Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education
Martin West is the academic dean and 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 2013-14, 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.
Boston Charter Research Collaborative (2017-2019)
Walton Family Foundation
BCRCÂ’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 studentsÂ’ 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 studentsÂ’ development, as both levels and year-to-year changes in studentsÂ’ 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.
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 childrenÂ’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 studentsÂ’ 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 teachersÂ’ effects on upper elementary studentsÂ’ 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 studentsÂ’ non-tested outcomes predict related school behaviors (e.g., absences, suspensions, on-time grade progression, GPA) in subsequent years.
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 Judiciarys 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)