Review of Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement

This report carefully reviews high-quality empirical evidence from the last several years on the test score effects of three approaches to modifying the organization of schools: (1) starting schools later in the morning, (2) favoring K-8 grade configuration instead of junior high or middle school configurations, and (3) increasing teacher specialization by grade and subject. It estimates the earnings benefits of each intervention and, for interventions (1) and (2), compares monetary benefits to costs. The report concludes that benefits outweigh costs, although the rough cost estimates suggest that better data are required to draw definite conclusions. The report’s main conclusion is that organizational reforms deserve a more prominent place in education debates, and that individual school districts should carefully consider them alongside more popular reform options. The review points to a few shortcomings but concludes that the report’s analyses are solid and helpful and that the results are presented carefully and cautiously.

Document Reviewed:

Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement

Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E. Rockoff
Brookings Institution