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News and Events: Links to what we’re reading this week

January 27, 2012

In case you missed it…

Philanthropy as R&D in Urban Women’s Health – both in the U.S. and abroad from Carol McLaughlin, our research director. We experienced a hiccup with our email subscription service.


For the past two years, our executive director, Kat Rosqueta, has served as a judge for the Purpose Prize, a $100,000 prize awarded to each of 5 winners, all entrepreneurs and community leaders over 60 recognized for their contributions to social good. Nominations for the 2012 Purpose Prize are now being accepted.

Education Notes from Kate Hovde, Senior Analyst

Kate Hovde

Kate Hovde, Senior Analyst

Recently released education studies:

As we wrote in our report High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality, many high school reform designs (both charter and non-charter) either favor smaller schools or attempt to reorganize the average high school so that it feels smaller and more personal to students and staff. Although there is not good evidence that size alone is the driving factor (there are many large high schools that are very good), a recent MDRC randomized control study of public, non-selective small schools started over the last decade in New York City found clear evidence that these schools had increased grade progression, graduation rates, and test scores of students, including those from minority and poor backgrounds. The study suggests that under the right circumstances, the same elements that characterize many successful charter schools can be replicated within the regular public system.

In the latest installation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Teaching Effectiveness Study (METS) results, researchers have found that two popular teacher observation and evaluation tools do a good job at identifying effective teachers, but only if the observer is well-trained in the use of the observation tool. These findings should be a help to Race to the Top winners and other states, districts , and schools trying to come up with reliable teacher evaluation systems that are not tied exclusively to student test scores.

Mixed news on teacher residencies:

A recent study on the Boston Teacher Residency program found that teachers trained through the program were more likely to stay in teaching than peers who did not go through the program, and that after 5 years, Residency program teachers were more effective teachers than their peers, based on student test results. In the short term, however, Boston Residency program graduates were less effective than their non-residency trained peers. The caveat: this was an evaluation of a single residency program (there are others with some differences nationwide) and the training offered residents has in fact changed over time (so evaluation results date from the early years of the program training). Conclusion: the evidence base in favor of teacher residencies is still not as strong as we would like, but it remains a promising model.

More Education News from the New York Times

  • The True Cost of High School Dropouts: One of our research heros, Henry Levin, and his colleague Cecilia Rouse on why it is not only a sound but an imperative economic strategy to invest in education.
  • Sharing a Screen, if Not a Classroom: While the evidence on the positive effects tutoring can have on mastering early literacy is well established, this program presents a new, interesting, although as yet unproven twist.
  • How Mrs. Grady Transformed Olly Neal: Nick Kristof’s story on how a teacher transformed the life of a student and implications for teacher pay and quality.

International News

  • Oxfam to Launch Mission-Minded Investment Fund: Another sign of the growing interest in the role that for-profit firms play in doing good, the nonprofit Oxfam has partnered to create an impact investing fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa and Asia.
  • A Boost for the World’s Poorest Schools: This is exactly what we talked about in the “Community Schools” Model in Practice, featuring Save the Children, on pgs.32-34 of Haiti: How Can I Help? in Opportunity 3: Addressing the Education Needs of Haiti’s Children. It addresses the very real issue of “now that we have more children in school, what happens there?”
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