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54 New Schools Will Open This Fall, Bloomberg Says


By Kate Taylor and Anna M. Phillips

Brushing aside criticism of his longstanding policy to close poorly performing schools and replace them with new ones, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Tuesday that the city would open 54 new schools in the fall, many of them in spaces vacated by schools being closed.

“Students and parents deserve top-quality school choices, and we’re going to continue to ensure that they have even more of them,” the mayor said at a news conference, which was held in the library of Washington Irving High School, one of the schools being closed.

Earlier in the day, the issue of school closings was drawn into the fray of mayoral politics, when several expected mayoral candidates criticized Mr. Bloomberg’s policies.

William C. Thompson Jr., the former comptroller and a 2009 Democratic candidate for mayor, called the closing of schools a “shell game” and a “Ponzi scheme,” and urged the State Legislature to issue a moratorium on such closings.

Two other possible candidates, Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, and Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, did not call for a moratorium but said that they would like to see fewer school closings.

The three were speaking at a forum at New York University, where a group critical of Mr. Bloomberg’s policies released a report showing that the 23 schools targeted for closing this year had higher proportions of special-education students, students who were over age for their grade and students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, as well as lower proportions of students proficient in math and language arts, than the city’s school system as a whole.

One expected candidate, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a frequent ally of Mr. Bloomberg’s, did not attend the forum. In a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, she said she had decided not to attend because she opposed one of the recommendations in the report, which called for the city to select a group of struggling schools that would receive additional support. She described that as a throwback to a 1990s initiative whose success has been questioned.

By this fall, the Bloomberg administration will have closed, or will have begun phasing out, 140 schools since 2002 and will have opened 589 new ones — many of them small schools that share space in old school buildings. Teachers at closed schools cannot be fired, but they are often not hired by the new schools, and can wind up as substitute teachers for years before finding permanent positions.

The new schools generally have higher graduation rates than the schools they replace, and their students score better on exams. But critics, including the teachers’ union, argue that the reason the new schools appear to be superior is that their students have fewer challenges, like poverty and special needs.

However, the mayor and the schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, pushed back sharply against that argument on Tuesday.

“The student bodies of these new schools mirror those of the schools they replace,” the mayor said, “with similar percentages of black and Latino students, English-language learners and students with disabilities.”

According to Education Department data, in 2011 the percentage of students with disabilities at new schools opened by the Bloomberg administration was 15.2, compared with 10.7 percent at schools citywide. The percentage of English-language learners at the new schools was roughly equivalent to the percentage citywide; the percentage of black and Latino students was significantly higher at the new schools.

The president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, noted in a statement that 9 out of the 23 schools targeted for closing this year had been created by the Bloomberg administration since 2002.

“We intend to fight to make sure these new schools get the supports they need,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “Nearly 40 percent of the schools on the current closing list were created by Bloomberg, and we’d hate to see him try to close these at the same rate before he leaves office.”

Of the 54 schools being opened in the fall, 24 will be charter schools and 30 will be regular public schools. Most of the new schools will fill space either being vacated by closing schools or in currently underused school buildings. Only 10 of them will be new school spaces.

New Study Identifies ‘Opportunity Gap’ for Students


By Beth Fertig

Educators have long studied the achievement gap, in which black and Hispanic pupils and low-income students of all races perform at much lower levels than their white, Asian and better-off peers. A new study released on Tuesday by a group that supported efforts to attain for more money for city schools looked at the educational opportunities available to poor and minority students and found the choices lacking.

The report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education found that poor and minority students have fewer opportunities to attend the city’s best public schools largely because of where they live.

The study’s authors looked at state math and English scores at 500 middle schools in the 2009-2010 school year. The schools were sorted into four groups from highest to lowest test scores, with an equal number of schools in each. The authors then looked at how many students in each of the city’s 32 community school districts are able to attend local middle schools that scored in the 75th percentile, or top quarter.

The study did not include charter schools. Most of the charters are in low-income and minority communities, and some of them have impressive test scores.

The study found that wealthier neighborhoods have more access to better schools. For example, all of the students in District 26 in Queens — which includes Douglaston and Little Neck — have an opportunity to attend a high-performing middle school. Most students can also attend high-scoring schools in Manhattan’s District 2 and 3.

But in five districts, which include Harlem, the Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant, no students can attend a middle school that performs in the top quarter. The local middle schools just don’t have the test scores. The report also found that, within the 32 districts, whites and Asians are more likely to attend high-scoring schools than blacks and Hispanics.

