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How to build a DOE data watchdog: First, hire some experts

My story this afternoon:

A city government regulator is poised to become the Department of Education’s new watchdog, but as the Assembly moves to extend mayoral control, details of how this will work are scarce.

In New York City and Albany, momentum has been building behind the idea for an independent body to check the DOE’s math. Currently, three proposed bills, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s bill, introduced last night, call for the Independent Budget Office and the comptroller to monitor the department.

A challenge in implementing the proposals is the IBO’s relative inexperience.

Created during the Giuliani administration to function as a publicly funded, neutral check on the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, the IBO regularly issues reports on the mayor’s proposed budget and city taxes. Should Silver’s bill become law, the organization would be forced to grow a new arm devoted solely to scrutinizing the city’s education data.

“While we have statistical expertise we don’t necessarily have expertise around issues around test scores and how to sort them and weigh them,” a spokesman for the IBO, Doug Turetsky, said, adding that the organization has studied things like class size and school construction. “We doubled our number of education analysts last week when we hired a second one,” he said. (more…)

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