Repeat (Under)Performance

Second ‘School Staffing Surge’ report
 suffers from same flaws as original

Contact:
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Joydeep Roy, (202) 821-2572, jr3137@columbia.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/d5h6tmr

 

BOULDER, CO (March 26, 2013) – In a follow-up to its Bunkum Award-winning report of last year, the Friedman Foundation recently released a second report, again describing a surge in school employment unaccompanied by progress in student achievement. Again, however, the report suffers from faulty premises and inaccurate data.

Joydeep Roy reviewed The School Staffing Surge, Part II, for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Dr. Roy is a visiting professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an economist with the Independent Budget Office of New York City.

Like the original report, The School Staffing Surge, Part II was written for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice by Benjamin Scafidi.

Surge I first points to data that between 1992 and 2009, the number of full-time equivalent school employees grew 2.3 times faster than the increase in students over the same period. It then claimed that despite the staffing and related spending increases, there had been no progress on test scores or drop-out reductions. Surge II disaggregates trends in K-12 hiring for individual states, presenting ratios comparing the number of administrators and other non-teaching staff to the number of teachers or students.

Both reports speculate about “savings” that might have been achieved if hiring had been held back. But neither report makes any serious attempt to link employment numbers to schools’ needs or outcomes. Moreover, both reports “[fail] to acknowledge the fact that achievement scores and drop-out rates have steadily improved,” Roy writes in his review.

He adds, “Neither the old report nor this new one … explores the causes and consequences of the faster employment growth, thus severely limiting the report’s potential contribution.”

With no attempt to benchmark hiring against each state’s needs and circumstances, the new report is once again unable to make any reasoned judgment about whether the added hiring was useful or wasteful. The result, Roy concludes, is that the new report, “much like the original one, is devoid of any serious policy implications.”

 

Find Joydeep Roy’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-school-staffing-surge-2

Find The School Staffing Surge, Part 2, by Benjamin Scafidi, on the web at:
http://www.edchoice.org/Research/Reports/The-School-Staffing-Surge--Decades-of-Employment-Growth-in-Americas-Public-Schools--Part-2.aspx

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org