2006 - Think Tank Review Project

Previous Years:  2008 · 2007

Immersion, Not Submersion, Vol III: Can a New Strategy for Teaching English Outperform Old Excuses? Lessons from Eight California School Districts
Date:
November, 2006
Author:
David White
Think Tank:
Lexington Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
December 14, 2006
Reviewers:
Jeff MacSwan
Institution:
Arizona State University
A new report from the Lexington Institute, Immersion Not Submersion, Vol. III, concludes that an emphasis on English-only teaching methods mandated by Proposition 227 is responsible for notable improvements among California’s English Language Learners, and that these methods can even overcome the effects of poverty, larger class sizes, and lower per-pupil funding. This review finds these claims to be without merit. The Lexington Institute’s report suffers from poorly sampled data, inaccurate descriptions of district-level policies, failure to account for alternative explanations for observed changes in district testing data, and lack of any serious analysis of the data presented. The report also fails to acknowledge or address recently published research studies whose conclusions are dramatically different from those presented in the report. The report is not useful for guiding educational policy or practice.

Winner of the 2006 Caveat Emptor Award

Giving Students the Chaff: How to Find and Keep the Teachers We Need
Date:
September 25, 2006
Author:
Marie Gryphon
Think Tank:
Cato Foundation
Think Tank Review:
Date:
October 25, 2006
Reviewers:
Ray Pecheone and Ash Vasudeva
Institution:
Stanford University
The report reviewed here concludes that competition and choice induce improved hiring practices and more flexible compensation policies, which in turn attract and retain high-quality teachers. The review finds that this conclusion lacks evidentiary support.
Getting Farther Ahead by Staying Behind: A Second-Year Evaluation of Florida's Policy to End Social Promotion
Date:
September 13, 2006
Author:
Jay Greene and Marcus Winters
Think Tank:
Manhattan Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
October 10, 2006
Reviewer:
Derek Briggs
Institution:
University of Colorado
The report reviewed here concludes that Florida's recently instituted policy of test-based retention has helped academically struggling elementary school students improve their reading. According to the review, the report overstates the effect of retention on student achievement.

Winner of the 2006 Damned Lies Award for Statistical Subterfuge

Segregation Levels in Cleveland Public Schools and the Cleveland Voucher Program
Date:
August 31, 2006
Author:
Greg Forster
Think Tank:
Friedman Foundation and Buckeye Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
October 5, 2006
Reviewer:
Gary Ritter
Institution:
University of Arkansas
The report reviewed here finds that private schools in Cleveland are less segregated than the city’s public schools. According to the review, this finding is important, but it says little about whether voucher programs would increase or decrease segregation.
The State of State Standards 2006
Date:
August 2, 2006
Authors:
Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli
Think Tank:
Fordham Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
September 11, 2006
Reviewer:
Kenneth Howe
Institution:
University of Colorado at Boulder
A new Fordham Institute report assigns letter grades to each state for their academic standards. A review of this report finds that the method for determining those grades is flawed.

Winner of the 2006 Truthiness in Education Award

On the Public-Private School Achievement Debate
Date:
August 2, 2006
Authors:
Paul E. Peterson and Elena Llaudet
Think Tank:
Harvard University's Program for Education Policy and Governance
Think Tank Review:
Date:
August 30, 2006
Reviewers:
Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski
Institution:
University of Illinois
This report claims that private schools outperform public schools. According to a review by the Think Tank Review Project, the report applied inappropriate models to account for the demographic differences between students.

Winner of the 2006 Damned Lies Award for Statistical Subterfuge

The Financial Impact of Ohio's Charter Schools
Date:
July 6, 2006
Author:
Matthew Carr
Think Tank:
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
Think Tank Review:
Date:
August 1, 2006
Reviewer:
Gene V. Glass
Institution:
This report claims that charter schools in the "Big Eight" urban school districts in Ohio are producing greater achievement gains, increasing revenues in the traditional public schools of these districts, and are operating at lower costs.
Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers
Date:
May 12, 2006
Authors:
Darcy Olsen and Lisa Snell
Think Tank:
Reason Foundation
Think Tank Review:
Date:
May 31, 2006
Reviewer:
W. Steven Barnett
Institution:
Rutgers University
This report reviews studies and accounts of early childhood programs and presents an argument against universal pre-school and all-day kindergarten programs. The report concludes that public investment in preschool education programs is unnecessary, and that preschool programs and full-day kindergarten do not have lasting educational effects on children.
Playing to Type? Mapping the Charter School Landscape
Date:
May 3, 2006
Author:
Dick M. Carpenter II
Think Tank:
Fordham Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
May 11, 2006
Reviewer:
Gary Miron
Institution:
Western Michigan University
This report developed a unique typology to compare charter schools types by their enrollment, demographic background of students, and performance.
Trends in Charter School Authorizing
Date:
May 1, 2006
Authors:
Rebecca Gau
Think Tank:
Fordham Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
May 10, 2006
Reviewer:
Ernie House
The report surveyed charter school authorizers to explore how they rated on factors that the report's authors considered important. The report concludes that authorizers base their decisions to renew on student achievement, that authorizers have become more careful over time in authorizing charters, and that two authorizer types, nonprofits and independent chartering boards, do a better job of authorizing.

Winner of the 2006 Truthiness in Education Award

Further Commentary From:
Getting Ahead by Staying Behind: An Evaluation of Florida's Program to End Social Promotion
Date:
February 2006
Authors:
Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters
Think Tank:
Hoover Institution and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Think Tank Review:
Date:
February 23, 2006
Reviewer:
Ed Wiley
Institution:
University of Colorado
This Education Next article summarizes the Manhattan Institute's original study, An Evaluation of Florida's Program to End Social Promotion, which was released in December 2004. The study examines Florida's program to end social promotion. The authors analyze the test scores of two third-grade cohorts over the period of one year. The authors conclude that there are substantial positive effects associated with retention in this program.

Winner of the 2006 Damned Lies Award for Statistical Subterfuge

Spreading Freedom and Saving Money: The Fiscal Impact of the D.C. Voucher Program
Date:
January 31, 2006
Authors:
Leon Michos and Susan Aud
Think Tank:
Cato Institute and Friedman Foundation
Think Tank Review:
Date:
February 20, 2006
Reviewer:
Christopher Lubienski
Institution:
University of Illinois
This report evaluates the impact of the District of Columbia Public Schools' voucher program after its first year and its impact on educational spending. The report examines whether the plan has saved DC and its school district any money.
The State of High School Education in Wisconsin: A Tale of Two Wisconsins
Date:
January 25, 2006
Author:
Philip J. McDade
Think Tank:
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
Think Tank Review:
Date:
February 17, 2006
Reviewer:
William J. Mathis
Institution:
University of Vermont
This report documents "Two Wisconsins" separated by wealth. It concludes the difference in test scores between rich and poor is not attributable to school funding. To close the achievement gap, the author recommends that school districts require students to take more rigorous courses.