Directory of People & Offices
Associate Professor of Education
(On Leave 2013-2014)
West studies the politics of K-12 education policy in the United States and the effectiveness of reform strategies in improving student achievement. His current projects include studies of the teacher labor market in Florida, the effects of private school competition on student achievement across countries, and Americans understanding of and opinions on education policy. His most recent book (co-edited with Joshua Dunn), From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciarys Role in American Education (Brookings Institution Press), examined the increase in judicial involvement in education policymaking over the past 50 years. West serves as an executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy, is deputy director of Harvards Program on Education Policy and Governance, and is an affiliate of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard Kennedy School. Before joining the Harvard faculty, West taught at Brown University and was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution. He received his Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard in 2006 and his M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford University in 2000.
- Ph.D., Harvard University
- Berry, C. R. and M. R. West. Growing Pains: The School Consolidation Movement and Student Outcomes. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, vol. 26, no. 1. (forthcoming)
- Dunn, J. M. and M. R. West, eds. From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciarys Role in American Education. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. (2009)
- Howell, W. G. and M. R. West. Educating the Public, Education Next, vol. 9, no. 3: 40-47. (2009)
- West, M. R. Public Choice and the Political Economy of American Education. In D. Plank, G. Sykes, and B. Schneider, eds. Handbook of Education Policy Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. (2009)
- West, M. R. and M. M. Chingos. Teacher Effectiveness, Mobility, and Attrition in Florida. In M. G. Springer, ed. Performance Incentives: Their Growing Impact on American K-12 Education. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. (2009)
- Woessmann, L., E. Lüdemann, G. Schütz, and M. R. West. School Accountability, Autonomy, and Choice around the World. With Ludger Wößmann, Elke Lüdemann, and Gabriela Schütz. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. (2009)
- Dunn, J. M. and M. R. West. Calculated Justice: Education Research and the Courts. In F. M. Hess, ed. When Research Matters: How Scholarship Influences Education Policy. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Education Press. (2008)
- Howell, W. G., M. R. West and P. E. Peterson. The 2008 Education Next-PEPG Survey of Public Opinion, Education Next, vol. 8, no. 4: 12-26. (2008)
- West, M. R. and L. Woessmann. Which School Systems Sort Weaker Students into Smaller Classes? International Evidence, European Journal of Political Economy, vol. 22, no. 4: 944-968. (2006)
- West, M. R. and P. E. Peterson, eds. School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. (2006)
- West, M. R. and P. E. Peterson. The Efficacy of Choice Threats Within Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments, The Economic Journal, vol. 116, no. 510: C46-C62. (2006)
- Woessmann, L. and M. R. West. Class-size Effects in School Systems Around the World: Evidence from Between-Grade Variation in TIMSS, European Economic Review, vol. 50, no. 3: 695-736. (2006)
- Peterson, P. E. and M. R. West, eds. No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. (2003)
- Doctorate Program in Education Leadership, Walton Family Foundation, (2013-2016)
The Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is a practice-based doctorate like an M.D. or a J.D. It is a three-year program comprised of two years in residence at Harvard and a residency and capstone project with a partner organization. The program has generated over 2,000 applications for 75 places in its first three cohorts. This extraordinary response reflects the demand for a practice-based doctorate in education and the attractiveness of a model that integrates curriculum content in education, management, and policy, delivered by faculty from HGSE, Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The Ed.L.D. program offers an innovative and integrated core curriculum that provides students access to powerful insights, concepts, and research-based practices from the fields of education, business, and public policy. We incorporate a variety of pedagogies, such as case teaching, simulations, and team projects, to allow students to place themselves in the roles of leaders. Support from the Walton Family Foundation would fund four critical aspects of the Ed.L.D. program: 1)Fellowships: The fact that all Ed.L.D. students receive a fellowship removes barriers to pursuing a career in public service and is critical to recruiting talented, experienced leaders to the education sector.It is essential for this program to attract the brightest and most entrepreneurial candidates individuals who have the ability to truly re-invent the education sector. With that in mind, the Ed.L.D. is tuition-free for students, who also receive a stipend for living expenses. 2)Online courses: HGSE will develop three online courses or modules based on Ed.L.D. curriculum on edX, a new digital learning platform collaboratively developed by Harvard and MIT. The most compelling potential of this new initiative is the opportunity to achieve impact at scale. Through its current on-campus executive education offerings, HGSE reaches roughly 3,500 educators each year; with the new edX platform, HGSE will have the ability to engage a much larger audience and to influence their practice through the innovative Ed.L.D. curriculum. 3) Alumni Support: A critical missing feature in many university-based education leadership programs is extended career and in-service support after program completion. The Parthenon Group market research study found that few other leadership development models provided comprehensive in-field support through mentoring, assessment, community support, job placement, and professional development. Implementing a similar model at HGSE is essential for maximizing the impact of Ed.L.D. graduates. 4) Partnership with the Walton Family Foundation: HGSE welcomes the opportunity to build a highly collaborative relationship with the Walton Family Foundation. Ideally, this partnership would be one in which both parties share knowledge and capitalize on their respective strengths to improve the education sector.
