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Looking back at the Klein years, researchers hold forth

A collection of independent research measuring the impact of Chancellor Joel Klein’s reforms on the city’s school system will be published next spring. But before that happens, you can listen to some of the researchers online.

Five of them are faculty at New York University’s Steinhardt School and Tim Farrell, a public affairs officer for NYU, has recorded conversations with them and posted them online.

In the first recording, Professors Leanna Stiefel and Amy Ellen Schwartz look at one of Klein’s major policy decisions: the implementation of a weighted funding formula. They find that the new formula only had a significant impact on high schools, but left little imprint on elementary and middle schools.

In 2007, Klein instituted Fair Student Funding: a program that would give schools money based on the needs of the students they serve.

“We looked at this from the 2002 to 2008 and we found that in the elementary and middle schools they were distributing funds more along the lines of what the kids needed, but in the high schools they weren’t,” Stiefel said. “So it was interesting, even though they didn’t formally adopt this until later, they were distributing along those lines.”

The formula’s full implementation was postponed under opposition from the teachers union and some high-performing schools, via a “hold harmless” provision that sent extra money that would have been taken away from some schools back to them.

In other recording, Sean Corcoran discusses school choice, Leslie Santee Siskin looks at the changes public high schools have gone through, and Jim Kemple talks about his research on student achievement.

The collection will be published next spring under the title Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation’s Most Complex School System.

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