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Sirota: We need to fix the economy to fix education

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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-14-11 07:41 AM
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Sirota: We need to fix the economy to fix education
Edited on Tue Jun-14-11 07:42 AM by antigop

For her work marshaling hard facts and empirical data against corporate-backed "reformers" who rely largely on substance-free rhetoric and platitudes, Ravitch has been named this year's winner of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize -- so clearly, she's holding her own, even as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is launching a desperate PR campaign to make her Public Enemy #1. But just in case she needed any help making her argument about poverty and education, the National Bureau of Economic Research has published a new report further supporting her position.

Cross-referencing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics with 4th and 8th grade test scores, the study discovered a powerful connection between the social/psychological effects of job losses in a state and that the educational achievement of students in that state. Here's the crux of the findings, summed up by the team of Duke University researchers who spearheaded the study (emphasis added):
Results indicate that job losses decrease scores. Effects are larger for eighth than fourth graders and for math than reading assessments, and are robust to specification checks. Job losses to 1 percent of a state's working-age population lead to a .076 standard deviation decrease in the state's eighth-grade math scores. This result is an order of magnitude larger than those found in previous studies that have compared students whose parents lose employment to otherwise similar students, suggesting that downturns affect all students, not just students who experience parental job loss. Our findings have important implications for accountability schemes: we calculate that a state experiencing one-year job losses to 2 percent of its workers likely sees a 16 percent increase in the share of its schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind..

In this era of greatly increased focus on school accountability for student performance, education policymakers and leaders should be cognizant of the external factors that can negatively influence student achievement. Statewide job losses, which occur from factors external to schools, such as pressure from globalization and stock market fluctuations, can significantly influence student achievement and are well beyond the control of teachers and school administrators. The significant effect these losses can have on schools' ability to meet accountability goals suggests that policymakers may want to consider recent economic change when defining whether a school is meeting accountability targets.

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