The Schott Foundation helped finance the now defunct Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which won a lawsuit finding New York City’s public schools were shortchanged by the state. It also gives grants to the Alliance for Quality Education and the New York State Conference of the N.A.A.C.P.

The report’s main author, researcher Michael Holzman, called the findings evidence of educational “redlining,” because of the disparities, and said they were “an embarrassment to the city,”

“What we have is a situation where children who are most in need of what New York City public education can offer them are the least-likely to be able to have access to it,” he said.

The report challenges the Bloomberg administration’s argument that it is providing more high quality choices for families by opening about 500 schools in the past decade, including more than a hundred privately managed charter schools.

But by not including the charters, the study failed to take into account the full range of options available to students, especially in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Mr. Holzman said charters were not included because they only served only 2 percent of all city students in the 2009-2010 school year, though the percentile is higher in low-income areas.

The study also did not provide any comparison data to previous years to show whether things have gotten better or worse. And it did not say how many students from each district had the opportunity to attend a school in the top 50th to 74th percentile, meaning their scores aren’t in the very top but are still better than average.

Department of Education spokesman Frank Thomas said the city is making progress in closing achievement gaps.

“Over the last ten years, our reforms have focused almost entirely on creating better schools for students who were failed by the system for decades,” he said. “While there is much more work to do, the reality is that black and Hispanic students in New York City are graduating at their highest rates ever, and continue to narrow the achievement gap year after year. A report that fails to acknowledge this progress is shortsighted and overlooks the gains made by thousands of students during that time.”

The Schott study, however, also found evidence of disparity in teacher quality. It found that districts with high poverty rates have fewer experienced and highly educated teachers (those with a masters degree plus 30 additional credits) than wealthier districts, where teachers tend to stay for a long time. The report says the city winds up spending 19 percent more educating students in the wealthier districts because their teachers make more money.

Meanwhile, the same districts that have the lowest performing middle schools also send few children to gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools. This was confirmed in data released last week by the Department of Education finding that so many more children from Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn qualify for gifted and talented programs than students in low-income neighborhoods such as District 7 of the South Bronx, where fewer than 100 prekindergarten children took the test and only six were eligible.

The Schott Foundation is calling on the city to expand tutoring and test-preparation services so that more students can take the admissions test for specialized high schools. It also wants the city to test all incoming kindergarten students for gifted and talented programs, because so many families in poor communities don’t even have their children tested.

It also proposes a cap on the percentage of new teachers who are allowed to work in high-poverty districts, and for the state to restore and increase aid to New York City.

The Department of Education says testing all pre-K students would result in a significant loss of instructional time because it takes about an hour to test each of these children one-on-one. It has also questioned the logistics of capping the percentage of new teachers working in low-performing districts, which tend to have the most vacancies.

“We are always working to attract the highest quality teachers to our lower performing schools,” said the spokesman, Mr. Thomas, adding that this is the city’s plan for the 26 schools it plans to close and reopen this fall.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter at WNYC. Follow her on Twitter @bethfertig

Queens kindergarten waiting lists up at zoned schools


By Clare Trapasso

The number of incoming Queens kindergartners who were wait-listed to get into their zoned public schools rose this year, according to city data.

About 950 of the borough’s prospective kindergartners were on waiting lists. The longest in the borough was at Public School 307 in Corona where 109 were on the list — making it the city’s third-largest wait.

The number of new Queens kindergartners waiting for seats is up roughly 7% over last year.

City Department of Education officials stressed that wait-lists are down citywide and that the lists typically dwindle or disappear before classes start in the fall.

But education advocates said they fear the situation could get even worse when more families attempt to enroll their children at the last minute.

“We’re falling further and further behind every year because the city is not building enough schools fast enough,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of the educational advocacy group Class Size Matters. “The population is growing faster than the number of seats.”

That’s a problem for Anthony Lombardi, principal of Public School/Intermediate School 49, in Middle Village, who has 57 incoming kindergartners on a waiting list.

“I’m flattered that so many kids want to come to the school,” said Lombardi, who has been forced to turn office space into classrooms. “Last year, I was able to accommodate everybody. But we’ve become a very overcrowded school.”

He attributed the surge of applications to the school’s high scores and the poor economy — which has led many parents to pull their children out of private or parochial schools.

Brenda Zuckerman, co-president of the Parent Association at PS 196, said there are families who have moved to Forest Hills to get a spot at the top school and are denied due to a lack of seats.

