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Faculty & Research

Martin West

Associate Professor of Education

Martin West

Degree:  Ph.D., Harvard University, (2006)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.4803
Vitae/CV:   Martin West.pdf
Office:  Gutman 454
Faculty Assistant:  Tilman Freitag


Martin West is associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also deputy director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Education Policy and Governance and executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy. West studies the politics of K-12 education in the United States and how education policies affect student learning and non-cognitive development. His current projects include studies of public opinion on education policy, the effects of charter school attendance and on cognitive and non-cognitive skills, data use in schools, and the influence of relative pay on teacher quality. In 2014-15, West worked as senior education policy advisor to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He previously taught at Brown University and was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he is now a nonresident senior fellow.

Click here to see a full list of Martin West's courses.

Sponsored Projects

Collaboration Proposal: Summit Public Schools and Center for Education Policy Research (2016-2017)
Summit Public Schools

Determining whether a media-based, pediatrician-administered intervention with low-income parents can influence parents’ interactions with their children and their children’s early language and social-emotional development is relevant to public health because, if successful, this approach provides a scalable way to help parents improve young children’s developmental wellbeing and prevent achievement gaps from substantiating.

Validating Teacher Effects on Non-Tested Outcomes (2016-2017)
Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc.

A growing body of evidence identifies a range of academic behaviors other than test scores, including disruptive behavior, self-efficacy, and happiness, as important contributors to children’s long-term success in the labor market and beyond. A handful of studies further indicate that teachers play an important role in developing non-tested outcomes. Additional research that validates these measures of teacher effectiveness on non-tested outcomes would have important implications not only for teacher recruitment, assessment, and placement, but also for improving overall life trajectories of students. In this study, we propose two complementary lines of research that explore the relationship between teachers and students’ non-tested outcomes. First, we will measure whether teachers can have effects on non-tested outcomes. This is possible because we will make use of a unique, pre-existing dataset in which class rosters were randomly assigned to teachers within schools. This design will allow us to test whether teachers who were observed as effective at raising non-tested outcomes prior to random assignment produce higher outcomes following random assignment. Second, we will examine whether teachers’ effects on upper elementary students’ non-tested outcomes persist or fade out over time. This is important because it will tie measured increases in student progress on non-tested outcomes to actual behaviors that are of interest to school officials and policy makers. To do so, we will collect additional administrative data on students at the end of middle school and beginning of high school. Drawing on the same data, we will examine whether self-reported measures of students’ non-tested outcomes predict related school behaviors (e.g., absences, suspensions, on-time grade progression, GPA) in subsequent years.

Levers for Change: Evaluating the Elements of the Newark Reform Strategy (2015-2016)
Startup: Education

Rather than attempt to make a summative statement about the success of Newark school reform, this research project focuses on key questions at the core of the theory of action in Newark. If we can shed light on those, we can both inform school reform efforts around the country and provide feedback to Newark leadership to guide modifications to the plan. Specifically, the research team studies the following four questions: 1. What is the effect of a school becoming a “renewal school" on individual students’ trajectories? 2. Has Newark been having the “right” turnover – i.e., have less effective teachers been leaving at higher rates than more effective teachers? 3. How has the equity of access to quality seats changed in Newark since the reforms began? 4. What is the impact of “winning” the student placement lottery on student outcomes (for both oversubscribed charter schools and public schools)? 5. What has been the early impact of the reforms on students’ longer term outcomes (e.g., college trajectories)?

Development and Analysis of Social-Emotional Measures for the CORE Districts (2014-2015)
CORE Districts

Transforming Education (TransformEd) has entered into a research support partnership with the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) to conduct secondary data analysis on de-identified existing data to explore the properties of a set of measures of social and emotional learning skills being developed through a pilot project with the California Office to Reform Education (CORE). CORE is a non-profit organization comprised of member California school districts. CORE and its member districts have partnered with TransformEd to assist member districts to fulfill public reporting obligations under its federally-approved waiver from No Child Left Behind school accountability provisions (NCLB waiver), approved by the US Department of Education (USDOE) on August 6th, 2013. Additionally, TransformEd collects and archives longitudinal administrative data to conduct policy analyses for member district leaders and practitioners in order to support the CORE School Quality Improvement System (CORE SQIS). Public policy questions to be addressed using the CORE Data Archive (CDA) are developed in collaboration with participating School Districts and representatives of CORE.

Boston Charter Research Collaborative (2014-2017)
Walton Family Foundation

Doctorate Program in Education Leadership (2013-2017)
Walton Family Foundation

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 funds 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 develops 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.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Boston Teacher Residents (2010-2013)
Boston Teacher Residency

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

Increasing Student Achievement Through the Use of Interim Assessment Data: Expanding the Achievement Network Model (2010-2013)
U.S. Department of Education

•ARRA Funding!! The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University proposes to conduct the evaluation of Achievement Network’s 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 Education’s 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 :

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)

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)

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)

Howell, W. G. and M. R. West. “Educating the Public,” Education Next, vol. 9, no. 3: 40-47.,(2009)

Dunn, J. M. and M. R. West, eds. From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary’s Role in American 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 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)

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)

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)

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