Thursday, October 4

Is the city's "outside" evaluation group really independent?

The Times took a look yesterday at the Research Partnership for New York City's Schools, which you read about here last month. There's not much new in the Times article, and there's definitely no word from those who are legitimately concerned that the members of the research group have interests in seeing the data bear out certain results. Over at NYC Educator, reality-based educator writes, "taking a closer look at just who will be doing all the analysis and who will be paying for it, you'd have to say that nearly everybody in this supposed 'outside agency' is connected to the school system."

My take on the panel is not quite as cynical as reality-based educator's, but I agree it's problematic that organizations leading various reform efforts are represented on a panel whose job it is to evaluate reform efforts that include their own. I'm not sure what the solution is. There are a finite number of individuals and organizations who truly care about school reform, and it seems natural that they would seek to enact those reforms in addition to talking about them. So I'm not sure it's possible to get away from these conflicts of interest if educators are to have any influence at all over what conclusions are drawn from education data.

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