There are 73 children on the school’s kindergarten waiting list.

“I feel for the parents who live so close to their zoned schools, but there’s not enough room for them,” Zuckerman said. “We wish the school was even bigger to accommodate everybody.”

Education Department officials said these lists shouldn’t cause alarm.

“We know that this can be an anxious time for parents, and we will continue to work with all of our schools to help them reduce waitlists,” agency spokesman Frank Thomas said in a statement. “As in the past we will see these wait-lists shrink and disappear by the time class begins.”

An Education Success in Harlem


By Kevin P. Chavous

Last month I visited the Harlem Success Academy Charter School in New York City. Led by former NYC Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, the school promotes a model of success based on individualized curriculum, merit-based teacher incentives, and specialized testing from day one. The results speak for themselves — with students performing in the highest percentile in reading, math, and science. Parents report high satisfaction rates, and children are provided the opportunity to gain a quality education in an environment based on their needs.

The Success Academy Charter Schools program provides a core curriculum based on innovation, curiosity, accountability, and creativity. The model for each student varies on their needs, and parents are encouraged to be active participants in their child’s education. This program is determined to be the change in New York City. What’s not to love?

Well, for some, it may just be the change itself. Several traditional institutional forces, including the NAACP, have engaged in a death match with Harlem Success to stop their expansion and shut them down. This is occurring in spite of the fact that Harlem Success regularly outperforms most of the schools in NYC, and their mostly low-income minority parents continue to rave about the school. I saw it firsthand while visiting Harlem Success and hearing testimonial after testimonial from satisfied parents.

I visit schools all over the nation and every time I walk the halls of a good school, I can’t help but wonder why we’ve settled with defeat. The severity of the situation and the daunting task of taking on the special interest groups have prevented our culture from facing the facts.

Well, the facts were clear on this day in February. As I spoke to over 400 engaged parents, teachers, and students, I was able to meet families who benefited from the Harlem Success program.

One mother stood out as the example of success. With about forty other parents waiting in line to speak to me after my speech, she continuously moved to the back of the line to ensure she “wanted to make sure she had my full time and attention.” She was eager to share with me the joy she felt over the progress of her 9-year-old son, a fourth grader at Harlem Success.

Just three years ago, she was told by teachers and administrators at his former traditional public school that she needed to prepare herself for the fact that her son would never be in a classroom setting because of his special needs. Those administrators said her boy didn’t have the requisite ability to work productively in a mainstream learning environment.

Today, at Harlem Success, he is among the best students in his class, he works patiently and studiously. While at home he regularly plays chess three days a week with a 7-year-old girl who also attends Harlem Success. Overall, her son is now achieving greatness. And because of the previous struggles he faced, his mother was intent on getting his story out there.

But the most poignant story of this particular trip involves a Harlem grandmother. During our conversation, she shared with me that just about everyone in her family grew up in Harlem and subsequently experienced the hardships of growing up in poverty and ultimately, attended failing schools. With one exception — her granddaughter.

Today, her granddaughter attends Harlem Success and is thriving. As she eloquently states: “Four generations of Harlem women and we finally have one who may make it to college.” She also shared with me that while proud of the achievements of her granddaughter she sometimes finds herself wondering “what might have been” if she too had the opportunity to learn.

This grandmother, and many other before her, attended a predictably failing school. For a century and a half, there has been little substantive change in the way we educate our children. The classic approach in America’s classrooms remains essentially a one size fits all undertaking.

How can we expect this archaic system to address the dynamic and ever-changing realities of our society and better yet, our global competition? Even still, how can the system in its current form help reverse the historical education shortfalls experienced by that Harlem grandmother? Perhaps the answer lies in exploding the one size fits all paradigms and being receptive to new ideas and approaches tailored to today’s student.

Visiting the Harlem Success Academy in New York City reminded me that we must do better and that we can do better. We have a moral obligation to see our children succeed, and it is only by opening ourselves to the possibility that we can reform our education system in a way in which they will truly have the opportunity to flourish.

Chancellor: Expect 50 more NYC charter schools



NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg will meet his goal of opening 50 more charter schools before he leaves office at the end of 2013, but the future of charter school expansion after he leaves office is anybody’s guess, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Friday.

“I don’t speculate,” Walcott told a group of charter school operators. “Life changes from minute to minute, especially in the world of education.”

