Head Start. Bilingual education. Small class size. Social promotion. School funding. Virtually every school system in America has had to face these issues over the past thirty years. Advocates and dissenters have declared confidently that "the research" is on their side. But is it?
In the first book to bring together the recent history of educational policy and politics with the research evidence, Timothy Hacsi presents the illuminating, often-forgotten stories of these five controversial topics. He sifts through the complicated evaluation research literature and compares the policies that have been adopted to the best evidence about what actually works. He lucidly explains what the major studies show, what they don't, and how they have been misunderstood and misrepresented. Hacsi shows how rarely educational policies are based on solid research evidence, and how programs that sound plausible simply do not satisfy the complex needs of real children.
Hacsi opens this book with a simple question--"How can we improve our schools?"--and goes on to suggest that reform efforts must be rooted in solid research. Unfortunately, as he notes, the manner in which evaluative research on educational programs is conducted is fraught with difficulties, and, even worse, the ways in which the results of educational research are disseminated and reported are subject to powerful political pressures at every level. By providing historical case studies of what the research "really" tells us about controversial programs such as Head Start and bilingual education, Hacsi clearly demonstrates the influence that political interests can have on public perception of the efficacy of educational reform programs...Highly recommended.
Children as Pawns is what most of us has wished for whenever we have gotten into one of those tedious arguments in which none of us had the essential facts. Hacsi is a social policy historian with expertise in methods of evaluation. He describes the important research, points out its strengths and weaknesses, and tells how policies changed over time. It is a treasure trove of facts on our clumsy efforts to help children learn...[Hacsi's] depth and clarity are not only helpful, but brave.
- 272 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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