Thursday, May 1, 2008

Education policy...

What Kevin Drum said,

But it's astonishing how many efforts to improve K-12 instruction turn out not to work. Even the ones that do seem to work usually turn out to fail if you just wait a few years or try to scale them up beyond pilot size.

This is one of the reasons I don't blog much about education policy even though it's an interesting subject. For all the sturm and drang, in the end nothing really seems to matter. After a hundred years of more-or-less rigorous pedagogical research, we still don't know how to teach kids any better than we used to. Early childhood interventions, if they're really early and really long lasting, seem to have some effect, but beyond that the only thing that works consistently is getting poor kids out of schools that are 90% poor. Unfortunately, the former is really expensive and the latter is well nigh impossible in most places.

I have spent some time on education policy and was able to interact with some very terrific minds. Really bright people with a real passion for finding solutions. They were willing to try ideas regardless of whether it came from an advocacy group on the right or the left. It was truly about the policy and not the politics. In that little bit of time I came to pretty much the same conclusion that Kevin Drum has.

In particular the inability to scale projects up beyond a small or pilot size as well as the inability to transfer successful programs into other cities and states.

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