- Measuring Student Mind and Brain Change in Education., Massachusetts 2020, Inc., (2011-2012)
We, an interdisciplinary team of education researchers and cognitive scientists, propose here a project intended to discover quantifiable mechanisms in the minds and brains of students that are associated with high-impact education and associated with important life success outcomes, such as educational attainment. The lead applicant for the grant is the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL). We seek a grant to fund an investigation into the beliefs and habits, cognitive capabilities and brain structures and functions of a large cohort of Boston 8th graders across charter, district, high- and low-performing schools allowing us to relate these traits retrospectively to variation in school effectiveness across schools and prospectively across individual students to long-term education and life success outcomes The effectiveness of education is largely assessed by standardized test scores that provide quantitative measures of student achievement, however the goal of education is not only to impart specific information, but also to support mental, behavioral, and brain maturation that leads to lifelong success. Mental and behavioral processes include beliefs and habits, such as a belief that making an effort is worthwhile and can lead to success and the habit of delaying gratification to achieve longer-term goals, and also cognitive capacities that support effective thinking and decision-making, such as working memory capacity (the amount of goal-relevant information that can be kept in mind) and processing speed (the rate at which mental operations are executed). These mental processes are mediated by measureable brain structures and functions. Remarkably, there is no evidence about whether variation in school effectiveness relates to beliefs and habits, cognitive capacities, or underlying brain structures and functions, or how such measures may predict, beyond test scores, future educational and life outcomes.
- Increasing Student Achievement Through the Use of Interim Assessment Data: Expanding the Achievement Network Model
ARRA Funding!! The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University proposes to conduct the evaluation of Achievement Networks i3 project. Martin West will serve as the Principal Investigator on this sub-contract. The activities will take place at Achievement Network sites and at the Harvard Graduate School of Educations Center for Educational Policy Research. The evaluation will answer the following research questions: Does ANet have an impact on teacher behavior? Does ANet have an impact on the behavior of school leaders? Does ANet have an impact on school culture? Does ANet have an impact on student achievement?For each research question, the impact will be estimated using the most rigorous method available to measure the effect of the program above and beyond the outcomes these participating schools would have achieved without the help of Achievement Network. In particular, the excess demand for ANet services will allow a school-level random assignment design for the evaluation. ANet and the evaluation team will recruit 120 school to participate in the study. At random, the evaluators will select 60 schools for full treatment (receiving ANet data, coaching, and networking) and 60 control schools that will receive no ANet services. Treatment and control groups will be balanced in size within each of the four network regions (Boston, Chicago, DC, and New Orleans). Treatment schools will receive a full two years of ANet services, while control schools will be embargoed from receiving services until the end of that time. As the expansion of sites will take place in regions where ANet networks already exist, an experienced ANet service team will provide schools with a robust treatment expected to yield impacts in the first and second years of implementation. The sample size is conservatively estimated to be sufficient to detect effect sizes of 0.20 standard deviation units or greater at a 5 percent significance level with 80 percent power. The evaluation team will collect student achievement data, survey data, implementation data generated by the ANet team, and conduct a limited number of site visits to each network to examine independently implementation on the ground. The chart below outlines the specific data to be collected :
- Measuring the Effectiveness of Boston Teacher Residents, Boston Teacher Residency, (2010-2013)
his will likely be awarded as a fixed price contract. The prime funding sources are 2 NSF grants (one an i3 ARRA fund, and another unsecured source).We propose to extend the evaluation of the BTR program CEPR is currently conducting and to incorporate measures of teaching practice into the work. This extension has two major goals:1. To help BTR to develop a teacher evaluation system that includes both measures of teaching practice and student achievement; 2. To expand the existing evaluation work with BTR to include new cohorts and to account for changes in the BTR program itself resulting from recent expansion.Scope of WorkFor Goal 1, each year 25 math and 25 English teachers in grades 4-9 will be recruited by BPE for observation. For these 50 teachers, CEPR will: Provide instruments for observations of math classes, teacher surveys and student surveys; Coordinate data collection and coding of video observations and data requests to BPS; Compile all data files and run analyseso Estimate observational scores, o Estimate value-added scores, o Develop weighting schemes
- The Competition for Teaching Talent, Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc., (2010-2012)
The nations public schools are in a competition for teaching talentand they are not faring well. Research consistently shows that teacher quality is the single most important school-based factor influencing student learning. Improving teacher quality thus has enormous potential for raising student achievement levels and closing achievement gaps. Yet policy rigidities within public education and changes in the outside labor market and have made it increasingly difficult for school districts to recruit and retain effective teachers. Developing policies to respond to this situation will require careful research documenting the nature of the competition for talent schools currently face, how it influences the recruitment and retention of effective teachers, and the capacity of different types of schools and school systems to respond. The project consists of (1) a series of five scholarly papers addressing important gaps in our understanding of the competition for teacher talent and (2) a synthetic report that distills policy lessons from those papers and the broader literature on the teacher labor market.