The Hamilton Project: Promoting K-12 Education to Advance Student Achievement

The Hamilton Project, a Brookings initiative, approaches education as one facet
of economic reform—and produces work with a refreshing attention to the
cost-effectiveness and economic impact of education reforms. See, for
example, a series of papers released last month from some of the most
accomplished scholars in education. UChicago whiz Derek Neal, for instance, proposes
changes to standardized tests—eliminate multiple-choice, vary test formats,
never repeat questions from previous years—that can boost student achievement.
Jonah Rockoff and Brian Jacob use cost-benefit analyses to argue convincingly
for later school start times, more K-8 schools, and increased teacher content specialization,
particularly for young teachers. The most ambitious paper, by the Harvard team
of Bradley Allen and MacArthur genius Roland Fryer, navigates what works and
what doesn’t with incentive programs. The duo concede that incentives for
teachers and outcomes have poor track records, but still lobby hard for carefully designed rewards for student
behaviors that can affect higher performance: Kids should get paid—and paid
well—for reading books, not acing tests. Give these papers a look.

Adam Looney, Michael Greenstone, and Paige Shevlin, “Improving
Student Outcomes: Improving America’s Education Potential
,” (Washington,
D.C.: The Hamilton Project at Brookings, September 2011).

Derek Neal, “New
Assessments for Improved Accountability
,” (Washington, D.C.: The Hamilton
Project at Brookings, September 2011).

Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E.
Rockoff, “Organizing
Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and
Teacher Assignments
,” (Washington, D.C.: The Hamilton Project at Brookings,
September 2011).

Bradley M. Allen and Roland Fryer, Jr., “The
Powers and Pitfalls of Education Incentives
,” (Washington, D.C.: The
Hamilton Project at Brookings, September 2011).

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