that’s ultimately about hard choices on sequencing reforms and the political lift of holding schools accountable for serving students and where there are plenty of gambits designed to distract, that matters.

Posted on May 28, 2009 @ 2:47pm

One thought on “Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fryer!

  1. john thompson

    I don’t understand. How can you host such a wonderful debate and then fall back on some assertions that you must know are just political and you must know are scientifically invalid? I understand your preoccupation with “political lift.” But, I just don’t see how you maintain such a divided focus. What’s so bad about intellectual honesty.

    Chad must understand that one test, in a school that emphasizes (among other things) test preparation is not the “gold standard.” In fact, those test scores may mean nothing. We can’t assume that they reflect any real learning. For that, a second test is the bare minimum. But until you show that improvements seem to survive into middle school, high school, and then hopefully beyond.

    I sure hope that HCZ works. I hope they also keep an open mind on test prep and other instructional issues. And I hope we get enough HCZ’s so that we can test the various instructional approaches. I hope, also, that everyone can start to agree that we need both, the social services and instructional improvements. And of course, I hope we can create environments so that peer effects are a positive force.

    But, the same logic applies to the same baseless statement that “this study offers some evidence that … it’s the schools that actually matter most even in the HCZ model.” I don’t think editorial writers or bloggers must hold to the SAME standards as journalists and social scientists, but silly argumentativeness should be edited out.

    If you are capable of creating such an excellent think tank, and produce the excellence of the Ed Sector, and excellent blog, and engaging in effective political efforts, then you ought to be able to reread that sentence, and offer a retraction.

    You know the politics better than I, but I don’t see how loose and illogical talk is advantageous politically. On the contrary, it makes it harder for moderates to articulate compromises when “spin” continues to infect these exchanges.

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