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News and Events 4-27-12: Finding Good Teachers, Scaling Local Impact, Food Deserts, and More

April 27, 2012

Center Highlights

Fewer people registering for Susan G. Komen races: Article explores why some longtime nonprofit supporters chose to leave, with comments from our executive director, Kat Rosqueta.

What constitutes good evidence? On Freedom from Hunger’s The Evidence Project blog, Chris Dunford discusses evaluation methodology and how it must extend beyond the standard of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and incorporate more mixed methods approaches, mentioning our 3 circles approach of research, field experience, and informed opinion.

Not all who wander are lost: Every year, our Center must release a few research assistants into the world after graduation—we’re happy to have exposed these emerging leaders to ways in which they can achieve social impact in their respective fields. Melanie Lei, our research assistant graduating with class of 2012, gives the Center a nice mention in the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Education Notes from Kate Hovde

Kate Hovde

Kate Hovde, Senior Analyst

Studies Test for Ways to Spot Good Teachers: The Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Study (which we referenced in our report on High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality) continues to offer both hope and frustration for donors, policy makers, and practitioners anxious to find more reliable means of evaluating teachers.

The latest: many if not most existing systems of teacher evaluation, including those that incorporate value-added scores that link teacher performance to student performance on tests, don’t do a great job of distinguishing effective and ineffective teaching practices.

Some hope: research done by Ronald Ferguson at Harvard as part of the MET study indicates that students (at least at the secondary level) may have a better grasp of what’s working. Teachers graded highly by students on a series of seven characteristics and practices had students who made better learning progress than students taught by teachers who were graded poorly.

Social Entrepreneurs Try to Offer Solutions to K-12 Problems: An interesting and accessible article on social entrepreneurship in the education space.

Scaling Local Impact

In Boston, a Fund Seeks Promising Nonprofits to Tackle Social Ills: The GreenLight Fund, founded in Boston in 2003 which 1) identifies critical social needs within local communities and 2) funds nonprofits that address those needs, is now expanding into San Francisco and our own backyard in Philadelphia.

Food Deserts

Time to Revisit Food Deserts: David Bornstein revisits his recent New York Times Fixes column “Conquering Food Deserts with Green Carts” and looks deeper into the issue of whether access to healthy food is as serious a problem due to recent studies by the Public Policy Institute of California and the RAND Corporation which suggest otherwise.

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