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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

Profile

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

Boston Charter Research Collaborative (2017-2019)
Walton Family Foundation

BCRC’s focus on non-tested skills reflects mounting evidence that both cognitive skills (e.g., processing speed, working memory, and fluid reasoning) and non-cognitive (or social-emotional) skills are critical to student success in school and later in life. Despite their importance, neither of these sets of skills is routinely measured in school settings, hindering progress in understanding how they interact to support student success and how educators can best support their development. Over the past three years, BCRC researchers have developed or validated tools to measure a broad range of students’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills. We have shown that, despite their limitations, aggregate measures of non-cognitive skills based on student self-reports provide useful information about students’ development, as both levels and year-to-year changes in students’ self-ratings are associated with changes in related academic and behavioral outcomes. We have also found that teachers, schools, and charter management organizations within BCRC vary in their effectiveness in supporting the development of non-cognitive skills. Moreover, the educators who are most effective in improving non-tested skills are often not the same as those who are most effective in improving test scores. This implies that there are opportunities to learn about strategies to improve non-tested skills by identifying the teachers and schools who are most successful in this area. This grant enables BCRC to extend its core data collection, analysis, and collaboration activities through a fourth and fifth academic year (2017-18 and 2018-19), sustaining our partnership and enhancing our ability to learn about the factors shaping the development of student skills over time.

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.

Publications
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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Professional Education Programs