The city has opened 139 charter schools — schools that are publicly funded but independently operated — since Bloomberg took office in 2002, and another 25 are planned for the 2012-2013 school year. The growth of charter schools has been a contentious issue, with parents at neighborhood schools complaining that charter schools drain resources from the public schools they often share space with.

Walcott told the midtown Manhattan breakfast meeting of the New York City Charter School Coalition that charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools should not be “pitted against” each other, adding, “These are all our students.”

While the original goal of charter schools was to provide options for low-income children stuck in bad schools, charter operators like Eva Moskowitz of Success Academies have pushed recently to expand into middle-class Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Walcott said he believes in “the expansion of charters throughout our system in all neighborhoods.”

“Charters shouldn’t be relegated to one class of parents or students,” he said.

Success Academy Charter Network gets attacked for its remarkable work



Want to get called horrible names? Want to get hauled into court? Want to get shouted down at public meetings?

Then dare to start a dozen free, outstanding public schools in New York City.

That’s the story of the Success Academy Charter Network.

The organization operates nine charter schools. Fully 95% of the students pass the state test in reading (city average: 62%) and 81% pass the state math test (city average: 51%). All fourth graders pass the state science exam, with 91% earning an advanced rating (city average: 43%).

Given those gangbusters results, founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz is moving to open three additional charters in Brooklyn school buildings that have more than enough room, one in Williamsburg, one in Cobble Hill, one in Bed-Stuy.

Reasonable parents say: Come in, so that my kids can have more quality educational options. Teachers unions and the parents over whom they hold sway say: Stay away, because your great school is an assault on all the wonders of public education.

On paper, they focus their ire on the details of a particular space-sharing agreement. But underneath, it’s the school itself, and the great results it manages to get with non-union labor, that’s the true threat.

Witness a lawsuit filed by a group called Advocates for Justice on behalf of 15 parents. It seeks to prevent the opening of a new Success Academy in Cobble Hill — on the absurd grounds that because the city at one point changed its plans about where to locate the school, it shouldn’t be allowed to open at all.

Or witness Thursday’s hearing on a plan to co-locate a new Success Academy school in Junior High School 50 in Williamsburg.

Present were regular parents hungry for alternatives, like Janet Rentas, a parent of a five-year old son.

Said she:

“If I could get an equal education at a charter school, why not? I am a single mom, and I would have to work a lot to send him to a Catholic school, but I would sacrifice if I had to.”

Also there were parents who, parroting the union line, called for nixing the school because it offers an alternative model.

They even turned a 15-year-old girl into an anti-charter zealot, and she was as incoherent as her adult models:

“We don’t need to buy education; we have it here,” the teen declared. We’ll spare her the embarrassment that would come with publishing her name.

In education-packed speech, Bloomberg vows to bypass UFT


By Philissa Cramer

Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to breathe new life into his enervated education agenda today with an ambitious and startling list of proposals that include paying top teachers $20,000 bonuses and bypassing the union to overhaul struggling schools.

Perhaps most interesting is the way that he is outlining, in his 10th State of the City address right now in the Bronx, to resuscitate stalled efforts to transform 33 struggling schools — and still receive the $58 million in federal funds that were supposed to support them. The state cut off the city’s access to those funds last month, arguing that Bloomberg’s failure to reach a deal with the teachers union on evaluations of teachers made the city ineligible for them.

But today Bloomberg argued that the city could still get the federal support without a deal. His plan is to change the city’s approach to overhauling those schools, using the “turnaround” model. That model requires that up to 50 percent of a school’s teachers be removed.

“We believe that when we take this action, we will have fulfilled the state’s requirements and the schools will be eligible for the $58 million in funding,” he is set to say.

The city had originally wanted to use the turnaround model, one of four federally mandated options, to overhaul the 33 schools. But it turned to backup models, “transformation” and “restart,” because the union would not agree. Today, Bloomberg says he believes the union’s current contract permits turnaround, according to his prepared remarks.

In a telephone call before the address, a union official said immediately that that was not the case, auguring a fight that could drag on or even wind up in court.

The proposal is one of several surprising and bold education plans that Bloomberg is outlining today at the city’s oldest high school, Morris High School in the South Bronx. Fully half of his State of the City address is devoted to education.

Other proposals include a $20,000 raise for teachers who get the top rating on the disputed evaluations for two years in a row and $25,000 to pay off student loans for new teachers who come from the top of their college class.

Those policies are designed to attract and retain good teachers, and Bloomberg is arguing that he expects the union’s support for them. The proposals, of course, depend on evaluations that the city and the union have not yet agreed on. And the $20,000 bonuses also represent individual merit pay for teachers, which the United Federation of Teachers has rejected in the past.

