In academia, it is seen as an honor when someone wants to reprint one of your published papers in an edited volume of collected papers. It is really an honor if someone wants to take the time to translate it into another language.
Roland Fryer and I feel so honored.
Back in 2004, Roland and I published a piece in the journal Education Next describing our research on racial test-score gaps. That paper was recently translated into ghetto English. The new version is here. It is a must-read (although very, very NSFW). Usually something gets lost in the translation, but I would say in this case it is an improvement.
We use direct financial incentives to motivate so many different activities in life. No one expects workers in a fast food restaurant to flip burgers for free. No one expects teachers to show up and teach without getting paid. But when it comes to kids in school, we think that the distant financial rewards they will earn years or decades later should be enough to motivate them, even though for most kids a month or two feels like an eternity.
To learn a little more about whether kids’ school effort responds to financial incentives, John List, Suzanne Neckermann, Sally Sadoff, and I carried out a series of field experiments we recently wrote up as a working paper (PDF here). Sally Sadoff (who you might remember from the Freakonomics movie as the woman who works tirelessly to help the students in Chicago Heights), talked about the research on Fox Business News.
Unlike most previous studies involving kids, schools, and payments, in this research we aren’t trying to get kids to study hard or learn more, we were going after something even more simple: just get the student to try hard on the test itself. So we don’t tell the kids about the financial reward ahead of time — we just surprise them right before they sit down to take the test by offering them up to $20 for improvements.
What’s going on here? Has the rate of myopia exploded, even among premier athletes?
We talk to Susan Vitale, a research epidemiologist with the NIH’s National Eye Institute, who worked on a large study on myopia in the U.S. There has indeed been a huge spike in recent decades, and it’s especially pronounced among blacks.
Harvard economist (and Freakonomics friend) Roland Fryerhas a new paper out (full version here) that takes a look at the specific successful habits of charter schools. Along with co-author Will Dobbie, Fryer collected “unparalleled data” on 35 elementary and middle charter schools in New York City by conducting extensive interviews and videotaping classrooms.
Their results are fairly counter-intuitive. They showed that traditional solutions like class size, per-pupil expenditure, and the number of teachers with advanced degrees are not correlated with effectiveness, and in fact, “resource-based solutions” actually lowered school effectiveness.
Instead, they found five qualities that made up about 50 percent of a charter school’s effectiveness. These are:
1. Frequent teacher feedback 2. Data driven instruction 3. High-dosage tutoring 4. Increased instructional time 5. Relentless focus on academic achievement.
I first met Roland Fryer a decade ago. It didn’t take me long to figure out he was a genius. It took the folks at the MacArthur Foundation a little longer to come to that realization, but they finally got on board last week when they gave Roland one of their high-profile MacArthur “Genius” Awards.
Most of Roland’s research has been devoted to understanding the factors influencing Black economic progress. He’s worked on segregation, the sources of the Black-White test score gap, the reasons why Black longevity is less than that of Whites, and the Ku Klux Klan, among many other topics.
Exam high schools are generally regarded as a cut above, turning out congressmen, scholars, and all-around high achievers. They account for over half of the top 109 American schools in the U.S. News and World Report best high schools list, and an incredible 20 out of 21 from Newsweek’s list of “public elite.”
But a new study from Will Dobbie and Roland Fryerof Harvard throws cold water on this notion, and calls into question whether the exam schools typically cited for excellence are, well, really all that excellent.
Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Dobbie and Fryer take a fresh look into the measurable achievements of exam school students, specifically focusing on three well-known schools in New York City: Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant. While attending an exam school might be great for your overall education, and resume, this doesn’t come through in terms of increased test scores or college achievement. Here’s the abstract:
Last week, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuelannounced that he’s rolling out a merit pay program specifically for school principals, using $5 million in donated funds. The plan is particularly bold considering its announcement comes on the heels of quite a bit of evidence, from research to scandals, showing the faults of merit pay.
In March, we wrote about Harvard economist Roland Fryer‘s study on New York City’s failed merit pay experiment, the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, which was shutdown last month. A subsequent RAND report echoes much of Fryer’s findings:
…the theory underlying school-based pay-for-performance programs may be flawed. Motivation alone might not be sufficient. Even if the bonus here had inspired teachers to improve, they might have lacked the capacity or resources — such as school leadership, expertise, instructional materials, or time — to bring about improvement.
