Economics

Class Size Doesn't Matter, Plus Charter Schools as Laboratories of Education

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fire…bad teachers!

There are good charter schools and bad charter schools. But even the bad charter schools can do good, because they provide data.

One of the underplayed benefits of broad national experimentation with charter schools is that having lots of schools trying lots of different educational philosophies means lots of fodder for folks like education scholars Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer. They write:

Charter schools were developed, in part, to serve as an R&D engine for traditional public schools, resulting in a wide variety of school strategies and outcomes. In this paper, we collect unparalleled data on the inner-workings of 35 charter schools and correlate these data with credible estimates of each school's effectiveness. 

Their new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that fretting about class size and per-pupil spending may be misguided, whereas teacher quality and classroom culture actually matter:

We find that traditionally collected input measures—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, we show that 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. 

Of course, kids in bad charter schools deserve better than to just become data points in an economics paper. But hey, that's the nice thing about school choice—they choose try a different school next year. Plus, properly implemented school choice means charters that consistently fail to serve students and their parents can, and should, lose their charters and shut down. Their peers in places where a neighborhood public school is the only choice aren't so lucky.

Lots more on school choice, including last week's School Choice Week video extravaganza here.

Via Wonkblog.

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9 responses to “Class Size Doesn't Matter, Plus Charter Schools as Laboratories of Education

  1. First!

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  2. Their peers in places where a neighborhood public school is the only choice aren’t so lucky.

    Charter schools are public schools just like neighborhood government schools.

  3. We find that traditionally collected input measures — 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, we show that 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.

    Well, fuck me.

  4. My kids go to Waldorf School. Waldorf Schools often have very large class sizes– I think 32 is the absolute limit. Guess what? It works. Wanna know one of the secrets? A lot of times class size is really only 15 or 16 because they divide up the class and go do special subjects in smaller groups. You know what that means to me? Class size doesn’t matter as much as being trapped in the same damn room with the same damn teacher and the same damn kids all day long. In fact, if you try to make the day interesting and varied and don’t treat it like 8 hours of incarceration, kids stay more interested. Imagine that.

    Please send my $20 million grant check to…

    1. I am training to be a teacher and the way we teach science, 30 students are pushing it on being able to work with the students to provide “high-dosage tutoring.” However, tutoring is like AA, you have to want to learn for it to work. The teacher and I are available at lunch, before school and after school if the students would like help, but very few who need help ever show up. They think a D is okay since they are passing.

      I agree with the feedback part, I try to get the assignments graded and back to them the next day, showing them where they made mistakes so if they choose to learn from it, they can. Also, the students dislike the high expectations that I have for their assignments.

      1. And why r u trying to b a teacher?

        Can’t u c these people are goin’ to make the teach’n profession just another nigger job with no benefits.

        A better career to consider is the key career of the USA Future…Law Enforcement. And that doesn’t necessarily mean being a cop with a gun. You can get involved in technology, survellence, investigations, under-cover work, etc.

        The few wealthy will pay a great deal of money and will probably even invite law enforcement individuals to enjoy their social class in order to be protected by the liberals lazy people that don’t wanna work for nigger pay.

  5. traditionally collected input measures — class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree

    These statistics are gathered and studied not because they are useful, but because they are simple and unambiguous. Nobody can argue with how you measure any of these. The fact they’re almost completely irrelevant is even better, because you can prove anything you want to with them.

  6. Gotta wonder sometimes and shout out, Whos your Daddy!

    http://www.pc-anon.tk

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