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THOMPSON: What Works

Keep_it_simple Russ Whitehurst, the former director of the What Works Clearinghouse, makes a particularly profound argument that innovative "processes," are more effective than innovative "products."  His wisdom is timely because the rules for Stimulus funding, seeking to avoid "falling off the cliff" after the money ends, tend to favor the purchase of products as opposed to investing in the human capital for more promising, ongoing reforms.

Whitehurst is equally astute in recommending measurable efficiencies, as opposed to measurable outputs (test scores). Fundamentally, Whitehurst is counseling more modesty and less infatuation with  products.  Hospitals, for instance, get better outcomes from simple processes like checklists and ensuring that hands are washed properly than from  "paradigm shifting" innovations.  

In other words, should Joel Klein reconsider his $300 million annual investment in accountability and $10,000 per day in courier services for delivery of test data, while threatening to cut teachers? - John Thompson 


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