EDGAR and the Two-Point Conversion

Once upon a time, there was a football player named EDGAR. His team was in the state championship. It was the fourth quarter, and they were down by seven points. But just as time ran out, EDGAR ran around the opposing line and scored a touchdown. EDGAR’s coach now had a dilemma. Should he try … Continue reading EDGAR and the Two-Point Conversion

Taking a Charter Network to Scale: IDEA Public Schools

The process of moving an educational innovation from a good idea to widespread effective implementation is far from straightforward, and no one has a magic formula for doing it. The W. T. Grant and Spencer Foundations, with help from the Forum for Youth Investment, have created a community composed of grantees in the federal Investing in … Continue reading Taking a Charter Network to Scale: IDEA Public Schools

Leveraging What Works

In my blog from two weeks ago, I discussed several exciting proposals in President Obama’s recent budget relating to increasing the role of evidence in education policy and practice. Today, I want to say more about one of these proposals, Leveraging What Works (LWW). Leveraging What Works is deceptively simple. It offers grants totaling $100 million … Continue reading Leveraging What Works

Six Low-Cost or Free Ways to Make American Education the Best in the World

It does not take a political genius to know that for the foreseeable future, American education is not going to be rescued by a grand influx of new money. Certainly in the near term, the slow economic recovery, gridlock in Washington, and other factors mean that the path to substantial improvement in outcomes is going … Continue reading Six Low-Cost or Free Ways to Make American Education the Best in the World

Charter Schools? Smarter Schools? Why Not Both?

I recently saw an editorial in the May 29 Washington Post, entitled “Denying Poor Children a Chance,” a pro-charter school opinion piece that makes dire predictions about the damage to poor and minority students that would follow if charter expansion were to be limited.  In education, it is common to see evidence-free opinions for and … Continue reading Charter Schools? Smarter Schools? Why Not Both?

Succeeding Faster in Education

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” So said Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM. What he meant, of course, is that people and organizations thrive when they try many experiments, even though most experiments fail. Failing twice as often means trying twice as many experiments, leading to twice as … Continue reading Succeeding Faster in Education

Rethinking Technology in Education

Antonine de Saint Exupéry, in his 1931 classic Night Flight, had a wonderful line about early airmail service in Patagonia, South America: “When you are crossing the Andes and your engine falls out, well, there’s nothing to do but throw in your hand.” I had reason to think about this quote recently, as I was … Continue reading Rethinking Technology in Education

With a Great Principal, Any Program Works. Right?

Whenever I speak about proven programs in education, someone always brings up what they consider a damning point. “Sure, there are programs proven to work. But it all comes down to the principal. A great principal can get any program to work. A weak principal can’t get any program to work. So if it’s all … Continue reading With a Great Principal, Any Program Works. Right?

Preschool is Not Magic. Here’s What Is.

If there is one thing that everyone knows about policy-relevant research in education, it is this: Participation in high-quality preschool programs (at age 4) has substantial and lasting effects on students’ academic and life success, especially for students from disadvantaged homes. The main basis for this belief is the findings of the famous Perry Preschool … Continue reading Preschool is Not Magic. Here’s What Is.

“But It Worked in the Lab!” How Lab Research Misleads Educators

In researching John Hattie’s meta-meta analyses, and digging into the original studies, I discovered one underlying factor that more than anything explains why he consistently comes up with greatly inflated effect sizes:  Most studies in the meta-analyses that he synthesizes are brief, small, artificial lab studies. And lab studies produce very large effect sizes that … Continue reading “But It Worked in the Lab!” How Lab Research Misleads Educators