NEPC Review Praises Approach, but not Execution, of Bush Institute Report

Study uses worthwhile yardstick to examine productivity, but lacks the necessary evidence and analytical strength to prove Texas school system is inefficient.

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http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-legal-lever

[To prove the Texas system is inefficient] would require a more comprehensive and rigorous analysis than is provided here.

Boulder, CO (PRWEB) February 27, 2014

A new report finding that the Texas public education system is not efficient brings a worthwhile approach to the subject but falls short in its analysis and fails to prove its argument, according to a new review released today.

"A Legal Lever for Enhancing Productivity" was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Clive Belfield, a professor at Queens College, City University of New York. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

"A Legal Lever for Enhancing Productivity," by Elizabeth Ettema, Krishanu Sengupta, and Sandy Kress, was published earlier this month by the Dallas-based George W. Bush Institute. It is premised on the Texas Constitution’s requirement that the state provide “an efficient system of public free schools” and concludes that the state has not lived up to that requirement where efficiency is concerned.

Belfield, an economist specializing in resource allocation and cost-effectiveness, finds the report especially notable for its focus on x-efficiency. This is a more extensive concept than the traditional economic measure of efficiency. X-efficiency includes incentives, information, and adaptability “and so allows for a more comprehensive understanding of how resources might be used more effectively,” Belfield writes. In short, x-efficiency questions are good to ask.

But, he points out, “because x-efficiency is a more comprehensive concept it requires more evidence and analysis in order to draw conclusions.” And on that score, "A Legal Lever" falls short. Because the Bush Institute report brings insufficient evidence to the question it seeks to answer, “it cannot be determined whether the Texas education system is x-efficient or x-inefficient.” To prove the report’s purported finding that the system is inefficient “would require a more comprehensive and rigorous analysis than is provided here.” Moreover, even if sufficiently proven, the determination would be speculative and not really useful, absent alternatives to make the system more efficient – something also missing from the report.

Belfield concludes that the report’s “usefulness for policymakers and education professionals is therefore limited to the prescription that x-efficiency is important and should be addressed more rigorously.”

Find Clive Belfield’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-legal-lever

Find A Legal Lever for Enhancing Productivity, by Elizabeth Ettema, Krishanu Sengupta, and Sandy Kress, on the web at:
http://www.bushcenter.org/sites/default/files/GWBI-Legal-Lever-for-Enhancing-Productivity.pdf.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, 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/.

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/mt7vjxx


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