Roland Fryer continues to work with incentives in education — for students, parents, and teachers. His newest working paper (gated) describes an experiment in New York City that was unsuccessful in moving the needle.
A worthwhile Bloomberg profile of John List, the University of Chicago economist, frequent Levitt collaborator, and SuperFreakonomics hero who has championed the use of field experiments. List recently received $10 million from hedge funder Kenneth Griffin to track the performance of 600 students, including 150 at the Griffin Early Childhood Center.
As you may have read on this blog, the economist Roland Fryer has done quite a bit of research on bribing kids — i.e., offering financial rewards for good grades. A new working paper from Josh Angrist, Philip Oreopoulos and Tyler Williams examines the effect of financial rewards on performance among an older cohort: college students.
Some first-grade classrooms perform “Acknowledgments,” wherein children sit in a circle and take turns publicly praising a classmate for some good or wise act. Bloggers can do this too. Here is the first of three Acknowledgments you’ll read on this blog today. It is with great pride that I report that my good friend Roland Fryer was honored by Time . . .
Hats off to economist Roland Fryer, Joel Klein, the rest of the folks in the New York City Department of Education, and Droga5 for taking home the Titanium Lion prize at the Cannes Lions advertising festival for their work on “Million.” Million is the innovative NYC schools program that puts a specially designed cellphone into the hands of every NYC . . .
Roland Fryer and Joel Klein are back at it again, trying innovative approaches to help students in the New York City schools learn. Fryer, who is a tenured professor at Harvard, a frequent co-author of mine, and Chief Equality Officer in the New York City school system, was the driving force behind a pilot program now ongoing in New York . . .
Economist Roland Fryer has done research on “acting white,” i.e. the phenomenon by which black children who excel academically are stigmatized by their peers. Recently, he was in a New York City school and asked some of the seventh graders he was talking to whether they had ever heard the phrase “acting white.” The kids laughed at him and said, . . .
That is the title of my latest academic working paper, written with Roland Fryer. It details the rise and fall of the Klan in the 1920s. Incredibly, the Klan had millions of members at that time, and most of them were reasonably well-educated. Based on a variety of data sources, we argue that, despite its size and education levels, the . . .
My friend and co-author Roland Fryer, an assistant professor at Harvard, has just been promoted. Usually, for an academic, that would mean getting tenure. For Roland, it is a little different. He’s been named a CEO — not Chief Executive Officer, but rather Chief Equality Officer for the New York Public Schools system. You can read about it in this . . .
My good friend and co-author Roland Fryer, much of whose work was featured in Freakonomics, has a fantastic new web page that details his research at the American Inequality Lab. It is definitely worth a look if you are interested in race and inequality.
In research with Roland Fryer, later written up in Freakonomics, we asked the question “Does the name you give your child matter for her life outcome?” (I say “her” because we could only look at girls because the way we tried to answer the problem was by linking a baby girl’s birth certificate to the birth certificate of her child . . .
My good friend Roland Fryer has taken as his life’s mission to understand every aspect of the economic life of Blacks in America. His latest research, co-authored with another good friend, Michael Greenstone, tackles the issues of (a) who attends historically Black colleges, and (b) does it help them or hurt them if they do. Here are their key conclusions: . . .
Our last Freakonomics column was about the indirect approach that Roland Fryer, Paul Heaton, Kevin Murphy, and I used to try to measure crack cocaine use across places and over time in U.S. cities and states. Read all about it here. Some researchers in Italy took a very different, very bizarre approach, as discussed in a British newspaper article reprinted . . .
In the August 7, 2005, Freakonomics column in the New York Times Magazine, Dubner and Levitt ask a simple question: Whatever happened to crack cocaine? Crack was the scourge of the 1980’s, leading to endless misery and violence. Today, it is rarely mentioned in the news media. Does that mean that crack has vanished? This blog post supplies additional research material.
Roland G. Fryer Jr. is a young black economist at Harvard whose work and background are equally fascinating. (At least I think so.) He and Steve Levitt have written a number of papers together, and Fryer is scattered throughout the last couple chapters of Freakonomics. Quite separately, I’ve written a profile of Fryer that appears in today’s New York Times . . .