The mayor said the city is ramping up plans for the new schools that Chancellor Dennis Walcott introduced in September. Bloomberg said the city will open 100 new schools before he leaves office in 2013, including 50 charter schools. The city will help some charter networks — such as KIPP and Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools — grow faster and also bring in new charter school operators to the city. One of those, a chain called Rocketship that focuses on the technology-infused “blended learning” model, has already accepted the city’s invitation, Bloomberg announced.

And Bloomberg announced new efforts to push students along the path to college, by helping them get financial aid, and careers, through new schools with a vocational focus and a mentoring program involving local businesses.

Bloomberg left lots of questions unanswered: How does the workaround at the 33 struggling schools resolve the conflict over teacher evaluations? Will the state start federal funds flowing now, even though the switch to turnaround wouldn’t happen until September? Where will the funds for raises and loan repayments come from? Are the charter school networks Bloomberg mentions prepared to scale up faster?

We will be trying to find answers to these questions and others this afternoon.

In chronological order, according to the prepared remarks, Bloomberg proposed to:

  • Give new teachers who come from the “top tier” of their college class $25,000 to pay off student loans.
  • Raise the salaries of teachers who are rated “highly effective” for two years on new evaluations by $20,000
  • Use a turnaround program in state law to remove half of teachers at SIG schools, to get federal funding back
  • Open 100 new schools in the next two years, including 50 charter schools
  • Speed the expansion plans of charter networks such as KIPP and Success Academy
  • Recruit new charter school operators to come to the city, such as Rocketship, which has committed
  • Open three new grade 9-14 schools and at least a dozen new career and technical schools and programs
  • Ask local business and companies to offer mentoring and internships for students; Bloomberg LP is in
  • Help students apply for federal financial aid, using assistance from the Obama administration
  • Lead the charge for the New York State Dream Act to help undocumented students attend college

High-Performing Success Academies To Open Elementary Schools In Cobble Hill And Williamsburg

Two schools will help meet surging parental demand in Brownstone Brooklyn for high-quality public school education
More than 1,500 Cobble Hill residents sign petition saying they’d be interested in applying to a Success Academy School

(BROOKLYN): The high-performing Success Academies network will open new public charter schools in Cobble Hill and Williamsburg for the 2012-2013 school year, school officials announced today.

Both Success Academy Cobble Hill and Success Academy Williamsburg will begin with a kindergarten and first grade comprised of roughly 190 children and grow by one grade each year until the schools serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“One look at all the strollers on Court Street and Bedford Street provide all the proof you need that both Cobble Hill and Williamsburg have gone through a true baby boom in recent years,” said Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of the Success Academies. “While these neighborhoods do indeed have some good schools, they’re quickly filling up, and we’ve repeatedly heard from parents that they’re worried that their kids won’t have good school options. Success Academy Cobble Hill and Success Academy Williamsburg will give parents another great public school option.”

More than 1,500 residents in District 15 where Success Academy Cobble Hill will be located signed a petition requesting that a Success Academy come to the neighborhood.

“Every parent wants to send their child to a great school and in our neighborhood, those schools are bursting at the seams,” said Lisa Melmed, a Brooklyn Heights parent. “I’m excited to learn that Success Academies is planning to open a school in Cobble Hill so that parents have another great option to consider, one that has an exceptional track record and where kids can get a high-caliber education without a private school price-tag.”

Members of the community are also eagerly anticipating the school’s arrival. “Our community is strengthened by the presence of as many high-quality schools as we can have,” said Melissa Benson, President of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. “The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue has grown enormously in the past few years, in part due to improvements at P.S. 8 that have made it possible for more families to stay in the neighborhood. More good public schools will no doubt bring similar benefits.”

“The demand for school options in this community is incredible” said Eliza Rossman, a parent and board member of Heights and Hills, an organization with deep roots in the community. “Like many other families, we moved to Brooklyn because it seemed like a great place to raise children. Our community would benefit tremendously from a new school option.”

School applications will be available in mid-October (the school websites will launch by October 17th at and The Department of Education will work with the community to determine which of several underutilized schools in both Districts 14 and 15 can best accommodate the schools.

“We look forward to closely working with the Department of Education and the community to open these schools,” Moskowitz said.
All four Success Academy Schools that received progress reports this year were given “A’s,” and students have received among the best test scores in all of New York City.

Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain


By Annie Lowry

WASHINGTON — Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.

The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, all economists, examines a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term.
“That test scores help you get more education, and that more education has an earnings effect — that makes sense to a lot of people,” said Robert H. Meyer, director of the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which studies teacher measurement but was not involved in this study. “This study skips the stages, and shows differences in teachers mean differences in earnings.”

The study, which the economics professors have presented to colleagues in more than a dozen seminars over the past year and plan to submit to a journal, is the largest look yet at the controversial “value-added ratings,” which measure the impact individual teachers have on student test scores. It is likely to influence the roiling national debates about the importance of quality teachers and how best to measure that quality.
Many school districts, including those in Washington and Houston, have begun to use value-added metrics to influence decisions on hiring, pay and even firing.

Supporters argue that such metrics hold teachers accountable and can help improve the educational outcomes of millions of children. Detractors, most notably a number of teachers unions, say that isolating the effect of a given teacher is harder than it seems, and might unfairly penalize some instructors.
Critics particularly point to the high margin of error with many value-added ratings, noting that they tend to bounce around for a given teacher from year to year and class to class. But looking at an individual’s value-added score for three or four classes, the researchers found that some consistently outperformed their peers.

“Everybody believes that teacher quality is very, very important,” says Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and longtime researcher of education policy. “What this paper and other work has shown is that it’s probably more important than people think. That the variations or differences between really good and really bad teachers have lifelong impacts on children.”
The average effect of one teacher on a single student is modest. All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher. The student with the excellent teacher would also be 0.5 percent more likely to attend college.

Perhaps just as important, given the difficulty of finding, training and retaining outstanding teachers, is that the difference in long-term outcome between students who have average teachers and those with poor-performing ones is as significant as the difference between those who have excellent teachers and those with average ones, the study found.
In the aggregate, these differences are potentially enormous.

Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate. Multiply that by a career’s worth of classrooms.
“If you leave a low value-added teacher in your school for 10 years, rather than replacing him with an average teacher, you are hypothetically talking about $2.5 million in lost income,” said Professor Friedman, one of the coauthors.

To do the study, the researchers first tackled the question that has swirled controversy in so many school districts, including New York City’s: whether value-added scores are in fact a good measure of teacher quality. Mr. Jones might regularly help raise test scores more than Ms. Smith, but maybe that is because his students are from wealthier families, or because he has a harder-working class — factors that can be difficult for researchers to discern.
While Professor Rockoff, at Columbia, has previously written favorably about value-added ratings, the Harvard pair were skeptics of the metrics. “We said, ‘We’re going to show that these measures don’t work, that this has to do with student motivation or principal selection or something else,’ ” Professor Chetty recalled.

But controlling for numerous factors, including students’ backgrounds, the researchers found that the value-added scores consistently identified some teachers as better than others, even if individual teachers’ value-added scores varied from year to year.
After identifying excellent, average and poor teachers, the economists then set out to look at their students over the long term, analyzing information on earnings, college matriculation rates, the age they had children, and where they ended up living.

The results were striking. Looking only at test scores, previous studies had shown, the effect of a good teacher mostly fades after three or four years. But the broader view showed that the students still benefit for years to come.
Students with top teachers are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, more likely to enroll in college, and more likely to earn more money as adults, the study found.

The authors argue that school districts should use value-added measures in evaluations, and to remove the lowest performers, despite the disruption and uncertainty involved.
“The message is to fire people sooner rather than later,” Professor Friedman said.

Professor Chetty acknowledged, “Of course there are going to be mistakes — teachers who get fired who do not deserve to get fired.” But he said that using value-added scores would lead to fewer mistakes, not more.
Still, translating value-added scores into policy is fraught with problems. Judging teachers by their students’ test scores might encourage cheating, teaching to the test or lobbying to have certain students in class, for instance.

“We are performing these studies in settings where nobody cares about their ranking — it does not change their pay or job security,” said Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work criticizing other value-added assessments unions frequently cite. “But if you start to change that, there is going to be a range of responses.”
Many other researchers and school administrators say that even if imperfect, well-calculated value-added scores are an important part of evaluating teachers.

“Very few people suggest that you should use value-added scores alone to make personnel decisions,” Dr. Hanushek, of Stanford, said. “What the whole value-added debate has done is push forward the issue of how to evaluate teachers, and how to use that information.”
The new study found no evidence for one piece of conventional wisdom: that having a good teacher in an early grade has a bigger effect than having a good teacher in later grades.

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