Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Report Shows Negative Effects of Market-Oriented Education Reforms

A new report released this week by the Broader Bolder Approach to Education and the Economic Policy Institute shows some of the negative effects of market-oriented education reforms in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., by comparing the students in those districts to other urban districts. Although this report does not present any new research per se, it does analyze existing evidence from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and peer reviewed quantitative and qualitative research.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

1. Education Gap
NAEP test scores increased less and achievement gaps grew more in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. than in other urban districts. For example, "Between 2005 and 2011, in large, urban districts, Hispanic eighth-graders gained an average six points in reading (from 243 to 249), black eighth-graders gained 5 points (from 240 to 245), and white eighth-graders gained 3 points (from 270 to 273). In District of Columbia Public Schools, however, Hispanic eighth-graders’ scores fell 15 points (from 247 to 232), black eighth-graders’ scores fell 2 points (from 233 to 231), and white eighth-graders’ scores fell 13 points (from 303 to 290)" (p. 4).

2. Instructional Quality and Educational Opportunities for Students
The over-emphasis on test-based accountability led to an exodus of experienced teachers, but not necessarily the teachers market-based reformers labeled as "bad." In most cases, experienced teachers were replaced with under-qualified or unqualified teachers. "After four years fully half (52.1 percent) of teachers left the system, up from 45.3 percent" (p. 4) and few teachers ever reached "experienced" defined as 5-7 years of teaching experience. Furthermore, the vast majority of students (94%) at schools labeled "failing" and closed went to other schools with similar or even lower test scores, and in many cases, this resulted in longer student commutes, often through more dangerous areas.

3. Charter Schools were Not the Promised Panacea
Increasing the number of charter schools or replacing closed schools with charter schools generally disrupted the districts. The results of students in charter schools in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. mirrored studies that showed charter schools provide generally mixed benefits, with 34% of students nationwide doing worse and only 17% doing better. Moreover, charter schools in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. served fewer high-need students compared to the regular public schools, while disrupting the school districts logistically and financially.

To read more, click here for the full report:

Weiss, E., & Long, D. (2013). Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality: The impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and increased charter school access on student outcomes in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.

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